Let’s step into (or onto) the fascinating world of the Volks Railway in Brighton, a true gem of heritage and history and something we’re really pleased to be part of. We recently had the distinct honour of being entrusted with a special project involving the relocation of this historic railway carriage – so join us on this journey as we share details and photos of this unique endeavour.
The Volks Railway and Its Heritage
The Volks Railway holds a significant place in Brighton’s history, dating back to 1883. It is renowned as the world’s oldest operating electric railway, delighting both locals and visitors with its nostalgic charm. This iconic railway has been a beloved feature of Brighton’s seafront, providing joyful rides and cherished memories for generations.
The Relocation Challenge
Sussex Transport was approached with a vital mission—to relocate a cherished railway carriage belonging to the folks at Volks Railway. The carriage, rich in history and sentimental value, needed to be moved from its storage yard in Hassocks to the iconic Madeira Drive in Brighton. The ultimate goal is to raise funds for its restoration, ensuring that this piece of heritage could be enjoyed for years to come.
The official word from Volks Electric Railway Association
Third Time Lucky?…..’Saving the Toastrack’
The official story of Southend Pier/Volk’s Railway Heritage Electric Rail Car No.9
After the war, Brighton Corporation restored the Volk’s Railway but needed extra passenger cars to cope with the holiday crowds. They bought two redundant 1898 vehicles from the Southend Pier Railway, saving them from the scrapman (for the first time).
Converted, motorised and re-numbered 8 & 9, they ran in Brighton for the next 40 years. They were nicknamed the ‘Toast Racks’ due to their open sided ribbed appearance and closely spaced reversible seating. By the early 1990s, however, their usefulness was thought to be over. Car 8 soon went back to Southend Pier but was eventually saved and restored for a museum in Chelmsford, its birthplace. In 2007 Car 9 was due to be scrapped but was saved (the second time) at the last minute by the Volk’s Electric Railway Association, leaving the Volk’s Railway in 2008.
A plan to exhibit it at the Hassocks South Downs Nurseries & Garden Centre fell through and it has languished there ever since under a tarpaulin. With the 140th anniversary of the Volk’s Electric Railway fast approaching in August 2023, this historic ex-Southend/Volk’s Railway Car 9 returns to Brighton on Wednesday 7th June after an absence of 15 years, an event some thought would never happen.
An appeal will be launched for funds to restore it to operational condition and save it for posterity (for the third time). Will passengers once again be able to experience the uniquely bracing effect of travelling at the seaside on this open sided 125 year old ‘toast rack’ vehicle?
Our Comprehensive Solution
To accomplish this intricate task, Sussex Transport provided a full range of expert services. We assembled a highly skilled lifting team equipped with specialist lifting accessories to ensure the utmost care and precision during the relocation process. Our reliable flatbed artic joined a sourced mobile crane to transport and lift the railway carriage with utmost efficiency and safety.
Check out these great pictures of the railway carriage relocation – taken by our lifting team.
At Sussex Transport, we take immense pride in playing a role in preserving Brighton’s rich heritage. Our collaboration with the Volks Railway showcases our commitment to community engagement and our passion for supporting projects that contribute to the cultural fabric of our closest UK city.
A Journey of Restoration Begins
With the railway carriage now safely relocated to Madeira Drive, a new chapter unfolds—the start of its restoration. The hopes are high, and the efforts are focused on raising funds and gathering support from the community to breathe new life into this remarkable piece of history.
Together, we can ensure that the stories of the past continue to inspire and captivate future generations.
And as always, if you’ve got a transport, logistics, storage or lifting project on the horizon and need some expert help then give us a call on 01903 751100, email our team or complete our lifting quote request form