2 Branches & a Siding

 

 

7 TWO BRANCHES AND A SIDING
The Dyke Branch
This branch was opened on 30th September 1887 to tap the excursion market to the popular viewpoint of Devil's Dyke to the north of Brighton. It was built by the Brighton & Dyke Railway Company and operated by the LB&SCR. Leaving the Brighton -Chichester line half a mile beyond West Brighton station (now renamed Hove) and with initially no intermediate stops the line climbed on an almost continuous gradient of 1 in 40 to a point 200ft below the summit leaving visitors with a stiff half mile climb. Following initial success, with a reported 30,000 visitors arriving by rail, road and foot on August bank holiday 1893, the Company was in receivership by 1895 which continued until absorption by the Southern Railway in 1924. With increasing competition from motor buses, which went right to the summit, the branch closed on 31st December 1938.

The route of the line can still be followed; starting at Aldrington Halt (opened in 1905 as Dyke Junction Halt along with other halts for the introduction of motor train services between Brighton and Worthing) the line ran behind the gardens of Amherst Road before passing under the Old Shoreham Road between the present petrol station and PC World and immediately to the west of the alley that leads to Maple Gardens. From here the line continued behind Maple Gardens and Elm Drive along what is now the eastern edge of the cemetery, marked by a hawthorn hedge. At the junction of Elm Drive and Rowan Avenue a gap between the houses, still a footpath, leads to the site of Rowan Halt immediately to the north. This was opened on 12th January 1934 to serve the Aldrington Estate then being built by the Brighton builders T. J. Braybon & Sons Ltd. The halt was an important selling point and also enabled residents working in Brighton or Hove to return home for their cooked meal at lunchtime. The line continued behind Rowan Avenue before bridging Hangleton Road, which dipped below but was filled in to rail level during WW II. The point of crossing is at Churchill House and an alley by the side leads to West Way, which was also crossed on a bridge where the library now stands. From here the line ran behind the gardens of Poplar Avenue and under Northease Drive where the school and Poplar Close have been built. Here an enterprising estate agent invented a never to be built Hangleton Halt. From the Downsman Public House at the top of Poplar Avenue a footpath follows more or less the alignment, although the levels have been altered, over the Brighton Bypass to the site of Golf Club Halt at TQ 268 093 which opened in 1891 for the benefit of the Brighton & Hove Golf Club which had itself opened in 1887. By 1895 an arrangement had been made so that when the starting signal at Dyke Station was lowered a bell rang in the clubhouse allowing golfers to down their drinks and hurry to the platform, the site of which can be determined although the brickwork has long gone. There is no right of way north-wards but the route can be discerned and the Dyke Station was to the east of the double fronted building in the distance at TQ 260 103. An SIAS visit in 1998 showed only part of the single platform survived. Although long since closed I doubt if a modem car could better the journey time of 20 minutes from the centre of Brighton.

