Saturday, 24 August 2013

a walk up the line

On 20 November 1986 I took a walk along the remains of the Horsham to Shoreham line, which retained track as far as the old Beeding Cement Works.

This was a strange closure, a double track line that provided an excellent alternative route from Brighton to London (with junctions facing the right way) and serving a number of sizeable towns on route. It actually closed on the very same day as the S&D, 6 March 1966.

I did actually see this line when it was still open to passengers, from the car as we were on the way to Bramber castle. I could see Bramber station but, being only 9 years old, was not allowed to visit it. On the next visit the line was closed and overgrown, and I still wasn't allowed to visit it!

Not long after closure the line was lifted apart from the 2 or 3 miles between Shoreham and Beeding. But eventually even that section closed. There was an abortive preservation bid, the main stumbling block being that the last short stretch of the line into Shoreham was still a busy BR route.

So on that sunny November day in 1986 I said goodbye to the line, though I didn't know it at the time. I walked the whole length apart from about 500 metres in Shoreham.

There have always been mutterings about reopening the route. It would seem a sensible time to start planning this now. There are a few of the usual stupid 'blockages', characterless houses plonked for some reason right on the trackbed even though it must have always been clear that the line would be needed in the future. Towns like Henfield and Steyning are ridiculously without railway stations! Other places like Bramber, West Grinstead, Southwater and Partridge Green have (currently unfulfilled) potential to be commuter towns. I can't see the Adur Valley being without trains for much longer, but for now the route is silent, yet another disgusting reminder of the stupidity and shortsightedness of the Flower Power generation.

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