Images courtesy of Colonel Stephens Railway Museum
The original Rother Valley Railway opened from Robertsbridge to Tenterden (actually the current Rolvenden station) in 1900. When the line closed in 1961, a preservation society was started with the aim of reopening the route for both commuting and tourism. For various reasons this was not possible, so the Railway had to content itself with restoring the line in stages as a heritage tourist line. In 2000 trains once more ran between Tenterden and Bodiam.
After Bodiam was reached, thoughts turned to the long held dream of reopening to Robertsbridge. A separate organisation was formed to investigate this and subsequently they have built a station at Robertsbridge, ready for an eventual link up. Also acquired was some of the track bed beyond Bodiam, which was then re-laid as far as Junction Road and sees occasional use.
Currently the Rother Valley Railway are seeking the necessary powers to fill in the missing link.
The extension of the Kent & East Sussex Railway from Bodiam to Robertsbridge will significantly change the existing Railway: it will increase the running length from 10 miles to 13.5 miles and there will be more demand from the East Sussex end. These impacts will mean we must make a number of alterations in order to accommodate the different service patterns and growth.
The Ready for Robertsbridge appeal has been launched to raise funds to make the Railway fit for the future. Identified projects that fall into this area are:
- signalling alterations to help speed up journey times and be more efficient in the deployment of volunteers;
- a footbridge and waiting shelter at Northiam, as platform 2 there is likely to see more use;
- additional carriages to enable simultaneous operation of two trains with the same facilities;
- another locomotive suitable for hauling heavy trains over the longer distance;
- larger staff facilities to accommodate the extra volunteers needed to run the enhanced service;
- more efficient locomotive watering and servicing facilities;
- and many more minor works to improve the efficiency and customer experience of the Railway.
This work cannot be funded from day to day revenue, so your help is sought to enable us to make the most of our long held goal of restoring the rail link between Tenterden and Robertsbridge.