This article appeared in the 'Binsted Bugle' section of Walberton Parish News April 2018.
In 1838 a London-to-Portsmouth railway was planned by George Stephenson Consulting Engineers that passed through Binsted and Walberton. Going east/west, it passed just south of the Meadows and Morley’s Croft, then south of Oakleys Cottages, crossing both ‘arms’ of the loop of Binsted Lane. For both crossings the ‘parish road’ was to be raised – 14 ft in one case, 12 ft in the other – and ‘passed over the railway’. An embankment took the track across the Binsted Rife Valley, and in Walberton it crossed the fields south of the Church. The ‘parish road from Walberton to Bognor’ was to be raised 10 ft and ‘passed over the railway’.
Part of the 1838 railway plan: north is at the bottom Diagram top left is of Oakley’s Barn, Oakley Cottages and the railway. Bottom left is Meadow Lodge, Morley’s Croft, two other buildings and the railway.
The Grand Imperial Ship Canal was another big transport plan that was never built. Dated 1827, it crossed the south end of Binsted and Walberton, just inside the present-day Walberton Parish boundary, about where the railway now is.
The plans come as three documents, a long rolled-up strip showing a cross-section and ground levels, another long strip or book showing a map with reference numbers on affected land, and a reference book of land ownership, giving the owners and occupiers of land the planned railway or canal would cut through, and what the land is being used for. The Ship Canal plan is QDP/W59, the railway plan is QDP/W73, both in the West Sussex Record Office.
The plans are magnificent objects showing grand ideas for improving transport in the era of the railways and the era of the canals. The current Arundel Bypass plans are grand ideas for improving transport in the era of the car. This has to come to an end, or the continued growth of roads be restrained, some time. An article in the London Review of Books states that if we stopped using fossil fuels entirely by 2050, we might face a sea level rise of two to three feet, instead of a possible 5 or even 11 feet. Two feet would engulf Venice. Let’s hope the car era comes to an end soon enough to prevent this, too.
Part of the Grand Imperial Ship Canal plan 1827
Part of an earlier canal proposal from 1802 showing Arundel