Monday, 18 August 2014

Rails Around Chichester

(All copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing, 15.8.2014)

We had a big family wedding last weekend, all centred around Chichester cathedral. I managed to wangle a quick trip to the station and took the photos above.

This whole area is where I grew up and many of my early photos were taken on the Coastway line between Brighton and Portsmouth. I often visited Chichester to walk up the old Midhurst line to Lavant and down the old Selsey Tramway to Hunston. I first visited Lavant in 1971, just a year after the regular sugar beet trains finished, but I do remember track at the station and beyond, where a buffer stop in the long grass marked the end of the Midhurst line. As the years passed the track was lifted as trains only ran as far as the gravel works near Brandy Hole Lane. Eventually even this short stub closed and the track was lifted - when I moved to Bosham around 2000 the line had gone. 

(Both Chichester station 21.8.1986 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Lavant 24.6.1976

Above both 15.5.1977 - top shot shows the end of the line by Brandy Hole Bridge. The lower picture shows Lavant, now trackless of course. I never got to photograph the track in situ here.

The other branch from Chichester was the Selsey Tramway, a Colonel Stephens' line, and often claimed to be the most ramshackle of them all, which is saying something! The top shot must be very near the line's opening, or possibly the opening day itself, when the line took delivery of  its lovely new carriages. The bottom shot is more typical, with one of the petrol railcars waiting for passengers. Both lines from Chichester closed to passengers in 1935. There are often rumblings in the city and Selsey for the tramway to be reopened, it would be a most useful (and cheap to run) line today. The line north to Midhurst would be a spectacular 'heritage' line, cutting as it does through the South Downs and serving the racecourse at Goodwood. It may well be that both lines reopen in the coming decades, and Chichester regains its status as a junction.

1 comment:

  1. I currently work at Colchester is the ASC, but my early Railway career was on the Coastway. being a Siggie at places like Chi, Southbourne, Barnham, Ford, Lton, Arundel Jct, sadly missed in many ways