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Book:Rail Centres: Brighton:1981
Author: Cooper, B. K (Basil K)
Year: 1981
Format: Book
Class no: BRIGHTON385
ISBN: 9780711011557, 0711011559
Book:Rail Centres: Brighton:1981
Author: Cooper, B. K (Basil K)
Year: 1981
Format: Book
Class no: 385.094
ISBN: 9780711011557, 0711011559
Publication Year: 1930
Media type: Other material
Deposited Plans
From F W Steer. Catalogue of Sussex Maps (1968) Sussex Record Society vol 66.
The Standing Orders of both Houses of Parliament required by the end of the 18th century that the plans, sections and books of reference relating to canals, aqueducts and the navigation of rivers should be deposited for public inspection with the Clerk of the Peace of the county, or counties, concerned. This injunction was extended to cover all projects affecting landowners, and notices of application to Parliament and, with later plans, Special Orders, Bills and even Acts, were also deposited. By 1838, a duplicate, sealed copy of the plan was to be retained until requested by either House. Plans were also deposited with the House of Lords but the collection is incomplete. By an amendment to Standing Orders in 1930 the responsibility in this field of the Clerk of the Peace was assumed by the Clerk of the County Council with whom all later plans were deposited.
The West Sussex Record Office contains over 300 of these plans which, besides providing a cartographical lesson in the origins of the Ordnance Survey, mirror the social and industrial developments of the most revolutionary, and in some ways the most exciting, century in English history. First are the plans for canals and roads, then the deluge of railway plans, drowning most other schemes for thirty years, until the more domestic necessities of gas, water and electricity provide a series of plans which last until the middle of the present century; schemes for piers, docks and harbour improvements are interspersed throughout the collection.
It will be the aim of this introduction to give only a brief narrative account of the history of roads, canals and railways in West Sussex. In this limited space a fuller history could add little to the detailed works of Dendy Marshall and Vine (see the bibliography) and the chronological disposition of the plans will itself illustrate the pattern of development. Rather, the introduction will analyse the plans both generally and in detail, discussing them in relation to each other, the geographical features of the county, and the changing social conditions of the Sussex sea-board. Particular attention will be paid to plans deposited before the turn of the century.
About 35 per cent of all the plans concern railways, and of the plans earlier than 1900 the proportion rises to 41 per cent; but when it is considered that the era of railway enthusiasm covers only thirty-odd years of the 19th century, the true intensity of speculation in that period will be realised.
Geographically, West Sussex presented no great problem to the civil engineer. The western end of the clay and sandstone Weald is undulating rather than hilly and only in St. Leonard's Forest does it reach 400 ft. The ring of lower greensand, forming the wooded ridges between Leith Hill and Haslemere in Surrey and penetrating south into Sussex as far as Midhurst, caused little trouble to the earlier railway planners in that the general direction of the ridges coincided with the route of the railways radiating south and south-west from the metropolis. The main obstacle in Sussex, separating London from the centres of population along the coastal fringe, is the broad chalk ridge of the South Downs, reaching over 800 ft. Other railways in England climb higher than this but height has only a relative significance and the bluff northern escarpments of the Downs would have been a formidable barrier to engineers if the defences of the ridge were not broken by natural lines of weakness. The valleys of the Arun and Adur give level access from the north to the ports on their estuaries and three passes, which may be called the Cocking, Findon and Pyecombe gaps, and which cross the ridge at a little over 300 ft., or at half its average height, afford a relatively easy approach to Chichester, Worthing and Brighton respectively. The Sussex hills were therefore more of an inconvenience than an obstruction, and could be negotiated without great trouble if the concessions of Nature were realised.
The 19th century saw the establishment of centres of population on the Sussex coast. In 1801, the population of the county was 159,471; in 1901 it had risen to 605,202. In other words, there was a fourfold increase in population in that century. In his guide book Sussex, F. G. Brabant produces interesting statistics. Writing the fourth edition in 1913, the author notes that `more than half of the present population, and not very far from two-thirds of the increase during the century, is due to the watering places'. He states that the combined populations of Brighton, Hove, Hastings and Eastbourne came to 268,875 in 1901, of which about 240,000 `represents increase during the last 100 years'. Similarly `the population of the minor watering places comes to about 48,000, of which about 40,000 is increase'. With Chichester and Arundel also south of the Downs ridge, a relatively dense area of population, in fact over half the total of the county, was forming along the narrow strip of land between the hills and the sea, by the middle of the last century. It is therefore not surprising that the first railways in Sussex were planned to connect London with the coast and that many schemes were proposed to improve road and rail communications between the coastal towns themselves.
