SUSSEX MAIN LINES - A YEAR 2002 SURVEY
8 HORSHAM TO LITTLEHAMPTON
A branch line from Three Bridges to Horsham was opened on 14th February
1848, the line being extended to Petworth on 10th October 1859 with stations at
Billingshurst and Pulborough. A junction at Pulborough was formed and a line to
Ford on the Coastway West line was opened on 3rd August 1863.
On leaving Three Bridges the first station is Crawley which opened in 1968 under
a multi storey office block with the booking office on the ground floor leading
down to platforms of precast concrete sections. The 1848 station although much
extended was to the west on Brighton Road at TQ 267365 and this closed on 27th
July 1968. No trace remains of the station buildings, footbridge or goods shed
but the fine tall signal box, which ceased operational use in 1986, is Grade 11
listed and looked after by The Crawley Signal Box Preservation Society. The box
is a typical Saxby and Farmer design with hipped roof, sliding windows and
top-lights, on a tall brick base. It was erected in 1877, replacing an earlier
one, and for many years controlled the level crossing gates at a notorious
bottle-neck on the London to Brighton road, prior to the construction of the
Crawley bypass in the fifties.
Ifield station at TQ 250367 was opened as Lyons Crossing Halt on 1st June 1907
and became Ifield Halt five weeks later; the word "Halt" being dropped in 1930.
The crossing road has been stopped up and a footbridge erected across the tracks
with the new road to the west bridging the line. The station is now a modern
minor stopping place with concrete platforms and "bus" shelters.
When I last visited Faygate Station at TQ 217344 some fifteen years ago, it was
an interesting survival with an 1847 station house, built for £1,050, and a
signal box on the platform. This has all recently been swept away leaving a pair
of railway cottages, of only slightly later date with guttering across the
dormer window in the roof. One has been modernised, the other is original but
unoccupied and will no doubt soon receive the builder's attention. This is still
such an isolated site one questions the survival of the station itself unless
building on the surrounding fields is sanctioned.
A halt at TQ 202333 was opened on the same day as Ifield; it was called Roffey
Road Halt and closed in 1937. Nothing remains. Littlehaven at TQ 186325 also
opened at the same time and was known as Rusper Road Crossing Halt for a few
weeks before becoming Littlehaven Crossing Halt and finally, by the end of 1907,
Littlehaven Halt.The word "Halt" was only dropped in 1969 and, like Ifield, it
has been rebuilt.
Horsham has had three station buildings all on the present site: the original
built in 1847, a handsome replacement when the line was extended in 1859 and the
present one on electrification in 1938 which is a particularly poor example of
art deco with an ugly concrete foot bridge and lift towers dominating the
platforms. From North Street Bridge, (which replaced the original level crossing
in the mid 1870s) to the rear of the 1938 signal box one can see the site of the
engine shed,. This was constructed in 1896 as a semi circular roundhouse and
later extended to two thirds of a circle. At its peak it had 18 bays radiating
from the central
turntable. Closure came in 1964. The only item to note in the once extensive
goods yard is that Bill King, formerly of King and Barnes' Horsham brewery has
set up his own micro-brewery producing a very palatable beverage.
A short diversion to the North takes one to Warnham Station on the line to
Dorking, which opened in 1867. The station house and office is typical of the
period with polychrome bricks in the window arches. The station is a mile and a
half from the village it serves. This is surely the furthest in a county where
so many stations were of this ilk. Also notable are surviving level crossing
gates, (I know of only one other example within the county; at Plumpton) now
fixed in the open position i.e. permanently closed to road users, but as the box
survives, presumably capable of being operated. A wooden platform shelter of a
type fast disappearing remains on the up platform. This is worthwhile inspecting
as an example of Victorian joinery.
