The opening of the Dyke Railway
The Dyke Railway formally opened on Thursday September 1st 1887. At 12 noon a special train decorated with bunting and flags left Brighton bound for Dyke Station. On board were dignitaries, shareholders, promoters, members of the press, and around 100 “influential residents of Brighton.” On arrival at Dyke Station at 12.20 the band of the 1st Sussex Artillery began to play and rain steadily started to fall. So with little ceremony the Chairman of the Brighton and Dyke Railway, the Hon. Ashley Ponsonby declared the line open. The party quickly adjourned to a large marquee for luncheon, and to escape from the rain!
After luncheon a number of toasts were made, followed by speeches wishing the line “every success.” However two of the speakers mentioned disappointment, even at this early stage, that the line had not gone all the way to the summit. With luncheon over a few of guests braved the weather and made their way up to the summit by foot, only to return disappointed as little could be seen because of the dense mist.
Sunday 4th September 1887 / Sunday 14th September 2008
On the first Sunday following the opening of the new line, demand was so great that ticket sales had to be suspended. Thousands of Brightonians were carried up to the Dyke Station, and then by foot walked the “difficult” half-mile to the summit. Like the thousands before them the team walk the last half-mile to the summit pushing their bikes, where they celebrate their successful expedition with an ice cream!