FASCINATING archives and rare maps of Brighton’s tramline have been uncovered at Shoreham Port.
The port has an extensive collection of photos, paintings, drawings and minute books from the Shoreham Harbour Act 1760 onwards, many of them stored at Nautilus House, in Albion Street, Southwick.
In the past couple of years, the engineering team has been making an effort to organise and preserve some of the more interesting archives, not just for future generations but to help locate relevant information quickly and reliably for historical and operational reasons.
Then, this summer, deputy port engineer Brian Rousell uncovered a set of 1903 drawings showing proposed extensions to the tramline network in Brighton and Hove.
Although they were of little use to the Port, he felt they were likely to be of interest to others and set about finding a suitable home for them.
Mr Rousell explained: “The drawings show plans and details of a number of branch extensions to the tram network around the city, some of which were executed but others did not progress for whatever reasons.”
Research on the internet brought up the Brighton Tram 53 Society, which is attempting to restore what is believed to be the last surviving Brighton tram.
Mr Rousell added: “After contacting the group, I met with Guy Hall to hand over the drawings in order for them to present and preserve them as part of their bid to gain charitable status.”
Mr Hall founded the society in March 2010 to restore the historic vehicle, having first set eyes on it in December 2009.
He said: “The maps are very interesting and show the proposed route down Montpelier Road. I assume this was not built because a lot of houses were either to be demolished or gardens clipped.
“The extension from Seven Dials to Brighton station was also listed, but no connection to the Station/North Road route, which was interesting.
“These are very rare plans and will help us to understand more about the history of our local transport. We are very grateful to Brian and Shoreham Port for these very unusual maps.”
The port’s own rich history dates back over many centuries, but particularly the past 250 years.
Its archives include wonderful works of art and fascinating accounts of everyday life at the Port, recorded by staff of the time.
A selection of the archives was presented in the book, Shoreham Harbour Insights, for the 250th anniversary celebrations in 2010. The book was edited by Professor Fred Gray, assisted by longest-serving port employee Keith Wadey.
Visit www.brightontram53.org.uk for more information on the Brighton Tram 53 Society.