Shoreham - Guildford

 

 

1. SHOREHAM TO GUILDFORD

This route comprised two branches constructed by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway; Shoreham to Horsham which opened in 1861 and Horsham to Guildford which opened in 1865. Both succumbed to the Beeching plan, the Guildford branch closing in June 1965 and that from Shoreham in March 1966.

The line diverged from the West Coastway Line just before it crosses the A283 near the Swiss Cottage Hotel. The bridge abutments can easily be discerned and a charming pair of railway cottages (one in very original condition) situated between the main and branch bridges survive. Continuing northwards the line crossed the approach to the wooden toll bridge at Old Shoreham now a footbridge (and in need of repair); but until the opening of the Shoreham bypass a busy vehicular crossing where on summer weekends long delays could be experienced as tolls were collected. The line continued to the disused Beeding cement works where sidings were in use for bulk delivery and despatch until 1981. Here the line crossed the River Adur before proceeding to the first station on the branch, Bramber at TQ186104 the site of which is now at the roundabout. The alignment now follows the Steyning bypass. The site of Steyning station TQ182114 is approached from the village along Church Street, which leads into Station Road. All that remains is a warehouse now converted into flats. This is not the original goods shed, which was a fine two storey structure similar to those surviving at Arundel and Littlehampton. Housing covers the rest of the site. As at Steyning nothing remains at Henfield at TQ161206 other than the names Station Road, and Beechings marking the site. Even the Station Hotel has changed name to the Cat and Canary.

At Partridge Green at TQ190189 careful inspection of the site, again covered by housing, reveals a short length of typical Southern Railway reinforced concrete fencing and the overbridge carrying the road to Small Dole. A remarkable survival is a bridge across the B2135 at TQ183207 which has carried no rail traffic for almost 35 years.

At West Grinstead at TQ184225 a transformation has taken place with the undergrowth having been cleared and the trackbed and platforms revealed. Here one can join the Downs Link, a path that follows the old railway from near Steyning to Cranleigh; an information coach of Bulleid vintage stands on reinstated rails. From the platform and looking towards the road overbridge it is easy to envisage the stairs leading down from the station building, still there, as passengers rush for the 5:17 p.m. all stations to Horsham. A clearance has also taken place at Southwater at TQ157263 revealing its platforms but the buildings that graced them were demolished years ago.

Christs Hospital at TQ148293 the next station is where one would have changed for Guildford. A magnificent interchange station comprising seven platform faces with glass and iron canopies was constructed here in 1902, when the Bluecoat school relocated from London, in anticipation of further development that never materialised. Sadly the facilities were destroyed in one of the last acts of vandalism by British Rail in 1972. A sad remnant serves the Mid Sussex line to Littlehampton, and by crossing under this line by the truncated white tiled subway and passing through a gate to the rear of the up platform one can discover the overgrown remains of the Guildford line platforms. The contemporary large goods shed survives, now in industrial use, as does some attractive railway housing.

Slinfold at TQ113310 is now a private residence that is not easily approached by car and at Rudgwick, a health centre at TQ086334 stands on the station site. From here access is available on to the Downs Link and by walking back towards Slinfold one can view the two arched bridge which carried the line across the River Arun. The Board of Trade Inspecting Officer refused to allow the line to open with a 1 in 80 gradient at Rudgwick station. To reduce this to 1 in 130 necessitated raising the embankment and building a girder bridge above the original brick span.

Shortly after Rudgwick the line crossed the county boundary into Surrey but it well worth continuing the journey to the next station Baynards at TQ077351. This is a splendidly restored example now in private hands of the type of facilities provided by the LB&SCR at such an out of the way spot, the only missing items from the ensemble being the signal box and level crossing gates. A welcome stop for refreshments can be made at the adjacent pub, the Thurlow Arms, named after the Reverend Thurlow the then owner of Baynards Park who donated land for the railway in consideration of the station being built, mainly for his use. A nice historical link unless the hostelry is renamed the Slug and Lettuce or similar.

 

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Last modified: December 27, 2004