January 1959 and a railway special stands briefly in Haslemere Station. The train, full of enthusiasts, was travelling from Victoria to Gosport and consisted of seven coaches including two Pullmans and was hauled by two different locos for parts of the route.
Here Drummond 0-6-0 30350 is hauling having picked up its train at Guildford. Unfortunately the Herald’s image doesn’t show the descriptive headboard on the firebox door which gives the reason for this celebration. January 25, 1959, was 100 years since the “Gosport Direct” line was opened.
This line was important as it was the only connection between London and Portsmouth until the city’s own station was built. Passengers bound for Portsmouth still had to get a ferry across the harbour after leaving Gosport station. It wasn’t until 1876 that the Portsmouth line finally arrived at the dockyard gates giving direct access for passengers and sailors embarking on ferries and naval vessels.
This was all a result of the competition between the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, the South Eastern Railway and the London South Western line the story of which is convoluted and would take up the rest of this page.
Suffice to say that, in 1959, 100 years after the line opened, it was obviously celebrated along its length and, perhaps in true railway tradition, the special was 90 minutes late arriving back into Victoria.