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the Brighton Motive Power Depots

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the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches




F. STEVENSON 1934 -1936

(Footplate Seniority 20.06.1900)


F. BROOKER 1934 -1935

(Footplate Seniority 19.07.1901)



In May 1934 the Brighton Branch of A.S.L.E.F. was split with the Enginemen and Firemen working at the Steam Locomotive Shed becoming Brighton No. 1 Branch with Engineman Bro F. Stevenson continuing in the role as branch secretary.

The Motormen working at Brighton Lovers Walk Electric Multiple Unit Depot and West Worthing Electric Car Sheds becoming Brighton No.2 Branch with Brighton based Motorman Bro F. Booker being duly elected to become the first branch secretary of the newly opened No.2 branch. The Brighton No. 2 branch opened with 58 A.S.L.E.F. members of which 44 where at the Brighton depot and 14 at the West Worthing depot. This gives an indication to the sizes of the two depots but not an exact figure.

Over the next few years the expanding Southern railway electrification programme was to change the face of many Steam depots along the Sussex coast, with some depots and men transferring from the Locomotive Grade (Engineman) into the Electric Multiple Unit Grade (Motorman). At some locations where there was still the need to for a Locomotive depot a separate Motorman’s Depot would also be opened. 

With the expanding electrification of the Railways serving Brighton East and West Coast Brighton No 2 Branch started to become bigger until eventually becoming one of the largest Motorman’s depots on the Southern Railway, whilst West Worthing Motorman’s Depot remained in the shadow of its larger neighbour.

In June 1935 saw electrification of the main East coast line being completed between Brighton to Ore direct and with the spur lines via Eastbourne. Also completed was the route between Seaford to Horsted Keynes via Plumpton linking up to the main line from Brighton at Keymer Junction. This brought about the introduction of more electric train services. This in return created three new Motormen depots at Ore (the main depot on the East coast) with 26 Motormen positions, Eastbourne with 10 Motormen positions and Seaford with 8 Motormen positions, of which 2 positions where filled by Brighton Motormen transferring within the grade. It has always been the case that on the Central Section of the Southern Railway to have small Motorman’s depots at terminal stations, junctions or other key locations. With less than fifty jobs being created through electrification, this was not nearly enough to absorb the mass job losses in the subsequent redundancies in the  locomotive depots affected (St Leanards, Eastbourne, Newhaven and Brighton) and as a result this meant many Enginemen and Firemen having to move throughout the Southern Railway to stay within the Grade.

Owing to the expansion of the electrification in 1935, the Brighton Motorman’s depot saw two small influxes of Enginemen transferring from Brighton loco depot 5 new Motormen in May and a further 8 in December. There was no increase to the size of the West Worthing depot. The Brighton No.2 Branch had by the end of December 1935 a combined membership of 70 members.

After the end of the Second World War the Railways of Great Britain were nationalised by the new Labour Government and in 1948 the Brighton Division of the Southern Railway became part of the Central Division of the Southern Region of the new British Railways.

Brighton Lover’s Walk Shed Code



Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brighton No.2 Branch designed by Alan Ricketts.

 One of Brighton's No.2 Branch's earliest branch members


 The opening pages of A.S.L.E.F.'s Brighton No.2 Branch 

subscription book from May 1934.

                                               The un-edited pages of the Brighton No.2 Branch sub-scriptions book as of May 1934 


West Worthing Station, the terminating point of electrification 1933 - 1938.






Above Brighton No.2 Branch sub-scriptions book page 1, shows the West Worthing members



It appears from these open pages of the Branch sub-book, that members at the newly opened West Worthing depot joined the A.S.L.E.F. within the first few months of the depot being opened.

This is indicated by the dates in the left hand column is the date the members joined A.S.L.E.F.



This page also shows the names of the original 14 West Worthing A.S.L.E.F. members and gives an indication of the size of the depot. It is not known at this moment in time, the exact size of West Worthing depot.

It was only a matter of time that A.S.L.E.F. was to be recognised as the only voice for footplate-men regardless of their grade within the line of promotion. This is reflected in the high number of Motormen joining A.S.L.E.F. after they had transferred in to their new grade.



Above  H.G. Pepperell who was one of the first Leading Motorman at West Worthing and become a member of A.S.L.E.F in October 1933, he also was branch

Leading Motorman/Driver was responsible for posting altered diagrams, weekly roster and various at their depot owing to the depot having no Foreman Motorman. The leading Motorman/Driver would received an allowance for such duties and was normally given to the senior Motorman/Driver on each of the two shifts.

This practice still continues at certain depots within various railway companies






Above Brighton No.2 Branch sub-scriptions book page 1 the Brighon membership.

Unlike many of the West Worthing motormen, many of the motormen at Brighton had been A.S.L.E.F. members for many years prior to the opening of the new motormen’s depot. The motorman with longest members was W.G. Lewery who had joined in A.S.L.E.F. in 1904.

