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The Phoenix

News and Views from the Issue Rother 50 Valley Railway Issue 58 ÂŁ1 Winter 2011

Journal of the Rother Valley Railway Supporters’ Association Issue 58 Winter 2011

Rother Valley Railway Supporters’ Association Committee for 2011/12: Helen Brett (Chairman) David Felton (Treasurer) Peter Brown Geoff Wyatt Steve Griffiths (Secretary & editor of the Phoenix)

The Rother Valley Railway Station, Station Road, Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5DG telephone: 01580 881833 RVR e-mail: RVR website: RVR membership:

Membership secretary Trevor Streeter

Rother Valley Railway Ltd Directors: David Felton (Chairman & Co. Secretary) Roy Seabourne John Snell Mike Hart OBE David Slack

Reg. Office: 3-4 Bower Terrace, Maidstone, Kent, ME16 8RY

Managers: Helen Brett Peter Brown Steve Griffiths Paul King Simon Relf

Trevor Streeter (Environmental Compliance mgr; webmaster)

(Shop mgr) (acting Loco mgr) (Safety mgr) (Forestry and Conservation mgr) (acting P/Way mgr)

(e-mail etc as above)

Geoff Wyatt Mark Yonge

(Carriage & Wagon mgr) (Press Officer)

Rother Valley Railway Heritage Trust Rother Valley Railway Heritage Trust Trustees: Gardner Crawley (Chairman), Peter Davis, David Felton Trustees: Gardner Mike Crawley Davis, John DavidSnell Felton, Mike Hart OBE, Hart(Chairman), (OBE), RoyPeter Seabourne, Roy Seabourne, John Snell Address etc as above Phoenix copyright: The Rother Valley Railway Supporters’ Association & contributors as named.


Editorial As the year comes to a close, 2011 looks like being one of the most significant in the history of the push to reopen the line between Robertsbridge and Bodiam. Last February we learned of the Trust’s ideas for the western end of the route and within a short space of time work had begun on the preparations for the extension from Bridge No 1 to Northbridge Street at the top end of the village. This followed hard on the heels of the first passenger trains to run over the newly completed eastern extension between Bodiam and Junction Road, and the acquisition of the RVR’s first steam loco Charwelton. Now in this issue we have news of two further additions to the stable, but as you will see we are also saying goodbye to some old friends. I hoped to be able to bring you details of the Trust’s planned track layout and facilities at Robertsbridge, but although these are well advanced now there are still interested parties to be consulted and negotiated with, and so once more we have to respect the fact that sometimes one just have to wait until Christmas Day before one can open the mysterious boxes under tree, frustrating thought it can be. You may like to know that the RVRSA decided recently not to increase your subscription for the coming year. Trevor our membership secretary writes below about the growth of the association. And do please make a note of the date of the next AGM –it’s set for 28 April. With bridge spans due to be placed early next year, followed by tracklaying, and hopefully announcements about the new layout at Robertsbridge, 2012 should be another eventful one. May I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Steve Griffiths (editor)

cover – new walkways being fabricated for the ex-Staplehurst bridge spans (MH) Any uncredit ed articles and text have been produced by th e Editor


People Paul King has stood down from the RVRSA committee, because of various competing pressures on his time. He remains a manager on the railway. We would like to thank him for his valuable input over the past six months or so, since the AGM. We need a new volunteer to do simple lunches and teas for the crew. Wednesdays and/or Sundays – ideally both. Training is provided. Please contact RVR at Robertsbridge. Latest news - The Northbridge Street extension The last issue showed work well under way on Bridges 1 and 4, with Bridge 3 abutments already completed. Since then the civil engineering on No1 has made great strides. The new culvert structure beneath was finished and the dams removed in good time for the flood season. Abutments on bridge No.5 have been completed (below).

Bridge 5 abutments looking west (SG)


By now the concrete ‘pads’ should be ready on top of the abutments of 3, 4 and 5 to carry the refurbished bridge spans at exactly the right height for the trackwork. Much of the embankment has been graded and topped with crushed concrete as sub-base for the eventual ballast and trackwork.

