Two children looking up at the car of the Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway. Photo: Hemmings Motor News
For five years towards the end of the 19th century, there was a peculiar seashore attraction at Brighton, on England’s south coast. It was an electric railway, and an extension of the already popular Volk's Electric Railway that runs on the seafront. Only this section ran underwater.
Magnus Volk, the British railway engineer, attracted attention in Brighton when he opened a narrow gauge tourist railway that ran along Brighton’s beach skirting the waters of the English Channel. Named after himself, the Volk's Electric Railway opened in 1883, and ran as far as Paston Place. But Volk’s plan was to take it all the way to Rottingdean. The only obstacle was the geography. Extending the railway the remaining three miles would require either a steep climb to take it over the cliff, or a tunnel under it. Magnus Volk chose neither.