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Right Lines e-Zine

A Day Out... From London Victoria to Ford

Stuart Jordan

STUART JORDAN takes us on a train ride from London to our HQ and shop in Ford.

In the last issue of RIGHT LINES, David Cairns from South Africa visited our store and showed us what there is to see. But what else is there to see and do in the area or on the way to Gaugemaster? In this article I will document the journey (by train) from the terminus at London Victoria to Ford Station, which is just outside our front door.

Starting Out

Victoria Station

Victoria Station.

Our journey begins in Central London, at Victoria Station just down the road from Buckingham Palace. With nineteen platforms it is the second busiest station in London, after Waterloo. Services run out of Victoria across south-eastern England – Southern serves South London, Sussex and Surrey, and South Eastern run services into South East London and Kent. The Gatwick Express also runs fast to the airport from Victoria. Just beside the station is the Victoria Underground Station, where you can get the Tube around London.

To get to Ford from Victoria you have to board one of two different trains - either the Southampton & Bognor Regis service, or Portsmouth Harbour & Bognor Regis. In the words of the automated announcement, ‘please make sure that you are travelling in the correct part of the train’! You usually need to be in the rear half of the train, as it divides at Horsham. The front half (heading to Portsmouth/Southampton) travels fast to Barnham, not stopping at Ford. Our journey takes us first on the Brighton Line, before joining the Arun Valley Line.

London Victoria to Gatwick

Route Map

The route map, click for larger version.

Assuming your train is on time, you will head south out of Victoria towards the Thames, crossing at Grosvenor Bridge (also known as Victoria Bridge). When you make landfall again, to your left will be the remains of the iconic Battersea Power Station. It is currently being ‘done up’, with new flats being built onto it. In my own humble opinion I think it looks terrible, especially as they are removing the chimneys from the power station.

Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction from above.

Your first stop will be Clapham Junction, which serves the largest number of trains in Europe. It is also the biggest interchange in UK as trains also funnel through from London Waterloo. The train will get noticeably busier here! You can change here for London Overground services to Highbury & Islington, South West Trains services back into London and Waterloo, and Southern services to Watford and Milton Keynes.

Next down the line is East Croydon, which connects with Tramlink, which is a tram system run by London transport that radiates out of Croydon to Wimbledon in one direction, and Beckenham and New Addington in the other. Determined modellers may be able to replicate this system using the Kato Unitram system and converting the existing trams.

Gatwick Airport is next, and again the train will get a lot busier as new arrivals in the country get on with all manner of baggage. Fans of elevated driverless trains will be excited to learn about the Gatwick Airport Shuttle, which runs between the South and North Terminal of the airport – but then if that excites you, the DLR will blow your mind!

Three Bridges to Billingshurst

Next stop is Three Bridges, the last station on the Brighton Line that we visit. From here on, as we head into deepest Sussex, we join the Arun Valley Line – named for the river that meanders down to the sea at Littlehampton. You can change at Three Bridges for Thameslink services to Bedford or London Bridge, and Southern or Thameslink trains down to Brighton.

The first stop on the Arun Valley Line proper is Crawley. Crawley has a fine example of an old Southern signal box, which dates back to 1877, and was in use until 1978. You’ll see it out of the left of the train as you leave the station.

At Horsham the train will divide, the front coaches heading off to either Portsmouth Harbour or Southampton. The rear coaches form a stopping service which stops at all stations between Horsham and Bognor Regis. You can change here for Southern services back up to Victoria through Surrey via Dorking.

Your newly shortened train will next stop at Christ’s Hospital Station, which was built in 1902 to serve the nearby Christ’s Hospital public school, before heading onto Billingshurst Station. Billingshurst once had the oldest operational Signal Box in the country. It’s no longer there, having recently been moved to Amberley Museum (more about which we will hear later).

Pulborough to Ford

Next up is Pulborough, which lies on the floodplain of the River Arun. Depending on the time of year, the fields either side of the railway line may look a bit wet! Pulborough is home to the South Downs Light Railway, a 10 ¼” Gauge railway that runs both steam and diesel locomotives.

Amberley Museum

Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre.

Amberley is home to the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre, which is a short walk from the station. The museum is a collection of heritage and industrial exhibitions, some of which are housed in old buildings that have been moved onto the site. Vintage buses take you round the site, and there is also a 2ft narrow gauge railway that you can ride. Keen-eyed movie fans will recognise the mine entrance from the Bond film A View to a Kill, and rolling stock featured in the film is still sat in sidings around the museum.

The penultimate stop on our journey is Arundel, a historic castle town perched on a hill above the Arun plain. The thing that you will notice first about Arundel is the imposing castle, built around the original Norman fortifications and then restored in the 18th and 19th centuries. The castle is open to the public, and is an ideal place to visit for those interested in stately homes and how ‘the other half’ live! The town itself is full of interesting antique shops and tea rooms.

The Engine Shed

The short walk from the station exit to the entrance of our shop.

A few minutes south of Arundel and you will arrive at Platform 2 of Ford Station. Your journey is at an end. Your last decision is whether you take the underpass, or walk down to the end of the platform and cross the railway line at the level crossing. Either way, just ahead of you will be the Gaugemaster building, with The Engine Shed shop in the ground floor. All there is to do now is browse our store and debate what you’re going to buy...

Beyond...

If you are still looking for things to do after visiting us, then Gaugemaster is in reach of several other tourist locations in the West Sussex area. Along the coast is Brighton, or even closer is Littlehampton with its harbour. The resort of Bognor Regis is around 20 minutes away by train, as is the county town of Chichester with its shops and cathedral.

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