Volk's sea car, Kemptown, Brighton, East Sussex, 1896-1901.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Magnus Volk built a pioneering electric railway on Brighton seafront which opened on 3 August 1883 and was a popular success. In 1893, Volk conceived a more ambitious scheme, an electric railway running over the sea from Brighton to Rottingdean over 4 km away. The track was laid on heavy concrete blocks on the sea bed 30 metres from land, and at high tide was actually 5 metres beneath the surface. 160 passengers could be carried on the single car, which was named 'Pioneer', although it earned the appropriate nickname of 'Daddy Long Legs'. The railway was completed in 1896 and operated purely as a tourist attraction. It was not a great success, suffering from storm damage, and closed in 1901 when the Brighton Corporation decided to improve the foreshore.