Development of a greenway path
The walk to New England Road
As the New England Quarter development is nearing completion it’s interesting to see that the lower goods yard track bed has been used as a greenway path to New England Road. The path passes over the New England Road using the old cast iron goods line bridge, before dropping down the embankment via steps to road level.
Original track bed
The original goods yard was laid out in the 1840’s to levelled ground some 30ft below the level of Brighton Station. This was first accessed by a tunnel from the west coast line which required train reversals to access the London and east coast lines. In the 1850s a new goods line was laid, spurring off the main line at what was to become the upper goods yard near Lovers Walk on Dyke Road Drive. The track dropped down under a bridge of the east coast way line just before Preston Road viaduct, then bridging New England Road east of the main line viaduct. Although this was good for the main London line, reversals were still required for the east and west coast lines.
Locomotive works and goods yard expansion
The locomotive works were set up in 1852 by L.B.S.C.R Superintendent Engineer J.C. Craven and expanded in later years by William Stroudley. R.J. Billington further expanded the locomotive works in the 1890s; space was restricted so he decided to build over the goods line to create more floor area. This works expansion was on a level 30 ft above the goods line track, it needed to be supported by a line of huge columns built partially along the goods line. The lower goods yard also expanded over the following years with banana warehouses, coal pens, cattle docks and loading ramps added. The goods yard would eventually run along what is now New England Street to Cheapside, then along Station Street to Trafalgar Street.
Remnants from the past
At the time of writing there is still one parcel of land that is awaiting development; the rest of what was the lower goods yard now has housing, offices and retail buildings. The only remnants from the original goods yard can be seen on the east side of Brighton Station heading north past St Martin Vintners where the motor vehicle maintenance depot was located. Some of the locomotive works support columns can still be seen as you walk along the greenway towards the old cast iron bridge. The arched columned painted support wall for the new housing on Stroudley Road is part of the original supporting structure too.
Connections with its history
Personally I’m not over impressed with the design of the new buildings in the quarter, but an effort has been made to remember the history of this area. Streets and buildings have been named after superintendent engineers, locomotives and of course the Isetta Bubble car; a nice touch is the artistic interpretation of tools used on the railway with the coal shovels and cinder rakes lining the fences and columns of the greenway. One day if possible I would like to see the greenway extended so it exits by the steps to Lovers Walk, this would then create a pleasant walk to the station from the Preston Park area.