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The Hayling Island Light Railway.

Image of MARTIN LOVELLMARTIN LOVELL takes a trip to Hayling Island.


I took advantage of a recent sunny day off and checked out what remained of the 2ft gauge line on the seafront of Hayling Island in Hampshire.

It was to be a twofold expedition, taking in the narrow gauge, and walking the track bed from Havant to Hayling Island, along what is now called the Hayling Billy trail. Arriving at Havant station, I could not trace the line from Havant to Langstone bridge, so I stuck to the ordinary road until I had crossed the bridge. From here, you get a good view of the old Langstone viaduct piers, the cost of replacing this viaduct was the cause of the Hayling branches demise in 1966.

The remaining supports of the Langstone bridge.

The line was authorised in 1860, and the first freight trains ran in 1865, with passenger traffic starting in 1867. The London, Brighton and South Coast railway took over operations in 1872, leasing the line from the Hayling Railway company, which stayed independent until being absorbed into the Southern railway in 1923, and the line lasted until closure in November of that year.

On the Hayling side of the demolished viaduct, a once derelict signal has been restored. It sits obviously at danger as the bridge has gone and indeed has all the track, but a pleasant walk and cycle path has been laid on the old track bed. This runs alongside the estuary for a distance of about 4 miles.

Part of the the trail can be seen here with the restored signal in the distance.

The only remains apart from the above, are at the site of Hayling station where the old goods shed has been preserved as a centre for theatre and performing arts groups.

The theatre building was previously the goods shed.

Having finished this somewhat warm walk, I then carried on down to the seafront, and spotted the funfair in the distance. This is one of the termini of the Narrow gauge Hayling Light railway. Trains run approximately every three quarters of an hour, with a journey time of 20min or so.

When exploring lines like this a ride is a must!

The main Loco running is JACK, a steam outline body concealing a 2.8 litre diesel engine, with hydraulic transmission.

'Jack' resting at Beachlands Station.

There are a couple of other locos on site, one of which is a Perkins diesel, the other possibly a Motor Rail Simplex.

Just out of view; 'Alan B' and 'Edwin'.

The first narrow gauge railway on the Island ran at Mill Rythe holiday village. First set up in 1988, and lasting until 2001, the rails were lifted and relaid on the new seafront site. There have been several changes over the years, with the old Sheds at Beachlands disappearing, and new facilities built at Eastoke, the other end of the line. This station hosts a small souvenir shop, as well as the main storage sheds.

A section of the sidings and run round loop at Beachlands

If, like me, you are without a car or simply don't want to drive, the line and other attractions can be reached by a train to Havant, and to save a walk, a regular bus service leaves from the bus station just round the corner. This will take you all the way to either of the 2 EHLR stations.

So there we are, a fun, although tiring day, taking in some disused standard gauge, and a progressing Narrow gauge line. If you fancy a trip there, don't forget to check out running times to make sure there is a train to ride too, and as always, happy modelling, and exploring!

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