Gardens & wildlife

London Road Station-DRARA

See also: London Road Station - a heritage asset

Response to application for Heritage Status

  • DRARA (Ditchling Rise & Area Residents Association) and
  • LRSP (London Rd Station Partnership)

See short YouTube video describing the work and activities of Ditchling Rise & Area Residents Association and London Rd Station Partnership

Townscape and historical interest

The London Road Station building of 1877 is a key landmark defining the ‘Viaduct’ community of the Roundhill Area (BHCC Urban Characterisation Study). The latter study notes the Viaduct itself, but London Road Station building is the human/accessible side of the 19th century suburban railway line which stimulated the growth of our area.

Thousands of local people ‘interact’ regularly with the much-loved station building, either taking the train (commuting to London, to universities, county council, the Albion football stadium on match days) or crossing the bridge towards the local primary school (northbound) or London Road/city centre (southbound).

Shaftesbury Place forms one of our few ‘square-like’ local spaces, defined by the London Road Station building on the north side and the near-contemporaneous ‘Signalman’ pub on the south side. The site and architecture of the station contribute to the relative calm in this space, which really does feel shared between cars, pedestrians and cycles (see below for community involvement on this).

Shaftesbury Place and the station building itself have been the site of many recent community events such as street parties, planting days and a railway celebration (see below). The views looking up from the pub to the station or from the characteristic terraces of the station down to the pub are among the most attractive and historically coherent in our area and are much enjoyed by residents.

Communal value

The station building and its immediate environs have considerable communal value and have been the focus of much community involvement over many years.

Since 2011, the London Road Station Partnership (a community partnership formed by local residents with Southern Railway) has been engaged in enhancing, protecting and developing the London Road Station site, and encouraging greater interaction with local people. The group now has a solid core of 10 gardeners, plus a local history group of 5, and a list of a further 20 registered members who regularly participate in station-related events. In 2013, the station was judged Southern’s ‘Community Station of the Year’ and the LRSP was awarded Brighton & Hove City in Bloom’s Edward Furey Cup for ‘community spirit’.

The LRSP has transformed two former plots of waste land either side of the station building into flourishing food and decorative gardens, and have also installed public herb planters and ornamental planters on the forecourt and south platform respectively. Its members help maintain a good standard of tidiness and safety at the station, in particular painting out graffiti and removing flyposting. In 2014, the LRSP hosted an Albion in the Community/National Citizen Service community project which brought a group of young people to the station to create an impressive 8 x 2m mosaic to brighten up the underpass.

The local history group has produced posters on aspects of the station history, and is now linking this with a focus on railway heritage in the wider London Road area (e.g. plans to create a heritage trail from Brighton to London Road station along the Greenway). With such an addition to locals’ and tourists’ sightseeing options, it seems imperative that London Road Station should be elevated to ‘Heritage’ status.

Linked with the LRSP, the strong local residents’ association (DRARA - Ditchling Rise and Area Residents’ Association) has worked with Brighton and Hove City Council and Southern Rail over the past three years to improve the approach to the station in Shaftesbury Place. Parking arrangements have been improved and trees planted. Work is underway to provide better cycle storage and access over the footbridge. These developments are ongoing, with plans now to integrate ‘The Signalman’ pub into the scene through distinct road markings at the bottom of Shaftesbury Place.

LRSP and DRARA (in addition to the Brighton Model Railway Club), regularly use the station building for community events (e.g. Mini-Orchard Planting 2012, Big Dig Day 2013, DRARA’s 2014 AGM). In June 2014, the 150th anniversary of the Brighton to Seaford line was celebrated at the station with a tea party in the ticket hall, a model railway display in the former ladies’ waiting room, a grow-your-own food demonstration, a choir and local band on the terraces, a picnic in Shaftesbury Place and the passing-through of a vintage steam train. We estimate over 200 people came to the event.

The sustained community commitment summarised above reflects how much the neighbourhood values our Victorian station and the heritage it represents; we hope this can be recognized in according the station Council ‘heritage’ status. A drink in the Signalman pub looking up at the station framed by Shaftesbury Place should confirm the ‘townscape’ value and ‘intactness’ of the building.

Drafted on behalf of DRARA and LRSP by
Madeleine Cary (Vice-Chair, DRARA; Treasurer, LRSP)
Elspeth Broady (Secretary, DRARA; Co-ordinator, LRSP)
March 11th 2015

This page was last updated by Ted on 30-Mar-2019
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