Railways & Stations History
The first railway to the Hastings area was approved in 1839. It was to run along the coast from the West as far as St Leonards and eventually opened in 1846. It was an extension to the London Brighton and South Coast Railways (LBSCR) line to Lewes.
In 1899 the SER and LCDR merged as the South East and Chatham Railways or SECR. Southern Railway (SR) was formed in 1923 and incorporated them both, as well as the London & South Western Railway.
A second line was completed in the area in 1851 by competing railway company South Eastern Railways (SER), which reached as far as Hastings and came in from Ashford in the East.
Shortly after, the SER where responsible for the construction of two tunnels from Hastings to link up with the existing LBSCR line at St Leonards and its own line through Battle to London. Services started in February 1851 but the two rival companies fell out, resulting in an unsatisfactory service between Hastings and St Leonards which wasn't resolved until the end of the year when a court order ended the fude. Soon after the sharing of receipts at Hastings Station was agreed.
SR became one of the 'Big Four' railway companies in the UK at the time. British Rail was formed in 1948 and and was eventually privatised. The railways are currently run by Connex.
Electrification of the railway in the area started in July 1935 which reflects the economical growth of Hastings and St Leonards at that time.
The first train arrived at Hastings station in 1851 and with it began Hastings’ heyday. The station was originally V-shaped allowing for both railway companies to have seperate platforms and booking areas. One side for SER trains to pass through and the other as a terminal for LBSCR services.
The whole station was reconstructed in a neo-Georgian style in 1931 and only the goods shed remained unchanged. All trains now ran through the two new island platforms and a huge central booking hall welcomed travellers.
In October 2004 the third incarnation of the station building was opened by Lord Rooker (Ministry of State for Regeneration). A modern glass fronted building with revised parking and bus access. The existing platforms and foot bridge etc were retained. The Sussex Coast College was built next to the station soon after.
Warrior Square Station
The station building and house still in existance today were constructed in 1837.Originally named Gensing Station this was owned by the SER, and competing LBSCR trains where not allowed to stop here until December 1870, being forced to pass through non-stop. The two companies maintained seperate booking offices until 1923.
West Marina Station
The line along the coast from Brighton opened on 27th June 1846. The first station at the time was called Hastings and St Leonards. A few years later the tunnels were blasted through to Hastings and the station's name was shortened to St Leonards and changed again to West Marina in 1870. Over time a coal yard with sidings, freight sheds, engine sheds and a turntable where incorporated and West St Leonards had a busy, thriving station. In the thirties the line was electrified and as steam power gradually declined the use of the engine sheds, turntable, coaling and watering points lessened, until in 1967 the station itself closed to traffic. Remnants of West Marina Station can still be found behind the car park of TK Max. Where the engine sheds stood is now a train washing facility which was built in 1958; TK Max and a row of houses now stand were the coal yard and freight sheds once stood. The remains of both platforms can also still be seen.
Bo-Peep Junction & Depot
The LBSCR track ended at the Bo-Peep Junction where it met with the existing SER track. As it was the most easterly part of the system, the locomotive depot for LBSCR was built here, just past West Marina Station in a deep cutting into the cliffs. The depot reached its peak between 1929 when Hastings railway shed closed and 1935 when electrification took place. There where engine sheds, a 50ft hand operated turntable, a coaling area and a steam powered crane. In 1958 a carriage washing machine was added for use by the new diesel and electric trains.
The Bo-Peep Tunnel was built in 1851 by the SER, the Bo-Peep Tunnel suffered many problems with geology and underwater springs. From 1885 until 1906 a single track had to be used due to reduced clearance in the tunnel. It was reconstructed in 1906 and again in 1950.
Hastings Tunnel was also built by the SER in 1851. It is 788 yards in length and much of the spoil dug out during its construction was used to re-shape the landscape at the Hastings end. Havelock Road and the station approach area are almost entirely man-made.
Mount Pleasant Tunnel is 230 yards long. The soft earth through which it passes gave builders quite a few problems. In 1860, a massive landslide of 30,000 cubic yards of earth that had been dug to form the tunnel and piled up on the embankment slid into the tunnel mouth. The tunnel had to be lengthened and the spoil held back by a massive wall of bricks.
Ore tunnel is 1402 yards long and passed through hard rocky ground that had to be blasted during construction. Underground streams and a clay substance called clunch also caused difficulties.
Built in 1887 to serve the growing North East area of Hastings, Ore Station was openeed 1st January 1888.
There was a goods yard complete with cattle pens, plus a siding leading off to the nearby Hastings Tramways Power Station.
An additional siding supplied the brickworks and Broomgrove Power Station.
Also known as the Seventeen Arches, Crowhurst Viaduct was built by the SECR between 1897 and 1902 at a cost of £244,000. It carried the Crowhurst to Bexhill West line over the marsh at Crowhurst (North West of St Leonards).
The viaduct was an impressive structure due to its massive foundations buily on the marsh land. Each pier was built on concrete blocks measuring 52 x 32 feet which were sunk about 30 feet into the marsh land.
The line was closed in 1964 and the viaduct was left isolated without a track. Eight of the seventeen arches were blown up on 23rd May 1969, and the remaining structure was demolished on 12th June of the same year.