The Railway

The Railway Story by Paul Rhodes

Paul, a railway enthusiast who grew up in Hartfield, researched and wrote this history in 2006 and was happy for us to add it to the Hartfield History Website

It has been added as a 'flip page' album so that you can read the great story, page by page. You can also enlarge it to read at full screen size. The easiest way to read the whole story is to click on the symbol to enlarge the click book with the 'wood' background. Click on the arrows at the bottom to reach the page you want and then click on the magnifying glass to fill the screen. Unfortunately, if you wish to move on a page, you have to reduce the size again by clicking on the magnifying glass which then provides you with the arrows to change the page. Repeat the process!


The picture above was described as Hartfield Station platform photographed from the train. HOWEVER, I have now come across the picture below which is a similar picture taken from the train and is quite obviously a genuine picture of Hartfield Station. I have left the incorrect one for you to compare as it turns out to be a picture of Withyham Station. You can see how the road at Hartfield is climbing up the slope over the railway bridge whereas the road that passes the Withyham Station is level with the line and used level crossing gates. Note the lamps are oil on both platforms and where there is no burner it would have been removed for filling, lit and replaced when necessary. The Withyham picture also shows a small signal box at the far end of the platform which presumably controlled the level crossing.

Hartfield rly station

Stitch-3-cut-Stn-Version-2Withyham station  - Version 2

 A picture of Hartfield Station that was taken before the coal yard development to compare with the black & white picture above.The small window is hidden behind the storage shed but you can see the top of the drain pipe and also the support for the platform canopy.  The picture of Withyham level crossing shows the signal box at the end of the platform.

Farmer Moving South (A Winter Journey)

One of the most extraordinary stories directly related to the railway in Hartfield is that of a farmer who moved the whole of his farm from Yorkshire to Perryhill Farm here in Hartfield - by train - in the snow - in December 1950! The move was filmed by British Transport Films and is part of their film collection, Volume 3, entitled 'Running a Railway'. For your money you get 2 DVD's with 7 short films on each, of which 'Farmer Moving South' is on Disc Two and runs for 17 minutes.

In October 2013, we had an excellent talk by Ian Pierce looking at the story from the opposite end as it were. Ian runs the History Group in Great Ayton which is some 4 miles from the market town of Stokesley. The farm in question which was moved is at Skutterskelfe on the other side of Stokesley. Whilst his history group, like ours, had seen the British Transport film, nobody had attempted to discover much about the people involved and Ian had written to Perryhill Farmhouse as part of his investigation asking for photographs to compare with those that were on the film. This is where I became involved as the neighbour to Perryhill Farm and provided a number of pictures for the 'before and after' approach that Ian was after for a more detailed talk. 

To cut a long story short (at this stage of our website development), Ian decided that he would like to see 'this end' of the story and kindly offered to give an illustrated talk to the Hartfield History Group which was very well attended. As there were some 90 slides I will attempt in due course to add an outline of the story to this section but if there is anyone with a particular interest please do get in touch through the Contact section of the site. 

Railway Closure

When the railway was closed in the vast cuts to the rail system by Dr Beeching, an important connection for the village was ended.

His infamous report, ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, in 1963, led to the closure of 5,500 miles of track, the sacking of 67,000 workers and the shutdown of 2,363 stations. This was a third of the track network and 55% of stations.


The Station after closure - beginning to show deterioration.


 Early days as Hartfield Playschool 

The Station Today

The Station today

This is the view of Hartfield Station from the railway bridge today. The width of the bridge is hardly sufficient for today's traffic and this photo had to be taken by driving slowly across in an open car - it's simply too dangerous to walk across which is why there is a pedestrian route down to the old track bed and up the other side.

If you enlarge the picture you can see some colourful elements of the Playschool that has its home in the Station building.

Railway bridge now

Looking under the railway bridge in the East Grinstead direction along what is now a popular cycle and off-road easy walking path through the countryside.

Cycle path sign


CLICK on any of these pictures to enlarge them. Use the back arrow to revert to the original.

The front of Hartfield 'Station' as it is today. In it's guise as a Playgroup for the last 50 years it retains all the appearance and charm of the original station.

The front of Hartfield 'Station' as it is today. In it's guise as a Playgroup for the last 50 years it retains all the appearance and charm of the original station.

The Goods Shed has been beautifully refurbished and adapted as a new home for the Parish Council and includes two apartments.

The Goods Shed has been beautifully refurbished and adapted as a new home for the Parish Council and includes two apartments.

