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Guildford, Aldershot, Farnham and Alton

The line from Guildford to Farnham via Tongham opened in 1849.

The line from Farnham to Alton opened in 1852.

In 1865 the Alton, Aldershot & Winchester Railway opened between those three places and Alton station moved to a new site.

In 1870 the much more direct connection from Farnham to the main line opened via Aldershot, Pirbright Junction and Woking. With the new, more direct line from Pirbright Junction via Aldershot to Farnham opening in 1870, the original line from Ash Junction to Farnham Junction became known as the Tongham loop and, in many ways, it was the beginning of the end for this section, which started to lose some of its importance. The situation was not helped by a further development which took place in 1879, when a spur was opened to link the South Eastern Railway station at Ash with Aldershot, and from then on even some of the Guildford to Farnham traffic started to use this new spur, and continued to do so, even though the line between Ash Green and Farnham Junction was doubled in 1884.

During the early to mid nineteenth century, farmers in the area around Tongham, Farnham and Alton were involved with growing hops, which had become the most important industry in the district. Beer was brewed locally and transported by cart to Winchfield station on the main London & South Western Railway (LSWR) line, between Basingstoke and Farnborough, and then by train from Winchfield to London. With hop growing and other agriculture in mind, as well as the possibility of carrying stone quarried at Alton, the LSWR applied to Parliament to build a branch line from their station at Guildford to a field at Alton (near the road to East and West Worldham) with intermediate stations at Ash Green, Tongham, Farnham and Bentley. The line was authorised in 1846, and the LSWR also planned to connect the new branch with their main London - Basingstoke route by building a line through Pirbright and joining up at Ash Green, but this section was never sanctioned.

Meanwhile, the Reading, Guildford & Reigate Railway Company (RGRR), supported by the South Eastern Railway, opened their line from Reading to Farnborough in 1849, as part of a grand scheme to link the Great Western Railway with the Channel ports, thus avoiding London. After coming to an agreement with the LSWR, the RGRR arranged to reach Guildford by using part of the new Guildford - Alton branch (which was under construction) at what was to become known as Ash Junction. The section of the RGRR line from Farnborough to Ash Junction opened in 1849, coinciding with the opening of the first section of the Guildford - Alton branch from Guildford to Ash Junction. In 1849, the Alton branch was opened as far as Farnham, and finally from Farnham to Alton in 1852. The same year, the RGRR became part of the South Eastern Railway, who had operated the line since it opened.

The Guildford - Alton branch played a large part in the transformation of Aldershot from a small remote hamlet in 1855 (consisting of a church, two important houses called Aldershot Manor and Aldershot Place, two or three farmhouses and a village green), into the most important military town in the country. At first, Ash Green station was used for handling the building materials, but later this role was transferred to Tongham (which was closer to Aldershot) when sidings were added to the station. A temporary line from Tongham to Aldershot was built in order to speed up the construction work. The route for this line went from a trailing junction facing north-east at a point between Tongham and Ash Green stations, near Bin Wood, and then turned north-west towards Aldershot, running between the present-day sites of the Greyhound Inn and the Bricklayers Arms at Ash. From here the line crossed North Lane, south of Thorn Hill, and then ran parallel with the High Street finishing at the rear of Badajos Barracks just short of the Farnborough Road, now the A325. When construction of the town was completed, the contractor's line was removed. Tongham station, along with Farnborough became a railhead for the military traffic.

As Aldershot continued to grow, the local inhabitants felt that they needed their own station and, after coming up with various schemes of their own, they managed to persuade the LSWR to build a line from a junction near Pirbright, on the main London - Basingstoke line, to join the Guildford - Alton line between Tongham and Farnham at what became known as Farnham Junction. This new line opened in 1870 and provided a station, not only at Aldershot, but also at Ash Vale (originally named North Camp & Ash Vale, not to be confused with the present day North Camp station, which was also in use at the time), while the section of track between Farnham Junction and Farnham was doubled at the same time, although from Farnham to Alton remained single until 1901.

With the new, more direct line from Pirbright Junction via Aldershot to Farnham opening in 1870, the original line from Ash Junction to Farnham Junction became known as the Tongham loop; and, in many ways, it was the beginning of the end for this section, which started to lose some of its importance. The situation was not helped by a further development which took place in 1879, when a spur was opened to link the South Eastern Railway station at Ash with Aldershot, and from then on even some of the Guildford to Farnham traffic started to use this new spur, and continued to do so, even though the line between Ash Green and Farnham Junction was doubled on 4 June 1884.

In 1856 a gas works was opened at Aldershot, on the north side of Ash Road, near the River Blackwater. Coal was received via Tongham station, from where it was carted by horse to the works. A direct line from Tongham station to the gas works was opened in 1898.


