1 Brighton to Worthing

 

 

SUSSEX MAIN LINES - A YEAR 2002 SURVEY
John Blackwell

1. BRIGHTON TO WORTHING
The section of line from Brighton to Shoreham was the first public railway in the county and a short description follows of the official opening day, Monday May 11th 1840, taken from the Brighton Gazette and witnessed by 'thousands of townspeople' from the hillsides around the station whose first sight this would have been of a means of transport that would revolutionise the nineteenth century.

"The engine selected for the first trip was `Kingston'. conducted by Jackson, the engine driver who has been employed for the last twelve months In working the Brighton and Shoreham for the removal of earth along the line. Next to the tender were two first class carriages, each containing about 40 persons, consisting of a number of the Directors, and the principal tradesmen and local officers of the town. Then followed two second class and two first class carriages, principally to the use of ladies and containing 20 persons each. The rear was brought up by three of the luggage wagons, which had been fitted with forms containing accommodation for 70 other passengers, making the number taken In the first trip about 230.

Precisely at 3pm the whistle was blown but a locked 'break' (sic) made a delay of 11 minutes. The train 'passed the station house at Copperas Gap at 18 minutes past three, the entrance to the harbour at 23 minutes past three and arrived at Shoreham at 23 minutes after three'. During the day upwards of a 1,000 people travelled the five and a half miles behind the engines "Kingston" and "Eagle".

The next day, Tuesday 12th  May, the line opened to the public and no less than 1, 750 people travelled, many to a fete at the Swiss Gardens. The fares were third class 6d (2.5p), second class 9d (3.75p), first class 1s (5p) and coupe of the first class 1s-4d (7p), It was recorded that 'stations are erecting at Hove and Kingston, at the latter coals and merchandise will be stored that are intended for conveyance by the trains, coke ovens have also been constructed at Kingston for preparing fuel for the engines".

The development of Brighton Station has been detailed in SIH No 28 (1998) so our survey starts at the bridge carrying New England Road over the line. Here there are some fine flint walls which appear to be a feature of the line, reappearing at various points. These could well have originally been boundary walls. A short tunnel takes the line under Dyke Road. Above the tunnel Jill Post Mill was sited before being moved to Clayton in 1852. The first Hove Station opened in 1840 and closed in 1880, becoming a goods yard, which in turn closed in the 1970s. It was situated to the east of Holland Road where an industrial estate now stands and the only remains of railway use are former stables under the approach ramp to the road bridge over the railway. To the south of the goods yard was Hove Corporation's Electricity Works. In 1905 Holland Road Halt was opened to the east of the road bridge, this was one of a series of hafts constructed to counter the use of road transport (buses In this area and a tramway further west) for short journeys. It remained In use until 1956 and the entrance to the westbound platform was down a flight of steps where the pavement widens just before the bridge over the line. As there was no footbridge a similar flight of steps led to the eastbound platform from the other side of the bridge.

The present Hove station was opened in 1865 carrying the name Clilonville and West Brighton, the 1865 building being to the west of the footbridge, this is currently unused and a little run down. In 1893 a spacious new booking hall was built with a small lantern roof to the east of the footbridge and the name changed to Hove and West Brighton; two years later it became plain Hove. The steel porte-cochere came from Victoria Station when that was rebuilt in 1908 and a supporting pier has glazed tiles with initials of the line's original owners, the London Brighton & South Coast Railway. Crossing the footbridge one can find
a wooden building that was used during peak hours as a booking office; opposite is arguably the finest range of factory buildings in the city the former Dubarry Soap and Perfumery Manufactory whose name and products are displayed in white mosaics, on a green background, at second floor level.

The next stop is Aldrington Halt, formerly Dyke Junction, until June 1932, the branch off being just discernible to the west. This was another wooden platform halt opened in 1905 but since rebuilt in Southern Railway prefabricated concrete components and moved slightly to the east. The present station at Portslade dates from 1881 and is built in the standard style in vogue at this date of a rendered two-storey building the same as at Polegate and London Road. The platforms have lost their canopies and the signal box on the opposite side of the level crossing has also gone; as indeed have all the boxes on the line to Shoreham. The original station was on the Shoreham side of the crossing and had staggered platforms typical of early railways. Fishergate Halt is similar to Aldrington though with a typical LB&SCR footbridge. Southwick Station was allegedly opened with the line but I have not found any documentary evidence to support this. The present platform buildings with canopies date from the 1890s whilst those at street level are a 1970s replacement. At the Shoreham end of the up platform a hand operated crane used to raise baskets of fresh shellfish from the street below. The bridge over Kingston Lane is worth viewing as it is original and unaltered; note here the flint walls.

