This unique film shows the 7¼ mile long West Sussex Railway (Tramway Section) as it was called at the time of filming, working in its declining years and using railcars made by the Shefflex Motor Company. We see an arriving service drop off its passengers at the line's Chichester terminus, while waiting passengers, including schoolchildren, get on board. The driver starts the petrol-engined railbus by hand-cranking the engine and then it's back down the line to Selsey.
Originally intended as a standard gauge railway, the Hundred of Manhood & Selsey Tramway, as it was known on opening in 1897, was engineered by the famous Colonel Stephens, as a tramway in order to bypass expensive legislation and regulations that applied to normal railway working. At first the line ran all the way to Selsey Beach, though this section closed around 1904 or 1908. The years prior to WW1 were the line's most profitable but with increasing competition from road vehicles and bus services after the war, the number of passengers dropped dramatically. The introduction of petrol engined railcars was an attempt to reduce operating costs but by January 1935 the line had ceased operating.
Screen Archive South East is a public sector moving image archive serving the South East of England. The archive's collections of magic lantern slides, films, videos and associated materials capture the many varied aspects of life, work and creativity from the early days of screen history to the present day and serve as a rich and invaluable historical resource.