When the Lavender Line was first formed in 1983 by Mr Milham the railway only travelled for quarter of a mile to the first overhead bridge, after a few years Mr Milham managed to extend the line a further half a mile towards Uckfield until he could go no further due to the dense woodlands. After realising that he could go no further until the woodland was cleared Mr Milham decided to erect a small halt where a dozen or so animals were kept. This was named Dingle Dell and for a number of years provided the public with opportunity to alight the trains before returning to Isfield. When the Lavender Line preservation society took over from Mr Milham in 1991 it was proved to be unfeasible and uneconomical to manage the up keeping of a halt and therefore Dingle Dell was taken away.
By the mid 1990’s the lavender line preservation society had managed to clear a large majority of the wooded area towards the northern extension, this gave the railway the opportunity to purchase the remaining section of track bed between the public crossing to the first bridge. The railway spent the next 2 years clearing the rest of the track bed and ensuring track was ready to be laid. Disaster struck in October of 2000 in the form of major floods that worked their way across the Sussex country side.
The newly laid sleepers and ballast which had been laid along the extension had been completely wiped out; concrete sleepers weighing in at over quarter of a ton were found on the far side of the fields! This major disaster was a real set back for all the hard work and effort in which the working members had achieved over the past 2 years. Although the damage to the extension was heavy it didn’t put the members off from trying again and within 2 weeks of the floods a small band of working volunteers set to work once again clearing the mess and relaying the extension to ensure trains can run over the missing section for the first time in 32 years. After 4 long years of clearance and relaying with a brief visit of a tamper, the railway found itself in for a treat in the summer of 2004 when the first passenger trains ran through the new public crossing and along the newly laid quarter of a mile extension. The Lavender line has enjoyed this luxury of an extension for the past 6 years which has enabled passengers to enjoy the beautiful open fields of the Sussex countryside, but this doesn’t mean the railway has to stop there. The remaining track bed from Little Horsted to the Uckfield bypass is still in place and still very much complete. Over the past few years the railway has been taking opportunities to consult the local farmers who own the former track bed about extending the railway across their land and enabling the lavender line to take its first corner. The major obstacle of this challenge is the first bridge which runs over the river Uck, although the bridge is in a very poor cosmetic state the structure itself and the supports are still in very good condition. For this reason the railway has recently been in negotiations with the local farmer in ways in which the lavender line could start to make progress on stabilising the bridge and ensuring its condition does not worsen. These talks have gone very well and in the summer of 2009 a small gang of working members made the key start of clearing the bridge and removing the rotten wood from between the structure. After months of painstaking work from such a small band of members the bridge can now clearly be seen from the train, this enables the public to see what work and effort is needed to extend the line any further. The current work on the bridge has been on pause due to winter months and until a surveyor can be found to asses the bridge there isn’t much more to be done. Unfortunately even if the railway manages to extend the line across the bridge there lies a second bridge only quarter of a mile up the track bed. This bridge has not yet been properly looked into by any members but those who have seen it report it to be in a more dilapidated condition compared to the first bridge. However this has not yet discouraged any members from halting this project, the thought of the railway being extended a further quarter of a mile across the bridge and around a left hand corner brings excitement to most members, although this dream could still be years off from becoming a reality many members are confident that this will one day become the newly formed extension of the lavender line.
Second running line
Although the Lavender Line has one main running line which runs from the station to little Horsted there is a section of the line which parallels with the shorter second running line. This section of the railway only travels for quarter of a mile from the station limits to the overhead bridge but provides the railway with the opportunity to store wagons, loco’s and rolling stock away from the station and out of the way. This section of the line is rarely used on passenger running days, although in the past it has been used in shunting demonstrations and brake van rides on special events such as goods train weekends. It’s hoped that in the near future similar events will reoccur to enable the public to enjoy the sights and sounds of yard shunting. This second running line has proved to be an important asset within the railway and therefore a decision has been made to make plans into extending the line for a further few hundred yards to the former cattle crossing. This will enable the remaining rolling stock and loco’s to be moved further up the line making way for future opportunities to carry out demonstration shunting duties and even driver for a fiver experiences along the second running line.