NOSTALGIA: Popular Portsmouth mini railway scrapped after five years

Hot on the heels of my appeal for pictures of the miniature railway which once ran at Hilsea Lido, these arrived.

Monday, 8th January 2018, 2:10 pm
Updated Monday, 8th January 2018, 2:13 pm
The Hilsea Lido miniature railway with the station hut on the left.

I’m grateful to Robert James for the first and second photos here, and to Eddy Amey for the third.

It all looks great fun, but as social historian Jane Smith says in her excellent 2002 book The Book of Hilsea – Gateway to Portsmouth, the railway was short-lived.

Jane, whose specialist subject is Hilsea, wrote: ‘The main feature of the post-war lido was the miniature railway which lasted from 1946-1951.

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One of the locos on the miniature railway.

‘This ran from the main pool round to the end of the moat near London Road.

‘This picture, right, shows the station and the footbridge over the moat in the background.

‘A highly popular attraction, it was uneconomic and closed after five years.’

• My colleague Bob Hind asked a couple of weeks ago if any of you could recognise the location of the picture on the facing page.

A tunnel added authenticity.

Initially response was slow, but gradually the evidence piled in and there’s no doubt the majority agreed it could only possibly be one place: Highland Road, Eastney, with the corner of Adair Road in the distance.

Thanks to Keith Lane, Mike Murphy, Stephen Pomeroy and, again, Robert James, for their help.

Robert says the building on the left was the Victoria Wesleyan Church hall in Highland Road.

‘The larger building to the right was the Victoria Soldiers Home built in 1886 and the smaller building was the hall, later used as a church.

Highland Road, Eastney, with Adair Road in the distance.

He adds: ‘In 1928 the Eastney Central Hall was built on the site and that in turn closed in 2001 to be demolished and in 2003 the new, smaller church and flats were built on the site.’

Robert, using Kelly’s Directory as a source, says that in 1925 the shop on the corner of Adair Road was a grocer’s – Wm Lockhart. This matches the name on the facia board in our picture.

One of the locos on the miniature railway.
A tunnel added authenticity.
Highland Road, Eastney, with Adair Road in the distance.