This page along with the following two pages, shows the names of the original 44  Motormen belonging to the Brighton No.2 Branch. This gives a good indication of the size of Brighton's Motormen's depot in 1934.

The opening pages cover the months of 1934 & 1935 with the membership paying their contributions.



 Right & Above are the seniority lists for both Brighton and West Worthing Motorman's depots, based on the locomen that appeared in the Brighton No. 2 A.S.L.E.F. Branch sub-scription book and from the Southern Railway Seniority book of 1925.

This information gives an indication of the length of footplate service that these locomen had served, prior to them transferring into the motortmen's grade.

Many of these motormen joined A.S.L.E.F. just prior to the formation of the opening of the No.2 branch. This date may have some connected to the date when they transferred to the motorman's grade?






Above Brighton No.2 Branch sub-scriptions book page 2 the Brighon membership.

These pages gives a true account of the A.S.L.E.F. membership within the Brighton No.2 Branch. and a rough indication of the size of Brighton's Motormen's depots during 1934 - 35.

 A rough idea also can be gained of the length of service and age of some of the Motormen prior to them transfering from the Brighton Loco Dept./Brighton No. 1 Branch to the Motormen's grade in 1932.






Above Brighton No.2 Branch sub-scriptions book page 3 the Brighton membership.


Page 3 shows the remaining A.S.L.E.F. members of the Brighton No.2 Branch along with Motormen transfering into Depot and Brighton No. 2 Branch.

Motormen A. Pearce came from Three Bridges and W. E. Reed came from Reigate, transferred into Brighton by September 1934. 

In 1935 Brightom Motorman F. Gurman joined A.S.L.E.F. on 31st June 1935. F. Gurman and A. Pearce (ex T.Bdgs & Nhvn) both of them later transferred to the newly opened Motormen's depot at Seaford in July 1935.

Motorman W. H. Reed  transferred from Three Bridges to Brighton just prior to June 1935.


Above Brighton No.2 Branch sub-scriptions book page 3 with new members transferring from Brighon No.1 Branch.

With the expansion of the electrification on the East coast routes, the Brighton depot increase to cater for additional work and by the September of 1935, a further five Brighton Enginemen, transferring from the Brighton No.1 Branch. By the December of that year another eight Brighton Enginemen transferred to the Motorman's depot. 

With further expansion of electrification from West Worthing to Portsmouth and down the Mid-Sussex line. The Motorman's depot along with the Brighton No.2 Branch grew, with more steam drivers transferring across from the steam depot to the Motorman's Depot.

It was a reconised practise for "Dual Link" drivers to firstly get their appointments at West Worthing and later transfer back to the Motorman's depot at Brighton. This was also the case for many Motormen who where trying to transfer within the motorman's grade. At Brighton, along with other Sussex coastal depots, these depots where considered to be "Dead Men's Shoes" depots. This practise continued up until the Motormen grade was phased out.

It must be noted, that some footplate-men did not want to join any trade union, or where reluctant to leave the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servant (later becoming the National Union of Railwaymen (A.S.R.S./N.U.R) owing to their past loyalty to this trade union.



Short Circuit Bar training on the down loop at Preston Park, the year is unknown.


Above is a memo sent to Brighton engine driver Fred Horsman, informing him of his retirement.

 Fred had entered the footplate grades on the 24.06.1889, and through out his railway service he remained a member of the A.S.R.S. & later the N.U.R.

This was case of many engine man of that the period .




Extracted and adapted from the Seaford Branch of A.S.L.E.F. minute book.

A Special Joint Meeting of Motormen from the Sussex Coastal depots, of Brighton, West Worthing, Seaford, Eastbourne & Ore. The meeting was held on Sunday 10th May, 1936. The elected Chairman for the meeting, gave a lengthy explanation of the current situation, and letters were read out from A.S.L.E.F. General Office, the Sectional Council, Secretary, Bro. F. Jeans, and from Herbert Jones Southern Railway.

After the report from the Chairman and the correspondence had read out, a lengthy discussion took place which resulting a motion being put to the meeting. The motion was moved and seconded from Seaford Branch, moved Motorman, Bro. A. Pearce and seconded by Bro. H. Stedman which read as follows:-

"We the Motormen of Eastbourne, Seaford, Ore, Brighton and West Worthing, supported by the London District, and call upon the Executive Committee to act immediately, and take up with Southern Railway Company our requirement, having failed to get satisfaction through correspondence to Sectional Council Secretary. To press our claim for Representation and the attitude taken by Herbert Jones against the agreed machinery, further the non-attention to genuine report" ."We call upon General Office to allow a Central meeting of Motormen to deal with questions, effecting all Motormen on Southern Railway's Railway." "Having failed to get permission to our previous resolution to sanction a meeting as per letter of 24th February G95/53, we demand in the interest of Motormen and Society a special meeting for Southern Railway Motormen be held at Brighton. This is in accordance with all Depots failing permission for same it to be called for Sunday 31st May at 6.45 p.m. and expenses be covered by collection at meeting". Carried Unanimously.

