Click here for other railways.Southampton to Netley and Fareham
The Netley Railway was opened in 1866 built by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR). The route branched from the main Southampton/London line at St Denys (Portswood). This company had taken over the Southampton & Netley Railway Company in 1865, probably in order to prevent it extending the line to Fareham as part of the new route between Southampton and Portsmouth. The Act of Parliament mentioned the importance of the Royal Victoria Hospital as a source of traffic although most of the patients coming into the hospital were in fact landed by tender from ships moored in Southampton. Discharged patients did travel by train. The population of the then small village of Netley would provide an insignificant amount of traffic.
In 1889, the LSWR opened a line from Netley to Fareham. Until this time travelers going from Southampton to Portsmouth had to go via Eastleigh.
In 1884, a new platform was constructed in the goods yard at Netley and the LSWR were authorized to provide a line towards the Royal Victoria Hospital, but terminating on the edge of the War Department land surrounding the hospital.
The station was opened in May 1866 as Bitterne Road railway station until it became Bitterne Station in 1896. The station itself is located a mile west of Bitterne village, although original plans for the railway line would have seen the railway pass right through the centre of the village. The line was originally single-track between St Denys and Fareham, with Bitterne acting as a "crossing station", where trains travelling in opposite directions could pass one another. The local goods yard closed in 1959.
Bitterne Station map late 1800s.
Bitterne Station map mid 1900s.
Bitterne Station 1910.
Bitterne Station 1990.
Built in 1866, in an Italianate style typical of William Tite, as an interchange point for the Woolston floating bridge. A single track line was operated by the Southampton & Netley Railway to serve the Royal Victoria Military Hospital at Netley. Woolston’s busy goods yard served the nearby Thornycroft, later to become ‘Vosper’ Thornycroft, shipyards. The station and yard also served the famous Vickers Supermarine Spitfire aircraft factory nearby. The goods yard and brick shed were closed in 1967.
Woolston Station map 1860s.
Woolston Station map late 1800s.
Woolston Station early 1900s.Aviation:
The Sopwith Aviation Company opened a small factory in Woolston in 1914 building seaplanes for the Admiralty during World War I. The other major employer in Woolston, from 1913 to 1960, was Supermarine. This company built seaplanes on its Hazel Road site that were ultimately successful in the Schneider trophy. Those seaplanes were further developed by R. J. Mitchell to create the iconic Supermarine Spitfire. Alongside its simpler and more numerous counterpart, the Hawker Hurricane, the Spitfire played an important part in World War II and the Battle of Britain. This, unfortunately, made Woolston an important target for the Luftwaffe. The bombing did much damage in Woolston and completely destroyed the Supermarine factory and the neighbouring Itchen Ferry village. In 1943, the Admiralty requisitioned the bombed-out remains of the Supermarine factory to provide a base for the planning of PLUTO, an undersea pipeline which supplied the invasion forces after D-Day. This base was known as HMS Abatos.
Southampton Flying Boat Locations from 1919 to 1958.
"A" = Supermarine Woolston...."B"= 101 Berth,New(Western) Docks...."C"= 108 Berth ,New(Western) Docks...."D" = Town Quay...."E" = Royal Pier....."F" = 50 Berth.
The Woolston Floating Bridge:
The Woolston Floating Bridge was a cable ferry that crossed the River Itchen between Woolston and Southampton from1836 until 1977. Initially there was one ferry, built and owned by the Floating Bridge Company, increased to two in 1881. In 1934 they were sold to Southampton Corporation. Today one of the ferries is used as a restaurant.
Click here for Floating Bridge history.
Floating Bridge map early 1900s.
Woolston Works map mid 1900s.
A small railway station had been provided in 1866, with a single line, doubled in 1910 and with longer platforms. In 1990 the old vandalised buildings were demolished and replaced by a waiting shelter.
Sholing Station map late 1800s.
Opened in 1866. The LSWR then extended the line east to Fareham in 1889. The Netley Railway was opened in1866 built by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR). This company had taken over the Southampton & Netley Railway Company in 1865, probably in order to prevent it extending the line to Fareham as part of the new route between Southampton and Portsmouth. Until this time travelers going from Southampton to Portsmouth had to go via Eastleigh.An Act of Parliament mentioned the importance of the Royal Victoria Hospital as a source of traffic although most of the patients coming into the hospital were in fact landed by tender from ships moored in Southampton. Discharged patients did travel by train. The population of the then small village of Netley would provide an insignificant amount of traffic.
