Changes Over the Years
At the time of opening, the HGDR joined
the mainline at Peasmarsh, and ran on 1½ miles of LSWR line into
Guildford. As the main line was double track, and the branch line
was only single, the branch line briefly became double track in
front of the LBSCR "Peasmarsh South" signal box and the two lines
joined the main lines of the Portsmouth line in front of the LSWR
"Peasmarsh Junction" signal box. In 1926, the LBSCR signal box
was demolished and trains from Horsham joined the "down" line
to Portsmouth, briefly traveling along it in the wrong direction,
and then crossed over onto the "up" line to Guildford.
The other mainline junction had two spurs,
allowing trains to travel north to Horsham or south through Southwater
on to Brighton. The southern spur was however removed by 1st August
1867, meaning that any Brighton bound trains had to head up into
Horsham, before turning, and heading down to Brighton.
The spur removal may, in part, have been
because the LBSCR were afraid that it could give the LSWR access
to the south coast by using their line, but it also may have occurred
because the line never really developed as the important link
between the Midlands and the South Coast, as people thought it
would. The hotels built at Rudgwick and Slinfold were little used,
and the lines main use was for local passengers, commuters and
freight; (mainly coal with some agricultural products, animals
Also in 1867, Cranley changed it's name
to Cranleigh. The change was requested by the Post Office, as
Cranley addresses that were badly written were often mistaken
for Crawley, and vice versa. Presumably during this year, the
station name plates and timetables were changed to show this.
Initially, the only passing place on
the line was at Baynards station, during 1876 a passing loop was
built at Bramley station, and one at Cranleigh station during
the summer of 1880. These alterations allowed there to be seven
trains per day, each way, between Horsham & Guildford, whereas
before there were only four. At this time, LBSCR looked into the
cost of doubling the track from Bramley to Peasmarsh junction,
which would have improved services and the number of trains per
day, but the works were never carried out.
Another station name change occurred
on 1st June 1888. Bramley station became "Bramley and Wonersh"
which was more appropriate as the station was fairly equidistant
between the two village centres.
Trains ceased to run into Guildford for
10 days in 1895. The line between Peasmarsh and Guildford was
closed from 23rd March to 1st April due to the collapse of part
of the tunnel through St. Catherine's Hill. This not only affected
trains from Horsham, but also from Portsmouth, and road transport
was provided to bypass the tunnel.
In the late 1890's, Cranleigh nearly
became a junction, as the LBSCR engineering committee recommended
in November 1897, that a line be built between Cranleigh and Dorking.
However, many landowners objected to this and opposed the parliamentary
bill for the line, and the idea was abandoned by October 1898.
There were also plans for a "light" railway at Cranleigh. The
Light Railways Act of 1896 included a line from Ockley (on the
Dorking-Horsham line) to Selham (on the Pulborough-Midhurst line)
which was to have connected to Cranleigh station. Either of these
additional lines would have made Cranleigh quite an important
junction, and may well have kept part of the HGDR open, as commuters
would have been able to make many connections to various other
London stations besides Waterloo.
Just after the turn of the century Stammerham
Junction became a station, as "Christ's Hospital West Horsham"
station was opened on 28th April 1902. This was built in conjunction
with the new Christ's Hospital School, which moved from the City
of London at the same time, where it had been since it was founded
in 1553. The station had seven platforms, three of which were
slightly set apart from the others where Guildford trains entered.
The station was only really used by people making connections
from one line to another, as from there you could travel in many
different directions: Guildford, Brighton, Leatherhead, Crawley
and Bognor. The only passengers who started or ended their journey
there were School boys, either on day excursions or starting or
ending their term.
Another improvement that may well have
kept Cranleigh station open was the electrification of the line
between Peasmarsh and Cranleigh. The idea in the 1930's was that
trains from Waterloo via Chobham had a 30 minute wait at Guildford
station before returning to London. This was easily enough time
to get to Cranleigh and back, however with the outbreak of the
2nd World War the idea was shelved and not returned to.
The line's only serious accident occurred
on 16th December 1942. A train that had just left Bramley station
full of Christmas shoppers heading for Guildford, was attacked
by a German aircraft. The plane machine gunned the train, and
dropped a bomb that narrowly missed it, exploding on the embankment
next to it. Seven people were killed including the driver and
the guard, it is thought that many more fatalities would have
occurred if the bomb had not gone off on the side of the coach
where the corridor was, meaning that there were no passengers
sitting down that side. The train was seriously damaged, but the
track was left intact.
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