Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 137,454 pages of information and 221,559 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
of Madeira Road, Brighton
1893 Company was incorporated at the initiative of local electrical pioneer Magnus Volk who had already constructed the electric railway at Brighton - Volk's Electric Railway. Richard St. George Moore was responsible for the civil engineering.
1894 Work started on a 3-mile extension to Rottingdean; the necessary viaduct was seen to be too expensive so the line was built partly through the sea (up to 100 yards from the shore). The Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Co was contracted to build a vehicle, called "Pioneer", consisting of a gantry car built on a framework of 4 stilts 23 feet tall, which would run on a pair of tracks on the seabed; electric motors supplied with electricity delivered via overhead electric cable delivered power to the wheels down 2 of the legs.
After much discussion the vehicle was designated as a sea-going vessel which meant it had to be staffed by a sea captain in addition to the driver, as well as carry a lifeboat and lifebelts.
Advertised as offering "a sea voyage on wheels".
1896 The tramroad was opened but closed after about a week due to storm damage.
1897 The line re-opened with the carriage raised 2 feet higher. Scouring of the sand continued to be a problem for the track and the motive power for the carriage was barely sufficient at times. Nevertheless 45,000 passengers were carried in the first year.
Plans for improved coastal defences meant that the line would have to be moved further out to sea but this was beyond the company's resources.
1901 The tramroad was closed, when the Volk's Electric Railway was extended from Paston Place to Black Rock.
1902 Company obtained power to "reconstruct the line on a viaduct from the borough boundary to Rottingdean."
1903-1907 The line was not worked.