Remembering Portsmouth's old dockyard branch line

Class 02 passing on to the dockyard branch from the High Level at Portsmouth & Southsea station in 1955. Picture: Mick Cooper collection.
Class 02 passing on to the dockyard branch from the High Level at Portsmouth & Southsea station in 1955. Picture: Mick Cooper collection.
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Railway workings on Portsea Island were once fascinating to watch. At one time we had the line to East Southsea; the Portsmouth gasworks railway; the Hilsea industrial lines; the line across the viaduct to South Railway Jetty and, perhaps the most noticeable as it passed in front of passengers, was the old branch line to the dockyard. 

Trains left Fratton goods yard several times a day and when they reached Portsmouth & Southsea station the train went what was called ‘wrong road’ up the gradient to where it left the main line. The act of going ‘wrong road’ or against the run of the line, was always called ‘bang-road’ on the railways.

Roll up, roll up and join the Womens Land Army. Girls on a recruitment drive in Southsea. Picture: Mick Cooper collection.

Roll up, roll up and join the Womens Land Army. Girls on a recruitment drive in Southsea. Picture: Mick Cooper collection.

Here we see an Adams class 02 No30207 with a train of vans. The driver is standing in a position ready to take the single line token from the signalman without stopping.

The locomotive was 66 years old when it was withdrawn from the Fratton shed on September 30, 1957. Most of its early years were spent at Exmouth Junction. When it was scrapped it was cut up at Brighton.

• I don’t know if there are any surviving Women’s Land Army girls in the Portsmouth area but in the next couple of days I will publishing some photographs of the girls parading through the city’s streets.

I have not published a photograph of the land army before so I am hoping to get some results.

Somewhere in Leigh Park? Can anyone help me with the location of this photograph? It could be Bedhampton. Picture: Barry Cox collection.

Somewhere in Leigh Park? Can anyone help me with the location of this photograph? It could be Bedhampton. Picture: Barry Cox collection.

The Women’s Land Army was a British civilian organisation which was set up to provide workers for farms as many had been called up for military and naval service. Later in the war some worked in forests and were called the Women’s Timber Corps. 

If you can remember volunteering for these organisations please let me know.

•  Today we have another picture which could have been taken at Leigh Park… or was it?

I think it might be Timsbury Crescent with Woodgreen Avenue crossing the T at top of the road. This would make it in Bedhampton of course. I’d be obliged for any help.

Looking across from Sussex Street to Queen Victorias statue and the Guildhall. Picture: Mick Cooper collection.

Looking across from Sussex Street to Queen Victorias statue and the Guildhall. Picture: Mick Cooper collection.

•  Last Tuesday I published a photo looking down from the clock tower of the Guildhall over the statue of Queen Victoria. I should have pointed out to younger people that the statue was not where it is today but 50 yards to the north.

In this photograph we can see where Victoria once gazed down on her subjects, somewhat disapprovingly as I remember as a boy.

Her statue was in a triangle of roads, Sussex Street, Commercial Road, the Guildhall Square part of Commercial Road on the far side and on the left a short stretch of road where the central library is now. I can’t remember the name of the street. Someone put me out of my misery, please!