Bridge no.4 looking northeast, showing ‘pads’ being prepared (SG)

The four ex-Staplehurst bridge spans were taken off to a specialist yard at Lamberhurst to be treated and coated, and then hauled off again this time to contractors in north Wales (see front cover) to have walkways fabricated and fitted either side to meet current safety requirements. These should return soon, and will be placed by means of a large crane which will, we understand, trundle along the edge of the cricket ground just to the south of the embankment between bridges 2 and 5.


Meanwhile new steel girders are currently being assembled into the new structure to be placed on the upgraded abutments of Bridge No 1. Before bridge 5 could be started, it was necessary to repair the embankment where the River Rother has been eating away at it. This was accomplished with the aid of sheet piles inserted either side of the embankment by a large tracked pile-driving machine, plus telescopic crane, with the two lines of piles tied together by long rods now hidden below the future trackbed. To enable the pile-driver to work, the level of the embankment had to be lowered several feet to ground level for the duration of the job. This entailed a large number of lorry movements to remove the spoil temporarily, followed by the reverse process once the job was done. All this work must have been disruptive for the village and we can only thank them for their patience and support for the project to date.

Sheet piling along the River Rother nr Bridge 5 (TEDS) 6

Prize draw news – by Geoff Wyatt Funds from the Supporters Association lottery have made possible the refurbishment and conversion of our old SR Gangwayed Bogie Luggage Van to create a mess van for the volunteers at Robertsbridge. So the draw is a good way to support the railway! Forms for joining are available from me at Robertsbridge, or by email to Latest RVRSA prize draw winners

September October November

1st prize D Masters (ball 8) M Justice (ball 15) C Ashfield (ball 2)

2nd prize Mrs Clinton (ball 18) A Stokes (ball 12) P Combs (ball 5)

Rolling stock movements – by David Felton As part of the planning for the continual development of the railway and in particular its eventual connection with the Kent & East Sussex Railway, RVR Ltd, in conjunction with K&ESR management, has been reviewing the various items of rolling stock on the railway. The company identified three categories of stock, as follows: a) those that it is foreseen will have a long term future on the eventual combined railway and which should be retained b) those that will be useful to the RVR during the period of reconstruction work c) those that have no foreseeable use or particular link with the railway. The following vehicles were identified in the latter category: a) the ex-BR Mk 1 TSO coach no 4037 b) the ex-SR Maunsell SO coach no 1346 c) the Matisa locomotive no 97701 d) the ex-LNER box van no 161278 e) the Smith Rodley crane


With the exception of the crane, all these vehicles are owned by private owners and notice was duly given for the respective owners to remove them from the railway. Some vehicles have already left for other locations including the TSO and SO, and others will be going during 2012. Also due to go is the ex SECR luggage van owned by the Hastings Tramway Society. Unfortunately despite advertising no buyer could be found for our Smith Rodley crane, which has now sold and cut up. All other vehicles at Robertsbridge are being retained for the time being and will be maintained or restored as resources and conditions permit. We were recently given the option of purchasing the Drewry D77 (Dougal/Mr Useful) for an advantageous sum. This offer was gratefully accepted, and this locomotive is now owned by the Company. The review also identified a need for additional stock and it was decided to acquire two new vehicles.

Ex-BR class 03 diesel, No D2112 (photo unknown) 8

Thanks to the generosity of another supporter who donated the necessary funds to the Trust under Gift Aid, the Company purchased an additional locomotive, D2112. This diesel-mechanical 0-6-0 shunter was built by British Railways at their Doncaster works in 1960. It is dual braked; ie it is fitted with both air and vacuum brakes. It is a lot more powerful than our existing Drewry diesels, which are both 0-4-0s. Re-numbered 03 2112 under the TOPS system, it travelled extensively around the country, eventually being sold off by BR in the 1990s. It had a spell on the Nene Valley Railway before being hired to the British Sugar Corporation working at Boston Docks. At present it is at the Rolvenden works of the K&ESR where it will undergo a thorough service before being delivered to RVR Robertsbridge.

