Notes: The coal yard at Lewes Road remained in use until the
final closure of the line in 1971. At that time the station platforms
remained intact although the buildings had been demolished.
The Kemp Town branch line opened on 2nd August 1869 and although
only just over a mile in length it was a costly line to construct
as, for most of its length, it ran through a tunnel or on a viaduct
or embankment. The construction could never be financially justified
but rivalries between the London Brighton & South Coast Railway
who built the line and the London & Chatham & Dover Railway
who wanted to build their own line into Kemp Town ensured that
the fashionable suburb of Brighton got its own terminus.
The line took five years to build, diverging from the Brighton
- Lewes line just east of Ditchling Road Tunnel. The branch curved
southwards on an embankment to Lewes Road Station which consisted
of an island platform and a second platform with the main buildings;
the station was accessed by a covered flight of steps from Lewes
Road. Beyond the station the line was carried on a fourteen arch
viaduct over Lewes Road followed by a three arch viaduct over
Hartington Road to the short lived Hartington Road Halt. From
there the line entered a short cutting before entering the 1024
yard Kemp Town Tunnel through Race Hill. Kemp Town Station itself
had a single platform with room for expansion which never happened
and an extensive goods yard.
Despite its high cost the line never carried many passengers.
Lewis Road Station was opened on 1st September 1873 and Hartington
Road Halt was added on 1st January 1906. Passenger numbers failed
to improve however and the new halt closed five years later. The
branch closed completely during WW1 but was reopened to passengers
on 19th August 1919 and to goods three years later.
With strong competition from trams and busses the branches days
were numbered and the inevitable came on 1st January 1933 when
the line finally lost its passenger service for good. Freight
traffic continued however and although the extensive goods depot
which opened in 1970 never took the expected traffic away from
Brighton it remained relatively busy for many years, finally closing
on 26th June 1971.
After closure the track was quickly lifted and the line was bought
by Brighton Corporation. Kemp Town Station was demolished and
the site is now occupied by the Freshfield Industrial; for a time
the tunnel was used as a mushroom far and it is now used to store
vehicles. Only the southern portal remains accessible within the
fenced grounds of one of the industrial units. The northern portal
has been demolished and the area landscaped at the back of a school
playground. The short viaduct over Hartington Road was demolished
in 1973 and the longer viaduct crossing Lewes Road and Melbourne
Street was pulled down in 1976 with the last western section being
cleared in 1983.
Sources: Sussex Railways Remembered by Leslie Oppitz
Countryside Books 1987 ISBN 0 905392 99 X
South Coast Railways - Brighton to Eastbourne by Vic Mitchell
& Keith Smith
Middleton Press 1985 ISBN 0 906520 16 9
Web Sites: My
Brighton & Hove Includes history, photographs and reminiscences
of the Kemp Town branch line.
To see the other
stations on the Kemp Town branch line click on the station name:
Kemp Town & Hartington
Road Halt also Lewes