The Kemp Town Branch
Opened on August rd 1869, ostensibly to provide a link to the fashionable suburb of Kemp Town on the eastern outskirts of Brighton, this short branch of just over one mile cost some 100,000 to construct, an enormous sum in those days, but hardly surprising as much of its length was on a viaduct or in a tunnel. It was never financially justifiable and was actually built by the LB&SCR to protect its territory, and in particular the Brighton traffic, from rival schemes. Passenger traffic ceased on 31st December 1932 but goods traffic, especially coal survived until 1971. Following closure the entire branch was bought by Brighton Corporation and after 30 years nothing of railway origin remains, except the tunnel, yet the route can still be easily followed. The branch diverged from the Brighton-Lewes line just east of the tunnel under Ditchling Road and ran through what is now the Centenary Industrial Estate off the Hollingdean Road, This was formerly the site of a small goods yard and in the southeastern corner, at the junction of Richmond and D'Aubigny Roads, was opened on September st 1873 Lewes Road Station which could also be accessed by a covered flight of steps from Lewes Road. Immediately to the east was a 14-aroh viaduct that crossed Lewes Road and two arms of Melbourne Street. The section crossing Lewes Road and Melbourne Street was demolished in 1976 and the western portion (now covered by Sainsbury's) went in 1983. After a short stretch of embankment, now removed, a fine bridge, demolished in 1973, crossed Hartington Road. St Martin's School and Viaduct Court mark the crossing. On entering a recreational area, from Hartington Road opposite Shanklin Road, immediately to the east was the site of the short-lived Hartington Road Halt that opened in 1906 but had closed by 1911. From this point one can walk almost to the entrance, of the 1,024 yard tunnel, now sealed, which passes below Elm Grove and Queens Park Road before emerging to the east of Freshfield Road, At the intersection of Pankhurst Avenue and Down Terrace is a small iron ventilator, some 12 inches high, which is allegedly connected to the tunnel below. Kemp Town Station was situated in Coalbrook Road and was of similar design to those at Portslade and London Road (Brighton). Behind were a long single platform and an extensive coal and goods yard. Today Freshfield Industrial Estate covers the site but the tunnel portal can still be seen.

The Crumbles Siding
In 1862 (an agreement between the Duke of Devonshire, the landowner, and the LB&SCR is dated 25th March 1862) from just north of Eastbourne Station a siding was laid extending for about three miles to a desolate area of foreshore known as the Crumbles. Its purpose was for transporting shingle ballast from the beach for use on the LB&SCR's permanent way. With the formation of the Southern Railway angular granite ballast was used and the far end of the line had closed by 1932. The siding survived until the late sixties, when the line was lifted but its route can still be traced. It commenced north of Whitley Road Bridge opposite the New Bedfordwell Waterworks, These opened in 1883 but were only to have a short life as the well became contaminated and was abandoned in 1895. The attractive red and cream brick building is now a council depot but the access point for coal delivery by rail can still be determined. The Crumbles siding, opposite, curved away behind the present Courtlands Road (close by Is Waterworks Road where the original Bedfordwell Waterworks was situated from 1859-1883; only an ancillary building survives) before crossing Ringwood Road where the alignment can be clearly followed as a strip of green running to the rear of Astaire Avenue, In 1926 a half mile branch was constructed to the Corporation's Electric Light Works at Roselands, This had opened in 1883 on the site of the original Bedfordwell Waterworks and after purchase by Eastbourne Corporation moved to this location in 1903. Although a rail link was mooted, economic analysis showed delivery of coal by road was cheaper until the 1920s, when due to the growth of the town and consequent increased demand for electricity the economics then favoured rail. Not only coal for the boilers was delivered but also fuel and lubricants for the bus depot in nearby Churchdale Road, whilst scrap metal from the Refuse Destructor on the same site was transported out, Deliveries ceased in February 1967. The site of the level crossing in Astaire Avenue can be clearly seen, to the left of the typical thirties electrical substation, after which the line continued on a low embankment between Harding and Hunloke Avenues before two more level crossings at St. Philips and Roselands Avenues. This branch was of course laid before the houses were built, the crossing gates being erected as development proceeded. Rejoining the alignment to the rear of Astaire Avenue two small concrete bridges over watercourses survive, one complete with decaying wooden sleepers the other with a modern handrail, both are to the west of the Bridgemere Centre, The line then crossed Churchdale Road before curving southeast. In 1870 the Eastbourne Gas Company built a new works (the original works were to the north of Eastbourne station) that straddled the line, closure in 1967 deprived the Crumbles siding of its last regular traffic. The gas works are now demolished but gasholders currently survive and the alignment can be found to the east of Finmere Road leading down to Seaside where, next to the end house the line terminated from 1932 until closure. From here the original route to the 'Ballast Hole' ran diagonally east across the modern roundabout and on towards the Crumbles, now the site of the Sovereign Harbour development,

This concludes the branch line survey, it is planned to produce a similar survey for lines that are still operational in future Newsletters.

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Last modified: December 27, 2004