When The Railway Came To Rye

The Railway had reached Ashford, just 18 miles away by 1843. The line to Rye was soon commenced and a great iron swing bridge was constructed over the Rother.

By 1850 the dream became a reality. The wives and daughters of the dignitaries of the town viewed the arrival of the very first train from the top of the Gazebo in the garden of Dr. Davies.

The coming of the railway heralded a radical change for the town and its people. The swing bridge that had been built to allow the passage of the river barges. The rivers and canals had been the highways of England carrying heavy goods around the land. The railways were their successors and the swing bridge was replaced by a new fixed bridge just 50 years later. The Rye barges plied a decreasing trade for a few more years but were obsolete by the 1920’s by which time lorries were beginning to transport heavier and heavier loads. They in their turn had replaced the great majority of goods travelling by rail and later, in the years after the War, motor cars were carrying more and more people putting the Ashford – Rye – Hastings rail line in jeopardy from the Beeching cuts in the 1960’s.. It was touch and go but the Primrose line was saved by public opinion and continues on today with brand new rolling stock.

With the realisation that our roads are reaching saturation point it may well be that the railways will regain their former importance. Time will tell.Tilts1

The ladies of the town watched the arrival of the first train to come to Rye from the top of the Gazebo



Drawn by Brian Hargreaves for Jo’ Kirkham’s Ryennium Copies of Ryennium are still available from the Town Hall.Tilts

The Swing Bridge that was in use after the railway to Rye opened in 1851

From “Rye’s Own “ November 2005

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