About our railway
1867 - 1963
The "Hayling Billy"
The "Hayling Billy", as it was nicknamed by locals, was the branch line that operated from the mainline station of Havant to the terminus on Hayling Island. After closure in 1963, some residents campaigned to open and run a railway of some kind on the island...
1988 - 2001
East Hayling Light Railway
Two and a half decades after the last trains ran on the Island, Bob Haddock opens his "East Hayling Light Railway" and operates successfully within the Mill Rythe holiday village for thirteen years before the railway was packed up and moved to the seaside...
2003 - 2021
After 2 intense years of building works, Bob Haddock reopened the "East Hayling Light Railway" along the seafront of Hayling Island. Around 2004 the line was more fittingly renamed the "Hayling Seaside Railway"...
Hayling Seaside Railway
2021 - today
After Bob's retirement in 2021, the railway was sold and bought by the original EHLR society. The society and railway was then renamed "Hayling Light Railway Trust" and continues to run from strength to strength each year as a registered charity!
Hayling Light Railway Trust
prelude - The Hayling Billy
The 'Hayling Island Branch' was a small branch line that connected the island to the main line network at Havant. The line was opened in 1867 and, due to a low weight restriction on the bridge to the island, only small locomotives were permitted or operate it. This eventually led to the island becoming home to the famous LBSCR A1 Class, nicknamed "Terriers", which ran the near 5 mile route until closure on 4th November 1963. After the closure of the line, the newly formed Hayling Railway Society had ambition of reopening a 2 mile section of line between Hayling Island station and North Hayling station in standard gauge. Unfortunately, the local council had already earmarked the disused track bed to become a cycle and foot path which brought plans of rebuilding the line to a screeching halt. Bob Haddock and some other like-minded members of this society suggested rebuilding the railway in a narrow gauge so that the route could be shared between trains, cycles and pedestrians. This idea was dismissed by the society committee who declared it had to be standard gauge or nothing. Sadly that is exactly what they got - nothing.
Photo: Ian Taylor
The east Hayling light railway
With the failure of the original society, Bob Haddock, and a few others, set off around the island looking at different sites which could potentially become home to a new Hayling railway. After numerous planning refusals, a plan to open a line at Mill Rythe holiday village was approved. This new railway was proudly named the East Hayling Light Railway (EHLR) by Bob who claimed that the shortest railways had the longest names so his short railway needed a grand title. The volunteers that helped Bob build the railway formed into the East Hayling Light Railway Society (EHLRS). During this time, the first two locomotives the railway acquired, EHLR #1 and #2, came from the closing "Hambledon Lane Brickworks" in Surrey. Number 1 was restored, named Ace and entered service at the holiday village. Number 2, named Ivor Bigun, wasn't restored and was later used as a part exchange for a new locomotive. Number 3 was built by Alan Keef Limited of Ross on Wye in 1988 under the works name of AK23 and was finished in it's red livery with lining. Upon arrival the the EHLR, the engine was numbered 3 and named Jack after Bob's father. The ideology behind the naming of locomotives was to reflect that of the named playing cards. Starting with Ace and Jack then possibly furthering to King, Queen, etc... This idea never came to fruition and, after the tragic death of a founding member, Ace was renamed Alan B, snuffing out the idea completely.
Perhaps due to the success of Haddock's Mill Rythe railway, Havant Borough Council included a seaside railway in their draft structure plan for Hayling's popular 'Pleasure Beach'. With the experience of running a railway down the road, Bob eagerly proposed his railway be relocated along the the south coast. Surprisingly, even though the council included the railway in their own draft, they refused the application! Back to the drawing board for the EHLR and after 12 years of campaigning, the council finally agreed to the railway opening. With permission now obtained, the Mill Rythe railway closed in 2001 and the big move to Beachlands began.
the Hayling Seaside Railway
Beachlands station was built first on leased land by the Funland and became the base of operations for the railway. Alan B really proved itself during the building of the railway as she was the only engine used for works trains! After only two years of intense building works, the entire railway between Beachlands and Eastoke Corner was complete with the first train carrying passengers to leave on the 5th July 2003. Shortly after opening, the railway was named the Hayling Seaside Railway (HSR), which has stuck even to this day. On the topic of names, Mengham Road was originally called Hornby Halt as a result of sponsorship from the model railway manufacturer. The halt was later renamed Mengham Road due to its close proximity to the nearby Mengham shops.
As soon as the railway opened, the volunteers in the workshop got busy, building 4 bogie coaches that we still use today. A new loco was found in Cornwall, overhauled by the railway for passenger use, to become loco No.5 Edwin. Loco No.4 Alistair also underwent engine repairs when the railway first opened, entering service in 2006 and allowing 2 trains to run on the railway at the same time.
The line continued to run with its headquarters at Beachlands until the lease, which allowed the depot to reside on Funland property, had almost expired and the location for a new depot workshop was needed. After extensive planning work and negotiations with the local council, it was agreed that Eastoke Corner station would be expanded to cater for the railway's rolling stock storage and workshops. Construction started in 2015 with trackwork and the first job was to lay a new run round loop on the north side of the platform to make way for the new shed to be built on the south side later that same year. Opening in 2017 and celebrated by welcoming back steam locomotive Wendy for a grand opening weekend.
In September 2019, owners Bob and his wife decided to sell the railway so that they could both retire. With the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sale wasn't a quick process and unfortunately took much longer than they wanted. Finally, the railway was sold but the buyers were a little closer to home than first thought...
the Hayling Light railway trust
The original society of volunteers that had helped Bob Haddock run his railway offered to buy the railway from him. An agreement was made and in 2021, the Hayling Light Railway Trust (HLRT)was born. With this change of ownership, the railway became a not-for-profit and registered charity.
The first project of this newly established charity was to recover rails, sleepers and an old locomotive from Thorpe Park Resort. A member of the HLRT heard about Thorpe Park's plans to build a new rollercoaster and remembered the railways of old that the theme park hosted. He sent a letter with little hope but, in return, received amazing news. Not only were all the track materials still on the site, but AK11 of the old Treasure Island Railway was still on site and free to us as long as we could recover it. After a few works parties, the volunteers had recovered 2000 feet of rail, 70 sleepers, clips and, of course, AK11 which is currently being rebuilt at Alan Keef. All of this would not be possible without the kind donation from Thorpe Park Resort but also the many volunteers who helped recover everything!
"In 35 years, Hayling's railway has already quite the history and it is still being written!"
If you are interested by this history and you would like to be a part of the Hayling Railway story,