The Branch Line Society


Spa Valley Railway Rambler
Thursday 30th July 2015

On a pleasant summer evening, 26 members met at Tunbridge Wells West station at 16.00. It was immediately evident that the 7¼" gauge railway had been lifted and it emerged that our previous visit of 31 July 2014 had been its final day of operation! Our railtour stock consisted of Thumper coaches 60151 ex- 1133 and 60820 ex-1122 hauled by 73140 towards Eridge and vice-versa on return; departure was from the run round loop line alongside the loco shed. The revised landslip deviation is still in use west of the station; remedial work on the bank was progressing slowly and it is fortunate that it used to be a double track formation, so able to accommodate the deviation. Groombridge Signal Box and signalling has been commissioned since last year's railtour. After taking the loop there in the 'unusual' direction, the train ran down the right hand side of the remains of the former curve towards Ashurst Jn (CA 6 January 1969), which line had been cleared to the stops especially for us; the 2014 trip had used the left side. Meanwhile a service train had passed, so the tour was able to return to Groombridge and, after reversal, on to Eridge. The NR/SVR boundary is crossed at MP28 then the site of the former Birchden Jn (with the Oxted to Uckfield line). Next is Forge Farm level crossing (which has to be staffed when the SVR runs) and Eridge. Here the running line was traversed to the buffer stops. On return to the SVR platform, there was discussion among the train crew and station staff as to where the key to the bay platform point clamp was. Clamp duly sorted, the bay was covered to its extremity. Returning to Tunbridge Wells West the tour ended on shed road 4, participants alighting by assorted steps. As a bonus Thumper 1317 ran along shed road 2 covering the headshunt and into the shed to put it away, concluding at 18.15. This all complemented our 2014 tour nicely. Thanks are due to Glen Wells for the arrangements and all the friendly SVR staff.

The former Tunbridge Wells West station in August 1984, (CP from 8 July 1985) looking west towards Eridge.
The station building (right) is now a pub/restaurant, slightly east is the Spa Valley Railway station alongside the former locomotive shed.
This can just be glimpsed through the gap underneath the rear of the platform canopy to the right; see also
[© Ian Mortimer 1984]