The Extraordinary Daddy-Long-Legs Railway of Brighton by Martin EasdownThe unique, but sadly short-lived, Brighton & Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway must have presented quite an amazing spectacle, even during those late Victorian days of engineering excellence. Affectionately known as the Daddy-Long-Legs, spider car or sea car, the railway resembled a piece of seaside pier that had broken away and was moving by itself through the sea. Although closed over a hundred years ago, interest in the Daddy-Long-Legs Railway remains strong and it has become a Brighton icon. The book details the history of the Daddy-Long-Legs and features the best collection of photographs of it so far assembled, along with plans, timetables and posters and associated features such as Volks Electric Railway and the piers assembled as a landing stage for the Daddy-Long-Legs. This will be the first book to concentrate solely on this unique and fascinating piece of British seaside history.
The Daddy Long Legs of Brighton
The railway continued to expand along the coast and proved very popular with tourists. However in , Volk cast his eyes towards Rottingdean, a small village three miles to the east of Brighton. To extend his existing railway would require either a steep climb to the cliff top or a building a viaduct along the unstable undercliff. Not keen on either option, Volk turned his mind to building a completely new railway that would travel through the sea. So in , work began on the Seashore Electric Railway which involved building a railway across the intertidal rock pools between Brighton and Rottingdean. At feet wide, the railway still holds the record for being the widest railway ever built.
Volk's Brighton to Rottingdean Seashore Electric railway. A 'sea voyage on wheels' on the Daddy Long Legs, Brighton, England. Report by urban75 editor, June.
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An exiled emperor on the pier
The Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway was a unique coastline railway in Brighton, England that ran through the shallow waters of the English Channel between and Facing unfavourable geography, Volk decided to construct a line through the surf from a pier at Paston Place to one at Rottingdean. The tracks were laid on concrete sleepers mortised into the bedrock, and the single car used on the railway, a huge pier-like building which stood on four 23 ft 7. It was officially named Pioneer, but many called it Daddy Long-Legs. Construction took two years from to
The Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway was a unique coastline railway in Brighton , England that ran through the shallow coastal waters of the English Channel between and Magnus Volk , its owner, designer and engineer, had already been successful with the more conventional Volk's Electric Railway , which had then not been extended east of Paston Place. Facing unfavourable geography, Volk decided to construct a line through the surf from a pier at Paston Place to one at Rottingdean. Propulsion was by electric motor. It was officially named Pioneer , but many called it Daddy Long-Legs. Due to regulations then in place, a qualified sea captain was on board at all times, and the car was provided with lifeboats and other safety measures.
The nineteenth century was an age of science and industry, and one where individual inventors could transform the world. These enterprising pioneers are still ritually recalled alongside their inventions: Marconi and radio, Bell and the telephone, Benz and the motorcar. The railway was not just a daring feat of engineering; for me, it represents the triumph of ambition over common sense. All scientists know that sea water and electricity is a dangerous combination, yet Volk still built an electric powered railway that ran through the sea. Its spindly legs seem far too weak to bear the brunt of the waves, and the car was wrecked by a storm just a week after it opened. The car also struggled to move through the sea at high tide, and could only run in good weather.