Wanted: big tales of the small railway

A train departs Southsea miniature station in the 1950s.
A train departs Southsea miniature station in the 1950s.
Hampshire's Jimmy Gray and Roy Marshall walk out to open the batting at Burnaby Road in a 1950s match

PICTURE GALLERY: Memories of Hampshire cricket at Burnaby Road

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Many of you must have ridden on the miniature railway line that ran along the seafront until its closure in 1989.

It ran from just east of where the Blue Reef Aquarium is now, along the seafront behind the stone wall as far as the bandstand where the line ran in a large loop to return to the station.

There was a small turntable so the locomotive could be turned and then attached to the front of the train for the next depaarture.

Alan Wallbank of Bedhampton is researching a book on the railway and tells me that that SMR stood for Southern Miniature Railways Ltd.

The company began life in 1945/6, building three engines, Vanguard, Victory and Valiant, the latter working at Southsea and later Victory arriving from Bognor Regis in 1951.

Vanguard worked on a line at Poole from 1949 until 1970. Alan’s main interest is in the Southsea line from about 1960 to its closure in 1989. He has been informed that when steam finished it was converted to a 17in third rail system, later being re-gauged back to 10.25in in 1985.

Alan needs information about any diesel engines that worked there in the 1960s, the possible third rail system and trains after 1985. Any snippet of info would be helpful, even a memory of travelling on the line. If anyone has any photographs that Alan could borrow that would be ideal of course. He can be contacted on (023) 9248 6072 or on alan46exdriver@virginmedia.com.