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Southern Railway Brighton Locomotive Works

Joining the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway as Locomotive Superintendent in 1847, John Chester Craven created Brighton Works as a centre of locomotive building. Having gained experience in the moving of the Eastern Counties Railway's works from Romford to Stratford, it was his responsibility to expand their somewhat cramped site on the east side of the main line immediately north of the passenger station. By 1852 the works produced its first home-built locomotives - two small single driver well tanks. The first of a great variety of locomotives built under the Craven regime, the classes were small in numbers and needed their own spare parts.

By the time William Stroudley took over from Craven in 1870, the LBSCR was said to have had 72 different classes in use, a number which included locomotives bostght from outside in the early years, and which had been adapted and modified to suit Craven's requirements. On taking the reins as Locomotive Superintendent, Stroudley set about cutting down the number of spare parts that had become necessary to keep such a wide variety of locomotives in traffic. His'policy was to introduce six standard classes which would have a large number of interchangeable parts, so that a relatively small stock of spares would be required, thus minimising the time locomotives spent under repair in Works. As soon as he had taken office, Stroudley began large scale reorganisation. He had carriage and wagon building transferred from the west side of the line to the main works site on the east and moved the locomotive depot to to the west, thus taking advantage of the additional space made by the removal of a chalk hill. The previous erecting shop constructed by Craven was turned into a smithy, a new one being constructed.

Upon his death in 1889, Stroudley was succeeded by R.J. Billinton. Under his aegis the LBSCR locomotive stock expanded rapidly from 410 in 1890 to 535 by 1902. Billinton continued Stroudley's policies of standardisation and also began the practice of storing spare boilers. The problems of space at the works continued obliging Billinton to build new accommodation over the goods lines on the eastern side, supporting the new floor space on brick piles. Even so, congestion remained a problem, Billinton's 0-6-0 goods engines being sub-contracted to the Vulcan Foundry. The class later acquired the name ' Vulcans'. In 1892 the erecting shop was almost doubled in length, two tracks extending from end to end. During Billinton's day the option of moving the carriage and wagon work away from Brighton was considered and it was eventually moved to a site at Lancing, between Shoreham and Worthing, the new depot becoming operational in 1912.

In 1905 D. Earle Marsh took over from Billinton. He continued the process of internal reorganisation, and when the works at Lancing were completed, the wagon shop was handed over to the Locomotive Department for running repairs. The last Locomotive Superintendent of the LBSCR was L.B. Billinton (son of R.J.) who took office in 1911. With demands for larger motive power, the works moved into the 'Big Engine' era, the main block being extended to 600ft long and 450ft wide at its largest point, narrowing towards the boundary with New England Road.

During World War 1, the works contributed to the war effort with munitions production and other work, the end of the war leaving a somewhat uncertain outlook. By 1923, the LBSCR had become the Central Section of the Southem Railway, the last locomotive to be constructed under the LBSCR being the 4-6-4T No 333 Remembrance.

In the early years of the Grouping Brighton Works came under the direction of R.E.L. Maunsell, the Southern Railway's first Chief Mechanical Engineer. In 1926 10 of the 'River' class 2-6-4Ts were constructed at Brighton, these being followed in 1928 by 10'U' class 2-6-Os, and in 1929 came the eight powerful 'Z' class 0-8-OTs. After this period much of the work done at Brighton was transferred to Ashford and Eastleigh although the works continued to carry out running repairs to locomotives, coaches, and eventually EMU stock. However, production was to return to Brighton in 1942 when activity on war work meant that the works was totally re-equipped, locomotive construction resuming with 2-8-0 freight locomotives which it supplied to the War Office at the incredible rate of one every 4.5 days. Military work included component parts for tanks and anti-aircraft defence .Towards the end of hostilities, locomotive construction continued in the form of 104 Bulleid Light Pacifics. The l,OOOth new locomotive to be built at Brighton being Bulleid Pacific No 34064 Fighter Command.

Having tested his sleeve valve gear on converted Atlantic No 32039 Hartland Point, O.V.S. Bulleid's 'Leader' class locomotive No 36001 was built at Brighton under a curtain of absolute secrecy. The first and only member of its class, it finally went to the scrap heap. However Brighton did eventually move into the diesel age by building the Southern Regions's 1Co-Col diesel-electric No 10203, which emerged from the works in 1953.

By 1952, its centenary year, Brighton Works employed a staff of about 650 and covered nine acres. The boiler shop was then in two bays each served by cranes of 30 tons and 20 tons capacity. At the south end both bays were spanned by a 30-ton electric crane which was used for lifting boilers for riveting in a 90-ton riveting machine which was powered by a self-contained hydraulic system. Portable milling and grinding machines were operated by compressed air and high-speed machines for the drilling and tapping of fireboxes were powered by a high-frequency (400Hz) electrical supply. Other equipment in the shop comprised a battery of radial drilling machines, plate levelling rollers and a plate edge planer for the preparation of plates before welding. Another large piece of equipment was the 250-ton flanging press served by a creosote/pitch fired furnace. At this time the erecting shop was also in two bays, locomotive repairs being concentrated in the west bay, served by travelling cranes of 40 tons, 35 tons and 25 tons capacity. Visitors to Brighton at this time were often surprised to see a 'Brighton yellow' engine outside the works. This was the'Terrier ' No 32635 in its Stroudley livery operating as 377S and lettered Brighton Works.

In post-Nationalisation years, the works designed and constructed some of the BR Standard steam locomotives including '9F' 2-10-Os and 130 of the Standard Class '4' 2-6-4Ts which included No 80154, outshopped on 20 March 1957, being the last steam locomotive to be turned out. After that date the rundown at Brighton Works began. Locomotive repair work continued until 1958, the work imally being transferred to Ashford and Eastleigh. After this date, some of the equipment and premises were used for motor car assembly. However, this was to be a short term reprieve, final closure coming in 1964 and demolition to clear the site for a car park beginning in 1969.
Ordnance Survey Grid Reference - TQ31010523
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Map Scale 10000 : Map Scale 25000


Last Updated : Friday 18th April 2003 15:36

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