Adur Valley Line closure marked by '˜people train'

A '˜people train' travelled the route of the old Adur Valley Line on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of its closure.

Monday, 9th May 2016, 12:03 pm
Updated Monday, 9th May 2016, 1:07 pm
Gathering at the start of the sponsored walk marking the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Adur Valley railway line. Photo by Derek Martin DM16115968a

The walk along the old railway line, also called the Steyning Line and now the Downs Link path, was organised by railway enthusiast Phillip Gardner.

It was supported by West Sussex County Council and Southern Transit to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.

Mr Gardner said: “I have always had a bit of a passion for the old branch line. I thought it would be nice to mark the 50th anniversary of its closure and raise money for charity at the same time.

DM16115947a Organiser Phillip Gardner

“It was a great vehicle to raise awareness for the Worthing branch and nationally. I know the Worthing branch is campaigning heavily for the Parkinson’s nurse to be made permanent so some of the money will go towards that.

“I personally raised more than £500 and the amount raised overall is well over £1,000.”

Mr Gardner’s mother, Maureen, who has Parkinson’s, set them on their way by waving a flag and blowing the whistle to start the ‘people train’.

He added: “It was a very good turnout and we were so lucky with the weather.

DM16115988a Setting off on the Downs Link path on the People Train

“We left the Old Toll Bridge in Shoreham at 11am and the first people to complete the 13 miles to West Grinstead took four hours. I was ‘tail-end Charlie’, coming up at the rear, and arrived about 5.30pm.

“We were supported all the way by Southern Transit, which provided refreshments en route as well as transport on the ‘Steyning Flyer’ bus.

“Two people with Parkinson’s joined the walk and were able to hop on and off the bus as they wanted to. They were also handing out water while they were on the bus.”

Countrside ranger Louise Gandolfi, who looks after the Downs Link, joined the walk and was able to provide up-to-date information about the path along the way.

DM16115974a Maureen Gardner blows a whistle and waves a green flag to start the People Train

There were stops for refreshments at Shoreham Cement Works, Bramber, Henfield and Partridge Green before arriving at West Grinstead Old Station.

“It was lovely to see the railway line in a different light,” added Mr Gardner.

He compiled the book Life on the Line with the help of George Cockman and they made a film, The Lost Railway.

The film is an evocative journey calling at all stations to Horsham. For more than 100 years, the railway line served the community, connecting Shoreham to Horsham, until its closure on March 7, 1966.

DM16115947a Organiser Phillip Gardner

The Lost Railway will be shown at Steyning Grammar School on Tuesday, May 31, at 7.30pm as part of the Steyning Festival. Tickets are £10 adults, £6 under-18s, available from Steyning Bookshop.

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DM16115988a Setting off on the Downs Link path on the People Train

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DM16115974a Maureen Gardner blows a whistle and waves a green flag to start the People Train