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Chichester Train Station

By Becky Laughlin

By Becky Laughlin, Work Experience student at The Novium Museum

Chichester train station is the main railway station for Chichester district. It is serviced by trains to Havant and Portsmouth to the Southwest, Brighton to the East, London (Victoria) to the Northeast, and to Cardiff in the Northwest. The station itself is located at Southgate, Chichester.

The Station was first built in 1846 when the railway was first introduced to the South Coast. In its later years the original structure was not very well maintained and became somewhat of an eyesore to those surrounding and using it. As a result this first station was demolished in 1958 and, in 1961, a new station was built to the design of British Railways Architect's Department, which accounts for the style and shape of the building which can still be seen today. Everything that once surrounded the old station is now gone including the police station which had stood on the East side of the tracks. This positioning allowed the police to observe the public whilst at the station. It also aided communication, which at the time was predominantly via the railway service prior to the introduction of the telephone.

One of the first railway lines to include Chichester was the Brighton-Portsmouth "West Coast" line that was completed in 1847. This line still runs today. When it opened it was run by The London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LBSCR), a company formed in 1830. Its rival company, The London & South Western Railway (LSWR), operated the London to Portsmouth line. There was great rivalry between the two companies between 1859 - 1923 before they were merged with the South Eastern and Chatham Railway to form Southern Railway. Another line that included Chichester was the Chichester-Midhurst line, which was opened on 11 July 1881. This line passed through the stations of Chichester, Lavant, Singleton, Cocking and Midhurst. Of all the stations on the line, Chichester is the only one that is still running today, as the others shut down due to lack of profit or were demolished. The line eventually fell into disuse after 19th November 1951, when a blocked pipe caused large damage to the rails between Cocking and Midhurst, leaving the line to be abandoned. Although it served its primary goal in allowing Chichester and Midhurst to sustain their important commercial and agricultural connection, as well as build up trade, the line never attracted the amount of passengers expected of it.

Another important, but now dissolved line was the Selsey Tramway, a light railway linking Chichester to Selsey town, which was opened on 27th August 1897, when the locomotive Chichester departed from Chichester station to its final destination at Selsey Town station. The train eventually pulled into Selsey Town Station forty minutes late, a bad start for a line that would come to be known for its tardiness. The Selsey tramway eventually closed in 1935.

The Chichester signal box is a registered grade II protected building due to its historical interest. It is listed because it is one of two surviving five bay Saxby & Farmer Type 5 signal boxes in the UK. This design was introduced in 1876 and signal boxes continued to be built to this design until 1896. It is also listed because of its good condition, with only minor alterations added over the years. Chichester signal box was first built in 1882 in preparation for the addition of Chichester station onto the London to Brighton line.

During the First World War, many women took on roles that were traditionally undertaken by men. In 1918, Lottie Ousley was a ticket collector at Chichester Station. Other jobs taken up by women during the First World War that helped to keep the railway afloat included guards, engineers, maintaining the trains, track maintenance.

The modern day station in Chichester has two platforms and offers a number of services including a cashpoint, seating areas, toilets, pay phones and public Wi-Fi. It also has its own car park and bicycle rack.