An accident waiting to happen

Pedestrian problems in Deadmans Lane

A short while ago a new gas pipe was laid in Deadmans Lane, a road which, as several readers have pointed out, is one of the two main arteries into Rye.

It is, as most people recognise (with the apparent exception of East Sussex Highways) entirely inadequate for the task. However since the new gas main required the road to be closed for a week while excavation, back filling and making good took place, it would have seemed a good opportunity to, at the very least, resurface it, repairing cracks and filling in potholes.

A short footpath by the new houses, but nothing down the rest of this busy road

Unfortunately, it would seem that that the utility companies (gas, water, power) speak neither to each other nor to the highways authority – in this case East Sussex Highways, an arm of the County Council – for no such repairs have been done and no notice has been received that any repairs are planned.

So we now have a situation that is worse than before, with at least one enlarged pothole and a rough piece of replacement tarmac running down the centre which, in the fullness of time will itself crack and become potholed.

It has been recognised for some time that the road needs not just to be repaired and resurfaced, but also to be slightly widened to allow for a footpath. At the moment pedestrians take their life in their hands, being forced to dodge the traffic which all too frequently is travelling at a speed that is too fast for safety.

The answer, surely, is the simple one of moving the fence on the south side of the road back a few feet and constructing a raised footpath. The land required is untended scrub and an existing wall set a little way back from the current boundary would continue to protect the privacy of the owner of the land.

The advantages in both increased safety and improved access would be enormous and would ensure that the accident waiting to happen to a pedestrian – possibly a child on their way to school, using the footpath from the top of the hill that joins the middle of Deadmans Lane – is at least made less likely.

East Sussex Highways, however, regard Rye as, to quote a pre-war politician, “a land of which we know little” and when local road maintenance is required often schedule it without regard to the circumstances of our town. An example would be the attempt to close roads leading to the market on market day or putting long diversions in place on main roads in the height of the tourist season.

Our local representative on East Sussex County Council is also the leader of the council and it seems unfortunate that, although he did prevent Rope Walk from being closed on market day, he seems not to have used any influence to improve this small, but important route into the town. Of course, we may be wrong and perhaps work is scheduled. If so, please councillor, do tell us.

Image Credits: Axa Arcadia .


  1. As I have mentioned before there its no need for pedestrians to use this lane as there are equally effective ways of walking into town from Playden etc. In fact I think it is very dangerous to do so. I like many others drive down this lane for access to Rye from Playden Peasmarsh etc and have virtually never met anyone walking. I think it would be a wast of money to attempt building a footpath, as there are many other priorities. One as mentioned would be resurfacing the road.

  2. I agree with John but more an issue in my opinion is speeding drivers joining The Grove without checking for cars leaving Love Lane. When leaving for work in the morning I have lost count of the number of drivers who nearly plough into my car speeding out of Dead Mans Lane, please slow down and check for cars!

  3. Over the last decade Deadmans lane has become an extremely busy thoroughfare, and a short cut to the college and into town, and should be upgraded for everyones use, up to car size only.A new path and sleeping policemen, is the way forward for safety,for everyone who uses it.

  4. Whichever direction one is coming from, using Deadmans Lane is the best and safest way for residents of Love Lane (which doubles as one of Rye’s overflow car parks) to drive home, as there is a constant flow of traffic shooting out of the bottom of Deadmans Lane up The Grove (which also doubles as an overflow car park) towards the town. If the railway crossing barriers are down, the cars will sit with their engines running, until the barriers are raised before speeding off down the Rope Walk (which also doubles as an overflow car park,)dodging the parked vehicles sticking out of the end of Eagle Road or the ones illegally exiting the Station Car Park at the wrong end, but they don’t get far before reaching the inevitable congestion caused by the double parking at the Cinque Ports Street end of the Rope Walk. A tongue in cheek look at Rye’s traffic problems in microcosm!

