Gosport’s royal rail past

Queen Victoria arriving at  Gosport Railway Station
Queen Victoria arriving at Gosport Railway Station

THIS WEEK IN 1993: ‘Despicable’ attack on Armistice Day

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Gosport councillor Peter Edgar is fuming and producing enough steam to have powered a train into one of the town’s many old stations.

He is angry with the BBC about Michael Portillo’s series Great British Railways and feels the researchers have done a great injustice to his town.

It all boils down to QueenVictoria’s railway links to Gosport and his complaint coincidentally coincides with her death in 1901 (see the On This Day column).

Peter says: ‘I wrote to the BBC about the programme in the first series featuring Southampton and the Isle of Wight. I pointed out that he [Portillo] had not only ignored Gosport’s unique railway history and its connection for more than 50 years with Queen Victoria, he had given the impression that she travelled to the Isle of Wight via Southampton.

‘Her main route to Osborne House was always by railway to the royal yacht berthed on the Gosport side of Portsmouth Harbour. This inaccuracy is confusing, especially to young people in our schools studying Victoria’s visits to the Solent area.’

His complaint was acknowledged by the BBC as accurate.But now, with the second series, the BBC has done it again.

Peter adds: ‘ To my disgust Michael Portillo is this time inferring that Queen Victoria’s private station was on the Portsmouth side of the harbour at South Railway Jetty in the Dockyard. He completely ignored that her main route to the royal yacht was nearly always through her private station in Royal Clarence Yard, Gosport and, worse still, there was no mention that the railway came to Gosport several years before it came to Portsmouth. Gosport’s unique railway history had no mention at all despite the town having 10 railway stations and halts in 1900.

‘The Gosport Station is now architecturally and sensitively restored and there is a room dedicated for community use. The room is decorated by wallpaper that depicts the scene on October 14, 1844. Surely a visit to view this historic railway site would have been worthwhile and a reference made to it?’

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please e-mail Chris Owen at chris.owen@thenews.co.uk or write to him at The News, The News Centre, Hilsea, Portsmouth,PO2 9SX