By Nick Phillips

Nick is, thankfully (and he might disagree here!) old enough and lucky enough to have been a young boy who had the incredible good fortune to be able to travel on the last ever train from Brighton Station, across the hallowed track to Kemp Town Station on the very last day of service. This is Nick's story of that fantastic day.


ABOVE: This is the poster for the fabled last journeys to the Kemptown Station before closure, which Nick describes in detail in this page.

Thinking back to the weeks before the line’s final closure I can remember helping my Dad sort out a load of assorted luggage labels which were to be sold at Brighton Station on the day. I don’t recall seeing any for Kemp Town but I do recall a conversation we had about keeping LBSCR labels separate from Southern Railway labels.


Dad was quite heavily involved with the organisation of the Last Day events because of his involvement with fundraising for the Southern Railwaymen’s Homes for Children and Old People at Woking. He would be in constant dialogue with the then Assistant Manager at Brighton Station; Derek Plummer, and the pair of them – with help from others of course – set about making the necessary plans from setting out stalls to sourcing the rolling stock to be used for the short journey from Brighton to Kemp Town.


The stock used was a 3R class DEMU No. 1205 (seen below), known as a ‘Tadpole’ in SR parlance, one of six units introduced in 1964 from surplus Hastings DEMUs and 2EPB electric units for use on the Reading – Redhill – Tonbridge line.


Michael Welch’s book about the Southern DEMUs gives more details about this type of unit as well as a picture of 1205 leaving Kemp Town Station on a return journey back to Brighton taken on the last day.


Static exhibits on Platform 10 at Brighton included the last steam locomotive built for British Railways; No. 92220 Evening Star, a class 9F 2-10-0 engine which along with quite a few other preserved engines was kept at the old Pullman sheds at Preston Park.



ABOVE: 9F Class No.92220 2-10-0 "Evening Star", one of the static exhibits  on the final running day for Kemp Town. Thankfully this beautiful locomotive is now fully restored at the National Railway Museum in York. She was the last steam loco to be built for British Rail.

Another item specially commissioned for the day was an envelope with a picture of an engine on it, appropriately named ‘Kemp Town’, a type known as a Stroudley Terrier. You could buy these at Kemp Town, address them to either yourself or whoever and post them in a special post box provided for the occasion. These were carried on the last run to Brighton Station then taken to the Sorting Office at North Road. They were franked by hand instead of the usual machine and then delivered to the enthusiastic addressees, including Dad and I.


ABOVE: This picture shows one of the specially commissioned envelopes produced for the final track day as a momento of the occasion. Nick found this whilst rummaging through the loft of the property he lived in with his parents in Queens Park Terrace. It is incredible to think that this document has survived totally unscathed for 40 years.

On the Saturday, armed with my camera and self-addressed commemorative envelope, I walked the short distance from home in Queen’s Park Terrace and down Freshfield Road to Kemp Town Station. I already had my ticket (courtesy of Dad) so I waited patiently for the special train to return from Brighton Station, choosing to explore the site or as much as I could in the time that I had.


The special train arrived and after unloading its passengers I boarded and waited along with other enthusiasts for it to depart.  We set off entering the 1,024 yard tunnel and the fun began. Coming out of the other end I looked in vain for any sign of Hartington Road Halt and admired the view from the Lewes Road Viaduct. After passing through Lewes Road Station we were on a double track section to take us to Kemp Town Junction Signal Box where the train was held for a little while before rejoining the main Brighton – Lewes – Eastbourne line.


We then had another short wait for a clear road into Brighton Station and then passed what was left of the old Locomotive Works (not a lot I hasten to add) and pulled into Platform 9. When I got off the train I found Dad in the British Transport Police offices where he worked and he took me to where the luggage labels which I had helped sort out were being sold and I helped out there for a while. I then had a look at ‘Evening Star’ including a climb into the cab to check out the various controls and then took the next train back to Kemp Town with instructions from Dad to return back later in the afternoon.


The ‘Evening Argus’ took a picture of Dad in his Police Sergeant’s uniform alongside the special train prior to one of its last runs back to Kemp Town and it was in one of the following week’s editions. All in all a very interesting yet poignant day when another example of Brighton life was finally consigned to the history books.  




Comments (3) for "Nick Phillips remembers the ...
Hi Nick (name seems familiar, don't I know you?!)

Back in 1972, with some other school-skiving mates, I walked the lineside (illegally) from London Road, out onto the branch, over the viaduct, through the tunnel and out into Kemp Town Station (where the police picked us up, but that's another story!)...It was interesting, (and looking back how daft were we to get down off the platforms and walk the lineside!), and your recollections make it more so...

Thanksfor posting...
By Dave White - 7/13/2009 1:55 AM
Hi Dave, if you were in the 14th Brighton Boys Brigade then the answer is YES!
By Nick Phillips - 7/27/2009 2:26 AM
Hi Nick, yes that was me...and of course, with that memory-jog (must be old age!) I remember you really glad you're still around...presumably you're still in Brighton...I've moved to sunnier climes (oh...ok...Bognor Regis...well it IS sunnier...marginally)...great to hear from you.
By Dave White - 7/27/2009 7:29 AM