Steam trains return to Hayling 45 years later

STEAMED UP Locomotive Wendy on Hayling's popular railway. From left Josh Roper, Keith Edwards and Tony Dean. Picture: Allan Hutchings (132229-580)
STEAMED UP Locomotive Wendy on Hayling's popular railway. From left Josh Roper, Keith Edwards and Tony Dean. Picture: Allan Hutchings (132229-580)
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STEAM trains may be a thing of the past, but this weekend they made a return to Hayling Island.

The steam locomotive Wendy was on loan to Hayling Seaside Railway to mark the 25th anniversary of the East Hayling Light Railway Society, the forerunner to Hayling Seaside Railway.

It has been 25 years since public narrow gauge railways have been operating both at Mill Rythe Holiday camp and at its current base on Hayling Seafront.

And yesterday was also 45 years since the last-ever steam-hauled passenger train was run by British Rail.

Ian Edwards volunteers for the railway and said people enjoy a ride on the trains.

‘They love it – even with our diesel trains. Steam trains just add that little bit extra special.

‘We do get a lot of enthusiasts coming down. It’s attracting a new level of business for us.

‘We get a cross-section of people coming here.

‘We’ve got young children and then grandparents that remember going to school on them.

‘It’s nostalgic for them and something new for the children.

‘It’s all bringing extra people down to Hayling Island, spending money in the shops and cafes and helping the local economy.

‘We get on very well with the local traders here and try and promote each other.

‘Hayling is a great place to go.’

Malcolm Harris is the duty manager for the Hayling Seaside Railway.

He added: ‘It’s something different. We get a lot of regular customers who think that we only run diesel trains so when they see the steam trains coming down the nostalgia comes back.’

Valerie Eastes, 66, brought her family from Liphook, including her three grandchildren.

She said: ‘The boys like trains. I have never seen this on the beach before. It’s a nice thing to do.

‘We’ve come down especially to go on here because we saw it advertised.’

Steam services on the railway will also be in operation during the August bank holiday weekend.

The railway is running daily throughout the summer with the flagship Jack hauling services alongside Edwin.