Mystery of the track across marshes

The track at Farlington Marshes
The track at Farlington Marshes
Sir Francis Chichester on Gipsy Moth IV.

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Can anyone come up with a definitive explanation for the old trackway pictured here?

Tom Glover sent me the photograph, which he took in the early 1970s. The reason for its construction has always baffled him.

He was prompted to send it after reading a couple of Remember When features in December and January about the old Black House, which once existed way out on Farlington Marshes in Langstone Harbour.

That sparked a query from 81-year-old Bill Downer,of Reading, who grew up playing on the marshes.

He remembered, on the shore edge, a short length of rail track on which, he said, sat a gantry crane.

Bill guessed it was built by the Royal Marines who used the marshes as a training area during the war.

‘We used to call it Cockle Island,’ he said.

Tom says: ‘I always wondered why the trackway was there and assumed it was part of a firing range. Perhaps it was a mounting for a moving target?

‘If it was a lifting gantry, access on both sides would have been very restricted with steps on one side and shingle on the other.’

He adds: ‘Hopefully someone out there knows its purpose.’