Matisa R7D ballast regulator at RVR

The second machine, shown above, arrived at Robertsbridge on 10 November 2011. Although not looking in pristine condition and in need of some tlc, the Matisa is mechanically sound. It has been purchased by the railway specifically for use as part of the tracklaying that will start 9

in 2012 and will probably be sold after this work has been completed. Its BR number was 77106. It was formerly privately owned on K&ESR. Other carriage and wagon news The GBLV/mess van project continues steadily. Its new kitchen played a role in the Robertsbridge Bonfire Night celebrations, serving burgers and teas etc to the ravening hordes of Vikings, Ghouls and so on that seem to get very hungry. The twin doors on the south western corner of the mess van were opened up for the purpose, and an awning was placed on the platform outside to keep any rain off the queuing customers. As it happened the evening was fine but it was as well to be prepared. We also provided some shelter inside the van in case of rain and this allowed people to see the work that is under way to insulate the van internally so that our volunteers can be reasonably comfortable in the winter, and to help preserve the other contents from the worst of the cold and damp that gets into everything during the three chilliest months of the year. We didn’t take as much money as in previous years, due to the absence of bonfire society coaches from the main car-park this time, but it was still great PR for the railway and everyone seemed interested and enthusiastic. Work on the BP tank wagon’s new oak chassis continues at the specialist contractor’s yard. If you’d like to help please send a cheque or postal order etc to Mark Yonge, here at Robertsbridge RVR. A gift aid form will be supplied so that the Government in effect contributes a further 25%. As David’s article implies, we have had a change of heart over restoring the historic LNER box van, owned by the SA, and we now aim to find a good home for it elsewhere, and a buyer is interested. This change of plan is sad, but uncertainty over how much space and facilities will be available at Robertsbridge for restoration and storage of historic vehicles, and when, led us to conclude that “re-homing” would be the best option for getting this historic van with its now ancient wooden chassis back into decent shape.


P/Way update The track weekend on the Junction Road extension in 15 & 16 October got started on the task of removing and greasing all the fishplates towards Bodiam. This proved quite a slow job even with three of us at it, and a few more visits will be needed to finish the work. It’s just the ticket for a sunny winter’s day! We understand new pointwork destined for Robertsbridge is already under construction. We are looking ahead to tracklaying starting in the spring on the formations both east and west of Bridge No 1, to complete the new extension once the bridge spans have been placed. The future at Robertsbridge The Supporters’ Association Committee has continued its dialogue with the Trust about the plans for Robertsbridge, as mentioned in the last Phoenix. Of particular concern has been the amount of siding space in relation to the existing collection of vehicles on site, and the extent to which it would be possible to work on vehicle restoration once the RVR joins up physically with K&ESR. Latest indications are that there will be little spare siding space available after final join-up, and the capacity will be mostly required for operating passenger services to and from Tenterden. As the editorial notes, plans are still under discussion with relevant parties and are not yet available. Talking of the future, an unexpected windfall was the old corrugated iron lamp hut from beside the bay platform at the mainline station next door. Our thanks to Network Rail for thinking of us when planning a tidy up of the area this winter. This hut appears in photos from before world war two, and may well be much older. We hope it can now become a feature at Robertsbridge RVR. King’s Sutton – by Geoff Wyatt This layout is my 'O' gauge railway representation of King's Sutton station on the GWR (four miles south of Banbury) and the connecting 11

lines and stations locally. It’s a reasonably true representation of how King's Sutton worked up to about 1960 and its operational features from 1930-1950 (ish). Around the branch was Adderbury, which is more freelance to allow the showing of a wider range of features and use of stock. The line proceeded in real life via Chipping Norton to Kingham, with yet further connections to Cheltenham. Adderbury onwards is imaginary. King's Sutton had some 18 local passenger trains in each direction a day: a third round the branch to Kingham operated as Push-Pull, a third as six coach sets to Oxford and a third as Push-Pull to Bicester and Princes Risborough. These were interspersed with express trains, two stopping goods, an iron ore from the branch, and some through coal trains. This meant a very busy line and lots of train types to model. Six locos are used and a 61xx tank is in the making.

