A259 between Brenzett and Rye

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A259 between Brenzett and Rye

Post by Ritchie333 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:04

I regularly have cause to drive this road and it's completely unsuitable for purpose, featuring three 90 degree bends and three level crossings, despite being a trunk road.

I looked on old maps, and noticed that the route seemed to have been cobbled out of odds and ends. The bridge over the Rother was built in 1893, but I've got no idea where traffic went before that - presumably up the Royal Military Road. At the Brenzett end, the junction with the B2080 was originally a TOTSO before the modern A2070 relief road was built, so it obviously wasn't the historical route.

Does anyone know why traffic was routed in this direction?
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From the SABRE Wiki: Royal Military Road :

The Royal Military Road follows the path of the Royal Military Canal in East Sussex and Kent.

The canal, and its corresponding road were built in the early 19th century as part of a defence against Napoleon, and runs along what was once the coastline in Roman Britain, before the land to the south was reclaimed in the Middle Ages as Romney Marsh.

Today, the road is a combination of trunk road, B road, unclassified road and footpath.

[[File:Appledore Bridge, Royal Military Canal -

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Re: A259 between Brenzett and Rye

Post by B1040 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 15:13

I only know this area a little, but I have been there.
I would guess that pre WW1 most traffic from the Hastings and Rye end of Sussex towards Folkestone and Dover would have either gone a long way inland (road or train) or gone by sea. Romney and Walland Marshes must have been very remote and undeveloped, and not somewhere for sensible travellers to go.

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Re: A259 between Brenzett and Rye

Post by KeithW » Thu Nov 23, 2017 17:55

The first thing to say is that quite unbelievably this road is classed as Primary and managed by Highways England.

In the early 1980's lived in Lydd for 5 years working on Dungeness B Powerstation. Romney and Walland marshes were and remain in many ways remote and wild. The CEGB had to build a small town on the construction site for the workforce that included bars, Doctors surgery and Cinema. Locals would tell you that marshes were often referred to as the 5th continent. Prior to and well after the industrial revolution coastal shipping carried much of the cargo around the area. Land transport was difficult and dangerous with the terrain alternating between wetland, gravel and sand. If you want build a house anywhere between Greatstone and Rye the first thing you need to do is build a concrete raft as a foundation.

The shape of the coast has altered many times and you have to recall that before the great storm of 1287 the River Rother flowed into the Channel at New Romney which along with Lydd was on the coast. What is now Dengemarsh was actually open water sheltered by the island of Dungeness which meant you could sail quickly and easily between Rye, Lydd and New Romney while the land route was arduous and none too safe. After the storms both Lydd and New Romney were stranded miles inland, the Rother had taken up its new route, Dengemarsh had formed and the old town of Winchelsea was abandoned, its site now lies under the English Channel. The current settlement was a planned New Town, built on a rectangular grid in 1288 :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rye,_East ... _Ports.svg

In reality the good folks of Rye and New Romney found it easier and more profitable to trade with the French ports and the opportunities for smuggling didnt hurt. Rye , Lydd, New Romney and Dymchurch were hotbeds of smuggling with tunnels under both the Inns and Churches as well as houses. The roads were atrocious which worked to the smugglers advantage. The old road used to go right through the centre of Winchelsea and Rye and was basically only usable by pedestrians and travellers on horseback. The Royal Military Road was not much used, for one thing it was under the control of the army. There was however a regular barge service along the canal from Hythe to Rye from 1810 until 1881 when it was closed due to the competition from the railways.

The arrival of the railways improved things considerably with lines fanning out from Ashford. The lines to Rye and New Romney divided at Appledore which had sidings so that when necessary coastal rail traffic could travel that way. There was also a sizable goods yard at Dungeness. Initially it shipped gravel from the pits near Lydd On Sea for use by the railways as ballast. Later the main customers became the road builders. If you walk the area you can still see the embankments and the cast iron chairs that held the rails. There was also a steam powered tramway between Rye and Camber for the holiday trade. In fact road access to Dungeness was along a primitive track until the army built a proper road during WW2. Water and electricity only arrived in 1946. In 1984 when I moved out the power still came in on overheard lines and there was no mains drainage, all the houses had septic tanks.

The chairman of the SER in the 19th century (Edward Watkin) had great plans for the area including a channel tunnel and a great new deepwater port at Dungeness. This was all part of his grandiose plans to link the great cities of England and France with his Great Central Railway from Birmingham to Paris. Needless to say it did not work out and the traffic went via the boat trains through Dover and Folkestone. Trains still run to Rye and the line to Dungeness is used for shipping spent nuclear fuel from the power station.

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