Following this motion another was moved by Seaford Motorman Bro. A. Pearce, and seconded by Brighton Branch Chairman, Motorman Bro. W. Lewery (B'ton No.2 Branch).

"Secretary send letter to reach Organising Secretary Bro. J. V. Sweeney by Friday mornings post (re cancelling meeting)."

The meeting was then finally closed with a hearty vote of thanks to visitors who attended this meeting, this was moved by Seaford Branch Chairman, Motorman Bro. F. Wilmshurst.

Organising Secretary Bro. J. V. Sweeney, arranged a meeting to be held at at the Brighton Labour Club, this meeting was to be held on Sunday 21st June, and starting at 2.30 p.m. At this meeting, Bro. J. V. Sweeney gave a up to date report to the Motormen, after which a number of  various discussions and questions were raised, and after three hours, the meeting was finally adjourned. Bro. J. V. Sweeney was to reconvene  a further meeting. This meeting was arranged for Sunday 28th June, which saw two meetings being held, one being a morning meeting, starting at 10.30 a.m. which was followed by an evening meeting, starting at 6.30 p.m. This was to enable as many Motormen as possible to attend from both the early and late shifts.

Organising Secretary Bro. J. V. Sweeney, gave a further detailed report of the current situation and after lengthy discussion, the Seaford Branch Secretary, Motorman A. E. Harrison, moved a resolution, that spelt out the feelings of the vast majority of Motormen, who were in attendance at both of these meetings, the motion reads as follows.

"That this main meeting of Motormen, view with grave dissatisfaction the delay with which the complaints of Motormen are dealt with, and are of the opinion that in its present operation the machinery is inadequate to deal with such complaints. We express the opinion that the number of appointed representatives of Motormen is inadequant and that immediate steps should be taken by the Society to increase the number of L.D.C. from 5 to 6."

"Further we suggest that consideration be given to the setting up of a separate Sectional Council for Motormen for the purpose of speeding up the settlement of matters in dispute by representations competent in technical knowledge of varying subjects."

"Further in view of our increased numbers, we express the opinion that we should be given increased representation on the E.C."

"Further with a view to assisting the E.C. and the Sectional Council to promote these objects a Motorman’s vigilance Committee be appointed for the purpose of collecting necessary facts and submitting them to the proper authority."

"We ask the E.C. to obtain this or suggest some better method whereby the business can be carried out more quickly and satisfactory."

"We ask E.C. to obtain this or suggest some better method whereby the business can be carried out more quickly and satisfactory."

The resolution was carried with only one Motorman voting against the resolution. A Special Meeting was called for 13 September. (No info available yet!!).

Eventually a position on the Executive Committee was created to represent the views and issues of the Motorman grade.









Back Row Standing

H 'Soapy' Watson (Ernie), Reg Taylor, A. Stubbs, ?, ?, H. Hemsley, Alf Reichart, A. Hazel (Harry), L. (Lincoln?) Godley, George Johnson, Jack Peirce, Les Bunker, ?, Fred Reakes.

Front Row Standing

Chas Taylor, ‘Buster’ Brown (Bill), ?, Harry Mitchell, Bill Aldrych, Spud Taylor, C. Wood (Silas), Harry Ware, ?, ?,  H. Durnell, (Jack?) Bell, ?, Verennes,  ?, ?,  Foreman Motorman, ? Cudge Taylor                                                                                                                          .

Back Row Sitting

Bert Bolingbroke, C. Crosswaite, Works Driver,  C. Peirce, Fred Wheeler, Les Parker, Stan Jessop

Front Row Sitting

C. Evans (Charlie), K. Peirce, H. Wilson (Flash Harry (P.O.W.), Jim Hatcher, T. Ward (Tommy), H. Skinner (Harry), ?, ?, T. Smith (Tommy), Bert Parker, McVerall (Canadian W.W.I).

 50 in total, 37 named & 13 Unknown

Ted Janes recall four of footplate-men, who were his Drivers, Alf Reichart, Stan Jessop and Jim Hatcher.

Jim was my mate in the next to top gang and we used to have a duty with a Marsh tank where we went to Glynde to pick up milk then 13-20 Oxted and return with I think the 15-35. on arrival at the loco we had to dispose and prepare for London men who would leave the loco around 19-00 and it was usual practice to wait the arrival of this particular crew in case they needed showing out the yard. Jim and myself both liked visiting the Dog Stadium so on Dog nights we would take turns on who left for the Dogs and who did the work on the engine.
This arrangement lasted all the time I fired to Jim and we were never rumbled. Jim was a Gent and had three daughters, he used to remark how nice it was to escape his all  female environment to come to work.

I also noticed Harry Hazell in the picture who was at both Crystal Palace Low Level and West Worthing with me in  my early driving years. 


Click on the icon above for

the Brighton Motive Power Depots

Click on the icon above for

the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches



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