Chichester to Portsmouth

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Contents

Title

Chichester to Portsmouth (South Coast Railways) 1985 version

Author

Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith

Publisher

Middleton Press

ISBN

0 0906520 14 2

Review

This route was the first line into Portsmouth and its development is described in this book. There is also a section on the East Southsea branch.

Vic Mitchell's books have a common format starting with the geographical setting, historical background and a description of the train services before discussing each line and the stations on it (with many early pictures and maps). There are plenty of timetables, maps, images of tickets, railway company notices etc. The books are reliant on old photographs being available and when a station appears in more than one book, the authors endeavour to put different pictures. They are a must for anyone planning to model specific places

Starting with an 1875 map of Chichester and a two page picture of B2 Rastrick standing by a station nameboard that the authors describe as being 'like a contemporary bed-head', there are many pictures of the development of the station, the sidings and even members of the Chichester Railway Athletic Club (the author asks us to take note of the hair styles!)

Fishbourne is next with a pictue of a 4VEP and a 1947 snap of a Q1 coupled to a Q class about to rumble over Blackboy Lane crossing.

'An elegant train in an elegant station', is how the author describes a Brighton Belle used for a rail tour which is pictured at Bosham station. Nutbourne is next, with a 1906 picture of the 'new Motor Train Halt', followed by Southbourne, Emsworth and Warblington.

The section on Havant contains photographs from a variety of eras - the trains include K class, T class, 'Stowe' (a schools class) and even a London Transport Central line set used for driver training with an electric tramcar bought by enthusiasts who were planning to electrify the Hayling Branch in the background of the photo. There is also an photo of an unusual train (M7 sandwich) used for the 1953 Stephenson Locomotive Society's tour of Hampshire branch lines and a Chichester stopper colliding with a Waterloo express having overrun the junction signals.

Moving through Bedhampton (which features a 1939 photo of a T9 hauled Royal Train) to Farlington, where there is a photo of an 1894 derailment at Farlington Junction This station also served the Racecourse although pictures of that are in another volume.

Hilsea is next before an extensive section on Fratton with a map showing the various track alterations between 1937 and 1977. Amongst the pictures are Castle Class 'Earl of St Germans' impounded between two Q1s because it was too wide for the loading gauge of the Southern Region as its cylinders had grazed the platforms at Fareham station.

A photo of a chocolate and cream steam railcar, built at Eastleigh, starts the section on the East Southsea branch. This train was a dismal failure, with a picture showing how they were re-engineered. There is a 1896 map of the 1 1/4 mile line and images of the 'hopelessly extravagant terminus'.

Portsmouth and Southsea follows which includes pictures of the Dockyard branch, a turntable near Burnaby bridge, bomb damage and the 'intimate nature of the high level train sheds' which the author recommends experiencing - 'the limited clearances and tremendous vibration being impressive.'

The book ends with Portsmouth Harbour Station. There is a terrific picture of the South Dockyard branch complete with 40ft swing bridge and some striking images of war damage and the paddle steamer Portsdown, owned by the railway, and requisitioned to assist in the battle of Dunkirk. Sadly this ship hit a mine in 1941, on a service to Ryde, with 20 deaths.

There are other books in the series that cover some of these stations and it may be best to check what is in each book before purchasing. For example there are no pictures of the 'battle of Havant' in this book

All of Middleton Press books are in black and white

Review by

Pengi

Links

Middleton Press