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Gosport Railway Station


 

The London and South West Railway having failed to achieve a railway line to Portsmouth, constructed a line to Gosport to serve the Harbour area and the Naval Dockyard. The branch line started at Bishopstoke (Eastleigh), via Fareham to Gosport. The Terminus was built on land owned by Isaac Legg near the main gateway into the town. The building was designed by architect Sir William Tite.


 

 

The contractor was David Nicholson and the cost of the station was 10,980. The main features of the building were its singe storey construction and 14 pillared colonnade on the south side. The height of the buildings was dictated by the necessity to retain the field of fire of the guns on the ramparts of the town. Although the building was completed in late 1841, it had opened and closed within four days due to a landslip north of Fareham, and the line did not open again until February 1842. The cost of a single fare to London ranged from 8/6d.(45p) in an open wagon to 22/- (1.20) in a covered carriage.


On October 8th 1844 Prince Albert came to Gosport to meet Louise Phillippe of France who had landed at Royal Clarence Victualling Yard. On the 14th Queen Victoria returned with her husband from the Isle of Wight.
In order to allow the Royal family to travel to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, Prince Albert asked the Garrison Commander to allow the ramparts to be breeched. This was agreed and a large private station was built in 1845 within the Victualling Yard.

 

 

Victoria bought Osborne House from the Blachford family in 1845 and she & Prince Albert moved in, in 1846. The house proved to be too small and Albert set about re-designing and rebuilding it in partnership with Thomas Cubitt, the builder.  It was designed by the Prince Consort in the style of an Italian Villa. Osborne House was the Monarch's favourite residence, and it was here that she died on the 22nd of January 1901 at the age of 82 from natural causes.


The estate also boasts beautiful gardens which slope northwards towards the Solent. The house was presented to the nation in 1902 by King Edward VII, and is now used partly as a convalescent home for naval & military officers. The state apartments and the Swiss Cottage, where the royal children were taught small-scale housekeeping, are open to the public.


The last time the waiting room of the station was used for passengers was in 1901, when Queen Victoria's coffin was carried from Gosport to Waterloo Station accompanied by Edward V11, the German Kaiser and other royal mourners.
She died after reigning for 63 years, and was the longest reigning British monarch, ruling over a British Empire that covered a quarter of the globe.

   

 

The Stokes Bay branch line was opened in 1863 terminating in a pier, and ferry services to Ryde began. This service lasted for 52 years until it's closure in 1915. A branch line to Lee-on-the-Solent was opened in 1894, but was not the success anticipated, and closed to passengers in 1939 and freight in 1935.
The station buildings were bombed in March 1941, resulting in the loss of the roof over the railway lines. The main line to Gosport closed to passenger traffic on June 6th 1953, but remained open to freight traffic until January 1969. In 1974 Hampshire County Council bought the line and buildings south of Holbrook.


The station has been used by VIP's, Royalty, Prisoners of War, servicemen and the general public and the station was the starting point for the first ever railway telegraph. The station remains as a reminder of past glories and HCC is reviewing its future, which is linked to the potential for the Light Rapid Transit system in our area, and a new use for the site that will preserve the station for future generations.


 

An early 18th century print of Gosport Station showing the Hotel on the right, and the hotel as it is today.


My own interest in the Gosport Railway is connected to the Hotel, as I spent several years living in it with my family in the 1960's. It was then called the "Gosport Club", a private members club used by local businessmen for relaxation. It had a members bar downstairs, and the whole of the middle floor was given over to snooker, with 4 tables available to members. My parents looked after the club and we lived on the top floor. The roof could be accessed, and I spent many happy hours watching life around Gosport from my high vantage point. For a while we also opened a cafe in the front room of the Club, which brought a different type of customer to our door. Another reason for my fascination with the station was pigeons. I kept pigeons in our large back garden backing on to Pickfords removals, and was a member of the Gosport Racing Pigeon Club which met at the Queen's Head in Forton road. I would often see trains arriving with pigeons from up north, and watch in amazement as hundreds of them, lined up in baskets on the platform, would be released simultaneously, filling the air with beating wings.
Fancy pigeons   Racing Pigeons


 

The Gosport Railway Society was formed in 1976 to act as a pressure group to try to ensure the preservation of the former Gosport Station, the colonnades of which are designated a Grade 2 listed building. The Society also concerns itself with the future of the three other surviving railway stations within the Borough of Gosport.
The Society is also a general interest railway group and hold meetings every third Friday of the month in the Methodist Church Hall in Stoke Road. The meetings always comprise of a speaker on a specific railway subject and they begin at 8.00pm and all are always most welcome.


THE HARDWAY RAILWAY GATES

With a rail link from Priddys Hard to Bedenham allowing the transfer of ammunition between the two depots, it was inevitable the railway would traverse public roads and make the provision of gates essential at these points. In Hardway gates were installed at the Green Road, Grove Road and Elson Road crossings and these required gate-men responsible for closing the roads when an ammunition train was expected. With the announcement Priddys Hard was to close David Maber calculated that sooner or later the sturdy and attractive gates would be removed and be gone for ever so he undertook to photograph them for posterity in the spring of 1994. It later transpired the railway route was used for a relief road and all the gates were duly removed. 


