Kent and East Sussex Railway

12th September 2010
A visit to the Kent and East Sussex Railway was in order on the 11th September for their 10th annual Hoppers Weekend. Visitors to the Bodiam Station were treated to a history of Hop picking. As this was a special event weekend, the Red train service was running, which means that all trains running were steam powered, and a range of historic cars where on show.

Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway


Bodiam and the surrounding area was a haven for hop pickers, pickers used to come from all over the south east area on specially timetabled trains during the summer for their annual break, inhaling the fresh countryside air. It is now over 50 years since the last special pickers train arrived at Bodiam Station.

Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway


In April 1900, the first section of the Rother Valley railway was opened, at Tenterden, which is now known as Rolvenden station. The line to the now Tenterden Town station was built and opened in 1903. In 1954, the now named Kent and East Sussex Railway, closed its carriages and was not to be used again, apart from goods trains and the hop pickers. In 1961, all activity on the railway was shut, and the section between Bodiam and Robertsbridge was eventually sold off, stripped of the tracks and was converted into farming fields.

Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway


The charity took the line over in 1972, and took on the task of restoring the railway and bringing it back to life. In February 1974 the first part of the line was reopened, and gradually over the coming 26 years the rest of the line to Bodiam was restored.

Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway Kent & East Sussex Railway


In 1991, The Rother Valley Railway vowed to renew the line between Robertsbridge and Bodiam. This is being rebuilt by Volunteer members of the railway, and is becoming ever closer to completion.

Behind the scenes at Rolvenden and Tenterden, restoration and upkeep of the locomotives, carriages and all other parts of the railway are carried out. A further blog post about Rolvenden will be available shortly, as we were given a private tour of the sheds - which is not open to the public.

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