The Railway

Fever pitch excitement greeted the opening of the railway to Seaford on June 1st 1864, the station was dressed in yards of bunting and the sound of the nearby church bells rang through the air.

The first train arrived bedecked in flags and puffing smoke; the railway had arrived.

The first train arrived bedecked in flags and puffing smoke; the railway had arrived.

The event marked out the hopes for the town’s future as an important seaside resort to rival Brighton or Eastbourne, however it soon became an end-of-the-line haven for private schools and nursing homes. The frequency of trains to and from London at term time required the lengthening of the platform to accommodate the twelve carriage ‘school specials’. The popularity of the railway increased and in 1904 its capacity was increased with separate up and down tracks being opened. This had required the width of the Buckle Bridge at the current Bishopstone Station being doubled in width and the cutting expanded

Originally, Bishopstone station had been situated at the Tidemills village approximately eight hundred metres to the west, but as the importance of the village declined after WW1, the old Bishopstone station was relegated to a ‘Bishopstone Beach Halt’ in 1922 before closing finally in 1938. The following year the fine, new, Art Deco inspired Bishopstone Station was opened at Hawth Hill.

The new Bishopstone Station opened in 1939

In post WW2 Seaford, the railway declined in use and popularity as the use of road transport and private cars grew. In 1975 the the branch line to Newhaven harbour was returned to single line operation and one of the platforms at Seaford station was converted to car parking. It is thought that Seaford station is the only single platform station in Britain that is still designated as Platform 2.

Steam returns! To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the railway, steam returned to Seaford in 2014 just for one day. Photo Maggie Grinyer]