Longmoor Military Railway

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Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST on the Longmoor Military Railway in 1968
LMR 600 Gordon at Longmoor in 1949.

The Longmoor Military Railway (LMR) was a British military railway in Hampshire, built by the Royal Engineers from 1903 in order to train soldiers on railway construction and operations.

Route[edit]

Longmoor Military Railway
Bordon Light Railway
White Hill Road Level Crossing
Bordon
Oakhanger Halt
Whitehill Junction
Two Range Halt
Hopkins Bridge
Hollywater
Woolmer
Griggs Green
Longmoor Downs
Weaversdown Halt
Liss Forest Road
Liss Junction
Liss
Liss
London to Portsmouth line

Authorised for construction from 1902, activities date from 1903 when an 18 in (457 mm) gauge tramway was laid to assist in removing 68 large corrugated iron huts from Longmoor Military Camp Camp to Bordon.

The railway was relaid to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge in 1905–1907 and was initially known as the Woolmer Instructional Military Railway. It was renamed the Longmoor Military Railway in 1935. The Liss extension was opened in 1933. The stations and junctions included:

An additional loop ran eastwards from Longmoor camp via a station at Hopkins Bridge to Whitehill Junction, completed in 1942. This provided circular running to the line, allowing for improved training without the need to turn trains at the terminals.

As a training railway, it was often being constructed/deconstructed. The layout would often change, and at one time housed a machine which could lay 1,500 yards (1,400 m) of track a day. At its peak, the railway ran to over 70 miles (110 km) of operational laid track and sidings.

Operations[edit]

The trackbed of the Military Railway in 2007, looking north from near Woolmer
The trackbed looking the other way, with Longmoor Camp around the curve to the left

The vehicles and stock on the LMR were very much an assortment to give the maximum learning opportunity. Well over a thousand locomotives had associations with the railway, although many only through the need for storage. The same was true of the signalling at the various locations on the line, including an Army version of flag signalling. After the end of World War II, the collection also included captured enemy equipment, including a "Schienenwolf" or railroad plough: a German wagon which dragged behind it a huge hook, used to destroy sleepers and so render railway lines unusable to advancing enemy troops.

In addition to the various military items, there were old versions of standard passenger carriages. A passenger service was operated over the line at various times, nominally for personnel required on the railway, and others from the War Department/Ministry of Defence and their families.

There was only one fatal accident recorded on the line, which occurred in October 1956.[1][2]

With a declining military role for railways both in Britain and the rest of the world, it was inevitable that the significance of the facilities offered by the LMR would be reduced in later years. Even so, the LMR was still important enough for the tracks of the Bentley to Bordon branch to be left in place when passenger services were withdrawn on 16 September 1957. This line remained in place as, although there was a British Railways connection at Liss, the Bordon branch made it easier to accommodate the movements of military traffic at short notice. In 1966, the movement of goods over the Bordon branch was suspended, and the line was taken up in 1967.

Railway Inspectorate[edit]

Among those who learned the workings of railways on the LMR, there were a select band who continued in railway-related work after leaving the services. These were the members of the Railway Inspectorate, whose remit is to enquire into the circumstances surrounding British railway accidents. The first Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways not to have been trained in the army was R. J. Seymour, appointed in 1988.

Locomotives[edit]

The following standard gauge locomotives were in use in 1914:[3]

Name Number   Type   Builder Works No. Date Notes
Pyramus 0-6-2T Hawthorn Leslie 2879 1911 ex-Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway. Transferred to the Kinmel Camp Railway in 1916. Sold in 1921. Later converted to 0-6-0T and by 1953 was working at NCB Nunnery Colliery. Scrapped 1962.
Thisbe 0-6-2T Hawthorn Leslie 2878 1911 ex-Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway. Transferred to the Kinmel Camp Railway in 1916. Returned to Longmoor around 1917.
Sir John French 0-6-2T Hawthorn Leslie 3088 1914 Supplied new. Transferred to the Kinmel Camp Railway in 1916. Returned to Longmoor after 1917.

