Author: Brian Hart
Format: Hardback, 252 pages
Although the construction of this beautiful branch line was resisted for many years by the South Eastern Railway, it eventually opened in 1893. Meandering through the High Weald of Kent and landscapes of quiet hilltop villages, hop gardens and deeply wooded valleys, this delightful rural backwater served the communities of Horsmonden, Goudhurst, Cranbrook and Hawkhurst for 68 years.
Farmers, hop-growers, tradesmen and locals made good use of the line, but perhaps its most famous association is with the hop-picking season when hundreds of Londoners travelled down each September to rural Kent on their annual working holiday.
The Hawkhurst branch was arguably the most charming branch line on the Southern, traversing some of the loveliest countryside Kent possesses. During the forty years which have since elapsed, this much-lamented, lost Southern byway has often been the subject of pictorial books. However, until now no comprehensive history has ever been written. This highly-absorbing account is sympathetically and passionately conveyed in the author’s established style, whilst two-thirds of the illustrations have never before been published.
Brian Hart spent many years meticulously researching the history of this appealing byway and he provides us with a fascinating account which will appeal to the casual reader as well as to the dedicated railway historian.
With The Hawkhurst Branch he has achieved not only a journey of sheer delight through a most glorious tract of South East England, but a precious glimpse of an age that no one believed could have so quickly just simply faded away.