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Eastleigh to Botley and Fareham including Bishops Waltham branch

The Eastleigh to Fareham line was built by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) and opened in 1841. It linked the original Southampton to London trunk route (at Eastleigh) to Fareham. At the same time, the LSWR also built a line from Fareham to Gosport, with the intention of extending services to the city and important naval dockyard of Portsmouth. The area was the scene of competition between the LSWR and its main competitor in the region, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR). In the event, the latter reached Portsmouth first.

The Bishops Waltham branch had its origins in a much grander plan put forward in the early 1860s. The aim of the Bishops Waltham, Botley & Bursledon Railway (later named the Bishops Waltham Railway Company) was to link the proposed Petersfield & Midhurst Railway to the main line into Southampton.The LSWR objected to the proposed line but reached an agreement that the smaller company would reduce its plans to a simple branch between Botley and Bishops Waltham with the proviso only tank engines would be used to ensure that the line was not worked at a great speed because of its many tight curves. The branch ran from Botley on the Eastleigh-Fareham line to Bishops Waltham. The line was opened by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) in 1863, closed to passengers in 1932 and finally closed to freight in 1962.

In 1904, it was announced that steam railmotors that had been withdrawn from the Basingstoke to Alton line could be used on the Bishops Waltham and Turnchapel branches to improve their service. The Bishops Waltham branch was one of the few lines in the region to be worked by railmotors.

Eastleigh Junction map mid 1900s.

Botley Station

Opened in 1842 Botley was once the junction for the Bishops Waltham branch which was opened in 1863 and finally closed to freight in 1962.

As built, Botley had two facing platforms largely on the west side of Station Hill but extending for a short distance on the east side of the road. In 1863 Botley became a junction, following the opening of the Bishops Waltham branch which ran into a new bay platform on the down side. By the last decade of the nineteeth century a siding had been laid along the Bishops Waltham branch. The goods yard comprised a single siding with a loop on the up side. Goods traffic quickly grew with the local flour mills taking advantage of the goods facilities from an early date. Timber and farm produce, including livestock movements, were another common feature. It did not take long for the numerous local fruit growers, especially strawberry growers, to realise the potential of the railway to transport their highly perishable products rapidly to market centres up and down the country.

An additional siding was approved in 1884 and the station approach road was widened in 1892 to prevent bottlenecks. Later the loop on the single siding had been removed and replaced with two parallel sidings running along the south side of the dock; it is in the area between these two new sidings and the perimeter of the yard that strawberries were loaded onto special ventilated vans. Southern Hampshire (including the area around Bishops Waltham, Botley, Fareham and Titchfield) was the UK's main strawberry growing region.

During the 1950s, passenger traffic was in decline and the station was listed for closure in the Beeching Report but it survived and remains open.

Botley Station map late 1800s.

Botley Station and Bishops Waltham branch map early 1900s.

Bishops Waltham Branch 1922.

Botley Station 1904.

Botley Station 1904 - 1907 showing the Strawberry harvest.

Bishops Waltham branch - Durley Halt

Opened in 1909 and closed in 1933.

Bishops Waltham branch - Durley Halt map.

Bishops Waltham branch - Durley Halt early 1900s.

Bishops Waltham branch - Durley crossing early 1955.

Bishops Waltham branch - Bishops Waltham Station.

Opened as temporary station south of Winchester Road in 1863 and as a permanent station north of Winchester Road level crossing in 1865. Closed to passengers in 1933 closed completely in 1962. The station was demolished in 1965.

The Bishops Waltham Gas and Coke Company began production at a site to the north of the station in 1864. The town was lit by gas for the first time in 1864 and Bishops Waltham is believed to have been one of the earliest towns in the county to have gas street lighting. To keep the works supplied with coal the goods yard siding was extended into the works. Regular supplies arrived at the gasworks with complete coal trains sometimes required. The coal was transferred from the siding to the retort house by a narrow gauge line raised on trestles alongside the siding. Small tipper wagons were pushed along the line into the retort house by hand.

