Hythe Pier, Railway and Ferry
|Hythe Pier, Railway and Ferry|
|Type||Pier, railway and ferry|
|Operator(s)||White Horse Ferries Ltd|
|Track gauge||2 ft (610 mm)|
Hythe Pier, the Hythe Pier Railway and the Hythe Ferry provide a link between the English port city of Southampton and the Hampshire village of Hythe on the opposite side of Southampton Water. It is heavily used by commuters and shoppers from Hythe, and forms an important link in the Solent Way and E9 European coastal paths.
The pier, railway and ferry service are all operated by White Horse Ferries Ltd of Swindon. During the day, both train and ferry run every 30 minutes. The railway is the oldest continuously operating public pier train in the world.
Hythe Pier stretches 700 yards (640 m) from the centre of Hythe to the deep water channel of Southampton Water. It is approximately 16 feet (4.9 m) wide, and carries a pedestrian walkway and cycleway on its northern side and the Hythe Pier Railway on its southern side. During normal high tides the pier is 4 feet (1.2 m) above the surface of the water.
An Act of Parliament was passed granting permission for the construction of the pier in 1878. Construction started in 1879 and the pier opened in 1881. Originally there was a tollhouse at the landward end of the pier, and this was replaced by the present ticket office in the first decade of the 20th century. Large scale maintenance was carried out on the pier in 1896 at a cost of £1,500.
Hythe Pier Railway
The 1878 Act of Parliament made provision for the construction of a tramway along the pier, although one was not originally laid. The trucks that carried luggage along the pier were found to be damaging the pier decking, and in 1909 a narrow gauge railway was constructed to replace them. The vehicles were hand-propelled, and the track was laid flush with the pier decking.
In 1922 the railway was reconstructed and electrified, attaining its current form. The track is laid to 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge and is electrified at 250 V DC by a third rail on the seaward side of the track. The line consists of a single track with no passing loops, with two non-electrified sidings at the landward end. One of the sidings enters the line's covered workshop. Stations, equipped with low wooden platforms, exist at both ends of the line. The pier head station has an overall roof, whilst the landward station has a ticket office and waiting shelter.
The line is operated by two four-wheeled electric locomotives built in 1917 by Brush with works numbers 16302 & 16307. They were originally battery powered, being used at the World War I mustard gas factory at Avonmouth. They were transferred to Hythe after the war, where they were converted to collect power from a third rail and had their batteries removed. They are crudely numbered № 1 & № 2 on their seaward sides. There was initially a third locomotive but it was taken apart for spares.
The line owns four bogie passenger cars, two of which have a driving cab at their seaward ends. In normal operation the single train is made up of one of the locomotives propelling three passenger cars, with a four-wheel flat car for baggage. The locomotive is always at the landward end, and the seaward passenger car must have a driving cab. The line also has a four-wheel oil-tank car, used to carry fuel to the Hythe ferries.
Every train connects at the pier head with an arrival and departure of the Hythe Ferry. The ferry carries passengers and bicycles, and takes about 10 minutes for the crossing. En route, the ferry passes the terminal used by the passenger liners Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria and by other cruise ships, giving good views of the vessels when they are in port.
The Southampton terminal is at the Town Quay, also the terminal of the Red Funnel ferries to the Isle of Wight. Town Quay is a short walk from the city centre, and is linked to both the city centre and Southampton Central railway station by a free shuttle bus.
A ferry has operated from Hythe to Southampton since the Middle Ages, and it is marked on a map by Christopher Saxton of 1575. Steam vessels were introduced in 1830. From 1889 the Percy family were involved in the running of the ferry, and from 1900 to 1980 the service was run by the General Estates Company, owned by the Percy family. As a consequence of this, many of the ferries used carried the name Hotspur, named after Henry Percy or Hotspur, who was immortalised by William Shakespeare.
The current ferry is operated with two very different vessels:
- Great Expectations is a catamaran ferry originally used on the White Horse Ferries service across the River Thames from Tilbury to Gravesend.
- Hotspur IV was built in 1946 and has served on the Hythe Ferry ever since.
In the evening of 1 November 2003 the dredger Donald Redford collided with the pier, tearing a 150 feet (46 m) hole through the midsection and isolating the pier head from the land. The dredger did not collide with the pier train, and there were no casualties. The incident occurred few minutes after a crowd of people were heading home after a football match. Repairs to the pier were carried out by Dudley Barnes Marine with Beckett Rankine as the designer; the cost was £308,000 and the pier reopened on 7 January 2004.
The master of the dredger was sentenced to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to an act likely to cause the death of or serious injury to any person while under the influence of drink and causing damage to a structure while under the influence of drinking.
- "Timetable". White Horse Ferries Ltd. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
- "Hythe Pier". White Horse Ferries Ltd. Retrieved 17 January 2006.
- Titheridge, Alan (1981). Hythe Pier and Ferry a history. southern tourist board. p. 25. ISBN 9780950762005.
- "Hythe Pier & Tramway". Simplon Postcards. 2006. Retrieved 31 July 2009.
- Titheridge, Alan (1981). Hythe Pier and Ferry a history. southern tourist board. pp. 22–23. ISBN 9780950762005.
- Titheridge, Alan (1981). Hythe Pier and Ferry a history. southern tourist board. p. 45. ISBN 9780950762005.
- Frew, Iain (1983). Britain's Electric Railways Today. Electric Railway Society and Southern Electric Group. pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-85534-021-5 or ISBN 0-906988-12-8.
- Industrial Railway Society (2007). Industrial Locomotives (14EL). Industrial Railway Society. ISBN 9780901096623.
- Timpson, John (1992). Little Trains of Britain. HarperCollins. pp. 176–177. ISBN 0002184257.
- "Hythe Ferry". White Horse Ferries Ltd. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
- "Fares". White Horse Ferries Ltd. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
- "Ferry Route Map". White Horse Ferries Ltd. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
- Hythe, Old Hampshire Gazetteer
- "Hythe-Southampton Ferries". Ian Boyle/Simplon Postcards. 2006. Retrieved 14 February 2006.
- Titheridge, Alan (1981). Hythe Pier and Ferry a history. southern tourist board. p. 24. ISBN 9780950762005.
- "Becket Rankine News – Hythe Pier Hythe Pier repair and Hythe Pier reopened". 7 December 2004. Retrieved 31 July 2009.
- "Hythe Pier, Hampshire". The Heritage Trail. Retrieved 17 December 2006.
- Morris, Steven (20 March 2004). "Jail for drunken dredger captain". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 17 January 2006.
- Media related to Hythe Pier, Railway and Ferry at Wikimedia Commons
- Hythe Ferry website
- MAIB report on the 2003 collision
- Map sources for: