Wealden Line Campaign

Friday 22 February 2019

History of the Wealden Line Campaign

The Wealden Line Campaign was started by Brian Hart who, for several years, had been actively interested in the Uckfield line’s future.

The WLC would probably not have come into existence without the determination and drive of Chris Green at the helm of Network SouthEast which actually saw public use of the railways as something to be encouraged rather than deterred.

British Rail had some appalling managers whose sole purpose seemed to be to discourage patronage and run everything down. Having dealt a fatal blow to the route in 1969 with the closure of the section to Lewes and the removal of the Ashurst – Groombridge spur (part of the Tunbridge Wells West – London Victoria main line) the run-down began.

Electrification of the remaining Uckfield branch was deferred in 1971 and track renewals postponed.

In 1981 the Sunday service was withdrawn, followed by the withdrawal of the Eridge – Tonbridge services.

Everyone, probably quite rightly, believed the Uckfield branch would be next. BR denies this, but at the beginning of 1986, following the electrification of the Tonbridge – Hastings line, BR manager Chris Jago says it is his decision not to proceed with a £20m project to electrify Uckfield line, claiming it to be a “dubious project”. Instead, the branch would be singled.