Tongham Loop Diagram 1936.



Guildford Station

Opened by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) in 1845 to connect to Woking, but was substantially enlarged and rebuilt in 1880.

The Reading, Guildford and Reigate Railway (Reading , Guildford and Redhill) opened in 1849, and was operated by the South Eastern Railway.

LSWR services to Farnham via Tongham began in 1849 and the New Guildford Line to Leatherhead and Epsom Downs in 1885. On the latter line is the other Guildford station: London Road: the line to it describes a curve around the town on an embankment, crossing the River Wey by a high bridge.

Guildford station was also the northern terminus of the (now-closed) Cranleigh Line of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, which opened in 1865 and closed in 1965. This line ran to Horsham by way of Cranleigh, Rudgwick and Christ's Hospital.

Guildford station was the site of an important motive power depot opened by the LSWR in 1845. The original building was demolished in 1887 to make room for the enlargement of the station, and was replaced by a semi-roundhouse which was substantially enlarged in 1897. This was closed and demolished in 1967.


For a history of Guildford and photos visit David Hey's Collection Page 32. See also Pages 33 and 34.

1912 Railway Clearing House map of lines around Guildford.

Guildford Station and Engine Sheds maps late 1800s - showing Farnham and Alton line to the left.



Guildford Station 1908.


Wanborough Brickworks siding

First established after 1897. The brickworks closed in 1937 as it was becoming uneconomic mainly because the only access by road was under a low and narrow railway arch which the rail company would not alter. This limited the size of loads that could be exported from the site. Another factor may have been the international situation at the time leading to lack of orders.

Wanborough Brickworks map early 1900s.

Wanborough Brickworks.


Wanborough Station

Opened in 1891 (late in the life of the line). Known for a while as Wanborough for Normandy.

Wanborough Station map early 1900s.

Wanborough Station early 1900s.




Ash Junction

Ash Junction is situated between Wanborough and Ash Green, and Wanborough and Ash.

In 1954 the rarely-used section of track between Farnham Junction and Tongham was taken out of use, making Ash Junction the only means of access to the line.

Ash Junction map early 1900s.


Ash Green Station

Opened in 1849. In 1926 reduced to a halt. The goods yard closed in 1926. The double lines from Ash Junction to Farnham Junction were singled in 1930 and the station closed in 1937 although the line stayed open for goods, and to serve the gas works.

The station was originally called Ash but was renamed Ash Green in 1876 and reverted to Ash in 1891, once again becoming Ash Green in 1895.

Ash Green Station map early 1900s.

Ash Green Station with staggered goods dock 1910.

Ash Green Station 1960.

Ash Green Station 2003.



Tongham Station

Opened in 1856. In 1926 reduced to a halt. After the line was singled in 1930, passengers used only the down platform, although the section of track on the up side remained as a loop for access to the gas works and goods yard. Closed to passengers in 1937 and closed completely in 1961.

In 1855 a temporary line from Tongham to Aldershot was built in order to speed up the construction work at Aldershot. When construction of the town was completed, the line was removed.

In 1898 a line to the Aldershot Gas Company's works opened, this trailed off north-west from the up line to the west of the station. Because LSWR locomotives were not permitted to use this line, the Gas Works Company purchased their own locomotive which was christened Patricia

A War Office siding was added south of the line on the east of the station. The army had a scrap metal depot at Tongham.

A short siding into Hyde's dog biscuit factory had been added probably in the first decade of the 20th century.


Tongham Station with sidings to the Dog Biscuit factory and line to Aldershot gas works map early 1900s.

Tongham Station 1897.

Tongham Station 1912.

Tongham Goods Yard and War Office sidings 1940s.

Tongham Station 1967.


Farnham Junction

Farnham Junction is situated between Farnham and Tongham, and Farnham and Aldershot.

Farnham Junction map early 1900s.



Farnham Station

The station was opened in 1849, on a route from Guildford via Ash Green and Tongham. The route from Aldershot station connecting to the main Southampton - London line at Pirbright Junction opened in 1870, and was electrified on in 1937. Passenger services via Ash Green Halt and Tongham ceased in 1937.

Farnham Station map early 1900s.

Farnham Station 1870.





Farnham Gravel Pits

There were a number of gravel pits and sidings connected to the line around Farnham.

For some history and photos visit Old Kiln Light Railway.

Farnham Gravel Pits maps early 1900s.



Weydon Lane Gravel Pits early 1900s.



Bentley Station

Opened 1854. Bentley was the northern terminus of the Bentley and Bordon Light Railway, built in 1905 to serve the military camp at Bordon. Built with assistance of the British Army, the line closed to passengers in 1957 (remaining open to serve traffic to the Longmoor Military Railway in times of emergency) and closed to all traffic in 1966.

