Stories of steam rarely-seen photographs

A more recent steam train visit, the Black Five locomotive steaming through Southwick Railway Station. Picture: Mike Jennings
A more recent steam train visit, the Black Five locomotive steaming through Southwick Railway Station. Picture: Mike Jennings

Southwick changed forever when the very first public train steamed through on its way to Shoreham from Brighton.

It was May 12, 1840, and before long, the lines would be extended to London, along the coast to Chichester, and east to Lewes, Eastbourne and Hastings.

Eventually the London Brighton and South Coast Railway would serve all the towns and many of the villages in Sussex.

People soon began to travel a lot, commuting became the norm and holidays on the coast boomed.

Industry and agriculture benefited, too, as it became easier to transport goods and materials.

On Monday, March 12, well-known local historian Bill Gage will be retelling aspects of this rich history to the Southwick Society in his illustrated talk, Steaming Through Sussex.

Using rarely seen photographs, many from the 1890s, Bill will use the railway to explore our social history.

Bill emphasises that this will not be a dry catalogue of locomotive types and dates.

He will be telling stories such as the train that fell into a 30ft deep gully, the runaway train from Petworth and the day Bognor station blew down and was consumed by fire.

And find out what Queen Victoria’s funeral train was doing racing along the south coast.

The talk will start at 7.30pm in Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street, Southwick, and is open to all. Admission is £2 for members and £4 for non-members.

The Southwick Society runs Manor Cottage Heritage Centre and the talk is part of the Heritage Talks programme.