A history lesson in Brighton & Hove

Published: Wednesday 25th Jan 2012

A little-known gem in Brighton & Hove is Volks Electric Railway. Situated on Madeira Drive, directly on Brighton’s seafront, it can boast the unique title of the ‘World’s Oldest Electric Railway’. The railway opened in 1883, yes folks, 100 years before this author was even born, and was the brainchild of Magnus Volk –hence the name.    

I call the Volks Railway the little-known gem because it may not be as fun as the Palace Pier, or as historic as the now-defunct West Pier, but it is a quaint and jolly useful piece of track running for just over a mile between the Aquarium and Black Rock (for access to the Brighton Marina complex).    

The railway originally ran between the Chain Pier (West Pier) to the Aquarium by the Palace Pier. In 1930, no sooner had they sought to extend it westbound to Black Rock than the original connection to the Chain Pier was removed! The railway shut in 1940 due to the war, and re-opened in 1948, with updated cars purchased for the line.

The railway now closes for a winter break from 30th September through to 1st April. A return fare from start to finish costs £3.00 for an adult return, £1.50 for a child and £1.90 for a senior. Family SAVER tickets are also available. So the next time you’re in Brighton, pop along and see for yourself; it mightn’t be the most famous of Brighton’s landmarks but you will be able to say you took a trip on the world’s oldest electric railway!