A planted tank engine has been unveiled outside Haywards Heath station in celebration of two special anniversaries - 175 years since the arrival of the railway and 125 years of Haywards Heath Horticulatural Society.
Town Mayor Sujan Wickremaratchi was on hand to do the honours at Commercial Square Roundabout on Friday July 8, and the display will bloom through summer until the weekend of events to celebrate the coming of the railway - and thus the beginning of the town - on September 17 and 18.
Chair of Haywards Heath Town Team Ruth de Mierre said: “The Historical Celebrations that weekend will be truly community based with every conceivable school, society and club getting involved. The Bluebell’s Stepney will be at the Station, as well as an old Diesel Train on Platform One to take passengers ‘up the line’ to Ardingly; there will be a huge Model Railway exhibition, train rides, land trains, horse and carriage rides, Children’s Train Station Adventures, Marching Bands, a Grand Victorian Procession, including Regimental Bands, the Sussex Yeomanry, vehicles and floats, celebrities and an open air screening of The Railway Children in Victoria Park on the Saturday, there will be a Victorian Fun Fair, stage entertainment and much much more - so truly a great day out for all the family.
“The Sunday will also see some very special people arriving to help celebrate and commemorative legacies to be unveiled in the Station – not only showing the first train but also one made by all the local schools and another by our local Twinning Association. But did you know that, in 1825, John Rennie’s proposed ‘direct’ London to Brighton railway was vigorously opposed by the town and parish of Cuckfield. Lindfield also opposed the coming of the railway, so the line passed between them with a ‘Station for Cuckfield and Lindfield’, shortly named Hayward’s Heath; this was the terminus in July 1841, until the line opened to Brighton three months later.
“Building began around the station immediately, with a timber merchant’s yard and a beer shop probably on the site of the later, now demolished, Liverpool Arms, and the Station Hotel (now Hayworthe House) completed in 1843. By 1887 Haywards Heath was recognised as a town with a population of around 2,000 and, of course, continues its growth and prosperity still – at the last count, with a population of over 25,000; but none of this would have happened if the train hadn’t stopped here in 1841!”