NOSTALGIA WITH BOB HIND: Portsmouth to Waterloo '“ quicker in 1924 by steam

The South Western Railway Company, which took over from South West Trains last year, keeps promising a faster service between Portsmouth Harbour and London Waterloo.

Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 6:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 2:25 pm

However, having seen the new timetable, it appears certain trains will be slower because Godalming has been added as an extra stop to the down fast services. 

After 10am the fast service leaves Portsmouth Harbour at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour arriving in London Waterloo at 54 and 24 minutes past the following hour, a total time of one hour 39 minutes '“ 99 minutes. These are 2018 times.

Now let us look at 1924 when the line was steam-hauled. It was recorded that the service could operate between the two cities in 90 minutes. 

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Go forward to 1962 when electric services were operated by COR units introduced in 1937 so being 25 years old, the service, stopping at the same stations as today, was run in 96 minutes. Many also had a restaurant car too.

So, for a better standard of service much has to be done.

An express service to run 10 minutes in front of the fast service could be the answer. It would run every three hours say, calling at Portsmouth & Southsea, Guildford and London Waterloo and the same in reverse. There are several trains an hour from Haslemere and many from Guildford to Woking and intermediate stations so that would not be a problem.

'“ We often read about the shortage of housing in all counties of the UK. Believe me, it is not a new problem, especially in Portsmouth.

In 1921 the housing predicament had become so serious that The Evening News received more than 1,100 letters from people needing accommodation. The plight of many was pitiful in the extreme.

Most of these people were too proud to bring the shortcomings of the local authority to the attention of the majority and it spurred the housing committee into action and to build more houses at a more rapid rate.

In the first five years of the 1920s, 100 houses were built at Wymering and under the 1924 Housing Act, 951 houses were built in Portsea, Drayton, Hilsea and Stamshaw so relieving the problem of the homeless greatly.

'“ My recent articles on Malta and The Gut brought another memory from Doug Barlow who, in the early 1950s was a boatswain in the Town-class light cruiser HMS Liverpool.

He tells me of the time he returned to Malta.

He says: 'I was filming at the top of The Gut a couple of years ago when I felt somebody tugging at my shorts.

'I looked down and there was this young girl. Looking up she said: 'You take me in for drinkies." I replied: 'The last time this happened it was probably your grandmother!' Doug adds: 'Back in 1950 I was serving in the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet, HMS Liverpool.

'What wonderful days they were, swanning around the Med 'showing the Flag', often four cruisers and a bunch of destroyers.

'At that time Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the captain of HMS Magpie, were to be seen all over Malta. The Med Fleet had returned to pre-war days of regattas and 'showing the flag'.

Unfortunately It was short-lived, a guy named Nassar came along and spoiled it all.

'“ In 1923 it was recorded that the town council had come to a satisfactory agreement with the Southern Railway Company for the purchase of the old East Southsea branch line from Fratton to Southsea.

It included the demolition of four bridges. The only regret was that the council did not acquire all of the land and construct a new road from Fratton to the very heart of Southsea.

What a saviour that would have been today.