When Shoreham Port bought the fully-serviced office centre, Maritime House earlier in the year, they acquired a small but highly-prized piece of naval history to go with it.
Maritime House was built for the Royal Naval Reserve in the 1950’s but before that the site formed part of HMS King Alfred, a training centre for naval officers and Wrens. During the Second World War, in planning for the invasion of France on D-Day in June 1944, Shoreham Port was a major centre for the storage of ‘Higgins Boats’ - the small infantry landing craft used on D-Day, like the ones at the beginning of the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’. The Higgins Boat coxswains/skippers were trained at HMS Alfred.
At that time, the water’s edge was equipped with a narrow-gauge railway line to move the invading army’s equipment along the quay to load into the hundreds of Higgins boats filling the harbour. Miraculously, one of the small rail trucks (or bogies to use the correct term) was left on the quay edge to this very day.
Tony Parker, Director of Engineering at Shoreham Port commented “We realised that industrial archaeologists, railway and naval historians would be interested in the artefact, so we contacted Julia Edge, the Curator at Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre who was delighted with the gift.”
Julia commented “The bogie is a very welcome addition to our historic rail collection, some items of which came from other parts of the Port. We are very grateful to the Shoreham Port for donating the bogie and for arranging to transport it to us.”
Getting the bogie to the museum was quite problematic as the heavy steel wheels and undercarriage threatened to pull the timber frame of the bogie apart when it was lifted.