Preston Park Station

Cream and green canopies in the 1950s

By Martin Nimmo

Although today an unremarkable halt on the main London-Brighton line, in the 1950's Preston Park Station had cream and green LB&SCR buildings with canopies, on both platforms, with ticket offices manned all day.  There were four lines, all used, either side of both platforms. My Dad used to catch a train at 8.13am into Brighton each morning, which had spent the night in the Preston Park sidings. Among regular passengers was the Brighton Stationmaster, Mr Tanner, in his top hat and morning suit. He used to walk through the train, greeting the passengers.

Racing the steam goods train
The train usually ran into platform 6 at Brighton and then became a semi-fast to London (so my Dad simply stayed on board). He had a season ticket, but I bought a 3d half-fare Cheap Day Return (an adult ticket was stamped and then cut diagonally in half for this!).  We usually raced a steam goods train (Merchant Navy class engine) to Lovers Walk (where there would often be long trucks loaded with Isetta bubble cars), and almost always saw steam engines being turned on the turntable in the goods yard outside Brighton Station.

The reason for this return trip from Preston Park was that I went too, on my way to school in Hove. My journey continued outside Brighton Station, where I would catch a number 6 bus and pay a 2d fare to Westbourne Street off New Church Road.

Sent to website by e-mail 18/09/02
This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page
I can recall the old station buildings in green and cream but all built of wood, with brightly polished counters inlaid with brass fittings. I started commuting to London when I was 17 years old. I used to catch the 7.30 from Preston Park. On cold winter mornings there was always a cheerful coal fire burning away in the grate.
By Bernardo (09/02/2005)
I can remember Preston Park Station when I was a kid growing up in England. I used to pass through there on the train going into Brighton from Hassocks station. Such memories!. I can also remember the beautiful flowers at Preston Park. Hope to visit there again some day.
By John Hutchings (15/08/2005)

I was the booking clerk at PrestonPark in 1972 at the time when they removed the overall canopy on both platforms. The booking office was on the 'up' platform (i.e. towards London) and as the canopy was removed, the lack of weatherproofing that would have been deemed unnecessary when the LB&SCR built the station became apparent. My duty would start at 5.45a.m. and I would sell tickets up to around 9.15 when I would take the train to Brighton and then over to Falmer to sell tickets there until the shift finished at 13.00(ish). Commuters were wonderful people....not! Being late getting up some of them would sometimes race up the stairs from the subway as the train was running into the platform and demand that I issue them with a weekly (or longer) season ticket. Such tickets had a fairly complex booking procedure but for the popular destinations such as East Croydon or London Bridge/Victoria we would keep a supply ready to be issued. However, these charlies would invariably want something complex such as a monthly to Old Street which had to be written out specially... deep joy! We couldn't make any mistakes either on their tickets or in the pricing so no wonder trains sometimes had a minute or two late departures. (I wonder what happened to the lovely British Caledonian air hostess that regularly used to visit the office waiting for her train.)

By Tony Hagon (09/03/2008)

During the time i was at school in the late forties, I lived in Robertson Road and did paper rounds for Mr Boswood. Onetime though, I used to sell papers from a trestle table at Preston Park Station at the top of Clermont Road. The morning commuters used to come running up the road throw some money on the table and grab a paper without waiting for their change as their train was pulling in. I made myself a fortune!

By Ron Jones (02/02/2009)

I lived in the corner house of Compton Road where, from our back garden, I could see all he way down Hampstead Road to the station. My father, Arthur Bowyer, was a railwayman and often mentioned Mr Tanner. Also, when I started at Varndean (1947) I walked down Hampstead Road but had to time my walk carefully otherwise I would get almost crushed by the rush of men tearing down the steps from Tivoli Crescent to Hampstead Road and then through the laneway to the station. Often I would simply stand back and let them all scoot past me. Greetings from Canada.

By Diana Anstead (15/11/2012)

I started work at Preston Park station as a booking clerk in 1958. Some London season tickets had a red line across and were cheaper but had restrictions. The monthly season ticket to London was about £18. The cheap day return was 10 shillings and eight pence. The office on the down side was run by the porter but the clerk had to go over to do the book work. This was my first employment after leaving Varndean School and as I lived with my parents in Compton Road I didn't have far to travel to work.

By Jim Stapleton (24/01/2014)

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