In Pictures: Volk’s Electric Railway celebrates 140 years of operation

In 1883 Brighton seafront welcomed a revolutionary new transport system. Operated by electricity what we now know as the Volk’s Electric Railway started running on 4th August 1883 and although its been regauged and extended since that first day its history can now be traced back 140 years. To celebrate this non significant anniversary a special event took place on the railway over the weekend of Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th August.

The event kicked off on Saturday 12th August at 1115 with a line-up of all the trains in the fleet close to Aquarium Station before it was officially opened with speeches from local dignitaries and television presenters Nicholas Owen (also a volunteer on the railway) and Tim Dunn (from programmes such as The Secrets of the London Underground).

Once the speeches were out the way there was a procession of trains which included the recently returned ex-Southend car 9 (albeit not running under its own power). After an official celebration train, public services then got underway at 1330 with the service continuing to run through until the evening.

The following day saw tours of the depot and workshops before things ended at 1845 with another line-up of all the Volk’s cars for more photos.

One of the highlights of the celebrations was a procession of the trains along the line, complete with information commentary. Taken from Aquarium Station this photo shows the trains lining up ready and waiting.

The oldest operational car is no. 4 which is lined-up here before things got underway.

Possibly the star for many was ex-Southend car 9 which had only returned from Hassocks earlier this summer. A campaign will be launched for its restoration in due course.

Amongst the dignitaries invited to the event were the granddaughter and great grandson of Magnus Volk. They are pictured here with Ian Gledhill from VERA.

The speeches take place with Tim Dunn. Ian Gledhill looks on.

The procession takes place with the small Simplex locomotive used to haul ex-Southend 9 along. (All Photographs by Edward M Koehler Jr, 12th August 2023)

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