Hythe Pier Railway

Discussion in 'Trip Planning & Reports' started by davetheguard, 31 Aug 2015.

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  1. davetheguard

    davetheguard Member

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    I had a trip on the Hythe Pier Railway last Saturday; quite a surprise as I'd never heard of it before!

    If anyone would like to replicate the trip, and it is shown in Baker's Bible for those with highlighter pens, this is how you do it:

    1. Take a SWT, XC, Southern, or FGW train to Southampton Central.
    2. Leave the station by the downside (south) exit, you'll see a bus stop just to your left. The Citylink bus to Town Quay runs ever 30 minutes and costs £1. Get off at the last stop - Town Quay Terminal 2.
    3. The fast Red Funnel ferry to Cowes Isle of Wight also runs from here, but you want the Hythe Ferry which leaves every 30 minutes. There's a cafe and it is under cover if you have a short wait.
    4. The Hythe Ferry arrives at the end of the pier at Hythe, and the connecting train along the pier is waiting for you and included in the price of the ferry.

    Hythe is a pleasant small town on the Totton to Fawley freight-only branch. You can return to Southampton by bus, or go back the way you've come. In high summer, there are also buses across the New Forest to Lymington via Beaulieu and Buckler's Hard (The Beach Bus).

    If you'd like lunch & a pint in Hythe I'd thoroughly recommend the Good Beer Guide listed "Ebenezers" in Pylewell Road. Slightly difficult to find, but literally only two minutes' walk from the pier railway - walk dead straight ahead, enter Pylewell Road, and its set back on your right. At least one other pub is available....

    Here are a few pictures to give a flavour of the trip, and perhaps whet your appetite.
     

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  3. Muzer

    Muzer Established Member

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    Funnily enough, I did this recently as a birthday trip with my mum! Unfortunately I stupidly forgot my camera, so the only thing I have are mediocre phone pics. I'll definitely be going back there with a friend!

    Things to look out for:

    * The Hythe Pier Tramway has useful freight! Yes, when the ferry is running low on fuel, they fuel it up by sending an oil tanker wagon up the pier! Unfortunately I didn't see it running, nor did I establish whether or not the schedule is particularly regular or if it's just "as needed", but from what I gleaned it basically goes up some mornings. You can see the tanker itself in the siding.
    * Electric locos were made for a mustard gas factory in World War I. Converted from battery to third-rail operation when they moved to the Pier Tramway. There are two of them; one of them has a number painted on the side facing away from where passengers can see it (but you can see it from a publicly-accessible area if you walk round the back of the sidings). They are numbered by the Pier Tramway 1 and 2!
    * Why is there a waiting room on the pier head but not on the town side? This really confused me, as the tram I suspect has always connected quite sharply with ferries, as it does today. So the only time you'd need the waiting room on the pier head is if you decide to walk up in advance. To contrast, you're likely to be waiting a while at the Town station for a train, so why not give you a waiting room? Odd...
    * Vantage points for photography of the freight line: I was there on a day when there was no freight (another reason I have to go back!), but I did scope out three vantage points. In relatively close proximity in Hythe itself, you should find a level crossing, a footbridge and a road bridge. The level crossing seemed to me to be useless for photography due to tight curves and vegetation, don't even bother IMHO. The road bridge had good views on both sides but was somewhat restricted in how fast you could cross it if you wanted to get a picture of both ends, as it has completely segregated footpaths (ie with a fence) on both sides. The footbridge's view is restricted on one side by a curve, but is good on the other side. It actually doesn't look like a footbridge, it looks more like an old road bridge where someone has let grass grow on it! The footpath leads to some allotments (of which there appear to be many in Hythe), which come out just near to the road bridge. I don't know how slow the trains go through here, but if it's around running pace perhaps you could get a picture at one bridge then dash to the other, if you were feeling nimble? ;)
     
  4. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

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    I should point out that.... you know that little flat wagon at the pierhead end of the train? It's often used to carry large items of passenger luggage, including pushchairs ( unoccupied, I hasten to add! ) so technically that's a freight wagon, making this the only place in the UK where you still have a daily timetabled mixed train.
     
  5. EbbwJunction1

    EbbwJunction1 Member

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    I did some of this trip quite a few years ago.

    I was staying in Southampton, and caught a bus to Beaulieu for the National Motor Museum. After quite a few hours there, I caught a bus to Hythe and took the ferry all the way into Southampton - quite an interesting trip watching the ships and ferries.

    I must go back down there some time!
     
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