The team behind Brighton & Hove’s Volk’s railway, the oldest working electric railway in the world, has won a Public and Community Award from the Sussex Heritage Trust.
It recognises how the creation of a new visitor centre and new station by the Aquarium has vastly improved the railway for residents and visitors, attracting more than 400 people an hour at peak times.
Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the Tourism, Development and Culture Committee, said: “I think the great Victorian inventor Magnus Volk would be proud of what we have achieved. The dedication of staff and volunteers has led to far more people being able to enjoy the whole experience and learn about its history.
“We’re so pleased that our unique heritage project has won this local award as Volk’s railway is truly one of the treasures of Sussex.”
Since it was built in 1883 Volk’s Railway has been battered by sea storms and abandoned during world wars but the new buildings were constructed to last in the marine environment, with zinc and a unique ribbed rubber cladding. The pebble base is formed in stainless steel cages with pebbles redistributed from the beach.
Hove-based architects, ABIR, designed a new station and visitor centre to look like two train carriages on tracks passing one another. Inside the centre, you can discover the story of the railway and its inventor Magnus Volk.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project also restored the 19th century railway carriages, which first took holidaymakers along Brighton seafront in 1883. Now back in use, they have increased accessibility and passenger capacity so more people can enjoy the ride.
Midway along the track is a new conservation workshop where council staff supported by volunteers maintain the train carriages and develop skills in carpentry and engineering.