Wednesday, 3 January 2018


Continuing from my earlier post about Shifting the Shingle I've come across some wonderful photographs showing the railway along the sea wall at Pett Level. 

St Nicholas - Pett Level

They were displayed in the little St Nicholas Chapel, just off the beach. This is lovingly tended by our friend, Fran, who provides tea and coffee for visitors as well as books to borrow. But it wasn't always a church.


Originally it was owned by the Admiralty and called the rocket house. Not the firework type, but the sort used by the coastguards to fire a line to ships in distress. The line would be attached to a heavier rope. This would be tied off on the ship and a breeches buoy - a sort of lifebelt and harness combination, rather like a slow aerial runway - would be used to bring the souls ashore.

As I said, there is now a whole lot of old photos on display, these ones showing the two-foot gauge railway that originally ran along the sea wall from Rye Harbour, carrying shingle.  One of the old locals told me that towards the end of WW2 an American bomber ditched, just off the beach. None of the crew were injured and they were taken to the harbour - the nearest point of civilisation at the time - sitting in the skip wagons on the railway. 

This last photo shows the railway, facing east, with the nascent caravan park, just inland.

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