The earliest class of plan, but one which comprises only nine per cent of all plans deposited before 1900, is that concerning inland navigation, under which category a distinction may be made between plans for canals and schemes to improve the navigation of rivers. The Arun had been navigable for ships as far as Arundel since Elizabethan days and it is in some ways unfortunate that many of the improvements to river navigation were carried out before the compulsory deposit of plans. For instance, it is a disappointment that there are no deposited plans of the Rother (Early plans of the Rother navigation are among the archives at Petworth House.) navigation from Midhurst to the Arun, near Stopham, for which the Act was passed in April 1791, nor for the construction of Hardham tunnel, opened in 1790, which by-passed the long curve of the Arun at Pulborough. But of the twenty plans for inland navigation, six concern later improvements to the navigation of rivers, of which four are of the Adur (nos. 5, 6, 7 and 51) and two of the Arun (nos. 17, 41) while two later railway maps (nos. 120 and 127) involve alterations to be made to the course of the Arun in the building of the line between Hardham and Ford.
There are fourteen actual canal plans which deal with the Wey and Arun and Portsmouth and Arundel Canals, as well as the abortive attempts to build a direct canal between London and Portsmouth. Neither the Wey and Arun, nor Portsmouth and Arundel, provided great difficulties in terms of engineering; the former, with a summit level of 165 ft., negotiated the remote watershed area between Surrey and Sussex with only minor aqueducts and cuttings, while the latter could remain almost at sea level. But the proposed canals between London and Portsmouth raised greater problems. The schemes culminated in the vast multi-million pound projects for the Grand Imperial Ship Canal, of which N. W. Cundy's version is represented in the deposited plans (no. 59). This canal, which Vine compares with Suez, was to require a cutting of over 250 ft. near Holmwood in Surrey; the magnitude of this task will be clear to the modern train passenger on the line from Dorking to Horsham. Even with fast electric trains it is possible to detect the long climb, finishing at 1 in 100, to Holmwood Station, the summit of the railway between Chichester and London, and the equally long, but more rapid, descent, at 1 in 90, from Ockley to Warnham brickworks. The problems of cutting a ship canal through that country become striking.
The idea behind all the canal plans was more to provide a route through Sussex than to benefit the county itself. With the exception of Chichester, no town of any size or importance was served by either of the two completed canals which was not already served by a river navigation. One of the biggest failures in the Wey and Arun project was the omission to link it with Horsham, only eight miles to the east and by far the largest town on the Surrey-Sussex border. The plans to reach the town from the Wey and Arun Canal near Loxwood (nos. 23, 31, 36) ended in failure, a fact which is surprising in that Horsham is situated on the Arun. Similarly the projected canal from Merstham to New Bridge came to nothing and the nearest wharf to Horsham was finally at West Grinstead, six miles away, when the Adur navigation was extended to Bay Bridge.
Perhaps the main incentive for the Wey and Arun Canal was the desire to facilitate trade between London and the English Channel ports, Portsmouth in particular. And one of the chief reasons for the construction of the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal was to enable barges, which had travelled to Ford through the Wey and Arun, to reach Portsmouth without having to tranship their cargoes into coasters at Arundel or Littlehampton. The canals could only be expected to pay if they carried goods going through, rather than into (or out of) Sussex. The Wey and Arun was cut through an area of sparse population, the county as a whole had little industry, and any freight which was carried for Sussex alone was mainly agricultural in its origins or intended application.
