Make tracks to discover railway heritage of Lewes

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A fascinating evening is in prospect for members of the Lewes History Group when the town’s railway connections will come under the spotlight.

Railway historian John Hollands is the speaker at the group’s meeting on Monday (November 11).

The lecture covers how Lewes became connected to its current rail network, and other matters associated with its complicated history in the 19th century – including why the town has had three stations, the impact railways had, some notable comings and goings, and what Mr Burwood Godlee of Leighside had to do with it all.

Mr Hollands’ father worked for the railways and, as a child, he lived near what were the marshalling yards, now the Railway Land, so the talk includes many personal memories.

The first railway established in the region was the London to Brighton Railway. This development stimulated interest by Cater Rand and Burwood Godlee, amongst others, in bringing a railway to Lewes and eventually led to the formation of the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway.

The talk will look at the local investors, various schemes for the tracks, station locations and the final proposals for the first operational railway. Mr Hollands will also examine the difficulties encountered in building the lines and the events and experiences of operating the railway in the early years, together with the ‘first round of extensions’ of the local network to Eastbourne, Hastings, Newhaven and the Keymer Junction.

Later in the 19th century there were further extensions of the local network to Uckfield and East Grinstead and track layout alterations in Lewes as three stations became one. Mr Hollands will end with a brief reference to 20th century developments.

He will also consider the effects of the railway on local employment, road transport, the transport of people and freight, and notable visitors to Lewes.

The meeting is at the Kings Church building in Brooks Road, Lewes, opposite the Homebase car park. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start and everyone is welcome. There is a small admission charge on the door and free refreshments.

Visit www.leweshistory.org.uk for more information on the group, its meetings and other activities, including how to get involved in the Lewes Streets Stories project.