Volk’s Electric Railway

Volks Electric Railway

PLB were commissioned to provide consultancy services, including stakeholder consultation and preparation of the submission for a successful HLF bid for Volk’s Electric Railway in Brighton.

PLB then took on the delivery phase to design and build all internal displays and external interpretation. Volk’s is the World’s oldest, still operational, electric railway and has local, national and international heritage significance. It was the creation of inventor Magnus Volk in 1883 for the enjoyment of Victorian tourists.

The railway is now owned and operated by Brighton & Hove City Council with support from volunteers from VERA (Volk’s Electric Railway Association) and together their vision for the project has been to enable people of all ages to discover and explore its social and engineering history within this beautiful seaside setting. Visitors are now able to engage in all its activities, including riding on the original carriages, and therefore understand its relevance to the 21st Century World and the cultural importance to Brighton.

A new contemporary Visitor Centre and Station was designed and built and PLB worked in conjunction with the client team and architects to create an interpretative exhibition to communicate and celebrate Volk’s unique story. This included an additional interactive gallery halfway along the track within the brand new Conservation Workshop, created to preserve and maintain the newly restored carriages. Visitors are able to find out the history of the site, travel on the railway and stop off to see the restoration work whilst it is being undertaken, and have the opportunity to get their hands dirty with bespoke interactives, which test engineering skills and scientific principles. As well as the museum displays, we designed the external graphic signage at key points on the track route along Brighton seafront, in order to welcome, engage and increase visitor numbers.

Visitor engaging with Zoetrope museum interactive of Magnus Volks

“The Visitor Centre looks amazing, you get a real sense of the history of the railway”

Volks Railway Passenger, Oct 2017

“Magnus Volk was an amazing local inventor and the new workshop and visitor centre are ideal places to learn more about his life and the workings of his trains.”

Alan Robins, Chair of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Tourism, Development and Culture Committee. March 2018

“Well worth a trip for the historical interest. There is now a visitor centre with information on the railway and Magnus Volk who started the whole operation.”

Family Visitor Oct 2017

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