To the south of the line ran the wartime Admiralty siding which passed between a gap in the houses and ran along the coast road before turning into Shoreham Harbour. This was used to transport materials for the construction during WW1 of the so called "mystery towers" which were in fact going to be used to support underwater submarine defences in the Channel but the war was over before they were completed. One was broken up and the other formed the base of the Knab Lighthouse; no trace of the siding which started from Kingston remains, Neither is there any trace of Kingston Station, its location was approximately between factory 5 and 6 of the modem BOC Edwards complex. The station opened shortly after the line and at that time it was envisaged that Kingston would be the departure point for cross channel shipping. However Newhaven took on that role. The station closed in 1879. My memory of Kingston was the hump in the coast road which carried it over sidings leading to the wharf, it was exciting to a young lad riding on the upper deck of a Southdown bus to spot a small tank engine working below. On the northern side of the line along the full length of Dolphin Road is another flint wall but there is no obvious entrance point to the up platform although probably passengers had to cross the line some-where. Shoreham Station was also rebuilt in the 1890s and remains an attractive building. Note the coal merchants office now used by a taxi company. Both signal boxes and the goods shed have disappeared. The nearby Burrell Arms was the terminus for the horse drawn Brighton to Shoreham Tramway; this did not in fact run to Brighton (as the promoters would have wished) but terminated in New Church Road at Westbourne Villas on the Hove boundary. Hove was implacably against any form of street tramway.

Shoreham did not remain a terminus for long; on 24m November 1845 an extension was opened to Worthing, this time without the celebrations of five years before. After passing Buckingham Lane on the level, the line rises, crossing over four roads in quick succession followed by 19 brick arches and then a wooden trestle viaduct "strong enough to carry a town" across the River Adur. The present steel viaduct was erected in 1893. The large diameter pipe attached to the south side carried town gas from the works at Portslade. Another of the wooden halts was constructed where New Salts Farm Road now meets the airport perimeter road. This opened in 1910 as Bungalow Town Halt and served the shanty town of dwellings, many made from old railway carriages, that is now Shoreham Beach. It was closed when the line was electrified in 1933 but reopened in 1935 as Shoreham Airport to serve the newly constructed terminal building. The halt finally closed in 1940 at the same time as most of the bungalows were demolished, because of the threat of Invasion.

The original station at Lancing survives, incorporated into an 1890s extension. Built of flint with brick quoins it is typical of the style of buildings used for the extension to Chichester. Currently boarded up but "To Let" it is a remarkable survival in this busy location. In 1912 the LB&SCR built a new carriage works on a greenfield site to the west of Lancing Station the site of which Is now enclosed by Chartwell Road. The carriage shop remains, currently occupied by Manhattan Furniture, but the corresponding paint shop has been replaced. Bessborough Terrace, a cul-de-sac off the coast road appears to be company housing for the foremen at the works (the workforce being transported from Brighton by the legendary "Lancing Belle"). From the cul-de-sac a footpath leading to the site passed the remains of the war memorial now devoid of names. The works closed In the mid sixties but I can remember in the 19509 the annual open days, with a special train from Brighton, and seeing there the unique double-decker Bulleid carriages. East Worthing (formerly Ham Bridge until 1949) is another of the 1905 halts. This one retains its Southern Railway wooden ticket office.

At Worthing can be found the remains of three stations. To the east of the present station is the original 1845 flint and brick station - a superb five bay two-storey station house flanked on each side by single storey offices. It is a listed building, now beautifully restored, and in use as offices. At the west end of the present down platform is a fragment of the second station, built in 1869; three gables (originally glazed) are supported by elaborate cast iron columns with six pointed stars within the spandrels. These originally ran the full length of both up and down platforms and are unique on the LB&SCR, though common on the Midland Railway. Was the company experimenting with a new style or because of financial constraint following the collapse of a well known railway banking house in 1866 were they bought cheaply from the Midland Railway? The present station was constructed in 1908 and if one follows the southern boundary one can see, set in the ground, plates bearing the initials LB&SCR which defined the company's responsibility from that of the local council.

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