 

The Society holds a very extensive photographic archive collection, mostly relating to railway topics on the Gosport peninsular, and these archives are very often used in talks to local groups, schools, clubs and colleges. The Society has, over the last few years, published five books dealing with the history of rail transport in the Gosport area and these are available from either the author Peter Keat who can be contacted on 023 9258 2499 or from local book sellers. To mark the centenary of Queen Victoria's last journey Peter Keat, with Oakwood Press, published a book dealing with the last three months of the Queens life and her last journey. This is a 96 page book with 90 illustrations and plans and is available from book shops, Oakwood Press or the author.

 

 

Books Available from Gosport Bookshop and Stubbington Bookshop
Rails to the Pier - The story of the Stokes Bay Railway
Rails to the Tower - The story of the Lee on Solent Railway
Rails to the Yards - The story of the military and narrow gauge systems on the Gosport Peninsular
Tales of the Rails - Memories of people involved with Gosport's railway system
You are not putting a hole in my wall! - The story of Gosport station


Goodbye to Victoria the Last Queen Empress - The story of the late Queens funeral which started in Gosport. - Oakwood Press
Branch Lines around Gosport - Middleton Press
Our thanks to the Gosport Railway Society and Peter Keat for the history of Gosport Railway.
For more information contact Peter   Gosport railway map 1910

The Gosport Railway Society was formed in 1976 to act as a pressure group to try to ensure the preservation of the former Gosport Station, the colonnades of which are designated a Grade 2 listed building. The Society also concerns itself with the future of the three other surviving railway stations within the Borough of Gosport.
 
The Society is also a general interest railway group and hold meetings every third Friday of the month in the Methodist Church Hall in Stoke Road. The meetings always comprise of a speaker on a specific railway subject and they begin at 8.00pm and all are always most welcome.
 
The Society holds a very extensive photographic archive collection, mostly relating to railway topics on the Gosport peninsular, and these archives are very often used in talks to local groups, schools, clubs and colleges.


Calendar of Events 2008
Friday 18th January
The Railways of Zimbabwe.
Simon Bowden, a welcome return after his Welshpool and Llanfair presentation.

Friday 15th February.
The Development and History of the Great Central Railway. Brian Wellsted.

Friday 21st March
Developments on the Talylln Railway, a welcome return of Peter Kent- Mason..
 

  Friday 18th April
Annual General Meeting followed by a wander through the GRS Collection.

Friday 16th May
25 Years on the London Underground. Marc Ferdman
Please note this meeting will start at 7.30 sharp

Friday 20th June
The Abbotsbury Branch in Dorset. Brian Jackson

Friday 18th July
The History of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway. Paul Gower
Friday 15th August

Sights and Sounds of BR Steam since 1964. Simon Foote

Friday 19th September
The Railways of East Germany. Deryk Swetnam

Friday 17th October

My Favourite Five. Everything from the Bournemouth Belle to diesel traction.
A welcome return of Alistair Jeffery
  Friday 21st November
The Annual Photographic Competition. Subject to be announced
Followed by From my Collection by Dave Barker

Friday 19th December
Railways on Film, its December so it must be Alan Wallbank. Again.
 
December: Society Annual Christmas Dinner. Date to be announced   Spring and Autumn: Guided Walks through London: Dates to be announced.

Useful local railway links:

Mid-Hants Railway (The Watercress Line)
Eastleigh Lakeside Railway
Eastleigh Railway Preservation Society
Hampshire Narrow Gauge Railway Society
Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Isle of Wight Steam Railway - photographs from Dave Parker's Isle of Wight Nostalgia
The History of the Southern Railway - by Michael J Irlam
Southern E-Group - Southern Railway
Andover's Lost Railway - from Andover Town Central site
A History of the Railways around Basingstoke - by Christopher J Tolley
Hayling Billy - The Hayling Railway Company
Longmoor Military Railway - from Darren Dypevag's site
150 Years of Railways through Romsey
Isle of Wight Railway Network 1948 - from Dave Parker's Isle of Wight Nostalgia
Ventnor's Lost Railways - from Dave Parker's Isle of Wight Nostalgia
The Freshwater, Yarmouth and Newport Railway - by Steve Holden
Museum of Army Transport, Beverley, East Yorkshire
- holds artefacts from Longmoor Military Railway



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   Featured Hotel
 Alverbank Country Hotel
Without doubt one of Gosport's best  hotels that successfully combines style and elegance with a very relaxed atmosphere.

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   Fun Facts
The name Gosport is said to have come either from God's Port or Gorse Port.
Gosport USA is in Indiana as well as New Hampshire
Gosport's Model Sailing Yacht Lake is one of only 2 in the UK for International events.

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