The question now arises, why build canals through Sussex at all? The main reasons were to avoid the vicissitudes of the weather and the piracy of the French on the voyage round the Forelands of Kent. But with the end of the Napoleonic Wars it was clear that one of the main justifications for inland travel had been removed, and when steam power at sea replaced the sail, the other hazard was considerably reduced. And as the journey of a barge to Portsmouth was no quicker inland than by sea, it was natural that merchants would prefer the latter route and avoid the expense of tolls. It was the realization of these facts, together with engineering problems, which ended speculation on the Grand Imperial Ship Canal in 1828, even though the voyage from London to Portsmouth by steam towage would have been reduced to under 24 hours.
It was soon clear that the only section of the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal which was making a profit was the ship canal to Chichester; and the difficulty of barge-owners, both on this canal and the Wey and Arun, to secure back-carriage was an added embarrassment. Finally, it was the railways which beat the canals out of the market, and it is ironical that the Mid-Sussex Junction Railway, having made a diversion in the Arun which shortened the navigation between Bury and Arundel, soon stole all the trade from the river.
After the canals, roads are chronologically the next class of plan and constitute nineteen per cent of the plans deposited before 1900. The roads of Sussex were notoriously bad until the late 19th century and between the Portsmouth and Dover roads there was no adequate highway leaving London. The surfaces of the tracks which did exist were aggravated by the passage of heavy timber wagons from the forests of Sussex to the dockyards of the Medway, causing deep ruts in summer and quagmires in winter. The deposited plans suggest that turnpikes went some way to alleviate conditions but it was not until the rise of the watering places that serious planning was considered, and even then it was limited to the coastal roads.
Not only the surfaces, but even the routes of some Sussex roads provoke comment. Ever since the Romans built Stane Street up Bignor Hill, roads have taken the Downs in their stride. The highway from Pulborough to Arundel was built up Bury Hill, from which, at 450 ft., it begins the long descent into Arundel, while the flat, if marshy, Arun valley remains roadless. A comparison can be made with the old road from London to Chichester through Guildford and Midhurst. On leaving Singleton, the road climbed at 1 in 7 to the shoulder of Trundle, which it crossed at 500 ft. before slowly descending to East Lavant along what is now Chalkpit Lane. The climb seems unnecessary when the West Dean valley offered a gentler and scarcely longer alternative. But Paterson's Roads, as late as the 1808 edition, describes the highway as the road over Trundle while the West Dean road is just suggested in passing as an alternative route, and it will be seen in Collin's Railway Map that even in 1862 the road over Trundle was a main one.
The road plans are largely attempts to improve existing roads by the introduction of turnpikes and there are many schemes to modernise Stane Street between Roman Gate and Pulborough, and to continue the road to Bury Gate, and as far south as Whiteway's Lodge and Arundel. Other roads proposed were the Storrington-Balls Hut inn road (no. 28) and the Duncton-Eartham-Westergate road (nos. 39, 40); the Eartham-Westergate part of the latter plan is one of the very few roads for which improvements were intended which is not now given an `A' classification. Of the former main roads of West Sussex, only the Chichester--Midhurst road is not represented in the deposited plans.
There are eighteen plans for the improvement of the coast roads between Cosham in Hampshire and Brighton in East Sussex, beginning with the Rustington-Yapton road in 1821 (no. 42) and ending in 1834 with the road from Worthing to Littlehampton (no. 67) after which date the innovation of the railway made further plans unpopular, if not unnecessary, and roads remained poor till the turn of the century. But H. R. C. Inglis, in his little known but intriguing motoring guide The Contour Road Book Of England (1906) found most Sussex main roads in good condition, but between Chichester and Littlehampton is `A level road, surface very variable; generally good in summer but very rough in winter ...' It was not till the introduction of tarred surfaces that roads uniformly improved.
Perhaps the most exciting of all the deposited plans is the 1928 scheme for a Southern Motor Road from London to Brighton (no. 287). If the scheme had been realized it would have provided a 37 mile English motorway before the autobahnen of Hitler were constructed and at a time when our own roads had not even a white line along the middle. Although the plan does not give the road's intended width, nor indicate if a dual carriageway was proposed, it anticipates a modern motorway in all the features which are represented. Beginning at Tolworth in Surrey, the road was to ignore the Mole valley at Dorking and tunnel 1.25 miles under the North Downs at Walton-on-the-Hill; then swinging west to avoid the high ground of St. Leonard's Forest, it was to skirt the eastern fringe of Horsham and cut through Cowfold and Twineham to join the existing Brighton road at Pyecombe Hill. No gradient was to be steeper than 1 in 40 (which is negotiable by a train), all towns were to be by-passed and all road junctions avoided. If the road had been built it would have solved for ever the problems of the modern A.23 on a bank holiday.
