Monday, 25 August 2014

fbb's Steyning Day; NOT Stenning, Ray. [3]

See "fbb's Steyning Day; NOT Stenning, Ray. [2]" (read again)

Next calling point south on the former Adur Valley line between Shoreham-by-Sea and Horsham was Henfield.
fbb's on-line investigations referred to the "Henfield Hub" which sounded like one of the new breed of village and small town transport interchanges, although clearly not with any trains.
But, boo-hoo, it turned out to be the name of the village web site. There was a bit of hooray, however, as the site had a public transport page ...
... which offered links to current timetables. Sadly that to the 106 was less than helpful.
Henfield station was a more opulent edifice than others so far reported ...
... but alas all has been wiped off the face of the earth and replaced by a "petite" housing estate called, with tragic indignity ...
... Beechings.

Even the Downs Link path is diverted from the trackbed ...
... (through trees, left) via Station Road (right hand turn) before regaining its rightful route!

But onwards and southbound and we arrive at ...
... Steyning. Here, not only has the station been wrecking-ball brushed from existence, but so has the track itself.
The Steyning by-pass (A283, green) uses the former trackbed from south of Upper Beeding to just north of the old station site. The Downs Link path is also interrupted north of the town ...
... and is pushed off-l;ine and onto Wyckham Lane ("A") before rejoining the old track at Bramber and crossing the road south of the town to regain the railway formation.
Steyning station was substantial ...
... but is no more; likewise Bramber is a further casualty of the policy of pandering to the motor car.
As our virtual train approaches Shoreham-by-Sea ...
... we notice the huge structure that is/was the cement works.
Quarrying at the site dates back to at least 1751, but the modern demand for cement brough a major rebuilding between 1948 and 1951, the remains of which are still in place today.
The plant employed 250 personnel in 1968 that rose to 330 by 1981. After achieving a production rate of 250,000 tons of cement a year at its zenith (and perhaps surprisingly was still producing lime as well in 1971) during which it ate away a whole hillside, the works finally closed down in 1991.

Works sidings provided good business for the railway ...
... and the site had its own diesel shunter for internal use, which was still in its shed, rotting, in 2012!
The last section of the line runs alongside the river, over the crossing which leadd to the Lancing toll bridge ...
Then there was a steep climb up and over the Old Shoreham Road ...
... where the parapets are still in place.
The junction was a few yards to the west of Shoreham-by-Sea station ...
... and "branch" trains continued to run through to and from Brighton right to the very end.
In 1961 there were grand celebrations for the centenary of the line ...
... but sadly the huge numbers that turned out then did not turn out to travel regularly and closure came in 1966. A few railtour specials ran a short way past the cement works which continued to use rail after closure to passengers, this in 1979.
But, grab your bike or pull on your walking boots and the Downs Link will take you most of the way. No trains, no track but a few bridges and other remnants will, if nothing else, remind you that this was a working railway.

For the record, the Downs Link path and cycleway continues past Horsham and terminates at Cranleigh near Guildford.
But, starting this summer, you could replicate this Adur Valley branch line by bus; well nearly.

Tune in tomorrow, same time, same spot on the dial.

 Next bus/rail blog : Tuesday 26th August 

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