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Mid Hants Railway Operational Matters

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by NightRail, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    At the time the SR electrified to Alton (inter war period), Basingstoke - Winchester - Southampton was still not electrified. So continuing through the Mid Hants in the 1930s would have been electrifying a minor branch line just to arrive at - in electric terms - a blind alley.

    Southampton wasn’t electrified until 1967, by which time the Mid Hants’ days as part of BR were numbered.

    Had the SR electrified to Southampton before the war, then maybe things would have been different since there would have been logic in continuing through from Alton so as to form an all-electric diversionary route. But not much point when Basingstoke - Southampton was still steam hauled.

    Tom
     
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  2. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    What puzzles me is why the branch electrification extended as far as Alton.


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  3. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    This doesn't really belong on the thread about the line beyond Alton in preservation, but it seems a fair question. Besides occasional diversions of through trains, what trains did the Southern run beyond Alton? Steam-hauled all the way from Waterloo, mixed with the electrics as far as Alton, or a shuttle service from Alton?
     
  4. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Ironically, about the busiest the line got (pre-preservation) was when the SW Mainline was being sparked up, many services being diverted 'over the alps'.

    I believe it also proved useful during WWII.
     
  5. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road Member

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    Prior to the juice going in the service was pretty much a Waterloo to Southampton one. Alton was also a termination for the Meon Valley. When the line was electrified as far as Alton the service was recast to a steam shuttle from Southampton to Alton, to connect with the Waterloo electrics.
    As an aside, Alton must have had its moments! Looking through the South Western Gazette from the First World War it seems that in 1916 an H. Sterk was appointed as Running Foreman there (there having been no mention of Alton in the list prior to that). He was replaced by a G.H. Payne in 1920-21. What did he do all day? No allocation, just a table and a water column. Managed banking / pilot engines, I suppose.
    Pat
     
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  6. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I wonder if he was kept busy servicing engines on running-in turns from Eastleigh - a nice length run, turntable at the end, plenty of paths and not too much disruption to important trains if you did have to put an engine aside with a hot box …

    Tom
     
  7. Dunfanaghy Road

    Dunfanaghy Road Member

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    It was the timing of it that woke me up.
    At the same time a W. Willcocks was appointed to Bordon (previously uncovered), although there was a lot of troop train activity there. (Grandfather Sergeant H.C. Bell and the 110th (Ulster) Field Ambulance entrained there in October, 1915.)
    Pat
     
  8. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Plus the Basingstoke & Alton Lt Rly., a line so busy it had the distinction of featuring no less than three closures, in 1917 (for the duration .... in this case until 1924!), in 1932 for passengers and finally for goods in 1936.

    Cliddesden Station on the B&A (the last before joining the LSWR mainline south of Basingstoke) 'starred' as Buggleskelly in the Will Hay film 'Oh, Mr.Porter', which also provided immortality for K&ESR No.2 Northiam as the geriatric Gladstone
     
  9. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    My musing was in part based on experience visiting Bentley station as a kid on walks with grandparents - back then, it struck me as rather Adlestrop like! And with the electric car sheds at Farnham, the 10 miles on to Alton felt an odd add-on.

    So quiet that, c. 1983, the driver once invited us into the cab before we left Farnham without obvious fear of comeuppance - though my little brother’s confusion of the handbrake wheel with a steering wheel caused some alarm…


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  10. John2

    John2 New Member

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  11. John2

    John2 New Member

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    Paths over the Mid Hants were limited by the single line by the hourly passenger service.
     
  12. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    Electrification...Sorry for extending the discussion.

    Isn't the story wider than just Alton? The Southern had a suburban electrification game plan in the 1930s. So, for example, the new line to Chessington was completed around the same time - finished in 1939. Farnham was the main destination with the train sheds built in 1037. We can view the extension to Alton as just a way of including the hinterland around Farnham rather than anything else.

    Of course Alton has developed in its own right since then but at electrification it was almost the end of commuter territory with a branch extending to Winchester. so there was hardly any need to take the third rail any further.
     
  13. Shaggy

    Shaggy Well-Known Member

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    Blimey. Now that's what I call forward planning!;)
     
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  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Done during the reign of King Æthelred the Ælectric …

    Tom
     
  15. 35B

    35B Nat Pres stalwart

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    One set of my grandparents moved to Bentley in 1956, and stayed there till long after they'd retired; the others lived in Isington with my grandfather working more locally. Judging by my childhood memories of Bentley station, and it's then less than full car park, I'd have suggested that it remained beyond commuter territory for all bar a few hardy souls for some time longer. Even allowing for the impact of WWII on development patterns, the logic of that investment seems odd - except possibly as being a lesser evil than having to extend the Mid Hants &/or Meon Valley services to Farnham.
     
  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    I think you’d be into serious academic study territory to really understand it, ie going back to primary records. There’s generally a reason for everything. For example, the SR electrified the Horsted Keynes branch basically to get a unit on the Seaford - Haywards Heath service out of the way and not blocking a platform at Haywards Heath. In the case of Farnham - Alton, there may well be a diagramming study somewhere that found that a greater amount of steam haulage could be scrapped than was needed in electric haulage, or something of that ilk. I don’t know the reason, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere there was a report showing that if units did a quick trip to Alton and back, the desired frequency from Farnham could be maintained at a level of additional outlay that was less than the saving in steam haulage by extending Mid Hants trains through to Farnham. Someone will have done the maths.

    Tom
     
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  17. Romsey

    Romsey Part of the furniture

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    I seem to remember that the Farnham to Alton was added to the Portsmouth Direct electrification scheme because Farnham didn't have the capacity to deal with terminating services from the Mid Hants, Meon Valley and B&A Light Railway. Was there some problem over locating the depot at Alton as well with the local council?

    It's worth remembering that the 1930's electrification schemes often only changed the type of traction, with often unaltered stations and signalling. Route modernisation is a more recent policy.

    Cheers, Neil
     
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  18. John2

    John2 New Member

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    Yes, the town council refused permission for the depot at Alton. Farnham to Alton was also singled in 1985 due to lack of funding from county council. The original plan for the Bournemouth electrification included Alton-Winchester Junction, Branksome-Weymouth, Worgret Junction-Swanage and Worting Junction-Salisbury. Unfortunately, the strict £15m limit put paid to that.
     
  19. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Resident of Nat Pres

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    Nearly put the kybosh on two major preserved lines!
     
  20. 30854

    30854 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Let's face it, there was no shortage of alternatives back then ..... Bridport comes to mind, for one.
     

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