History of short-lived line explored in a new booklet

December 31, 1930, the last day of public service at Lee-on-the-Solent station
December 31, 1930, the last day of public service at Lee-on-the-Solent station
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It was little more than three miles long and was built when there were dreams of turning Lee-on-the-Solent into a resort to rival Brighton and Bournemouth.

But the branch line, with quaint halts at Elmore, Browndown and Fort Gomer, only carried passengers for 36 years.

London and South Western Railway's 0-6-OST No 392, formally called Lady Portsmouth, at Fort Brockhurst station

London and South Western Railway's 0-6-OST No 392, formally called Lady Portsmouth, at Fort Brockhurst station

A detailed and fascinating new booklet by branch line aficionado Peter A Harding charts the rise and fall of the Lee-on-the-Solent Railway from its opening in May 1894 to its closure to passengers in 1930 and to goods five years later.

Like the main line from Fareham to Gosport and the other branch from Gosport to Stokes Bay, you are left wondering what might have been if they had all survived – a question drivers on the A32 must ask themselves daily.

The railway, which forked off the main line from Fareham to Gosport at Fort Brockhurst, was an important part of the development of Lee.

That began in the 1880s when Charles Newton-Robinson saw the potential for the area and persuaded his father Sir John Charles Robinson to put up the cash to buy land and set up the Lee Estates Company.

During the next years the town was established, beginning with the building of Marine Parade and then the pier. The next step was to construct the railway and connect it to the national network at Brockhurst.

But as Peter’s booklet, with 38 pictures of the line its engines and rolling stock, points out, it never made money and Southern Railway closed it.

n The Lee-on-the-Solent Railway by Peter A Harding can be ordered direct from him at £4 plus an extra 50p for postage. Write to him at Mossgiel, Bagshot Road, Knaphill, Woking, Surrey GU21 2SG.