Living on the station
The postal address of Kemp Town Station was Station House, Coalbrook Road, Brighton 7, Sussex. My family and I lived on the station in the 1950s. There was mum and Dad, my three brothers, William, Paddy and Michael together with my sister Teresa. We had moved from Eridge where Mum had been the gatekeeper at Forge Crossing, and Dad had been a signalman at Redgate Mill before getting a transfer to the signal box at Falmer.
The layout of our house
There were four bedrooms all connected by a corridor which ran the full length of the building; halfway along was a small toilet. Downstairs was a medium size kitchen which held a full size bath, a stone sink, a gas cooker and an AGA oven or similar. Hot water came from a gas operated ‘Geyser’ appliance which had a swivel nozzle to serve the bath or the sink; there was also a larder. The living room had an open fire and a limited amount of natural light. One window looked on to the platforms and had a large canopy above and the other looked towards Coalbrook Road. There was a toilet between that and the road and both had frosted glass.
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Other station buildings
Outside were three small square buildings. Two were used as a café and the one nearest the station was occupied by S.W.King who was a turf accountant. There was an east and a west entrance to the yards. The west side of the station was mainly for coal and the two I remember were Corrals and Peters. The east side held other waggons including Fyffes Bananas. Southdown used the east side to park a lot of their buses overnight mainly between the tracks.
One other house
There was only one other house in Coalbrook Road, and that was at the Freshfield Road end. Opposite the station was a saw mill where off-cuts were brought over to the house for firewood. A lot of the shunting movements by the daily freight train meant going in to the tunnel and coming back out again. We children all went to the nearby St. John the Baptist School and my brother Paddy was first to leave. He went to work at the Brighton Locomotive sheds as a cleaner then fireman, and it wasn’t long before he was bringing the freight trains into Kemp Town station.