Loving Life Around Here: Heritage Railways

In a series dedicated to life in and around the location of our serviced accommodation, why not step outside and check out some of the amazing attractions of the south coast of England. 

The Watercress Line

Watercress

Affectionately known as the ‘Watercress Line’ due to our connection with transporting watercress from the beds in Alresford all the way in to London, this heritage railway was saved from total

Watercress-Line-Day-Out-with-Thomas-at-Housewife-Confidential-14extinction by a band of enthusiastic volunteers in 1973.  Enough money was raised to re-open the line as a visitor attraction from Alresford to Ropley in 1977 and continued to raise funds to relay the track to join up with the mainline network at Alton by 1985, with it’s own station buildings on Platform 3.  Operating the often steep gradients larger classes of steam locomotive are required.

Today the railway runs the full 10 miles between the market towns of Alresford and Alton, preserving an important piece of England’s 1940’s – 70’s railway heritage for this generation and many more to follow.

Group, school and family visits are always welcome with many specials hauled along the line from the infamous Polar Express to the R.A.T – Real Ale Train.

Haven Street, Isle Of Wight

Haven Street

This Award-Winning Isle of Wight Steam Railway will engage, inspire and excite you. The nostalgic sight of powerful majestic steam engines, the charm of quiet rural stations, and the friendliness of traditionally uniformed staff, will leave you with some enduring memories of a special day out. This once island main line ran connected most of the towns and capital Newport but fell to the axe of the Beeching cuts in the 1960’s.
Easily accessible from either ferry terminal from Southampton or Portsmouth, this quaint untouched line is certainly worth the day out. For the extreme ‘enthusiast’ take the Wightlink fast cat service from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde Pier Head and alight onto a 1930’s stock of former London Underground train. Stopping at Smallbrook Junction, pick up the Haven Street steam line. Known locally as the ‘bone shaker’ this is still operated by a mainline operator South Western Trains.
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The Island Line ex-tube train. Pic: David Dixon
As a family and casual visitor, it offers a unique and exciting day out, transporting you back to a bygone era when steam power was the order of the day. Take a Ride behind one of the vintage steam locomotives for a special journey back in time, breathe in the evocative smells of a real steam railway, while your eyes and ears thrill to the puffing and hissing of the steam engine. Settle back in beautifully restored Victorian and Edwardian carriages and enjoy a unique view of some of the Island’s un-spoilt countryside. Why not hop off at one of the stations for tea and just watch the trains go by!

Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Miniature Railway

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On a much smaller scale, Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway is a popular attraction near to Southampton. It is perfect for a day out with the kids at the weekend or during school holidays. Many steam and diesel trains run from the main station at Eastleigh Parkway to Monks Brook Halt, offering the opportunity to visit the lakes, children’s playground and use the picnic tables for refreshments. The steam train returns back to the main station from Monks Brook Halt, with the entire trip totalling 15-20 minutes.

Various days are dedicated to children’s activities, including Thomas & Friends with familiar faces hauling passengers around the lakes. The ELSR have the largest collection of Miniature locomotives on a commercial railway, with a total of 24 in the collection; 21 being steam powered and most of them are in steam on gala days.

Dock Gate 4 – The Cruise Line

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Situated next to many of our various Southampton serviced apartments this once historical line often displays a treat or two for the railway enthusiast. Southampton Terminus station, now defunct, was once host to many platforms for passengers embarking on a round the world cruise from the docks.

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South Western House, a grade II listed building, which still stands today and is home to our Imperial Apartments, formally was the stop for many passengers who boarded the Titanic. With the lines now dug up but with the terminus building still standing, there is a single line that crosses a main road and into the docks. These days it plays route to many car manufacturers hauling their latest creations for shipping abroad and is often open to specials, hauled by steam or diesel locos.


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