As the main railway station in the townships, the New Brighton Station saw a lot of action during the apartheid years. Visiting the station today you can still see the railing that divided the bridge across the rail into "Europeans Only" and "Blacks Only" sections.
On 26 June 1952, the volunteers for the Defiance Campaign which was due to start the next day, camped at the New Brighton Civic Centre and proceeded in the wee hours of morning to the station where they arrived at 5am. On their arrival they found the police waiting for them but still proceeded to enter the “Europeans Only” section of the station. This provoked the police to arrest them and by 6:30am they were all in police vans on their way to prison.