This "rickety, rackety railway"
I’ve always had an affection for Volk’s Railway, which currently runs between a station about 200 metres east of the Palace Pier to near Black Rock. This “rickety, rackety railway” was the first permanent electric railway in the world, opened to the public in 1883, and its story has been told many times.
Working as a student in 1969
In 1969 I was a student and had an opportunity to work on the Railway during the summer holidays; by chance, the person who organised the cashiers and did the daily accounts had left, and Mr Hall, the General Manager, gave me a job until the end of the season. I was based at the offices at the bottom of Dukes Mound, which was a treasure trove of old uniforms, workshops and offices. Little seemed to have been thrown away over the years, and there were old uniform buttons, parts of the old overhead controllers (phased out in the early 1960’s), and even odd lengths of old trolleybus overhead wire used as paint stirrers!
Make do and mend!
The drivers were a mixed bunch including at least one former Brighton tram driver. The engineer, Reg, somehow managed to prepare a dependable service each day. I spent my day at the Peter Pan Playground Station kiosk, selling tickets, and at lunchtime was given unofficial driving lessons on my way into Brighton for a sandwich! Black Rock Station (now a different building, and called Marina Station) was largely built of used panels from buses and also sported a piece of tram rail as a buffer stop. The whole ethos of the Railway was “make do and mend”.