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Cuckoo Line

(1880AD - 1965AD )

Steam Train arriving at Heathfield The Cuckoo Line was the old steam railway which ran from Polegate to Tunbridge Wells.

The track was started in 1849 with the single track link from Polegate to Hailsham . In September 1880 a further length of single track line from Eridge to Hailsham was opened, providing a service from Charing Cross to Eastbourne via Tunbridge Wells .

The track ran from Polegate to Tunbridge Wells via Hailsham , Hellingly , Waldron , Horam Road , Heathfield through a tunnel to Mayfield , Rotherfield then on to Eridge where it joined the Uckfield to Tunbridge Wells line.

Its name came from the Cuckoo Fair held at Heathfield. Legend has it that a quaintly dressed old lady always turns up at the annual April Heffle( Heathfield ) Cuckoo Fair, to release from her basket the first cuckoo of spring. Drivers of the trains referred to the trip as "going down the Cuckoo".

The majority of the traffic on the line was from the Express Dairies milk plant at Horam .

In 1895 Heathfield station was famous due to being the first to be natural gas lit, no others stations were so illuminated prior to the First World War, the gas continued to flow till the 1930's. The gas was discovered, by the Railway company looking for water near the station to fill the steam train water tanks.

Horam station must have been confusing to passengers, as it had a number of names starting with "Horeham Road" then "Waldron", "Horeham Road - Waldron", "Waldron - Horeham Road", "Waldron - Horam" and finally in 1953 "Horam".

Today the Heathfield to Polegate section has been opened up to the public for walking, cycle riding, and in some sections as a bridleway, and is known as the Cuckoo Trail .

Villages Referenced

Bodle Street  -   (White Horse on the roof)
Hailsham  -   (Ropes and Napoleon)
Heathfield  -   (19th Century Natural Gas)
Horam  -   (Which Station do we get off at ?)
Mayfield  -   (Saint Dunstan and the Devil)
Polegate  -   (Fine old Tower Mill)

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