The Devil’s Dyke V-shaped dry valley is the result of solifluction and river erosion more than 14,000 years ago. In the late 19th century though, it was turned into an adventure park.
Bought in 1892 by game hunter and traveller Mr HJ Hubbard, the Dyke Estate was transformed into a leisure playground that embraced the weird, wonderful and plain unusual. Merry-go-rounds, bicycle railways, coconut shies and fortune tellers festooned Devil’s Dyke Adventure Park in the late 19th century. Victorian revellers from London headed for the South Downs beauty spot to delight in the latest pleasure rides and attractions offered by Britain’s leading funfair.
The London to Brighton railway opened in 1840 and Brighton became very popular for day trippers and for holidaying Londoners. Due to this, people started to explore the surrounding area (the South Downs). A three-mile branch of railway track was laid to Devil’s Dyke summit in 1887 (which run until 1938). This ferried sightseers in ever greater numbers to enjoy the magnificence of this unique geological feature and a thriving tourism industry had begun.
But perhaps the greatest mechanical feat achieved during Mr Hubbard’s ownership of Devil’s Dyke was the opening of Britain’s first aerial cable car in 1894. Tourists conveyed across the valley were afforded a heady perspective of the ground-breaking Victorian theme park built on an area of outstanding natural beauty.