Bentley Station map early 1900s.

Bentley Station 1963.


Bentley Junction

Bentley Junction was where the Bordon Light Railway joined the Farnham to Alton line.

Bentley Junction map early 1900s.


Alton Station

The first station opened by the London and South Western Railway in 1852 was sited on what is now the station car park. It closed when the present station opened in 1865.

The station is the terminus for two railway lines; the Alton Line which runs to Brookwood and onto London Waterloo and the Mid Hants Watercress Railway, which runs to Alresford. The latter once ran through to Winchester but was closed to passengers in 1973. It reopened as a heritage line in 1985. Two other routes (both now closed) also served the station the Meon Valley line to Fareham and the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway.

The inter-war period included the electrification of the London line as far as Alton in 1937, making it a terminus of the electric train service to London. Meanwhile, following the second closure of the Basingstoke & Alton Light Railway in 1936/37, Butts Junction was rationalised. Trains going to Winchester used the right-hand track in both directions, and trains going along the Meon Valley line to Fareham used the left-hand track in both directions. This removed the need for the signal box and points at Butts Junction, effectively making the double track section into two bi-directional single lines which diverged from the platforms at the southern end of Alton station.

Alton Station map early 1900s.

Alton Station 1950s.




Aldershot Station

Opened in 1870.

The contractor responsible for building much of the new camp at Aldershot, including the Royal Pavilion, was George Myers who, in 1855, agreed terms with the LSWR to build a temporary line from Tongham to Aldershot, in order to speed up the construction work. The route for this line went from a trailing junction facing north-east at a point between Tongham and Ash Green stations, near Bin Wood, and then turned north-west towards Aldershot, running between the present-day sites of the Greyhound Inn and the Bricklayers Arms at Ash. From here the line crossed North Lane, south of Thorn Hill, and then ran parallel with the High Street finishing at the rear of Badajos Barracks just short of the Farnborough Road, now the A325. When construction of the town was completed, the line was removed.

As Aldershot continued to grow, the local inhabitants felt that they needed their own station and, after coming up with various schemes of their own, they managed to persuade the LSWR to build a line from a junction near Pirbright, on the main London - Basingstoke line, to join the Guildford - Alton line between Tongham and Farnham at what became known as Farnham Junction. This new line opened in 1870 and provided a station at Aldershot.

In 1856 a gas works was opened at Aldershot, on the north side of Ash Road, near the River Blackwater. Coal was received via Tongham station, from where it was carted by horse to the works. A direct line from Tongham station to the gas works was opened in 1898, and because LSWR locomotives were not permitted to use this line, the Gas Works Company purchased their own locomotive which was later christened Patricia.

Aldershot Station map mid 1900s.

Aldershot Station and Yard.


Tweseldown Racecourse:

Opened in 1866 and closed in 2012.

Racing began at Tweseldown in 1866 and was staged for the benefit of officers from Aldershot Garrison. The Grand Military Gold Cup was run on the Hampshire course until it was moved to Sandown in 1887 but National Hunt meetings continued to be organised at Tweseldown until 1932. At one time as many as seven fixtures took place annually. Tweseldown staged the first Sunday race meeting with legal betting in 1996, and the Eventing for the 1948 Olympic Games.

Tweseldown Racecourse map early 1900s.

Tweseldown Racecourse plane crash 1913.

Tweseldown Racecourse.




Aldershot Government Sidings

Outside of Aldershot station was a link into Aldershot Military Barracks.

Aldershot Government Sidings and Wharf map early 1900s.

Aldershot Government Sidings.




Ash Station

Opened by the Reading, Guildford and Reigate Railway in 1849 as Ash. In 1855 name changed to Ash and Aldershot, in 1858 name changed to Aldershot (Ash), in 1859 name changed to Ash and Aldershot, in 1863 name changed to Ash Junction and in 1926 name changed to Ash.

Ash Station map early 1900s.

Ash Station.


Ash Vale Station

Opened in 1870 under the name of North Camp and Ash Vale, changing to Ash Vale 1924. The original main station building of the south side had to be demolished due to subsidence, the current replacements dating from 1972.

Ash Vale Station map early 1900s.

Ash Vale Station 1952.



Pirbright Junction

Opened in 1870 as the junction to the L&SWR Aldershot Branch.

Pirbright Junction map early 1900s.




References:

Wikipedia - Alton Line
Wikipedia - Guildford Railway Station
Wikipedia - Farnham Railway Station
Normandy Historians
Disused Stations - Ash Green Halt
Disused Stations - Tongham Halt
Wikipedia - Bentley Station
Wikipedia - Alton Station
Wikipedia - Ash Station
Wikipedia - Ash Vale Station
Old Maps Online