Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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•Chap. XL] East Sussex Railway projects.                 131
independent promoters tried for a Bill to extend it northwards through Croydon, Thornton Heath and under Beulah Hill and Norwood, to join the Chatham and Dover line at Dulwich. This would have given the Chatham and Dover Company independent access to Tunbridge Wells in competition with the Brighton and South-Eastern Companies. The Parliamentary Committee threw out the Croydon and Dulwich section and so left the revived Surrey and Sussex line (then known as the Oxted and Groombridge line) hung up without an inlet or an outlet of its own. This put the line at the mercy •of the Brighton Company who took it over and absorbed it in their own system on their own terms, except that they had to grant to the S.E.R. running powers from near Croydon as far south as Oxted—the S.E.R. joining with a contribution towards the cost. It is a matter ever to be regretted on public grounds that the original Groombridge and Hailsham line with its long tunnel under Heathfield was not made, because it would have provided a first-class express running line available, when suitably linked up, for fast trains from London to East-Bourne which the existing Groombridge and Hailsham line never can be. This last line has a history of its own which is not devoid of interest. The abandonment of the Brighton Company's Tunbridge Wells and East-Bourne line of 1864 left all that part of Sussex totally unprovided with railway accommodation, so in 1873 local promoters were got together and obtained a Bill for a cheap cross-country line from Tunbridge Wells to Hailsham, of a gauge of 3ft. with, bad gradients and dangerous curves. Having got their Act these promoters found themselves with a white elephant, having neither money nor wits to make and work their line, so they offered to transfer it to the Brighton Company who in the first instance refused the offer. The promoters thereupon threatened to sell their Act to the S.E.R. This frightened the Brighton Company who eventually took over the line and made it, after their Engineer Mr. Banister had, to some extent, altered and ^ased the curves and gradients. It was opened in
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