We’re back on track

I WAS delighted to see a beautiful steam train has been installed in the playground of Singleton Cof E Primary School!

It takes me back to one morning in the early 1950s when I saw a real steam train arrive at Singleton station.

I grew up in Chichester close to the Chichester to Midhurst railway and every morning at 10am watched the clouds of steam as the goods train laboriously made its way up the hill between Parklands and Summersdale.

One day my father suggested we followed the train on its journey to Midhurst in our elderly car.

First we drove to Lavant station and watched the train shunting wagons into and out of the siding, laden with various goods including a smart two-wheeled yellow and brown wooden trap.

The friendly engine driver spotted us and suggested a race to Singleton. He gave us five minutes to return to our car and on hearing our horn he replied with a long whistle, and we set off!

Around Binderton we could see the train chugging merrily up the valley and making good progress, however it had yet to climb and slow down before entering West Dean tunnel.

We parked at Singleton station and hurried up on to the platform just in time to see the engine emerge from the tunnel in a cloud of steam. We had won the race!

We then met the station master who showed us a bee orchid he had picked on the Downs, something which would be frowned on today.

After watching more shunting, we followed the train on to Cocking and Midhurst stations where the same procedure took place.

The trap was still sitting in its wagon, destined perhaps for Petworth or Fittleworth.

We bade our farewells to the driver and fireman before driving home for lunch. The train would be carrying on to Pulborough before returning on the Arun Valley line to Chichester and following the same journey the next day.

This trip down ‘memory line’ is still fresh in my mind although it took place some 60 years ago.

John Templeton

Washington Street, Chichester