The photo above looks south to where the branch line curves steeply to the west and to Adderbury, whilst the main line proceeds to the flying 12

junction at Ayhno (not shown) where the Oxford and Princes Risborough lines divide, though both end up at Paddington. A fast train pulled by an ex-Hornby County of Bedford is approaching from the south, whilst a Mogul waits and simmers patiently at the branch up home signal with its iron ore train. (part 2 of this article will appear in the next issue – Ed) Membership Matters – by Trevor Streeter Renewal It’s that time of year when I remind you about the renewal of your membership. For the vast majority renewal will occur on 1 April. Renewal =

£15.00 - adult £7.50 - others in the household, and minors £18.00 - new joiners For a large number of you, you are on standing order. You need not do anything and your new membership cards will arrive automatically after 1 April. Those of you who do not renew by standing order will find enclosed a pre-addressed envelope, to send me your details and cheque if you are due. As in earlier years your renewal will have your personal details for verification with the SA records. The largest number of changes occurs to email addresses and this is a chance to make sure I have got it right. You will have noticed an increasing amount of electronic communication so please be sure you do not miss anything. And so if your details are correct and you are on an S.O, you need do nothing. Membership renewal can be so easy! Membership Cards Your membership cards will change slightly this year. On the back of your cards you have always had the contact details of the Railway at 13

Robertsbridge. That has become a little stale after all these years and so it is decided to replace that with a photograph of the most significant event of the year. This year it is Donald Wilson’s “Charwelton at Udiam”, taken on the occasion of the Junction Road Weekend event.

Of course for those of you who elect for continuance of the current contact details, due to the miracles of modern systems that can remain an option. It is hoped however that the membership cards become collectable. Membership Statistics This year as with all recent years has seen the membership grow by a huge 7.6%. Given the economic gloom this is some result. Of course membership is linked to the achievements of the railway and this year has been quite a year, as the next promises to be.


Volunteering Days at K&ESR RVR volunteers joined one of the regular K&ESR recruitment days at Tenterden earlier this autumn. This was an opportunity to visit various departments of the railway and see what they had to offer volunteers. We looked around the carriage workshops, loco shed, Pullman operation, signalboxes, several stations and saw the business of driving and ticket collecting on board two types of train, namely the DMU and the green five-coach train en route to Bodiam and back. We all found it fascinating and well organised with plenty of opportunities to chat to staff in the various jobs as well as our host Jim Williams. I would recommend the experience to anyone looking to working on the joined-up railway. For many of the ‘safety critical’ jobs that require training and a certificates of competence, it would seem a good idea to think about starting soon because some jobs demand considerable experience before one can be ‘passed out’ as competent.

RVR volunteers wrestle with the chocolates at their annual Christmas lunch (JE)


Diary dates RVRSA Model Railway exhibition – SAMREX May 19th and 20th, 2012 at Robertsbridge village hall. RVRSA AGM – our annual general meeting has now been set for Saturday 28 April 2012 at 2.30pm in the visitor centre at Robertsbridge. Only Members may attend, and you will need to bring proof of membership. Scrub etc clearance days- Saturday 7 January, 14 January, other days to be announced. Safety boots must be worn. Contact Paul King for details. Letters to the Editor From Glynn C Davis Concerning your enquiry about the origin of the road name ‘The Clappers’, a brief trawl through some vintage encyclopaedias reveals that the name has a variety of origins. The ‘clack’ sound of the adjacent mill hopper in Hodsons Mill might suggest an onomatopoeic derivation. But the clapper is also the term for the moving part of the bell or rattle which can be agitated at a fast speed...hence ‘going like the clappers’ perhaps. A ‘clapper bridge’ is also the name given to bridges spanning many brooks on Dartmoor, constructed by tinworkers in the Middle Ages. Take your pick! There could be many other explanations.

Thanks Glynn. It looks like the definitive answer eludes us for now [Ed.]


RVR’s Web services – by Trevor Streeter Interest in our web presence is driven by what is happening on the railway overall. This year we had some staggering figures leading in to the Branch Line weekend in March, spiking massively in July as the news about developments at the Robertsbridge end started, with 8589 viewings. This compares to 2010 when we were lucky to get to 6000 hits per month.

