Pressure is on to find Hayling Island’s railway its next home

STEAMING From left: Josh Roper, Keith Edwards and Tony Dean on the Hayling Seaside Railway. Picture: Allan Hutchings (132229-580)
STEAMING From left: Josh Roper, Keith Edwards and Tony Dean on the Hayling Seaside Railway. Picture: Allan Hutchings (132229-580)
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THE future of one of Hayling Island’s most important tourist attractions has been secured for the next year.

There were fears Hayling Island Seaside Railway could close for good after volunteers were told they must leave their base at Funlands Amusement Park when the lease runs out in December.

That has now been extended through to the end of 2014 but Bob Haddock, the railway’s founder, said the pressure is still on Havant Borough Council to find a new site ready for it to move into come 2015.

He said: ‘We thank Funlands for allowing us another year but this does not remove the time constraints on us or the council.

‘Even if a decision was made now – and we hope the council has the courage to make it – we still have the plans to work up, the surveys to be done and the building.

‘It will eat into this extra lease time very rapidly.’

The railway has been going for 25 years but volunteers were given notice to quit earlier this summer.

Funlands is looking to explore other opportunities at the back of the complex where it is based.

There are four other potential sites along the seafront which are all owned by Havant Borough Council.

Plans to put it in Bounds Lane have met with resistance from residents as they say a depot will be a blot on the landscape.

The council is set to make a decision in the next few weeks.

Mr Haddock added: ‘The railway is a major asset to Hayling.

‘So many people who’ve read what’s been going on in The News have said to us, “we don’t want it to close”.

‘Families get so much enjoyment out of it.

‘And we do a phenomenal amount for charity. You have to. You get back out of life what you put into it.’

In a statement issued by Funlands, a company spokesman said they were pleased to have reached an agreement for next year while the railway works with the council to find a new home.

It added: ‘We recognise the important role that the railway plays in bringing visitors to the island and wish them well in their pursuit of a permanent base.’

The railway runs from Beachlands to Eastoke.