Some Early Lines The Rye and Camber Tramway

Some Early Lines

The Rye and Camber Tramway

The Rye and Camber Tramway was an English narrow gauge railway in East Sussex. It was of 3 ft (914 mm) gauge. It operated from 1895 until 1939, connecting Rye to the nearby coast at Camber. It was a short line, only about 13⁄4 miles (2.8 km) in length, and had three stations – Rye, Golf Links and Camber Sands. It operated mainly to transport golfers from Rye to the nearby golf links and holidaymakers to the coastal dunes.

Tramway lines in the road

The remains of the 3′-gauge Rye & Camber Tramway remain embedded in the concrete in places along the track from the road to the old station TQ9419 : Golf Links station and the Harbour Office SD5869 : Loyn Bridge  © Copyright Richard Law and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 This railway was constructed between January and July 1895 and ran entirely on private land. The track gauge of 3 ft (914 mm) is relatively unusual amongst British narrow gauge railways. It was the first designed by consulting engineer Holman F. Stephens who went on to build and run small railways all over the Country.

The line was originally built to convey golfers to the Rye Golf Club and ran from Rye station to the golf club. In 1908 the first extension to Camber Sands station was opened and the intermediate station renamed “Golf Links”. The position of the distant Camber terminal was moved to a more accessible site and a tea hut was opened at the end of Summer 1938, however this only used for a few months as the war intervened the next year.

Although initially quite successful, increasing competition from automobile and bus transport eventually caused the tramway to enter a gradual economic decline, as was the case with many small railways. Passenger service was ended at the outbreak of World War II but was extensively used by the Government to convey parts for the P.L.U.T.O. (Pipe Line Under The Ocean) project for which a special siding leading to a new pier near Golf Links Station was constructed by Canadian troops.

The line was in such a run-down a condition by the end of the war that it was deemed irrecoverable and was sold for scrap in 1947. The Rye & Camber Tramways Co. Ltd. was liquidated in February 1949.

Rolling stock

 The Rye and Camber Tramway, Laurie Cooksey, Plateway Press, 1995

 There were two small Bagnall steam locomotives, “Camber” and “Victoria”, but in later years a small petrol locomotive was used exclusively.

The tramway had two enclosed carriages and several locally built four wheel trucks which were used to convey sand from the beach for local builders. Several short term temporary sidings were constructed at the Camber end for this purpose, where the dug out dunes can still be seen.


A number of relics, including the frame and bogies of one of the carriages, can be seen at the Colonel Stephens Museum at Tenterden.Golf Links station

The 3 ft gauge Rye and Camber Tramway once ran here – the rails are still in the concrete. The station building has since had the canopy enclosed.  © Copyright Robin Webster and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Golf Links station building still survives virtually intact. Some track is still embedded in concrete along the trackbed in the vicinity of the station as the trackbed was used as a roadway during wartime. Most of the route of the trackbed from Rye to Camber is a footpath, although a short section has been destroyed by gravel workings.

The line has a prominent part in several novels by Rye resident E.F. Benson.



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