  5. John Still above is incorrect in stating that there is no need for pedestrians to use Deadmans Lane. The steep public footpath from Fair Meadow which joins the western part of the lane is by far the quickest way to access the town from Playden and this part of north Rye. I can assure you that many dozens of people each day use this hill path. When they reach the lane, they have to negotiate a hazardous 30-yard section of road just beyond a blind corner. No footpath exists on this section of Deadmans Lane. Rye News is right in calling Deadmans Lane an “accident waiting to happen”. There are several serious problems: lack of a public footpath, the dangerous iron railings that have been in place for decades; the narrowness of the lane, a blind corner, random speeding, etc. These problems have been exacerbated by the four (soon-to-be five) new houses built on the lane in recent years — despite the fact that local people pointed out the road problems. In April last year I was personally told by both ESCC leader Keith Glazier and by landowner/RDC councillor Lord Ampthill that the dangerous railing issue would be addressed by summer 2018. This has not occurred: although the pointed tips of the railings were recently removed along about 85% of their length, some spikes remain — as do the irregular and unsightly rails themselves. The last I heard was that ESCC Highways had scheduled a safety inspection of the lane. Local people have been trying for decades to get Deadmans Lane made safe but they know this has not been achieved. We look for action but little to nothing occurs — save for housebuilding being allowed without, incredibly, a planning condition for a footpath. Sadly, it is now just a question of when an accident occurs, not if. People take their lives into their hands every time they walk along the part of DL that lacks a footpath (most of it). I strongly urge ESCC to do something about this before it’s too late.

  6. Well said David Worwood! The high speed and errant positioning of cars travelling down between the lower end of Deadmans Lane, from the footpath to Love Lane, is astonishing given that it is two-way! I can’t comment on the upper part because I’m not inclined to go up there; it’s not called Deadman’s Lane only for its past. But while we’re thinking of the perils of walking, maybe we should not forget Rye Hill? I wonder what the average speed of cars and huge lorries is, both coming up and down, as I cling to the narrow footpaths with lorry wing mirrors overhanging and overgrown vegetation forcing me to the edge of the path. Nowhere near 30mph for sure. Our haste and disregard for the law is making the town pretty unfriendly for those committed to ecology friendly ways of moving around.

  7. I encourage anyone affected by the issues on Deadman’s Lane to report them on FixMyStreet. It is a direct route to the right officer in the right council and proved effective in getting our own local road issues in Northiam moved up the council’s agenda.

  8. It’s about time stopped thinking about cars and thought about cycle lanes and pedestrians. I agree with Bob Harper, it’s dangerous for pedestrians, we should invest in a pavement.

  9. It can be dangerous for motorist when you meet a car coming out onto Rye Hill, like I did at lunch time today.

  10. In rely to David Worwood, he is quite right in mentioning the section of Dead Mans Lane from the path down from Fair Meadow to Love Lane, but this is wider and affords the possibility of adding a pavement. I would be interested to know for all those people who drive down Deadman’s Lane how often they have met pedestrians in the lane. In the probable hundreds of times I have driven down I can only recall meeting one pedestrian. Extending the width of this Lane would involve a considerable cost, felling trees and earth moving. I can think of many more important ways of spending that money.

  11. Further to John Still’s note above, rarely have I seen any pedestrians using the Lane; however two days ago I did meet a cyclist coming up towards Rye Hill. As the gradient towards Rye Hill is uphill the cyclist was weaving from side to side to maintain momentum and this was a stupid and dangerous manoeu’vre!

  12. To those saying ‘rarely have I seen a pedestrian’ using the lane – well, yes, that’s rather the point… after a few near-death experiences one gives up on it. As noted by earlier comments it’s quite dangerous enough getting past speeding drivers on the lower part ‘twixt Love Lane and the start of the footpath up to Fairmeadow. Sleeping policemen now… or even better some real police!

  13. At the end of the day Deadmans Lane must be one of the most bizarre, dangerous and deficient approaches to a town the size of Rye, ever.
    Herein lays the problem.
    If anybody has a solution perhaps they can tell me the lottery numbers as well, there is more chance of winning that than achieving said solution.

  14. I have found a solution that suits both me and the pedestrians that I have met whilst driving along Deadmans Lane – I offer them a lift.

    • Well that’s okay assuming they are walking down the lane. What’s the plan if they are walking up the one way stretch? Take them back from whence they came I guess?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here