Although new railways were proposed as late as 1920, the large collection of railway plans reaches a peak in the middle years of the last century. The decade 1830-40 saw the big race to Brighton, the largest of the Sussex watering places, but of the many lines proposed only one route involved the western side of the county. This was the line `Without A Tunnel', crossing the South Downs through the Adur valley and following the coast from Shoreham to Brighton (nos. 66, 68, 69, 70). But Royal Assent was given in 1837 to the direct line of John Rennie which was to climb out of Brighton along the Pyecombe gap and tunnel the 1.25 miles between Pangdean and Clayton, where the railway would emerge into the Weald. The first permanent rail of this line was laid in February, 1839, at Hassocks Gate, while a railway between Brighton and Shoreham was undertaken at the same time, and opened in May, 1840.
When Brighton had been reached the new objective became Portsmouth and plans were made immediately to link the port with the London-Brighton railway at Horley, via Horsham, Arundel and Chichester (nos. 73, 77, 78); it is therefore ironical that one of the last Sussex lines to be completed was the one through the Arun valley. During the 1840s, the decade of railway boom, the Arun valley scheme was repeated (no. 86), while proposals were made to develop a railway along the coast between Shoreham and Portsmouth (nos. 79, 82, 84, 85, 88). The latter scheme was quickly realised; Worthing was reached in November 1845, `Arundel' (now Ford) in March 1846, and Chichester in the following June. But the Arun valley schemes were shelved when plans were formulated to reach Portsmouth on a more direct route through Epsom, Dorking, Godalming, Haslemere and Buriton (no. 87).
The end of the fifth decade of the 19th century was marked by many plans to link the Brighton-Portsmouth line with the towns some distance away on either side of it; Steyning was the first objective (no. 92), then Littlehampton (no. 93) and Bognor (nos. 94, 95, 102), the last of which towns had its access made difficult by the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal, which was not yet abandoned and required bridging. Railways were also intended between Guildford, Chichester and Portsmouth (nos. 89, 96) using the Cocking gap, and the later plan proposed branches to Petersfield and West Itchenor. The first plan to link Dorking and Horsham appeared in 1845 (no. 97), and extensions were planned south of Horsham which would continue the railway to Arundel and Brighton. This scheme is of particular interest in that the railway was proposed to work on the atmospheric (Atmospheric railways were a popular idea of this decade; the theory was that a train could be propelled by a piston, which, being attached to the leading carriage, fitted into a continuous pipe laid between the rails. The pipe enclosed a partial vacuum maintained by air pumps. All the schemes were failures, but a pumping station still remains beside the railway from Exeter to Plymouth, and the severe 1 in 40 gradients on the same line were made purposely steep to test the efficiency of the propulsion) principle, but the plan was abortive. Following another scheme to link London and Portsmouth via Chichester (no. 99), the plan for a direct Portsmouth Railway of 1846 (no. 101) shows a shorter proposed route through Godalming and Haslemere; but the wooded ridges of Buriton and Haslemere gave trouble and four amendments to the plan were prepared in the next decade (nos. 107, 109, 110, 111).
An analysis of the plans deposited to this date reveals a startling indifference to the geographical problems of the county, which, had certain schemes materialized, would have raised unnecessary obstructions in engineering; and, occasionally, some planners seem blind to the social implications of their schemes. These points will be illustrated by the following examples.