In 1884, a new platform was constructed in the goods yard at Netley and the LSWR were authorized to provide a line (opened in 1900) towards the Royal Victoria Hospital, but terminating on the edge of the War Department land surrounding the hospital.
Netley Station map mid 1900s.
Netley Station early 1900s.
The Royal Victoria Hospital and Station
The Royal Victoria Hospital, or Netley Hospital was a large military hospital in Netley. Construction started in 1856 at the suggestion of Queen Victoria but its design caused some controversy, chiefly from Florence Nightingale. Often visited by Queen Victoria, the hospital was extensively used during the First World War and was particularly busy during the Second Boer War (1899–1902). The main building - the world's longest building when it was completed - the main site closed in 1958 and was entirely demolished in 1966, except for the chapel and former YMCA building which still survive. The extensive outbuildings, which once occupied a vast acreage of land to the rear of the main building, finally succumbed in 1978.
The hospital was connected to Netley station in 1900. The extension terminated at a station behind the hospital but was awkward to operate, having gradients which were quite steep for a steam locomotive. Some trains needed a locomotive at each end to travel that 3/4 of a mile.
In spite of its size and cost the building was not a great success. Florence Nightingale saw the plans for the hospital when she returned from the Crimea and immediately wrote a report condemning the plans and suggesting alternatives. In 1867, journalist Matthew Wallingford paid visit to the hospital to write a report for the local parish newsletter:
"It was a ghastly display of deception to say the least. To the naked eye it is a triumph of modern architecture, but should you inherit the misfortune to be sectioned there, one would not think of the place as so. It is not so much as the greatest military hospital in the world as much as it is a rather impractical waste of government finance."
The Royal Victoria Hospital map mid 1900s.
The Royal Victoria Hospital Station c1900.
After many years of requesting a station for Hamble, Hamble Halt was built in the Second World War to enable workers to get to the aircraft factories. It was opened in 1942 and a bus garage was built next to it to transport the workers to their workplace.
Hamble Halt map mid 1900s.
Hamble Halt mid 1900s.
Hamble airfield: 1912:First use of Hamble for aviation was when a "Waterplane"(A Henry Farman Hydro-Biplane) to be used in a promotional tour by the Frank Hucks Waterplane Co,sponsored by the Daily Mail ,was assembled and housed in a shed.The shed was built for that purpose at Hamble Point by Hamble River, Luke, and Co., Ltd.The aircraft was successfully tested early July 1912.On the 7th of July some passenger flights were made from Southsea Beach.
Hamble Oil Depot
The Oil Depot railway track was constructed during the First World War to transport aircraft from Manchester to Hamble-le-Rice. A siding was built as part of the railway to serve the flying boat factory in Hamble. The line was not actually used during the war as hostilities ceased before it could be utilised; it was, however, purchased for the storage and transportation of oil to the BP oil terminal in Hamble. BP maintain the option of reopening the line, but it has not been used since 1986 when it transported crude oil from Wytch Farm in Dorset, a route which has since been replaced by a 56-mile-long pipeline. The railway into Hamble was built for No. 1 (Southern) Marine Acceptance Depot of the Admiralty, which was to be on the banks of Southampton Water, upstream from Hamble Common. The line was connected to the London and South Western Railway's Portsmouth - Southampton line in 1917 and was, and still is, known as 'Hamble Road Sidings'. There was a system of narrow gauge lines during the building of the depot and associated barracks to the north of Hamble Lane. Immediately after crossing Hamble Lane for the second time, a siding was laid to assist in the construction of A V Roe's aircraft factory and aircraft, this later being used to bring in supplies, including coal. The line terminates by the square tower which was a feature of the Avro factory until it was demolished in recent years.
Early in 1919 the building of the Acceptance Depot was abandoned, the only user, and later owner of the line being Avro. The motive power on the line in the early days seems to have been a War Department six-wheeled saddle-tank engine, which it appears Avro hired as and when required. According to an official BP booklet, the site of the Acceptance Depot was purchased by Shell Mex in 1923 (it became Shell Mex and BP Ltd in 1932) for a site for an oil installation, the first oil rail tanker being hauled to Hamble Road Sidings by carthorses from Hamble Village.
