top of page

1937: How the Heath changed with the Railway in 1841 - Part 3

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 26 October 1937

Mr A.R Pannett, affectionately known to locals as 'ARP' gave many delightful insights into earliest Haywards Heath days; in 1937 at the age of 80 he offered a final absorbing talk to a packed and appreciative audience. We serialise this fascinating record because of the density and detail it provides. Here is Part 3

"One naturally wonders, when so many rural districts near the Heath have


what could have happened to have altered that one in particular, and this we will now consider. 

By 1830 the railway as a means of intercommunication had survived the early prejudices against it, and had proved itself to be not only practical but profitable. Schemes for new lines were in the air everywhere, and amongst them was one connecting London with Brighton, passing through what was then the important market town of Cuckfield.

But Cuckfield decided that it did not want a railway, and sufficient pressure was brought to bear on the promoters to alter the route to one passing through the Heath. They were also, I believe, influenced by the idea that a station midway between Cuckfield and Lindfield could possibly be in a better position than one at Cuckfield.

Approximately 100 years ago, then, the centuries old sleep of the Heath was broken by the arrival of an army of north country navies and the great change had begun. There is no record of anything remarkable during the construction of the railway, which was opened in 1841. We will first notice what changes had been made in the face of the Heath by the construction of the railway, and shall be in a position to study its gradual subsequent development.

Opening of the London to Brighton Railway (1840)

On the


Bulltrough Farm, which extended from the farmhouse to what is now the Broadway to the east and from Muster Green to the site of the station, had lost the greater part of its area, which was now occupied by the deep cutting south of the station. On the south side of the tunnel, Great Haywards Farm had suffered a similar loss, but here the superfluous earth was dumped up on either side forming on the West side the larch plantation now in the Victoria Park.

The Muster Green had lost its eastern extremity, on which now appeared a brick tunnel ventilator surrounded by the dumped earth excavated from its shaft, and a similar shaft and dump appeared on the other side of the road, now in the grounds of Clevelands. And the windmill on the hill had disappeared. Obviously approaches were required to the new station, and in order to provide those: on the eastern side


to Southlands Farm was extended and made-up (this formed the Sydney Road, and was continued under the line to the western side of the station). The old track running northwards from the eastern end of the Muster Green was made up, joining Sydney Road at what is now Commercial Square, and forming the Perrymount Road of today. On the western side the old track from the Sergison Arms to Lucas’s was extended to the western side of the station, and made-up, forming the Paddockhall road. This was the only approach to the new station from the Cuckfield Road until about 1863, when the Boltro Road was formed.

This was at first for some years known as New Road. The stores and refreshment house provided for the navvies during the construction of the line were built in a more permanent form, and became the station and Liverpool Hotels, and a pair of semi-detached shops built next to the former continued the supply of provisions. At least one other house had been built, as the contractor for this section of the line, a north countryman named Fletcher, took such a liking to the place that during the progress of the works he built a house for himself on the top of the tunnel, which under much altered conditions is now known as Clevelands. This, I believe, was


as a direct result of the railway. This was followed by a few houses in the Station and Sydney Roads, but for the next 10 years there was little movement. Then another factor emerged, which figured largely in the development of the Heath. I have before referred to the waste land of which not only the main heath consisted, but which existed in considerable quantities at the side of the highways. For many years land owners in many parts of the country had been enclosing parts of this without any authority for doing so, and much dissatisfaction had been expressed, so much that it had become necessary to control the activities of these land grabbers. This was done by an enclosure act passed in 1846 by which a Board of Commissioners was appointed and empowered to authorise enclosures where justified or advisable. It would take too long to go into the details of this subject, but one of the results was that


and an enclosure plan prepared which authorised the enclosure of the whole of the waste or common land with the exception of that reserved for a recreation ground, and provision was made for new roads which were defined and are now known as Church, Heath, Haywards, Triangle and Ashenground roads. The plan was kept for reference at the ‘Sergison Arms’ and as a boy I went there with my father on several occasions to consult it.

Some years later I wished to consult it again, but on going there I found that the house had changed hands and the old map had disappeared forever. This was much to be regretted, as it registered many interesting features of the old Heath. From this time enclosure went on steadily, but was not completed until about 1870. Continuing our history, we are now in the 50s, during which several houses were built, and development had begun".

to be continued.


bottom of page