The ghost-of project is a group of individuals who are interested in the documentation and public awareness of local history railway history and endangered buildings.
For my part, I started out with the goal of documenting the changes that took place with the redevelopment of the area to the east side of Brighton Station (the former Brighton Locomotive Works) and its gradual transformation into what the site has become in the present day.
However, as I began to investigate the site, I was unaware of the enormity and complexity of what I had taken on. In the course of investigating the history of this area over the last 200 years, I began to unearth other areas with lost railways within Brighton.
As the knowledge base for the Locomotive Works grew, it appeared that it would be far easier to present the findings via the internet rather than as a published book and so the notion of a website was born. From the lessons learnt in the construction of that original website, it quickly became apparent that there was so much information to present that the one site would simply not be big enough or powerful enough (not enough storage space) to present what had been found. Suddenly, the project had gone ballistic with 3 websites dedicated to 3 different lost railways in the Brighton area: Kemp Town, Devil's Dyke and Hollingdean Abattoir Branches.
In the meantime, another website was created for the original findings regarding the Loco Works Area.
By this stage, the project had suddenly become a group, with my good friends and colleagues Rich Sansom, Geoff Marshall, Nick Phillips, Rick Wood, Chris Bedford and Grant Smithers joining the fore.
As an indirect result of the findings for my project, we came to learn that a pivotal part of the original loco works (The Pullman Railway Works) was going to be demolished, so knowing that it wouldn't be long before we lost out on a unique opportunity and deciding to bite the bullet and undertake an unheard of act of entering and photographing a potentially dangerous building, we considered that the possibilities of photographing something that was soon to be lost forever were too great to ignore.
On the morning of Sunday 21st October 2008, 2 members of the ghost-of group entered and photographed the now long demolished Pullman Railway Works. What we had unwittingly gotten ourselves into was the fantastic world of the Urban Explorer. We had soon identified a number of other buildings in the Sussex area in which we could recapture the buzz of photographing and documenting something that would soon be lost, demolished or redeveloped. Soon we were investigating Lunatic Asylums, Hospitals and all manner of other buildings on an almost monthly basis and collating a huge amount of data in the process. As a result, the decision was made to set up another website as a spin-off of the railway websites: ghost-of.org.
As there were now seemingly two distinct directions to the project at this time, the railway based projects were banded together under an umbrella project, which we christened ghost-trains.com.
The sites have grown at an almost exponential site since then, with regular tours (or treks) to railways to investigate, document and explore them along with their respective histories.
With the advent of Social Networking, both ghost-of and ghost-trains suddenly had their own Facebook pages and have become quickly recognised as something of benchmark websites about the history of Brighton's railways and lost buildings. Indeed, Facebook is possibly the best thing that has happened with regard to the ghost-of project: it has put us in touch with some truly amazing groups such as Brighton Past, Brighton People, The Brighton Motive Power Depots and many others. We have met some fantastic and very like-minded people and as a result, the ghost-of project has entered a complete new phase of development with many new members regularly attending treks and meetings, plus a great many fascinating online discussions.
The ghost-of project continues to go from strength to strength with new projects added all the time.
Indeed, the project has now grown to such an extent that we found it necessary to construct the Online Visitor's Centre, on which you are reading this!
So, if you are reading this, you can count yourself as one of the many, many people who I have met on the journey that is my little project, from a humble and very tentative beginning, somewhere I shouldn't really be, with an little more than a notepad and an instamatic camera, to the massive online resource that ghost-of is today.
Thankyou all, it has been incredible and long may it continue!
Lawrence (Loz) Russell (above) is the man behind the project.
The former Pullman Railway Works (above) in Highcroft Villas was our first on-site investigation on 21st October 2008.
Mr. Chris bedford (above) was a huge influence early in the formation of ghost-of and ghost-trains and really opened our eyes to what was out there if we looked hard beyond the ends of our noses. Chris's website www.dumpman.co.uk is awesome.
Carol Homewood's (above) fantastic Facebook group "Brighton Past" has helped the ghost-of group reach a massive new audience and as a result the project has grown almost exponentially in the past year or two.