A ride down memory lane with Hayling Billy

FACT Historian Ann Griffiths, left, talks to a group at Langstone Towers, which was used by the Red Cross in the First World War and Airspeed in the Second World War. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131889-1340)
FACT Historian Ann Griffiths, left, talks to a group at Langstone Towers, which was used by the Red Cross in the First World War and Airspeed in the Second World War. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131889-1340)

College in running for top national awards

0
Have your say

MEMORIES of a beloved railway line have been brought to life at an exhibition.

The Hayling Billy Railway line closed 50 year-ago this year and it was commemorated with a number of events at the weekend.

They centred on the Station Theatre, in South Hayling, where railway enthusiast Peter Drury has put on an exhibition chronicling the railway line’s history.

Mr Drury has found the original maps for the planned route, photographs of staff from the 1800s, and the uniform of a railwayman from the 1960s.

He said: ‘I’m pleased because I’ve had a lot of interest already and the exhibition has only just opened.

‘I’m interested in it very much because I know what it did to this island.

‘Before 1824 when the road bridge was built the only way you could actually get on or off the island was by boat or ferry or by wading out at low tide to Langstone High Street.

‘The road bridge had weight restrictions, and so did the railway, but it could take much more.

‘The opening of the railway was a golden opportunity.’

The original plans were to drain the oyster beds to create industrial and farmland.

That never happened but the railway opened in 1867.

It opened the island up to tourists who descended on the island in the summer.

But when the passenger numbers started falling and the cost of repair became too great, the decision was taken to close the line.

It made its last journey in 1963.

Despite his passion for the line, Mr Drury does not want to see it reopened.

He said: ‘There is a great legacy in the Hayling Billy Trail.

‘One of the things it does is provide a safe cycle route.

‘It is very difficult trying to get to the south of the island on the winding roads through Stoke.’

On Saturday a treasure hunt was staged around the Billy Trail and the Hayling Billy pub had live music all day, including Mark Handley who wrote a passionate song about reopening the Billy Line in the 1970s.

The exhibition is on until the end of August.