3 Ford to Bosham



John Blackwell


The branch to Littlehampton opened on 17th August 1863 and before this a station near the present Lyminster crossing served the town (see previous article). The present functional station opened in 1988, the original having been demolished in 1938 when both the main line to Portsmouth and that from Three Bridges to Littlehampton was electrified. For 50 years a temporary wooden terminus and a cut back portion of the original canopy served the town; now there is a cut-price type of station and no canopy. The 1863 station building was similar to those still remaining at Portslade and West Worthing but with the bricks exposed and not rendered and with less ornamentation around the windows, a prototype for the later widely used design.
To the north and forming part of the new station is the original engine shed, that had a locomotive turntable about 100 yards in front of it. Beyond the engine shed and continuing westwards along Gloucester Road one comes to the site of the Town Gas Works. The office building survives as does a modern gas holder, these will disappear within the next few years as gas becomes directly pumped from the North Sea. The goods shed is of the more unusual two-storey version of which several were erected in the period 1860 to 1880, the only other survivor being at Arundel: note the pleasing design executed in stock brick and the attractive semi circular windows. Opposite is the signal box which is still operational. It is of the larger Saxby & Farmer design that appeared all over the LB&SCR from 1876 onwards with a brick base, three pairs of sliding wooden windows above and a slate hipped roof. This box has a distinctive fretted valance around the eaves identical to that often used for platform canopies. To the southeast was once a large wharf with sailings to Dieppe and Honfleur. These had ceased by 1880 but the wharf remained busy with freight, mainly coal until about 1960. All traces of the railway have gone but the Custom House remains as offices.

Returning through Ford the disused station buildings at Yapton SU 981 043 can be found. These opened with the line in 1846 and closed in 1864 when Barnham Junction was opened. The original single storey station with brick quoins and flint infill can be seen with a later two-storey station house with bay windows facing the track. Immediately to the south is a pair of 1850s railway cottages, one in near original condition where the guttering used to run across the dormer window.
The branch for Bognor opened on 1st June 1864 together with a new station on the west coast line at Barnham SU 958 043. The line was doubled in 1911 and the attractive large wooden signal box dates from then. It is of the final LB&SCR design with gable ends. The station was extensively rebuilt in 1936 with the booking office and accommodation above resembling a suburban house of the period. A tiled subway and covered walkway leads to the platforms. The only level crossing on the branch was at South Bersted SU 937 000 where the main road to Chichester crossed the line. For electrification in 1938, a replacement signal box in the Southern Region 'Odeon' style was built. This style has a rectangular brick base surmounted centrally by a smaller upper storey with curved ends and a flat concrete roof. Originally these had curved Crittall windows on the trackside but the replacements sadly bear no comparison. The road has now been diverted to cross by a bridge but the footbridge remains. Bognor Station was somewhat unlucky, being destroyed by a storm in 1897 and two years later being burnt down. Rebuilt in 1902, by W Johnson & Co of Wandsworth at a cost of 37,000 and recently restored, the station is now listed and well worth visiting. This opulent station complex expresses the LB&SCR at the height of its prosperity; the building is in the Edwardian 'municipal' style of red brick with the large windows and doors having stone surrounds. A small clock tower crowns the roof. The double height booking hall (now partitioned with one part for retail use) retains many original features, a wood block floor and brown glazed brick dado with a dark and light green capping. The words Booking Hall and Waiting Room on the glass fanlight also survive. The bow window fronting the concourse was originally the refreshment room. An LB&SCR Saxby and Farmer ground frame can be found behind the buffers between platforms 2 and 3. Outside is a huge 19 bay double height goods shed (this replaced a two storey one identical to the one at Littlehampton that was sited on the opposite side of the tracks). The platforms are covered by extensive glazed and boarded canopies with looping valances now somewhat altered. Rolled steel joists are used to carry the canopies supported by less decorative columns and spandrel brackets than in earlier years. The columns also serve the useful purpose of rainwater down pipes. A porte cochere to the east and contemporary iron railings around the present taxi area complete the ensemble.
Woodgate crossing at SU 939 043 was the site of the original station for Bognor and although the station buildings, which were the same as at Yapton, have been demolished within the last ten years, the crossing keeper's cottage remains. Now extended, it is similar to that at Ferring, with brick quoins and squared and knapped flint panels. Here is also a wooden porch which was a typical feature.

At Drayton SU 890 044 was an 1846 flint and brick station (built to serve Goodwood House), which closed to passengers in 1930. A pair of station houses and an 1876 Saxby & Farmer signal box survived until the mid-eighties when the site was razed as part of the resignalling of the line. From the Chichester bypass bridge at SU 878 043 can be viewed to the east, a siding running into a fuel storage depot, this was built during WWII to supply the RAF airfields on the coastal plain. To the west, a siding, now gone, ran into Bartholomew's seed and fertiliser depot. Three level crossings with nothing of railway interest remaining bring one to Chichester Station. Rebuilt in 1957, it is the only example worth noting in the county of post war design. It looks a little tired from the outside but step
inside the booking hall and note the 'contemporary' style features so popular at the time, hexagonal raised ceiling tiles, cascade lighting fittings, patterned tiling below the ticket issuing counter, and Formica and steel tube information boards. The internal footbridge is in the same style with plywood and Formica panelling. The platform canopies are light and airy and look well following a recent repaint. A similar goods shed to that at Bognor is now a pub restaurant; note the new stained glass in the semi-circular windows. The interchange with the bus station of the same period that is situated opposite illustrates good town planning. The west signal box survives and is a splendid example of a large LB&SCR box similar to Littlehampton but twice as long. Clay Lane crossing at SU 847 047 is now for cyclists and pedestrians only but was a traffic bottleneck before a recent link road to the bypass was constructed. A few yards west the branch to Midhurst diverged but this is now obscured. Fishbourne Halt at SU 835 050 was provided in 1906 as one of a series between Chichester and Portsmouth in the face of motorbus competition. When built, the platforms were of wood with simple shelters; for electrification in 1938 they were extended and rebuilt in concrete. Bosham Station at SU 812 054 is a 1902 rebuild in an elegant red brick country house style. The canopy to the down platform with looping valances remains but the attractive up platform building has sadly gone as has the signal box and goods shed. The next two halts, before the county boundary is reached, are at Nutbourne and Southbourne and are similar to Fishbourne and not worth visiting.

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