Further Hartfield Railway Websites and Information

There are a huge number of railway enthusiasts and several websites dedicated to many aspects of railways then and now which you may like to view. The first one is a detailed photographic record of the Hartfield Station development and the Forest Way by Derek Hayward.

12 comments on “The Railway
  1. Doug Bolt says:

    Hello. My Mum was evacuated to Hartfield during the war. She said that she was at Bolebrook Cottage/s but can’t remember the name of the farm that it was on or the name of the people who owned/ ran it. If anyone can help with any info or photos old or new of Bolebrook Cottages or if anyone has memories of my Mum it would be greatly appreciated. She is Kathleen Curtis and was evacuated to Hartfield from Bellingham in South East London 1939/1940>41.

    Many thanks

    Doug Bolt

    • HartfieldHG says:

      Hello Doug, thanks for getting in touch. Bolebrook is a particularly ancient part of the parish and you may have seen several pictures of Bolebrook Castle under ‘Ancient Buildings’. The ‘Cottages’ I believe are the ones close to the remains of the gatehouse on the opposite side of the track. Being an ‘incomer’ myself of only 21 years I will pass you query on to our historian, Mike Parcell, who has a great deal of information and may have something relevant. I have come across other children who were evacuated to Hartfield at the beginning of the war. I live close to Bolebrook Mill which is a watermill noted in the Domesday Book but the other side of the (main) road to the other Bolebrook buildings. I will pop down and get a photo of the cottages near the castle to see if it rings any bells with your mother.

  2. Ian Riseley says:

    Hello doug
    Hartfield brings back memories for me as i lived there on the station when i was a small child,with my mum,dad,and brother.
    Our bedroom over looked the platform. I was 4years old at the time,i can only remember the diesel train’s that used the line.
    We remained there after the line closed but moved to paddock wood in 1969.

    • HartfieldHG says:

      Thank you Ian for your reminiscence of the railway station, it is good to have first hand memories. In what year were you 4 years old? The line closed on 1st January 1967 and the playgroup started in 1973. Chris

      • Ian Riseley says:

        Hi Chris.
        Sorry i’m making myself older than i am. I was 2 years old but still remember looking out our bedroom window and watching the diesel train go past. We moved to hartfield in 1965,my dad knew that the line was to close within the next 2 years.
        We were all very upset when the line closed,another part of history gone forever. I still get goosebumps every time i pass it,and i often see (NOT REAL)Ghosts of me and my family living there,it was and always will be apart of me.

  3. Raymond Edwards says:

    Does anyone know if there was a Platelayers/Permanant Way Gang Hut anywhere along the railway of Hartfield and Withyham?

    I descend from Silvester Latter Edwards ( my Great Grandfather). He lived with his Mother and Father, William and Louisa Edwards working as a Farm Labourer at Reids(Reeds) Farm, Hartfield Parish (I cannot locate this farm or where it was?). He married Sarah Ann Weeding in 1884 and set up home at 93 Green Cottage, Hartfield ( anyone know this location?). He quit working on the farm and become a Platelayer for the railway. Unfortunately I have no knowledge as to where he was based. I am a fourth generation Railwayman thanks to Silvester, his son( my Grandad)and my Dad.

    I shall be keeping an eye on this wonderful website as I am interested in the local history as it is from where I descended. There were a lot of Edwards in the Hartfield and Withyham area, and tracing my roots has been fun and confusing at times.

    • HartfieldHG says:

      Thank you for contacting us with your interesting enquiry. I have added it to Parcell’s Postings and hope that we can provide some answers in due course. I thought that there was a hut very close to Hartfield station at the end of what was or became the coalyard but I could not say if it was actually a platelayers hut

    • Roger Barton says:

      Silvester Edwards b abt 1859.In 1891 he worked on the track as part of a gang of four as a labourer paid 3/- a day. Find my Past railway records
      Green cottages I think were near Chessons corner on Withyham Road

    • Roger Barton says:

      There is a postcard of The Green Cottages for sale on Ebay at moment

  4. Roger Barton says:

    Forgot to add Based at Hartfield and would have worked for the London Brighton and South coast Railway.

  5. Jeremy Ledger says:

    We often walk our dog along this lovely route. Wonderful to see Hartfield & Withyham stations as they were when they were open – thank you. Amazing to think they’ve been closed now for 50 years but were open for 100 before that! Withyham signal box is preserved at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Rly and used to demonstrate what such a box was like to work.

    • HartfieldHG says:

      Thank you for your reminiscence. The History Group went on an enjoyable outing to the Bluebell Railway quite recently. Shame that we did not know of the signal box connection. Perhaps I should try and get a photo of it now to match the original on the site!

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