End of the line for railway which could have crossed Langstone Harbour
Have you ever had one of those Eureka! moments going through boxes of old photographs when you come across a long-forgotten family picture?
I had one of them when I was going through The News archive recently looking for something completely unassociated with what I found.
It happened when I stumbled across this photo of the East Southsea branch line which ran from Fratton Station to Granada Road and it shows the rails being lifted.
To the left is St Ronan’s Road and on the right Craneswater Avenue. Connecting the two roads these days is Old Bridge Road.
To the top of the photo are buildings in Albert Road with Albert Road bridge in the distance. The photograph was taken in 1926 when both bridges over the former railway were still in place some 14 years after the railway was abandoned.
The East Southsea Railway was the last public railway to be constructed on Portsea Island. If plans had gone ahead, a circular route was to cross Langstone Harbour, doing away with the ferry.
The line was to run east from a junction with the Southsea branch line close to Goldsmith Avenue and then along the north side of the Avenue.
Crossing Milton Road, it would have followed the route of the old canal diverging just short of the Milton lock gates to cross Eastney Lake.
After crossing the harbour on a bridge, the line would have connected with the Hayling branch line north of South Hayling station before continuing to Havant, Bedhampton and back to Fratton.
What a shame none of this happened. It may have saved the Hayling Island railway from closure back in 1963. Sadly, the railway succumbed to trams which were a quicker and more regular form of transport and, after operating for just 29 years, the last train ran in August 1914.
Housing to the east of St Ronan’s Road now occupies this part of the old railway. If anyone has a photograph of this bridge, I’d love to have a copy.