SEmG

Rye

picturesque surroundings on a very fine day in May 2002

photograph by Colin Duff

3D unit 207202 "Royal Brighton Pavilion" crosses the River Rother and past the old windmill just west of Rye station on a working towards Ashford on 16th May 2002.

 
Flashback to the 1920s or 1930s, a picture taken from a very similar position. Here 4-4-0 Wainwright E class No A587 is crossing the bridge with an Ashford to Brighton train. This locomotive was built at Ashford in 1907 and featured a Belpaire boiler (which distinguished the E class from the D class) and 6'6" drivers.

photograph from the collection of David Lord

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Rye is an ancient fortified hill town and has the considerable distinction of being a Cinque Port since 1289. The sea has subsequently receded although a harbour remains. Today Rye is a pleasant bustling destination for tourists and locals well known for its antique and specialist shops.

The railway through the flat landward outskirts of the town owes its origin to an 1845 proposal for the extension of the Brighton, Lewes & Hastings Company (later LBSCR) line from Hastings to Ashford. Parliamentary approval was gained but the authority was transferred to the SER who built the line instead of their proposed Headcorn-Hastings line. It was opened form Bopeep Junction (west of St Leonards) to Ashford on 13 February 1851 but not without a major dispute on the day of opening, much typical of the time, between the LBSCR and the SER. This was resolved after the LBSCR took out a speedy injunction against the SER. As maintenance of navigable waters was considered important the Act included the provision of a swing or draw bridge over River Rother at Rye. A swing bridge was installed and remained in use until 1903 when the river authorities agreed it could be replaced by a fixed bridge. However in compensation the railway had to pay £10,000 to the Paymaster General for improvements to Rye Harbour. A goods only branch to the harbour opened 1854 with its junction adjacent to the windmill. The harbour branch was closed in 1962.

 
track treadle While we are in the vicinity of the bridge over the River Rother, here is a treadle situated at the western side of the bridge on the approach to the double track section through the station. This photograph was safely taken from public land adjacent to a board crossing!

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The ornate station building viewed from the forecourt. At the time of the photographer's visit, 16th May 2002 the right hand single storey building extension was occupied by a cafe called "The Fat Controller".

photograph by Colin Duff

the station building from the town
 
Rye is the only town of major significance on the line beyond the outskirts of Ashford and Ore. As befits its importance and picture box surroundings it has an attractive station building, popularly described as being of the Railway Italianate style. As is typical for the Hastings-Ashford line (also known as the Marsh Line) the platforms are staggered, originally to allow a board crossing from one to the other however passengers now cross the line by a concrete bridge to a Southern Railway design. This results in a long loop which can be used for trains to cross on the largely single tracked line, however when the majority of these photographs were taken services were not timetabled to cross in the station. There was formerly a down (towards Hastings) siding opposite the up (towards) Ashford platform. There are level crossings at the outer ends of the platforms at Ferry Road and Grove Road.

Serving a rare (for the south east of England) area of sparse population the line's history has always been chequered and closure has been proposed on a number of occasions particularly in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. However it has survived and receives considerable custom at certain times of day. It remains one of the two non electrified lines in the south east and currently soldiers on with "heritage" DEMU stock, some of which is approaching 45 years old. The latest proposal to electrify the line as part of the next franchise renewal has been dropped by the Strategic Railway Authority. As a result an order has been placed for new Turbostar DHMUs and the venerable "Thumpers" days are now numbered.

In conclusion the writer recommends the line as a pleasant ride - do it soon whilst you can still travel on a train where you can open the windows!  Even if quaint shops do not appeal to you Rye is a good place to while away a few hours and have lunch or dinner.

 
railway side station buildings The railway side of station buildings on the down platform taken from the footbridge, looking here towards the River Rother and thence to Hastings. The line reverts to single track just before the Ferry Road level crossing, denoted here in the distance by the red car crossing.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The signal box is opposite the station building/down platform and is still in use. Although not clear in this photograph the signal box sign is hand written in a distinctly non-railway font!

photograph by Colin Duff

the signal box
 
SR concrete footbridge The Southern Railway designed concrete footbridge linking the down (foreground) and up (distant) platforms.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The up (Ashford direction) platform only has a shelter. The remains of the disconnected down siding can be seen on the right. The Grove Road level crossing can be seen in the distance, again denoted by a red car crossing.

photograph by Colin Duff

up platform and down siding
 
3D unit 2072020 207202 again, on the return working from the picture on the previous page. Here it is stopping in platform 2 to be the 2:15pm departure to Hastings. This unit includes a former Cep trailer second lavatory car in place of its original 3H trailer composite.

photograph by Colin Duff

 
The town marks a change of countryside on the line. To the east there is flat marshland, to the west, as seen here, it is gently undulating with a climb to the line's summit at the entrance to Ore tunnel. An Ashford bound train is seen "thumping" its way towards Rye. This picture was also taken safely from public land.

photograph by Colin Duff

All photographs on this page were taken on 16th May 2002.

the luxuriant countryside towards Hastings

All photographs on this page were taken on 16th May 2002.

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This page was created 2 May 2003

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