Various Southern Railway locomotives were loaned to Shell Mex in the early 1920's, but in 1926 they purchased their own locomotive from the War Department at Bramley. It was delivered in February, became No.5 and worked the line until 1950. A loco shed was built for No. 5
During 1943 a third line was laid at Hamble Road Sidings, floodlights being installed at the same time, whilst the track inside the depot was altered to suit the requirements of the period.
In 1950 two diesels locos arrived, No. 21 and No. 18. No. 5 and No. 13 were scrapped.
During the late 1950's the track was completely relaid to enable the heavier tank cars coming into use to be used on the line. The engine shed was re-sited within the SM & BP depot and the original brick shed demolished, the siding to it became a loop. 1967 saw the arrival of a larger diesel loco, No. 24 and subsequently No. 21.
When it was decided that Hamble was to be the terminal for Wytch Farm oil, the method of getting the oil to the terminal had to be evaluated, rail being one of the methods considered. A four month period of test trains was arranged, the first to arrive was on 26th July 1985 and consisted of 10 bogie tanks with two BR Electro-Diesels of the '73' class and loco 11, one at either end. The second train was worked by BP 'No. 24' which unfortunately broke down in the middle of Hamble Lane causing more than a few people to be late for work. Thereafter, trains were worked from Hamble Road Sidings by a British Rail diesel-electric 400hp shunter until trials finished in December 1985. It was decided that a pipeline would be the preferred method, but until it was laid the oil went to the Esso refinery at Fawley.
In the 1980's there were several passenger carrying trains seen on the line organised by railway enthusiast clubs and societies, but these stopped short of the second crossing over Hamble Lane and did not enter the depot, and were worked by Diesel-Electric units.
In November 1992 another loco arrived and was parked on the line opposite the surgery in Copse Lane. It was painted maroon and named "The Man of Kent" having come from the then recently closed Isle of Grain depot. During 1993 it was repainted BP road tanker colours and was named "Hamble-le-Rice" during week ending 13th March 1993. It never strayed outside the terminal gate and during 1998 was moved to another BP site, but it is still on Hamble Terminal's "books".
Hamble Oil Depot map mid 1900s.
Oil Depot engines.
Crossing road to Oil Depot.
There was a narrow gauge railway within the grounds of TS Mercury to transport goods, particularly coal to the pier to heat the training ships on which the boys slept. It was hoped to connect this to Netley but it was never built.
The training school providing a nautical education to boys between the ages of 12 (when compulsory schooling ceased) and 15, which was the minimum age for enlistment in the Royal Navy. It was initially housed in the barque "Illovo" (which had been renamed 'Mercury') and was moored at Binstead on the Isle of Wight. In 1892 'Mercury' move to the River Hamble near Southampton. In conjunction with this move, land ashore had been acquired and the beginnings of the shore based element of the school started.
TS Mercury map early 1900s.
TS Mercury train.
Bursledon Station opened in1889.
Bursledon Station map mid 1900s.
Bursledon Station 1963.
Bursledon Brick Company Limited was established in 1897.
Swanwick Lakes Centre and Wildlife Reserve has been managed as a wildlife reserve since 1991. The flooded clay pits, woodland and meadow provide a mixture of habitats for wildlife on this 89 acre former clay extraction site for Bursledon Brickworks.
Bursledon Brickworks is now an Industrial Museum.
Bursledon Brickworks map mid 1900s.
Bursledon Brickworks today.
Opened in 1889, Swanwick was provided with a crossing loop so that two trains could pass each other on the single-track route. The local area's strawberry industry provided up to 7,000 tons each year in the late 1800s. During the harvest, Swanwick Station became one of the busiest in the country with "Strawberry Specials" heading to Covent Garden and across the country. Long platforms were constructed to accommodate the trains.
Swanwick Station map mid 1900s.
Southampton to Netley and Fareham Line
Wikipedia - Bitterne Railway Station
Wikipedia - Woolston Railway Station
Wikipedia - Sholing
Wikipedia - Netley Railway Station
Wikipedia - The Royal Victoria Hospital Netley
Hamble Local History Society
Wikipedia - Swanwick Railway Station
London, Brighton and South Coast Railway
London and South Western Railway
Old Maps Online