Another important outgoing commodity handled by the yard was farm produce with Bishops Waltham becoming the railhead for many farms in the lower Meon valley. Although it diminished in later years, as many farms moved over to road haulage, this traffic continued until closure of the line. The bulk of this produce was arable - consisting mainly of cereal crops and sugar beet - but soft fruit and dairy products were also important, with churns of milk being despatched from the station daily.

Around the turn of the century a 55yd private siding was laid south of the station on the down side. It served the Abbey Brewery. The siding was lifted in 1948.

With an average of five passengers travelling on each of the trains, closure was inevitable. Closure to passengers came in 1932, the engine shed was closed in 1933 and was quickly demolished.

Bishops Waltham branch - Bishops Waltham Station map late 1800s.

Bishops Waltham branch - Bishops Waltham Station 1904.

Bishops Waltham branch - Bishops Waltham Station 1912.

Bishops Waltham branch - Bishops Waltham Station and Crossing 1912.

Bishops Waltham branch - Bishops Waltham Clay Company workers.

Knowle Halt

The station was built in 1907 to serve Knowle Asylum (previously known as the Hampshire County Lunatic Asylum and later Knowle Hospital) and has been known as Knowle Asylum Halt & Knowle Platform being renamed Knowle Halt in1942. It was closed in1964.

Knowle Halt map mid 1900s.

Knowle Halt mid 1900s.

Funtley Brickworks

At one time Funtley (formerly Fontley) had a very important brick and tile works with the Fontley Brick and Tile Works becoming the most important in the district. Handmade bricks (the famous ‘Fareham Reds’) from here were used in the construction of the Royal Albert Hall in London. The clay was originally trod down by workers in their bare feet but with the invention of the pug mill, the clay was mixed with water mechanically and production increased. The daily brick production was placed on boards and stacked up to six high and dried for ten days before being put outside to dry evenly. The bricks were burnt in two Scotch kilns and according to their position in the kiln were burnt in different colours. It wasn’t until 1923, that the bricks (and by then also tiles) were made by machine. They were sent from Funtley by rail, or from Fareham Quay by sea. The works closed in 1967.

Funtley Brickworks map mid 1900s.

Funtley Brickworks early 1900s.

Fareham Station

Fareham station was first opened by London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) in 1841 on the line from Eastleigh to Gosport. Later additions connected Fareham station with Southampton, Portsmouth and along the coast towards Brighton.

In 1845 the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway obtained an Act to build a line extending their Brighton to Chichester line to Portsmouth. Perceiving this as a threat to their traffic in the neighbourhood, the London & South Western Railway entered into negotiations with the Brighton company, as a result of which it was agreed that the South Western would build a connecting line from Fareham to a joint station at Cosham and that the line from Cosham to Portsmouth would be a joint LB&SC/L&SW line. Trains from Brighton to Portsmouth commenced on 14 June 1847. The Fareham to Cosham line opened on 1 September 1848, and L&SWR trains began running trains through to Portsmouth on 1 October 1848.

Below is a map of Fareham Station showing the Portsmouth, Southampton, Gosport and Eastleigh/Meon Valley lines. Also shown is the current tunnel route north to Knowle and the old Deviation Line which was built as an alternative route when the tunnel became unsafe and finally collapsed in the late 1800's. The tunnel was re-opened in 1903 and the Deviation Line finally closed off in 1973.

Fareham Station map mid 1900s.

Fareham Junction map mid 1900s.

Fareham Station 1915.

Fareham Viaduct on opening day, 1 September 1848.


Disused Stations - Bishops Waltham
Disused Stations - Durley Halt
Disused Stations - Botley
Disused Stations - Knowle Halt
Funtley Village Society
Wikipedia - Eastleigh to Fareham Line
Wikipedia - Bishops Waltham branch
Wikipedia - Meon Valley Railway
Old Maps Online