The following standard gauge locomotives were present in 1947:[4]

Name Number   Type   Builder Works No. Date Notes
Selbourne 70204 0-6-0T Hawthorne Leslie 3531 1922 Out of use, 1947. Left Longmoor by 1948
Gordon 70205 0-6-2T West Yard Works, Cardiff WD205 1897 Last surviving Welsh standard-gauge locomotive ex Taff Vale Railway 'O1' class No.28. Purchased by Longmoor Military Railway in 1927. Sold to South Hetton Colliery, County Durham in 1947. Now part of the National Collection.
Marlborough 70207 0-6-2T North Staffordshire Railway - Stoke 2253 1909 Out of use, 1947. ex London, Midland and Scottish Railway, purchased by the War Department in 1936
Kitchener 70208 0-6-2T Bagnall 2587 1938 Out of use, 1947.
Daisy 70228 0-6-0ST Peckett 1204 1910 Out of use, 1947.
Earl Roberts 72400 4-4-2T Brighton Works 1908 Out of use, 1947. LB&SCR I2 class. ex-SR No. 2013
72401 4-4-2T Brighton Works 1908 Out of use, 1947. LB&SCR I2 class. ex-SR No. 2019
70177 0-6-0 Swindon Works Out of use, 1947. ex-GWR 2301 Class. Fitted for oil burning.
70179 0-6-0 Swindon Works Out of use, 1947. ex-GWR "2301" class.
70195 0-6-0 Swindon Works Out of use, 1947. ex-GWR "2301" class.
70198 0-6-0 Swindon Works Out of use, 1947. ex-GWR "2301" class.
Constantine 71443 0-6-0ST Hunslet 3207 1945 Austerity class. War Department brown livery. Stored in Fitters School.
Brussels 71505 0-6-0ST Hudswell Clarke 1782 * 1945 Oil-fired Austerity class. War Department brown livery.
Ahwaz 75028 0-6-0ST Hunslet 2877 1943 Austerity class. War Department brown livery. Fitted with Westinghouse Brakes.
Foggia 75041 0-6-0ST Hunslet 2890 1943 Austerity class. War Department brown livery. Fitted with Westinghouse Brakes.
Jullundur 75042 0-6-0ST Hunslet 2891 1943 Austerity class. War Department brown livery. Fitted with Westinghouse Brakes.
Lisieux 75079 0-6-0ST RSH 7115 1943 Austerity class. War Department brown livery. Fitted with Westinghouse Brakes.
Matruh 75275 0-6-0ST RSH 7205 1945 Austerity class. War Department brown livery.
Foligno 75277 0-6-0ST RSH 7207 1945 Austerity class. War Department brown livery.
Insein 75282 0-6-0ST Vulcan Foundry 5272 1945 Austerity class. War Department brown livery.
Manipur Road 75290 0-6-0ST Vulcan Foundry 5280 1945 Austerity class. Dark blue livery, lined with red and gold.

The following standard gauge locomotives were present in August 1963:[5]

Name Number Type Builder Works No. Date Notes
Caen 106 0-6-0ST Hunslet Austerity class
Brussels 118 0-6-0ST Hudswell Clarke 1782 * 1945 Oil-fired Austerity class
Tobruk 156 0-6-0ST Oil fired Austerity class
157 0-6-0ST Austerity class, stored in Fitter's School in 1963
Sir Guy Williams 400 2-8-0 North British 25205 1943 Main passenger locomotive in 1963
Gordon 600 2-10-0 North British 25437 1943 Now preserved on the Severn Valley Railway
Kitchener 601 2-10-0 North British 25643 1945 Under repair at Eastleigh Works in 1963
Bari 876 350 h.p. shunter Derby Works 1945 Under repair in Fitter's shop, 1963
Basra 878 350 h.p. shunter Derby Works 1945 Handled daily freight train in 1963
Hassan 8227 0-6-0 400 h.p. shunter Ruston & Hornsby 468041 1962 Worked the early morning passenger service, 1963
9033 Wickham Trolley 6857 1954
9034 Wickham Trolley 7397 1957 Under repair in Fitter's shop, 1963
17 John Fowler & Co. 22912 1940 ex-Swynnerton Royal Ordnance Factory
25 DM 51 Land Rover Converted Land Rover Mark 8 road vehicle

A notable locomotive based on the LMR was 'Kingsley', an 1886-built 4-4-0 tank locomotive. This had formerly been locomotive No.10 of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway and was the last surviving locomotive from this company when scrapped in 1953.[6]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On 13 October 1956 a passenger train hauled by Class 8F 2-8-0 WD512 was involved in a head-on collision with a permanent way train hauled by 0-6-0 diesel shunter WD877 Bari between Weaversdown Halt and Liss Forest Road stations. Six soldiers who were in a brake van behind the diesel locomotive were killed and eight were injured. The cause of the accident was driver error on the part of the driver of the passenger train, who had entered the section without authority. This was compounded by the signalling arrangements at Liss Forest Road, where there was no trap point to prevent the train entering the section after passing a danger signal.[1][2]

—The signalling system at Liss Forest was single line telephone and ticket. The block man wrote out the ticket even though the work train was still in section. The ticket was exchanged for the one engine in steam key which controlled the section from Liss Forest to Liss. This saved the block man the trip of walking up the platform with the ticket after the work train had cleared. It was a misty day and the passenger train armed with the ticket passed the signal at red which then led to the fatal crash.

