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The Light Railway

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 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 Train 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 Steam Train 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 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. 

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