Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Brighton Beach: Melbourne's 1861 Seaside Station

There aren't many railway stations in Australia that are located directly beside a beach, but Brighton Beach Railway Station in the city of Melbourne is one such exception. From the southern end of the platform, the signal box stands proudly against the backdrop of Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay, lending some old-time charm to this seaside station.

The front entrance to Brighton Beach Station faces Port Phillip Bay. Photo taken July 2015.

Situated on Metro Trains Sandringham Line only 16 km from Southern Cross Station, Brighton Beach has been receiving trains on the shoreline of Port Phillip Bay ever since it opened as the new terminus for the St Kilda and Brighton Railway Company in 1861.

A Metro Trains service disappears towards Melbourne from Brighton Beach Station's platform 2, July 2015.

By 1865, Brighton Beach Station was in the ownership of the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Company following a takeover of the St Kilda and Brighton Railway Company, but this lasted only until 1878 when the private company was in turn taken over by the Victorian Government. Then in 1887, the Victorian Railways extended the line 2 km further along the shoreline to Sandringham. Today platform 1 serves peak hour trains terminating at Brighton Beach, while platforms 2 and 3 are used for trains continuing to the end of the line at Sandringham.

The former Brighton Pier tramway tunnel directly opposite Brighton Beach Railway Station, 2015.

Crossing the road to the Brighton Beach Foreshore, an old boarded up railway tunnel stands beside the Bay Trail footpath directly opposite the railway station. It was built in 1861 when the railway station first opened to convey freight beneath the road to Brighton Pier. Today nothing remains of the pier, but a small plaque commemorates this forgotten piece of railway history.

A small plaque commemorates the former tramway tunnel at Brighton Beach. Photo taken 2015.

Continuing further along the Bay Trail walkway leads you to Brighton's iconic Bathing Boxes. These are the setting for all the tourist postcard photos you see in gift shops. The 82 colourful wooden bathing boxes date back to 1862, shortly after the railway arrived at the shoreline of Port Phillip Bay, and can fetch up to $200,000 on the real estate market, despite having no electricity or running water!

A railway adventure that finishes by the sea. That's me at the Brighton Beach bathing boxes in winter 2015.

Although the bathing boxes are about a kilometre walk west of the railway station, the footpath is wide and level and can easily be walked. Apart from an upmarket hotel that stands beside the railway station however, there is little else at Brighton Beach apart from the bathing boxes and some foreshore parkland. Maybe that's just the way the locals who own the historic mansions that overlook the sea like it. So with more of the city of Melbourne waiting to be explored for my book Train Tripping Around Melbourne, it was time for me to head back to the station to catch the next train. From Geelong to Gembrook and the MCG, I traveled 365 km by train around Melbourne in just 3 days. All the interesting facts, figures and funny stories I unearthed are waiting for you in my book.

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