This film is part of Free

The Selsey Tramway

This amazing footage captures a unique little railway at work during its declining years in the late 1920s

Amateur film 1928 2 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


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.