Hundreds line the tracks to celebrate 150th anniversary

Steam engine pulls into Seaford railway station SUS-140906-133244001
Steam engine pulls into Seaford railway station SUS-140906-133244001

Hundreds of people turned out on Saturday and Sunday (June 7-8) to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Brighton to Seaford train link.

The event made history as two main line steam locomotives reached Seaford for the first time, having previously only made it as far as Newhaven.

The steam train on Saturday was hauled by a British Railways standard class Pacific, the Oliver Cromwell, of which there were only 55 built in 1951, with two allocated to the southern region. The second train, on Sunday, was hauled by a Stanier class Black Five, mixed traffic engine, which, although primarily associated with the Midland region, is no stranger to Eastbourne or Newhaven as they worked the inter-regional trains from the North.

Previously, trains to Seaford were run by small tank engines prior to electrification.

The last steam train to Seaford was in 1963 when two small tank engines hauled a special farewell train for enthusiasts.

Guests were met at the event by the Seaford Silver Band and speeches that recreated the opening event in 1864. Seaford Baptist Church Concert Choir sang Victorian parlour songs and the sound of church bells could be heard from St Leonard’s Parish Church.

Local traders celebrated the occasion by creating special window displays on a general theme of railways. There were 16 shops that took part and a judging panel of artists and a local school picked Foam and Fabrics in Broad Street as the overall winner. Seaford Home Hardware and Cooper and Son Funeral Directors, both of Clinton Place, shared second spot, with Seaford Home Hardware commended for the ingenuity of its design of a steam engine outlined in nuts and bolts. Wynn’s, of Place Lane, and the Retro Market, in High Street, were named as fourth-placed runners up.

The prizes were supplied by Southern Railway and were presented by Milly, Seaford’s Young Mayor, on the station platform during Saturday’s packed celebrations.

Seaford Museum held a special Railway 150 exhibition that had its historic Seaford Station rail-layout available for people to see.

The 13.40 train from Brighton offered an historical commentary from Brighton to Seaford by historian Kevin Gordon, and travellers were met by Seaford Youth Drama group and the Choir of Seaford Primary School upon their arrival. A series of other trains alongside the two steam engines included a children’s party carriage from Seaford to Brighton, run by Whiz Bang Pop Festival.

Money raised from commemorative tickets went to the Railway Children charity.