A ridge of greensand runs north-west to south-east above Pulborough, irregular in height, but slowly diminishing from the 900 ft. crest of Black Down in Lurgashall to the 200 ft. undulations of Wiston. The early engineers found that the problem of climbing these hills and dropping into the Arun valley could be solved only by tunnelling. In plan no. 72 two short tunnels are proposed; in nos. 77 and 86 a longer one of 660 yds., and in no. 73 a still longer one of 1,056 yds. But in all these schemes the railway is to cross the ridge on the West Chiltington side of Pulborough where the ground reaches 400 ft.; the easier route, which none of the early plans considered, is in fact that of the modern railway, which avoids a tunnel by crossing the Weald through Billingshurst and dropping into Pulborough at 1 in 99, making use of a natural gully at a point where the ridge is lowest. In the same way, the 1,670 yd. tunnel of the Guildford-Chichester railway in Cocking is surprising (nos. 89 and 96); some excavation would be inevitable, but the later railway which was built through the Cocking gap shows a tunnel even half this length to be unnecessary.
If these schemes are surprising, plans 86 and 99 can cause only bewilderment. The former, which was deposited in 1844 with the pages sewn out of order, seems to propose alternative railways between South Stoke and Ford. One line was to follow the obvious route of the Arun valley, while the other, presumably to give a more direct service to Arundel town, was to tunnel into the 300 ft. cliff of Arundel Park, beside Offham, emerge briefly to cross Swanbourne Lake, and then tunnel under the remainder of the Park, passing only a little west of Arundel Castle. One wonders with what enthusiasm the scheme was received by the 13th Duke of Norfolk. Plan no. 99, with equal initiative, proposes a London-Portsmouth railway of 1845, which would have bored 1.5 miles through the base of Linch Hill, one of the highest and sheerest summits of the South Downs ridge, and, having emerged in the Chilgrove valley, would have tunnelled a further 0.75 mile under Bow Hill to reach Stoughton. And these engineering feats were to follow nearly a mile of tunnelling in Kirdford. The impractibilities of this route are emphasised by the nearness of the Cocking gap, which, had it been followed, would not only have avoided the immense engineering problems of the intended line, but would have brought the railway nearer Chichester, which the plan proposed to reach only by a branch line.
One example of indifference to property has been quoted in the case of Arundel Park. Two other instances are worthy of mention. Warnham Mill Pond was to be bisected in no. 134 (but not in no. 137, which is a hasty deviation in the intended line) and the proposed railway from Horsham to West Chiltington (no. 72) would have destroyed three large farms in its construction.
The towns which were targets for the first railways are those one might expect, and the number of plans to reach a given town is in proportion to its population and importance. Perhaps the one surprise is Worthing, which, growing in size and popularity as a watering place, one might expect to have merited a direct line from Horsham through the Findon gap. In fact there were later plans for this route in the 1860s (nos. 152 and 154), but they were not realised and even today there is no railway due north from the resort.
When the direct railway reached Portsmouth in 1859 there was little incentive to link the port with the London-Brighton line, through the Arun valley, although the only way to reach Chichester, by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, was via Brighton. It was the Rother, rather than the Arun, which received attention in these years and after a scheme (no. 113) to link Billingshurst with Petworth via Kirdford (abandoned because the railway would pass too close to Petworth House), the Mid-Sussex Railway progressed in stages through Pulborough, reaching Coultershaw Mill in 1859 (no. 114), Midhurst in 1866 (nos. 121, 123, 124, 128, 131, 136, 138), and finally Petersfield. Meanwhile, plans were in hand to link Shoreham and Horsham (nos. 115, 116, 117) and eventually Dorking, and the line from Shoreham to Itchingfield junction was opened in September, 1861. Collins railway map of approximately 1862 shows that at this date Horsham was only reached from London via Three Bridges and that eleven miles separated the Mid-Sussex Railway at Hardham with the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway at Ford. The Arun valley route was finally opened in August 1863, and the line to Littlehampton soon followed, while Bognor was reached from Barnham in 1864. This was a single-line track, doubled in 1911. But it was May, 1877, before the line between Leatherhead, Dorking and Horsham was completed, making a direct line from Chichester to London.
Another railway which took a long time to open was the Chichester-Midhurst line for which ten plans were finally deposited, the earliest (nos. 133, 135 and 139) beginning at Bognor in 1861 and 1862. These were followed by two groups of plans which confined the termini of the railway to Chichester and Midhurst, but these groups are separated by an abortive plan (no. 145) to extend the line to Haslemere with a 1,000 yd. tunnel under Black Down. The railway was finally opened to Midhurst in July 1881 but carried little regular traffic, and despite the seasonal use of Singleton Station at the time of Goodwood Races, was closed to passenger traffic in July 1935.
