This was one of a series of stations opened by the Southern Railway (SR) during the 1930s in response to suburban residential development, joining the likes of Berrylands and Albany Park – commissioned in 1933 and 1935 respectively – to serve new housing estates. Durrington-on-Sea resides 12-miles 13-chains west of Brighton, and is one of fifteen stations situated in-between the latter and Chichester upon a 12½-mile-long stretch of railway line.
Durrington is to have its own railway station.
It is to be a very fine station of modern design with architectural merit beyond what has sufficed for Worthing’s other stations.
In short it is to be a railway station-de-luxe. And it is to be called — Durrington-on-Sea.
Preliminary work has started already on the station.
Durrington-on-Sea station will be immediately to the west of the new bridge on the Field Place Estate, which carries a fine new road over the line. This road will be called The Boulevard and the bridge will be known as Boulevard Bridge. [The Worthing Herald, Saturday 30th January 1937]
The newspaper’s reference to “architectural merit” is perhaps stretching the truth, because the final product was not one of overwhelming beauty. However, in the context of the time, this was indeed a modern station with a proper brick-built main structure, copious platform canopies, and a footbridge.
Worthing’s Fifth Station
Goring Station To Be Rebuilt
As long ago as the summer of 1935 the Worthing Gazette announced that a new Station was to be built at Durrington. We were the first newspaper to make the announcement, which is now confirmed by the Directors of the Southern Railway in the report which is to be submitted to the annual meeting of the Company in London on Thursday of next week.
To our original announcement that the Southern Railway were proposing to make further provision for the transport needs of the rapidly growing residential district between West Worthing and Goring we were able to add that the probable site would be at the new bridge carrying a connecting road over the line from Goring-road to Littlehampton-road. This bridge has been provided by Mr. Alfred Bates, who is largely interested in the development of the land immediately north of the railway there.
The plans for the new station which have now received the approval of the Southern Railway Directors have been designed on a scale adequate to meet the needs of the new residential district of which it will be the centre.
The main entrance will be on the north side, where the station buildings will comprise a large booking hall and general waiting room with bookstall, and a ladies’ waiting room, a Stationmaster’s office, and a large and commodious parcels office.
The platforms will be 800ft. long, or sufficient to take the longest trains that are likely to be run when the railway is electrified from here to Havant and Portsmouth.
There will also be an entrance on the south side of the station, which is to be known as “Durrington-on-Sea”. By its provision Worthing will eventually have five passenger stations within its borders — Ham Bridge, Worthing Central, West Worthing, Durrington-on-Sea, and Goring.
Goring station is to be rebuilt as soon as the construction of the proposed new arterial road over the railway there makes it possible to close the existing level crossing. [Worthing Gazette, Wednesday 17th February 1937]
It was remarked in the Worthing Gazette on Wednesday, 10th March 1937, that the district of the proposed railway station at Durrington was planned to have 2,500 new houses built, and that the SR hoped to bring the platforms into use during May. However, opening was pushed back to Sunday, 4th July 1937, but even then the station was incomplete and the platforms half the aforementioned length:
Worthing’s New Station Opened On Sunday
Durrington-on-Sea station, which is designed to serve Field Place Estate and the adjoining district, was opened for traffic on Sunday.
There are now five stations within the borough – Worthing Central, West Worthing, Goring, Durrington-on-Sea, and Ham Bridge Halt.
Pending completion of the brick-built Station offices, roads, etc, a temporary booking office and waiting room have been erected on the up side of the new Station, and a standard concrete over-bridge connects the two 400-feet long platforms.
As already announced in the Worthing Gazette, 25 trains a day call at the station (20 on Sundays) and give closely-timed connections with all fast trains to and from London.
The existing footpath between Goring-road and Littlehampton-road, alongside the Boulevard Bridge approaches, gives access to the Station under the arch. [Worthing Gazette, Wednesday, 7th July 1937]
In the Worthing Gazette edition from Wednesday, 29th June 1938, it was remarked that there were still some outstanding construction items. "Boulevard Bridge", which crossed the rails to the east of the platforms to provide road access to the then new "Field Place Estate", had yet to be built, and a station car park was in the course of construction. The bridge – carrying today’s “Shaftesbury Avenue” – eventually opened to public vehicular traffic on Monday, 3rd April 1939; however, even this was unofficial and the contractors, “Messrs Stride & Son” of Chichester, stated that the opening was not necessarily permanent.
The main station building on the eastbound platform was a utilitarian affair and was very similar to the SR’s new build at Coombe Road, between Woodside and Sanderstead, which the company opened in 1935. Likely a product of the SR’s architect James Robb Scott, who favoured the Art Deco style, brown brick was used throughout in its construction; the building was single-storey with a flat roof and comprised a centrally-positioned tower, upon which was a large clock face. The platform canopies were each about 120-feet in length and were built to a standard SR design. Upon a metal framework, the canopies were upward-sloping towards the platform edges, fitted with plain timber valances, and were virtually identical to those which were commissioned at Berrylands in 1933. The platforms were of prefabricated concrete construction and a footbridge of the same material, linking both surfaces, resided immediately west of the canopies. Concrete fencing lined the rear edges of the platforms, and bracket lampposts supported hexagonal lampshades. The concrete components were manufactured at the SR’s works at Exmouth Junction in Devon.
When the station opened in 1937, it resided on a non-electrified stretch of line. At that time, the third rail went no further than West Worthing via Hove; this section of route was electrified with the Brighton Main Line, and scheduled public electric passenger services had commenced on Sunday 1st January 1933. As part of the electrification of the Central Section route to Portsmouth via Horsham and Chichester, third rail was laid through Durrington-on-Sea to West Worthing. Scheduled public electric services over those lines commenced on 3rd July 1938.
Post-war, Durrington-on-Sea station changed little, given it was a modern SR build. The most significant alterations to the landscape here occurred on the southern side of the railway line, adjacent to the station site, in 1949. In that year, a huge government building project got underway to construct a series of offices for the Inland Revenue:
Building Is Ahead Of Schedule
Government Scheme at Durrington
The erection of a new block of Government offices at Durrington for the Inland Revenue Department is four months ahead of schedule.
The result of this phenomenally speedy effort can be seen immediately south of the railway line near Durrington Station. It is to be the headquarters of the Accountant General’s assessment branch of the Inland Revenue department. Eventually 5,000 people will work there. [Worthing Gazette, Wednesday, 31st August 1949]
What of today’s station? The site remains largely faithful to its SR origins. The prominent clock face upon the main building’s tower has long since gone (likely in the late 1960s), but the site retains unextended concrete platforms of 1937 and metal canopy framework of the same vintage. With reference to the canopies, the timber valances have since given way to corrugated metal replacements; your author estimates that these were fitted in 2003. The concrete bracket lampposts had gone by 1982, metal equivalents being in place by then, but the most significant change in recent times has been the abolition of the original footbridge. The latter was taken down after a metal replacement, located immediately to its west, was built in 2008.
An Electro-Diesel heads west with a short freight consist past a station which was largely in its original form. This photograph is taken from Shaftesbury Avenue, which is carried over the railway upon what is referred to in the main text as "Boulevard Bridge". The canopies still sported their SR plain timber valances, and the same company's concrete fencing lined the rears of both platforms. Note the canopy on the left (platform 2) had a small timber shelter at its rear. The footbridge was replaced in 2008 after just over 70 years of use.
John Vaughan © David Glasspool Collection