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British Industrial History

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London and Brighton Railway

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The London and Brighton Railway (L&B).

The company was incorporated in 1837, to make a line from the London and Croydon Railway, south of Norwood Junction, to Brighton, with a branch to Shoreham. No fewer than five schemes, some designed by Stephenson and Rennie, were before Parliament in 1836. All were rejected, and Captain Alderson, with the concurrence of the several promoters, was appointed by the Government to recommend a route. As a result of his report the five sets of promoters combined their forces in 1837 in support of a Bill based on Rennie's scheme which was passed. The Act authorised the purchase of the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway of 1803 and some of that line was used. [1]

It ran from the junction with the London and Croydon Railway (L&C) at Norwood - which gave it access to London Bridge - to the South Coast at Brighton. The railway opened in sections, since major earthworks delayed building the line in one piece.

The engineer was John Urpeth Rastrick, and the line was opened from, Brighton to Shoreham on May 6th, 1840, from the Croydon to Hayward's Heath on July 12th, 1841, and Hayward's Heath to Brighton on September 21st, 1841. It was inspected by Sir Frederick Smith, who reported that "at almost all the stations on this line the engineer had laid down from sets of that the engines and carriages will not stop upon the main arrangement which, by tending much to the safety of the travellers, is highly creditable to the company." The Merstham Tunnel is 1780 yards in length, Balcombe 1122 yards, and Clayton 1 mile 20 chains;. The Ouse Viaduct is 480 yards long and of 37 semi-circular arches, each of 30ft. span, and has an extreme height of 96ft. [2]

It built workshops at Brighton and its engineer John Gray was responsible for some very successful engines, culminating in David Joy's design, the Jenny Lind

1841 Description of the opening in The Engineer 1911 [3]

On July 27, 1846, the L&B amalgamated with the L&C to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.

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