The Isle of Wight Steam Railway passes through five miles of unspoiled Island countryside between Wootton, Havenstreet, Ashey and Smallbrook, recapturing the days of the branch railway line.
Brought to life again are those perky tank engines and quaint, wooden-bodied carriages which were once a familiar sight when, up until the 1950s, the Island boasted some 55 miles of railway lines
connecting the Island’s towns and villages. But its not just the trains that are preserved, for here too is all the associated infrastructure, from traditional operating practices and equipment
through to old railway buildings recovered from long-closed lines.
Operated by a dedicated team of volunteers backed by a full-time workforce of twenty, the Railway has received several prestigious awards and film and television crews have used the line extensively for programmes ranging from period dramas to documentaries.
Bedhampton was originally a village on the railway line between Portsmouth and Waterloo. The station was opened in 1906 as Bedhampton Halt and at first staffed separately, but in the late 1940s it
came under the control of Havant and since then it has been manned only part-time, a ticket office being on Platform 2 is staffed only during the peak morning rush hour.
There are early mentions of Bedhampton in the ninth century and the village was mentioned in the Domesday Book. There has been a church in the village since 1086 and St Thomas the Apostle, the present church, dates from the 12th century. The first school was opened in 1868 with a Miss Dust as the first mistress. The village was part of the rural area of south Hampshire and there were many farms locally, and our picture shows a farmer and his flock crossing the railway line while the railway gates were open.
THE HAYLING BILLY
The Hayling Billy, which stood on the forecourt of the Hayling Billy pub in Elm Grove, Hayling Island was a 24-ton ’Terrier’ class engine which was built in 1877 and donated to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway by Whibread Wessex, the brewers, because it was deteriorating. and pulled the last passenger service on 2nd November, 1963. The locomotive, already restored to its former green livery and the name Freshwater, was given in 1928 while running on the Isle of Wight, left Hayling Island on 18th June. Its departure was watched by a large crowd of sad onlookers, many of whom has waited all day while it was laboriously transferred to a low loader.
The locomotive had the name Newington when it was build by the London-Brighton and South Coast Railway and was one of a class of 50. She was withdrawn in 1903 and sold to the London and South Western Railway, working in a number of areas until it was re-boilered and returned to service in 1912. In 1913 it was hired to the Freshwater-Yarmouth and Newport Railway, being absorbed by Southern Railway in 1923. Being partially rebuilt in 1924, it was renamed Freshwater in 1928.
It was returned to the mainland in 1949 and entered the service from Fratton Shed and ran on the Hayling Line until the Beeching closures in 1963.
Before being put for scrapping, it was bought at the last moment by the Hayling Island Preservation Society and might have worked on the line again as this had been re-opened as intended. Instead it passed to the Sadler Rail Car Company who used it from 1964 to 1966 on the privately-leased Meon Valley line from Droxford. In 1966 it was sold to Brickwoods and placed on exhibition at the newly-opened Hayling Billy pub.
The picture shows the Hayling Billy crossing the railway bridge between Haying and the mainland.
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