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Opening Day To The Grouping



Following the somewhat fractious planning and construction of the line, the route settled down quickly to return a modest profit over the first few years of operation, with the shingle and brickworks especially profitable traffic. For a short time, there were two 'Berwick' stations - before the one serving the main line was renamed Berwick & Selmeston. Services were operated by the LBSCR, who had regained their financial stability by the middle of the 1870's (1), with Stroudley's A1 Terrier, D1 and later D3 Classes regular performers, alongside of the last of the Craven-designed engines in the earliest days. As with many similar routes, passenger services were mostly in the hands of motor trains, whilst the pretty G Class 2-2-2 Singles were tested on the line following their withdrawal from the main Portsmouth route after the introduction of Robert Billinton's B2 Class (2), one of which, Number 346, was named Alfriston (3).


By the time the Cuckoo Line had been completed and a spur installed connecting Tunbridge Wells West with Tunbridge Wells Central (and therefore, on to London), timings were changed so that trains arrived at Isfield in time for smoother connections with onward services. By the late 19th Century, tourism was beginning to come to the Valley - in 1896 the fledgling National Trust had purchased Alfriston Clergy House for £10 (4), whilst Tea Gardens at Litlington (5) added to the nearby attractions. Consideration was also given to constructing a further branch from Laughton through to meet with the Cuckoo Line at Hellingly - serving the hamlets of Upper & Lower Dicker, the successful Dicker Pottery industry (6) and the McDougalls Flour Mill at Horsebridge, although this would never take place, despite some preliminary earthworks being dug at both ends of the line - instead, the company sought to placate the owner, Uriah Clark, by offering reduced rates on horse-drawn transport to instead distribute the Potteries wares from Laughton whilst by 1921, the Flour traffic had become important enough to warrant a shelter at Hellingly.




Map Data Copyright Google Maps 2013. Original Source; http://goo.gl/maps/YJbdC


The early years of the 20th Century were more fraught - especially after the summer of 1914, with the dark clouds of World War One looming over Sussex, as well as the rest of Europe. The war brought extra traffic to the line, with troops, munitions and stores travelling down to Cuckmere Haven as an alternative to the very congested Brighton Main Line route (7), before being marched to the port and the waiting ships, whilst material excavated from the beach was also widely used throughout Sussex in the hasty construction of defences. During the war the LBSCR, as well as other railways, came under Government control, but this had little impact on the line, although there were few families in the area not touched by the conflict.


By 1923, when the LBSCR was merged with others to form the Southern Railway, the line had begun to recover, with the tourists again beginning to return to the area - with the addition of tea rooms, known as Drusillas at Alfriston ( 8 ), as well as the resurrection of a Medieval 'Brew House Chamber' in Litlington, which quickly became known as the Long Man Brewery (9) . On the motive power front, the continuing electrification of the LBSCR's suburban lines in and around London had seen further cascading, with at least one member of the very attractive B1 Class locomotives (10) undertaking duties on the line.




1; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LBSCR#Later_nineteenth_century

2; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LB%26SCR_G_class

3; http://www.semgonline.com/steam/g-single_01.html

4; http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/alfriston-clergy-house/history/

5; http://www.litlingtonteagardens.co.uk/#/tea-gardens/4555501499

6; http://www.decorative-antiques.co.uk/histories/dicker.htm

7; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London,_Brighton_and_South_Coast_Railway#First_World_War

8; http://www.drusillas.co.uk/about-drusillas-

9; http://www.longmanbrewery.com/our-story/

10; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LB%26SCR_B1_Class

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