Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Vintage Brighton: Daddy Long Legs

In celebration of the new Brighton Rock film, relocated to the Mods & Rockers era, we thought we'd look at vintage Brighton this week. The city of Brighton & Hove is actually steeped in a fascinating history many people aren't aware of - so to kick of we thought we'd take a look at the history of the infamous 'Daddy Long Legs'.

Seashore electric railway
In reality, not a huge industrial spider, but rather the Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway, the Daddy Long Legs ran through the shallow waters from Brighton to Rottingdean between 1896 and 1901.

Designed by Magnus Volk
Designed and engineerd by Magnus Volk, the railway consisted of tracks laid on concrete sleepers sunk into the bedrock. The single car used on the railway was a pier-like building which stood on four 23 ft long legs. Officially named Pioneer, many affectionately called the structure Daddy Long Legs. Due to regulations of the era, a qualified sea captain was on board at all times. The car was also provided with lifeboats and other safety measures.

Destroyed by a storm
The railway officially opened on 28 November 1896, but was nearly destroyed by a storm on the night of 4 December. Never one to be deterred Volk immediately rebuilt the railway, which reopened in July 1897.

Although popular, the railway faced difficulties, including slow speeds at high tide and the council insisting on a beach protection barrier, which required Volk to divert his line around the barrier. Lacking the necessary funds, Volk was sadly forced to close close the railway shortly after.

World's oldest operating electric railway
However, the line's legacy still lives on today - if you look closely, some of the concrete sleepers can still be viewed at low tide. Volk's Electric Railway was also extended onshore, covering a portion of the same distance between Brighton and Rottingdean. This still remains in operation today and is the world's oldest operating electric railway.

Let us know if you have any more interesting facts about Daddy Long Legs.

Did You Know?
Volk's Railway is only £1 for a single trip for local residents on the first Saturday of each month(April to September).


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