Returning now to the South of Horsham and to Christ's Hospital Station at TQ
147292, this is a shadow of its former glory and together with Hassocks was one
of the last acts of vandalism perpetrated by British Rail in the early
seventies. It was built between 1899 and 1902, not only to serve the Bluecoat
School but in anticipation of housing development which never materialised. This
was fought tooth and nail by the school which having re-located from the grime
of the City of London had no intention of ending up in suburbia. The station was
a fine brick double-fronted villa with interesting chequer-work in the gables
behind which were wide platforms protected by magnificent cast iron and glass
canopies. The platforms formed a Y-shape with lines to Guildford-Brighton via
Steyning as well as Littlehampton. A feature was wooden screen walls panelled
and strengthened with diagonal cross braces. When built, there were seven
platform faces; now all that remains are two with part of the platform buildings
originally serving platforms two and three having been adapted to serve the
perceived minimalist needs of today's travellers. The extent of the subway can
still be discovered but all trace of the Guildford platforms has been
obliterated within the last three years. The large goods shed remains in use as
industrial premises as does the terrace of eight railway cottages; surely some
of the best accommodation provided for staff. Sadly, the fine contemporary
signal box was recently destroyed by fire; another loss.
Billingshurst Station was opened with the extension to Petworth in 1859 and
according to a contemporary account was "rustically situated in a ploughed
field". Later the railway company built the road to join Stane Street, now the
A29, which runs through the village centre half a mile away. This is one of my
favourite stations with much that is original remaining and well worth a visit.
The two-storey station house dates from the opening; the single storey offices
being later. The brick goods shed, now used as a tyre centre, is also original
and integral with the house; the interior is worth a look; note the stone inner
walls. The signal box is one of the earliest designs of Saxby & Farmer that
survives; it dates from around 1868 and is of the type which stood on stilts.
Here the open base has been weather-boarded at a rater date. A typical LB&SCR
iron footbridge completes the ensemble. The crossing gates were replaced by
lifting barriers in 1978 and the down platform canopy has gone but the up side
survives and is supported by early, possibly from 1859, simple stanchions. The
staff have produced a potted history in the booking office which includes
details of the long-cased clock, originally on the up platform, and according to
the history, possibly dating from 1859. Restored in 1999 and keeping good time I
was allowed to wind up the weight.
Pulborough station house would appear to date from 1859, although its design was
not repeated on the LB&SCR system. Brick built with a central two-storey house,
it has lower wings of one and two storeys with an attached goods shed to the
North. There is an interesting early wooden post box on the platform side of the
building. The island platform (which was built to terminate the Petworth branch
trains with the opening of the connecting line to Coastway West) was rebuilt in
about 1900 with buildings of that date covered by a canopy with the curving
valances typical of the period.
The link line to the Brighton — Portsmouth, now the Coastway West line, opened
on 3rd August 1863, the only noteworthy engineering feature being the Timberley
Viaduct at TQ 023137 crossing the Arun to the north of Amberley village. The low
viaduct is 161 metres long and retains its original appearance although the
twelve cast iron approach spans on cast iron trestles have been strengthened
internally. The central span is of wrought iron bowstring girders 4 metres high,
with a wrought iron girder span each side. The walk across the Amberley Levels
should only be made after a long dry period.
Amberley Station is much reduced with the station house and goods shed gone, it
does however provide access to the Amberley Working Museum, formerly the
limeworks of Pepper & Sons. A siding ran into what is now the main museum site
with another to nine limekilns which were immediately to the South of the
station. The goods yard is now the car park. Curiously, the single storey office
building was destroyed by fire a few years ago, rebuilt to the original design
but seems to have no passenger use. The footbridge of 1891 and the up platform
shelter, of the same design as at Warnham, survive.
For a ducal seat, Arundel is a modest brick station of two storeys with a
recessed centre; a style of which many were erected in the 1860s and 70s.
Allegedly an opulent waiting room was provided for the Duke. Of this I can
discover no trace. The only possibility is an upper room with a bay window in
the extension to the north above a carriage entrance. The up platform canopy is
supported by very decorative iron columns; cast by John Every of Lewes, in a
unique design. A builder's merchant now uses the original goods shed. Of this
two-storey design with distinctive semi-circular windows only one other
survives, at nearby Littlehampton . From the platform by the goods shed one can
see the signal box built when the line was electrified in 1938. The raised
central section is surmounted by a flat roof with single storey wings the whole
being in an art deco or Odeon style. The modern windows are a poor substitute
for the original Crittall steel casements.
