Royal entrance to the Dockyard

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Last week I asked if anyone had any information about how dignitaries travelled around Portsmouth Dockyard on its railway network.

Clement Fallows sent me a large document which is too big to reproduce here, but the basics are these.

Stored ina shed close to HMS Victory was the ‘special saloon’, a four-wheeled, short wheelbase carriage which was able to cope with the Dockyard’s sharp curves.

As far back as 1876 Princess Louise, on the occasion of the launch of HMS Inflexible at No5 Slip, arrived at South Railway Jetty (SRJ) where she alighted and boarded the special saloon.

After the launch the princess boarded the Royal Yacht Alberta which steamed into the new No3 Basin.

After inspecting the works she again boarded the saloon car and made her way back to SRJ where she boarded the royal train for the return to London.

The only record of a royal train using the Unicorn Gate entrance was on February 26, 1881, when Queen Victoria agreed to launch two ships on the same day.

This was on condition the royal train would travel as far as possible into the Dockyard. Accordingly, two special platforms were built – one alongside No5 Slip and another at North Railway Jetty.

In January 1901, a trial run was made to the South Railway Jetty to check for clearance for Queen Victoria’s funeral train. The clearance was insufficient so Clarence Yard, Gosport, was used instead.