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Rother revival

East Sussex's Rother Valley Railway is in urgent need of volunteer engineers to help with the replacement of four bridges on the line.

The railway opened in 1900, engineered by Holman Stephens, who was also responsible for construction of other narrow gauge and light railways across England and Wales. An extension was opened four years later, but other planned extensions never happened.

The line was in receivership by the 1930s but survived the war as a strategic transport line. But the passenger service ceased in 1954 and the goods route was reduced in length in 1961 and stopped in 1969.

In 1961 volunteers took up the crusade and the line was eventually granted a light railway order, and reopened in 1974, extending in stages, including featuring on television in Challenge Anneka.

RVR owns the area from Robertsbridge station to Northbridge Street. Volunteer members are working to get the historic line running again, but the sites of the ruined bridges are a major obstacle. The adjacent Kent & East Sussex Railway now has funding to take its line to Bodiam, while RVR is responsible for the 5km 'missing link' from there to Robertsbridge.

'But we have a lack of funding and also engineers,' says events and projects organiser Julia Hastings. 'Once we have replaced the four missing bridges we will be able to get more funding to purchase track, ballast and so on, then we will be able to run an engine with a coach for passengers to ride in.'

A steam excursion is planned for 17 October, and the railway is open to visitors on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Anyone able to help can contact Julia Hastings on (01580) 881711 or (0589) 986904.

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