Three new railways were proposed in this century and although none was realised, their estimates of expense are most enlightening. The Surrey and Sussex Light Railway of 1902 (no. 352) was to link Ockley in Surrey with Selham, near Midhurst, traversing an area of great isolation; the Chichester-Wittering railway was planned in 1913 (no. 248) and a short railway from Ford to Climping (no. 256) as late as 1920. It is difficult to imagine how any of these schemes might have been expected to pay, particularly the railway to Climping, which would have merely run parallel to the existing line from Ford to Littlehampton, but on the west side of the Arun.
The railway plans, many of which are little-known, amount to a lively and intriguing collection giving a wealth of topographical information. The plans which follow them need no special mention in this introduction, the majority being Ordnance Survey maps on which areas of supply or the intended positions of works, are indicated by distinguishing colours. Points of interest raised by these plans, and comments on plans of all classes (for instance, the Manhood and Selsey Tramway) are given in footnotes in the catalogue.
A uniform pattern of entry, as far as the descriptive matter of each plan allows, has been adopted in the cataloguing. That is to say, the title of the plan is followed by its scale, dimensions in inches (height x breadth) and reference number. This is followed, if necessary, by a general summary of the plan which compares it, whenever possible, with similar plans which have gone before. Then the parishes affected are listed, and the features as shown and named. The entry is completed by a note of the book (or table) of reference, which is preceded in later plans by a description of the section and a statement of the Ordnance Survey map and notice of application to Parliament.
The title is copied verbatim, but words such as `in the county of Sussex' are excluded and three dots indicate the omission. In the larger plans, the number of pages is stated before the dimensions of each sheet, but the figure does not include the pages of the section. Throughout the catalogue, the tendency has been to give less information as the plans become later, but in some early plans the number of features named is so overwhelming that, for instance, `Names farms' must be substituted for the name of each. If a village is included in the list of parishes, the fact that it may also be shown, or named, on the plan, is not recorded, unless its representation is of particular interest; this avoids repetition of names, while the index ensures that no feature or name need be overlooked by the student. Place-names are written, whenever possible, in the modern spelling, and when this differs from the spelling on the plan, the modern spelling appears in brackets after the old one. The yardstick of modern spelling is taken as the 2.5 in. Ordnance Survey maps which have been preferred to A. Mawer and F. M. Stenton's The Place-Names of Sussex (1929), with which they occasionally conflict (e.g. in the spelling of Wiggonholt), only on the grounds that they include more names.
Copies of Bills, Acts, Special Orders and their drafts, which abound with the later plans, are not included in the catalogue, but the summary list of deposited plans in the West Sussex Record Office has a note of their deposit. Finally, the date of the Ordnance Survey Maps, which are often several maps pasted together, is taken as the last date at which a map gives information; in other words, if a map were surveyed in 1813, but showed railways to 1845, the latter is the date of the map for the purposes of this catalogue.
The main work on railways is A History Of The Southern Railway by C. F. Dendy Marshall, revised in two volumes by R. W. Kidner (1963).
Other works of interest are:
A Regional History Of The Railways of Great Britain Vol. II Southern England (1961) by H. P. White.
The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (1960) by Hamilton Ellis.
The Hundred Of Manhood and Selsey Tramway ... (1948) by Edward C. Griffith.
An article on the Selsey Tramway in The Chichester Observer, 12 March 1965, should also be noted.
The main work on canals is London's Lost Route to the Sea (1965) by P. A. L. Vine; see also the bibliography in this book, pp. 230-233.
The Canals of Southern England (1955) by Charles Hadfield.
The Chichester Canal (1958) by F. D. Heneghan (The Chichester Papers, No. 11).
On the navigation of rivers:
Waters Of Arun (1930) by A. Hadrian Allcroft.
The Arun and Western Rother (1962) by R. H. Goodsall.
There is no adequate work on Sussex roads.
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