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Memories of the Bluebell Line


Ol' Bondsey and The 1955 Closure of the Line

by Martin J.N. Payne

Not the Martin Payne in the Loco Dept. Martin John Nicolas Payne. Born in 1943. Lived at Courtlands Tighe way back in the late 'forties and 'fifties, a mile from Sharpthorne and went to school at Fonthill, just up from Kingscote, before East Grinstead.

Anyhow, did you ever hear of a chap called Bondsey? Ran the baker's shop in Sharpthorne on the right - just up from Weller's garage - which overlooked the valley and station below. A sight you can see from Vinols Cross. We children knew old Bondsey well; used to give buns to our ponies when we rode through the village; was a superb actor in plays at the West Hoathly village hall; BUT...

Ol' Bondsey wrote a song which he sang, playin' his guitar, sitting in a deckchair between the lines at Sharpthorne [West Hoathly] station, the day the BBC tv came down to film the closing down of the Bluebell line. We all rushed home to see ourselves on tv - I was in close-up outside the station looking at a the dreaded axing notice, aged about 11 wearing a cricket jumper...

Ol' Bonsey's home-made song went something like this - forgive my riddled memory:

'Now they're closin' down our railway
An' they're takin' off our train
All we'll 'ave is shanks' pony
In the sunshine and the rain
No more tootin' on the whistle
No more runnin' down the track
No more [something...]
No more forwards, only back...'
and so forth. There were many verses he sang on that line for the BBC - just wish I could remember... He was a huge character who stood out before village life became swamped by non-country people and the world grew harder... Progress?

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Personal Recollections of the Bluebell Line: Daniel Wilson - Martin J.N. Payne - Martin Ternouth - Early Bluebell Days: Mike South
Biography: Frederick Hutchings - 50 years with the LBSCR, SR & BR

History of the Bluebell:- L&EGR - Early Days 1 - Early Days 2 - Early Days 3 - Early Days 4 - Kingscote Station - Fenchurch
Track Layouts through the years: Horsted Keynes - West Hoathly - Kingscote. More to come later!
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