Change of Routine

An Early Change Of Routine For The Camber Tram

by Laurie A Cooksey

At the Grand Opening Dinner of the Rye & Camber Tramway, held at the Royal William Hotel, Camber on the afternoon of Saturday, 13th July, 1895, Colonel Brookfield, M.P during the course of a quite lengthy speech, mentioned that at the Battle of Prestonpans, near Edinburgh in 1745, John Cope took up a position behind a tramway, and then jokingly added that they might use the Camber Tramway in the same manner against their foes on the other side of the English Channel!

Just nine months after the Colonels speech, his prediction came true in a sense, although not one shot was fired in anger! On the evening of Thursday, 14th May 1896, after the tram had arrived back from Camber with the last service of the day at around 7.40p.m. it was used by about 80 members of ” E” Company 1st Cinque Ports Rifles the Dungeness Volunteers who took part in a night attack, the scene of operations being between the town of Rye and Camber Sandbanks.

The general idea was that a hostile force had landed at Dungeness and was marching along the coast with the intention of taking Rye Harbour, the Tramway and the town of Rye. The invading force, under the command of Colour Sergeant Fletcher (who had as section commanders Sergeant Clerk and Corporal Igglesden) duly took the Tramway and advanced section towards the town, supported by the Tramway locomotive, CAMBER, and the two small open wagons manned with volunteers, Needless to say, the defending force was greatly surprised when the invaders opened fire from the train but, after a while, with their sections being hard pressed, the invaders were compelled to retire, with the defenders ultimately forcing them to take up a strong position on top of the sand hills. The defending sections, who were under the command of Lieutenant Cory, Sergeant Instructor Craig and Sergeant Noakes, appeared to well understand each other’s movements and moved their men very smartly, Great praise was later given to Sergeant Instructor Craig for the way in which he planned the operations, all the instructions emanating from him.

After the manoeuvre, the men were provided with refreshments at The Royal William Hotel and then, headed by their band, they marched in darkness back to Rye where they arrived soon after 10pm having passed what was described as a most profitable and instructive evening.

From November 2001 issue of “Rye’s Own”

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