A straight run of a mile and a half brings one to the junction with the Coastway
West line and then to Littlehampton as described in No. 3 of these articles.
BRIGHTON LOCOMOTIVE WORKS John Blackwell
Gerry Collins started our Winter lectures off in grand style with a scholarly
and wonderfully illustrated talk on Brighton Locomotive Works. Opening in 1848
and situated at the focal point of the LB&SCR's lines that were then open;
namely, to London, Hastings and Portsmouth. The first locomotive was constructed
in 1852 under the supervision of the first Locomotive Superintendent John
Chester Craven; apparently he was so disliked, the drivers used to spit in his
garden- where is the evidence other than hearsay?. Gerry produced a drawing of
this loco and then, remarkably, a photograph taken over thirty years later with
the engine, although rebuilt at least once, still operational. With the coming
of William Stroudley the rolling stock was standardised and arguably some of the
most attractive designs of the Brighton Company were produced. His successors
Billington, father and son, and Marsh maintained the standard, set and expanded
the works which at their peak employed nearly 3,000 men. With grouping into the
Southern Railway in 1923, the works declined only to be refitted for war
production. The last loco was turned out in 1957 and the works closed in 1958.
For a short time Isetta bubble cars were assembled; the components arrived by
rail and the completed cars left the same way. Demolition took place in 1969 and
Gerry, who was born close by and whose father served his `time' there, recorded
the last rites and salvaged a few artefacts, which he bought along. The site has
remained derelict, other than the obligatory money-spinning car park, but is now
about to be redeveloped and the last few remaining vestiges of a once proud
works will go. All the above facets were brought to life with an outstanding
collection of historic photographs and slides.
EVERY'S LEWES IRON WORKS WHAT IS OUT THERE?
I have recently produced a potted history of these works for an exhibition at
Ditchling Museum that sadly will be over by the time you read this. However
considering this was a large works whose products can still be seen all over
Sussex particularly on Brighton seafront, the printed sources are scant. The
following is taken from an article in Sussex County Magazine, a free newspaper
of 1986, and an interview with a former M.D. by Geoff Mead in the October 1991
Newsletter, where certain facts are at variance with the other sources.
John Every started in business at the bottom of North Street, Lewes in 1832,
where he set up a "furnace cooled with a fan driven by a horse walking round a
large wheel". In 1835 a disastrous fire burnt the premises to a cinder but like
a Phoenix arising from the ashes, he set up again in Railway Lane near Cliffe
Bridge. His business prospered and when the railway wanted to extend their goods
yard he had no difficulty in raising the finance, principally from the
nonconformist religious community to which he belonged, to move to a riverside
site and build his well known Phoenix Iron Works in North Place, which opened in
1861. The company produced railings and lamp posts to line Sussex streets, oven
doors and soot boxes for homes and parts for piers in Brighton, Eastbourne,
Bognor and Hastings. In 1887, aged 91, John Every died being succeeded by his
son, another John. He managed the company for only thirteen years before dying
in 1900. It was his son John Every Ill who expanded the company and exported
products across the British Empire. After his death in 1943 his son Morris
changed the company name to John Every Lewes Ltd and many rain water drainage
grilles and manhole covers bearing this name can be found in and around
Ditchling. Difficulties beset the company after they had built a mechanised
foundry that became a 'white elephant' and a bank was called in to put a rescue
package together. A fire damaged part of the top floor and in 1951 the bank sold
the iron works to a Mr. Burchell who renamed the concern East Sussex
Engineering. By the end of the fifties casting had finished as the company
decided to concentrate on heavy engineering and in 1969 much of the site was
taken over for the construction of the Phoenix Causeway. In 1976, Aurora
holdings owned the factory and sold it piecemeal in 1978. GKS bought the
non-ferrous side and in 1986 this closed with five redundancies.
ESRO holds a few catalogues and brochures but nothing of any substance, there
must surely have been more written about this prominent employer and his works.
Please let me know of any sources, as surely the history needs to be recorded.