RVR’s internet presence used to be a cluster of web pages. These days the website is only a part of what we are doing, while remaining the biggest point of contact with the public, at the moment. We are now seeing the social media taking an increasing share of the public access to RVR news, with Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In leading the way. Currently, all RVR news items are quickly loaded onto our news blog at Our presence on Facebook and Twitter link 17

directly to that blog. The beauty of electronic media is that we can do more than mere paper can do, with graphics and links to other news items increasing the interaction and ‘stickiness’. Those of you who have Twitter accounts will be notified instantly of news items as they are posted, and as you will see this often happens each week, and not just every quarter. And what next? The biggest weakness of our current web presence is the limitation of authors. Essentially this is only me. I hope to try and open this up to more ‘content providers’ at RVR, so that our web presence becomes more of a collective effort, more representative of what the Railways achievements are about. Don’t forget to check out the fast-growing RVR online photo collection, at

Modelling the RVR The latest in this occasional series of articles looks at the “PMV” – No 8 in the RVR stock list. PMV stands for Parcels and Miscellaneous Van and the design originates with the South East and Chatham Railway. The example currently on site was built in 1922 at Ashford works, and saw service with the Southern Railway and then BR until withdrawal in 1988.


A rather nice OO gauge model of a similar appearance but fitted with end doors for loading vehicles etc, and more side vents, is the small CCT van made by Hornby Dublo and more recently reissued by Hornby. Old examples in good nick are asking up to £50. By contrast, our 25 ton “Pillbox” SR brake van from the early 30s couldn’t be easier to source. Bachmann’s catalogue shows a new OO model in several liveries. The Rother Valley was one of a fascinating empire of light railways built under the direction of Holman F. Stephens. Join us, and help preserve the history and artefacts of his many lines. You will also receive our quarterly newsletter ‘The Colonel’, packed with news, articles and scale drawings. For a membership form, write to: David Powell (CSS Mem.Sec.) Gateways, Bledlow Road, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Bucks., HP27 9NG

Enlist today

telephone 01844 343377 e-mail website

Deptford Creek The last issue asked ‘where is this structure and what is it?’. The correct answer was provided by Tom Burnham. It is the railway bridge over Deptford Creek. This lifting bridge dates from 1963 in its current form and sits on the North Kent line between London Bridge and Greenwich. It has been replaced a couple of times since 1836.


As you railway historians will know, the central stretch of this route was the world’s first railway intended specifically for passengers, and the first elevated railway too, being entirely on viaduct . Deptford and (long gone) Spa Road stations were London’s first, with the line between opening in 1836, before London Bridge opened later that year. Deptford Station still features a long ‘carriage ramp’ (now a listed building) at right angles to the line, reputedly built to enable horsedrawn carriages to be conveyed by rail, and later to allow rolling stock to access the facilities below. The station is currently being drastically revamped, and one fears the loss of traditional features in the process. Tom has also kindly sent a picture (below) which is now the oldest in our online archive, dating from 26 September 1970 – a mere 41 years ago. It’s interesting to see how the station has changed – the old footbridge in the old location, providing the only way off the ‘up’ platform, the lack of trees on the bank, the sorry state of the branch line to Tenterden, long closed to passenger traffic, the ex-Ford loco in the distance painted grey (now of course a K&ESR loco). Who was using the new-looking wooden hut shown in the photo?

