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Kemp Town Branch

When the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway opened its short branch to Kemp Town on 2nd August 1869, it was as much as anything a strategic move to guard against an incursion into Brighton by any of the railway companies on their eastern flank. This was achieved at vast expense - more than £100,000 for just over a mile of railway, an enormous amount for the time! Although it was a very short branch line almost half of it was a 1,024 yard tunnel and much of the rest of the line was on a fourteen arch viaduct, an embankment and other bridges. It had more than its fair share of stations too, but the railmotor services provided (once the preserve of the 2-4-0T "Terriers") could not compete with competition from battery operated buses, trams and etc. Passenger services were withdrawn on 31st December 1932 but Kemp Town and Lewes Road stations were kept open for goods (mostly coal) until 1971.
 
Kemp Town Branch
During British Railways days an unidentified E1 class engine sits just ahead of its train of coal wagons quietly blowing off whilst the crew would appear to be enjoying lunch!

photograph: Mike Morant collection

 
To mark the final closure on 26th June 1971 a Tadpole unit was brought in to run trips from Brighton station to Kemp Town and back.

After closure the branch was bought by Brighton Corporation, but today nothing of railway origin remains, except the tunnel, although the route can still be traced.

The rest of the photographs on this ages were all taken on that final day.

 
Kemp Town Branch The wooden signal cabin at the junction with the main line to Lewes, just east of the Ditchling Road tunnel. The stained wood was almost black.

photograph by Ian Morgan

 
With the mainline heading away to Lewes the DEMU unit ventures onto the branch line and passes through Lewes Road station, a coal yard at this time. The buildings had disappeared long ago, but the platform was still in place.

photograph by Ian Morgan

Kemp Town Branch
 
Kemp Town Branch The DEMU, "Tadpole" unit Nº1205, at Lewes Road station, with the main line passing by just beyond and the junction just off the left side of the photo.

photograph by Ian Morgan

 
Just coming off the Lewes Road viaduct, and approching the Hartington Road bridge. Note the check rail on this tightly curved section.

photograph by Ian Morgan

Kemp Town Branch
Kemp Town Branch The Hartington Road bridge looking towards the tunnel entrance. The tunnel itself was S shaped, and when near the middle you could not see either end.

photograph by Ian Morgan

 
Nº1205 heading back to Brighton having just passed over Hartington Road bridge.

photograph by Ian Morgan

Kemp Town Branch
 
Kemp Town Branch One of the three-way points just after exiting the tunnel. This one served the western side of the yard.

photograph by Ian Morgan

 
Close up of the first three-way point after leaving the tunnel. The clean central track went on to the station platform.

photograph by Ian Morgan

Kemp Town Branch
 
Kemp Town Branch Hartington Road bridge, just a few weeks later. The bridge was eventually demolished, as was the fine viaduct that crossed Lewes Road.

photograph by Ian Morgan

All photographs are copyright

See also "By Rail to Kemp Town" in the Railway Magazine archives.

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This page was last updated 2 January 2011

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