The Hayling Billy in her prime crossing Langstone trestle bridge.
The Hayling Billy in her prime crossing Langstone trestle bridge.

Remembering Hayling Island’s lost railway – 21 photos of the Billy line

At its peak thousands of people used the Hayling Island branch line to visit the seafront during the summer.

By Deborah Croker
Friday, 21st August 2020, 2:31 pm
Updated Friday, 21st August 2020, 2:32 pm

The line was opened for goods in 1865, and two years later the first passengers were able to travel on the service between Havant and Hayling Island.

In the summer the trains were often overflowing with beach trips proving popular, but in the winter customer numbers were much lower.

There were early issues with the line including an unauthorised level crossing being built at Langstone, which somehow remained until the route was closed.

Its owners also changed over the years – the railway was originally built by London, Brighton and South Coast Railway but was later sold to Southern Railway in 1923 and British Railways in 1948.

Despite the ownership change the railway struggled to maintain a profit, and when a timber swing bridge over Langstone Harbour needed to be replaced in 1962 it was decided that the line had become unfeasible.

The final normal service train operated in November 1963 – nearly a century after it first opened.

Since the closure there have been unsuccessful attempts to reopen the line. Today the area where the tracks were on the Havant side are now a nature reserve.

Last year John Scott-Morgan published a history of the line, The Hayling Island Branch, which contained dozens of photographs of memorable trips to the beach – inflatables in hand!

What are your memories of the Hayling Island line – hopefully you’ll enjoy looking at these photos below!

Join our new Portsmouth Retro Facebook group to find more fascinating photos and memories from Portsmouth’s past.

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