The viaduct on London Raod
Brighton, late at night
lit up blue with vibrancy
is a lovely sight

High above the city streets
with Victorian pride
to carry trains up there on which
so many people ride

But down here close to midnight
just a passing car
and me with phone to capture
this spectacular


The London Road Viaduct, Brighton, East Sussex was built in 1845-6 by James Orpeth Rastick. It has 27 arches and is now grade II listed. Photo – Jempics

Brighton Greenway

High above the Brighton streets
on the old railway bed
Through the locomotive works
the Brighton Greenway led

The engines left here long ago
but their memory remains
Homage paid by sculptor’s hand
to Brighton’s long lost trains


The Brighton Greenway follows the trackbed of a branch line that once led through the steam locomotive works based in Brighton. The ‘Ghost Train’ was sculpted by John Mills and is a homage to the ‘Jenny Lind’, a 2-2-2 locomotive designed in 1847. 

Balcombe Viaduct II

Passing over Balcombe Viaduct
with winter fields down there
The memory of a leafy green
is distant now the trees are bare
Skeletal they stand forlorn
Winter has them in its grip
And it will still be quite a while
‘Til from that vice we’ll see a slip

But steadfast in this landscape
standing proud and tall
Victorian arches show their grace
with a grandeur ruling all
This structure has a beauty
as it spans the tree and field
of the valley here at Balcombe
deep in the Sussex Weald


The Balcombe Viaduct spans the Ouse Valley in the mid Sussex Weald (flatlands between the South and North Downs). Designed by John Urpeth Rastrick in association with the architect of the London to Brighton railway line, David Mocatta, the viaduct rises to a height of 96 feet and is carried on 37 semi-circular arches surmounted by balustrades. Opened in July 1841, it’s been described as the most elegant viaduct in Britain.


Secret Places

It’s hidden by the railway line
unkempt for many years
and if the Signalman could see it now
he’s be reduced to tears
Once known as Railway Gardens
when the signal box was there
Nestled just behind the sign
that warned us “Trains – beware”

But like the age of steam before us
progress has its downside too
as the garden is untended
and hidden now from view
So it’s become a secret place
to which no-one will go
hidden by the railway line
where weeds and brambles grow


See also ‘Railway Gardens‘ (published on Jemverse – 26/12/14)

A whistle, a puff of steam and a smile

Sitting in the sunshine
with a welcome cup of tea
I heard a far off whistle
echoing ‘cross the green valley
And there, across the fields
with a puff of whitened steam
a train left Bodiam station
trundling through the Sussex green

It was a lovely picture
and with my camera close at hand
I made certain that I captured
it’s journey through the land
We watched it as it trundled
disappearing in a while
on its way to Tenterden
leaving us a smile.


Bodiam station was closed back in 1961 but re-opened in 2000 to become part of the Kent and East Sussex Heritage Railway. The ten-mile stretch of line runs between Tenterden in Kent and Bodiam.

Beeching’s Blunder II

Caught the train as usual
but travelled back in time
The years slipped by like miles
along the Horsham line
The steeped and cut embankment
rebuilt and clear again
As clattering past the Shoreham points
sped my old steam train

The by-pass it had vanished
as the trackbed took its place
And I passed through Bramber station
with a sense of pride and grace
The tree-lined cutting past the castle
Steyning station’s smoke-clad bridge
Then up the line to Henfield
along the Adur valley ridge

My train slowed into ‘Beechings’
Henfield’s ironic testament
to the axing of a way of life
by a sixties government
The Cat and Canary station pub
Afforded interlude
Not pausing there for half a pint
Would have been a little rude

Then back through the Adur flood plains
my trip through time took me
Unfettered views across the valley
to the hills and out to sea
Thought, in sixty years this landscape
will not be recognised
And people passing through today
would be dumbfounded and surprised

It was a journey of nostalgia
the years now lost in time
the passing of the age of steam
along the Horsham line
And as twenty-fifteen brought me back
Across some sixty years
The memory of that long-lost time
Brought with it several tears



Following a report written by Dr Richard Beeching for the UK Government in 1965, around 5000 miles of track and 2,363 stations of branchline railway in the UK were axed. A way of life ended and the lifeline to hundreds of villages was cut off forever. All in the name of progress. Now, over 50 years later, many of the axed line routes have since reopened as footpaths and bridleways. One of these covers the length of what was once the Horsham and Guildford branch-line in Sussex. Its route remains but many of its stations have since been lost to commerce and time, the landscape ever changing. ‘Beechings’ in Henfield (for example) was once a thriving station and goods yard but is now a housing estate.

Beeching’s Blunder

Later on tonight
With a beer to boot
We brothers meet
To plan a route

Another walking
Week in May
Just over twelve miles
For each day

Along where once
Steam engines sped
But Beeching in
his blunder shed

A footpath where
Once tracks they lay
Now known as
Downslink Bridleway


Following a report written by Dr Richard Beeching in 1965, around 5000 miles and 2,363 stations of branchline railway in the UK were axed. A way of life ended and the lifeline to hundreds of villages was cut off forever. All in the name of progress. Now, over 40 years later, many of the axed line routes have since reopened as footpaths and bridleways. The Downslink is a 37 mile footpath and bridleway linking the North Downs Way in Surrey with the South Downs Way in Sussex. My brother and I plan to walk its length in chunks over a week in May. Fortunately there are many pubs along its route.

Railway Gardens

Beside the line at Shoreham
As “Railway Gardens” it is known
A copse of trees and bushes
Now sadly overgrown

Part of me wants to do something
Tidy all the weeds
Bring back with pride its ‘garden’ name
Sew some fresh new seeds

But Southern Railways, they don’t care
It’s just another strip of land
Beside a railway line in Shoreham
And they’ve nothing for it planned

Little known fact though is that once
For a signalman living there
This was his living pride and joy
Tended long with care

It’s saving grace is that come summer
His legacy then begun
Lives on as bushes spring to life
And flower still in the sun


For many years, the main line at Shoreham-by Sea, was tended for by a signalman operating from a signal box standing proud on the north side of the line at the western end of platform 1. Across the road from the gates, opened and closed manually by hand every time a train passed through, was a small strip of land between the line and the west-facing Queens Place. Bordered on its southern side by a raised narrow pavement between two ancient flint-stone walls, this little strip of land was lovingly cultivated and tended by successive signalmen into a garden complete with footpath, flowering shrubbery and tree-screens hiding it from the stepped railway bank; a perfect haven for railway workers and public alike.

There’s not been a signalman ‘per se’ at Shoreham since the ‘Beeching’ branch line closures of the middle 1960s. The signalbox itself survived until 1988 but, like its demise, the ‘Railway Gardens’ have similarly fallen by the wayside as a forgotten relic of the past.

The gardens are still there though, accessed from behind a very overgrown mulberry bush at the western end. Although barely recognisable now, one can still make out the pathway in the brambles and weeds. And, in the spring, clumps of tulips and daffodils and crocuses show clearly its wended way back to the now blocked-off signalmen’s entrance at its eastern end. When summer comes it springs back to life providing a splash of colour as the hardy perennial flowering shrubs bounce back to life. But it really needs a human hand to bring it back to its former glory.

Balcombe Viaduct

Beneath the Balcombe Viaduct
There are rabbits in the field
Oblivious to the trains above
Deep in the Sussex Weald
Victorian engineering lost to them
Bricks and mortar hold no sway
Yet there’s still beauty to beholder’s eye
As I take pictures ‘cross the way


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