Basingstoke to Alton Light Railway
The Basingstoke to Alton Light Railway was intended
to provide a route to Portsmouth. In 1887 a Bill was proposed to Parliament to
build the railway line, but the Bill was unsuccessful. In 1897 the Bill was
again put to Parliament, under the 1896 Light Railway Act, and this time the
Bill was successful. The Light Railway Act meant that a line could be built
cheaper as the line was only to be used lightly with lighter than normal trains
and at reduced speeds. The maximum speed permitted on the line was just 25
m.p.h. This meant that cheaper materials could be used in construction of the
railway lines. On June 1, 1901 the railway was finally constructed and the
line was opened. The line was famous for being the first constructed under the
Light Railway Act.
The railway served many villages in the local area,
although most of the stations were not particularly close to the towns. The railway was also
famous for being
the only railway closed during the First World War to have it's tracks moved.
The need to move troops and munitions quickly resulted in the tracks being
taken up in 1917 and re-laid in France. The line became overgrown during the war
years, until after the war the tracks were relayed due to public demand. It
wasn't until August 1924 that the tracks were finally re-laid and the railway
again opened. The reopened service, however, never made commercial sense as the
distance between Basingstoke and Alton was too short. The journey took an hour
to make, with all the stops at the different stations, and the distance between
Basingstoke and Alton was only about 12 miles. Eventually on June 1, 1936 the
railway finally closed for good.
The final use for the Railway was when the famous
comedian, Will Hay made the 1937 film "Oh Mr Porter" on the line.
Cliddesden station was used to portray the fictional station of Buggleskelly. My
father still remembers going down to see the movie being filmed and seeing Will
Hay in action.
(back to top)