Robertsbridge 1970, DEMU 3014 to CX Hastings arriving (TB)


HELP! The Hastings Tramway Club has to leave the RVR site in 2012 They are looking for premises to house their two historic Hasting tram bodies so that restoration can continue. The minimum area they need is 20 foot square, but ideally more. With a door way 9 ft high. Get in touch if you can help –

Railcars and railbuses Many of you will know that Col. Stephens was pioneering in his use of converted road vehicles, and two Ford cars were given new bodies and coupled back to back to begin working as a railcar set in 1923 between Headcorn and Robertsbridge. So novel was the concept that it featured in the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror at the time. On this theme, Graham Hocking has written about the Australian experience of converting road to rail, as follows:‘When the London General Omnibus Company was 'refleeting' with firstly K, then S & NS -type buses in the early 1920s, they had 3500 old B-types to get rid of, many of which were still in serviceable condition, though old. Remember that they were the first mass produced public service vehicle with reliable mechanicals, and a quiet performance on the road, vastly superior to most other vehicles of similar size and intended use. One B-Type ran on the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club’s annual London to Brighton run in, I think about 2009. It managed a very creditable 30 mph at times, and duly arrived at Brighton, after a much longer run than it would have been required to perform in normal daily revenue service. By then it was just one hundred years old, as the original fleet had been built between 1909 and1913 at the Vanguard Works in Walthamstow.


The Queensland Government Railways built 50 railcars during the 1920s, using these old B-type bus engines, gearboxes and back axles (all by AEC). The frames and bodies were built locally. This photo (below) was taken of Victorian Railways No 9 RM, leaving Fawkner for Somerton some time in 1956. The single vehicle met the electric multiple unit trains at the 'end of wire' and ran on for about three or so miles through open countryside to its own small terminus at Somerton, adjacent to and alongside the main Melbourne to Albury/Wadonga line. The 'railbus' had its own tiny turntables at each end of its short run. Affectionately known as 'Beetles' there were 19 of these built in about 1929 for use on some branch lines with low patronage. When the electric overhead was extended in 1956, No 9 was sold off as a chicken coop one or some such. Happily, no less than four of the 50 railbuses are preserved, and were still in running order in 2010!’

The spring Phoenix deadline is 5 March All contributions welcome - Ed 22


The RVR shop is open every Sunday, from 9 – 4pm. Now with ice-creams, hot and cold drinks, biscuits, sweets, crisps Please e-mail stock enquiries to Helen Brett at SELL VIA RVR We are happy to have your unwanted railway items to sell for railway funds. Items can also be sold for you on commission (15%). PRICING POLICY Pricing second-hand items is an art not a science, so all sensible offers are considered for most goods in the shop! BACK NUMBERS OF RAILWAY MAGAZINES We have what is probably the best collection in the south-east of England. Try us for that issue you’re missing. RAILWAY BOOKS From historic to modern, biography to photo collections, we have a wide range of second-hand books at bargain prices. MODEL RAILWAY ITEMS We have a large collection of used models and trackwork, mainly 0, OO, and N gauges. We also have some road vehicles and small buildings etc. FULL–SIZE RAILWAY ITEMS 3rd rail insulators. Railchairs from pre-1923 companies and later, plain or lightly painted. We now have an Ebay account, so you may find some items listed online. Our seller name is ‘rothervalleyrailwayltd’ (no spaces). 24

Rother Valley Railway Station, Station Road, Robertsbridge TN32 5DG Membership Secretary 105 Estridge Way Tonbridge, Kent TN10 4JU Dear Member,

Spring 2012

It’s that time of year ago when we look forwards as well as backwards. 2011 was quite a year and 2012 promises to be equally exciting. Keep an eye on the web sites, Facebook and Twitter and the more traditional paper Phoenix for the latest developments in our constantly changing work, strives, successes and yes a few failures. For the fourth year we have kept the renewal fee unchanged at £15 and children just half the adults fee as we look for administrative ways to be more efficient. There are a variety of ways to pay to make this as convenient as possible. You can pay by cheque, cash via the shop (but please obtain a receipt), and standing order. For those of you on standing order you need do nothing for this coming year. Your Membership card will be sent to you after 1st April. For those of you who prefer to pay by those more traditional methods we have included an envelope as before. And why should you renew? Our members are our lifeblood. For some this includes volunteering as there is always so much to do. If you feel this could interest you, why not get in contact with us! Either way, showing your support through your membership increases our voice in local circles and in the heritage railway environment. With your help we are getting there! And we hope for your continuance. Trevor Streeter – Membership.

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11q4 Pheonix Extended  

The News and Views of the Rother Valley Railway