Closure[edit]

In light of the reducing role of the military and the severely reduced British Empire, it was decided by the Ministry of Defence to close the railway. On hearing of its impending closure local locomotive preservation groups became interested in acquiring the small but complete rail system, and a bid was placed to purchase LMR along with the airstrip at Gypsy Hollow which would have enabled the production of a unique transport museum. The MOD rejected this proposal, which had been backed by the Association of Railway Preservation Societies and The Transport Trust. However the Army did offer the last 1½ miles of line from Liss Forest Road to Liss. The offer was accepted, a provisional lease was drawn up and planning permission was sought for developments at Liss.[7]

Unfortunately the people of Liss did not share this enthusiasm and opposed the planning permission. Several residents raised £9,100 in a successful bid to buy this last piece of line. Longmoor Military Railway closed down with a ceremonial last day of operation on 31 October 1969, though for another two years some locomotives and stock remained on site, and there were occasional movements. Three items of rolling stock (a van, a brake van, and a bogie flat) still remain on the Longmoor site, as part of the FIBUA training village.[8]

Preservation[edit]

Some of the stock of the LMR did pass into the hands of preservationists, for example Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST No.118 Brussels to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and many relics went to the Museum of Army Transport at Beverley, Yorkshire, itself since closed, with the exhibits transferred to care of the National Army Museum, although mostly held in storage. WD Austerity 2-10-0 locomotive LMR 600 Gordon, resident on the Severn Valley Railway for many years, was donated to the SVR by the National Army Museum in 2008.[9]

Preserved Ex-LMR Locomotives[edit]

Some of the Hunslet Austerity tanks were only ever at Longmoor for storage, and were not used operationally there.

Name Location Owner Notes
LMR 600 Gordon (WD Austerity 2-10-0) Severn Valley Railway[10] SVR
LMR 500 (Stanier 8F 2-8-0) Severn Valley Railway Stanier 8F Locomotive Society Later BR no. 48773
Woolmer (Avonside 0-6-0ST) Milestones Museum, Basingstoke[11] NRM[12]
WD192 Waggoner (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST) Isle of Wight Steam Railway[13] Isle of Wight Steam Railway
WD118 Brussels (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST) Keighley & Worth Railway[14] KWVR
WD196 Errol Lonsdale (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST) Belgium, stoomcentrum Maldegem[15] Privately Owned
WD197 Sapper (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST) Kent & East Sussex Railway[16] KESR
WD200 (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST) Kent & East Sussex Railway KESR
WD610 General Lord Robertson (Sentinel 0-8-0DH) Avon Valley Railway[17]
Gazelle (Dodman & Co. 0-4-2WT) The Colonel Stephens Railway Museum[18] NRM[19]

In popular culture[edit]

The railway was used as the location for a number of films including The Lady Vanishes (1938), Bhowani Junction (1956), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958), The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery (1966), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).

In February 1956 the railway was used to stage a train derailment for the BBC programme Saturday Night Out when Ex-SR King Arthur class locomotive 30740 Merlin and three coaches were pushed down an incline onto a specially canted section of track.[1]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Courtney, Geoff (4 Sep – 1 Oct 2008). "Longmoor derailed an Arthur". Heritage Railway (Horncastle: Mortons Media Group Ltd) (115): 32–33. ISSN 1466-3562. 
  2. ^ a b Willcock, David (27 October – 23 November 2011). "Six die in Longmoor's blackest day - but was there a military cover-up?". Heritage Railway (Horncastle: Mortons Media Ltd) (156): 62–66. ISSN 1466-3562. 
  3. ^ Hindley, Philip G. (September 1985). "The Kinmel Camp Railway". The Industrial Railway Record (The Industrial Railway Society) 102: 309–322. 
  4. ^ Whebell, Brian (December 1966). "Postscripts to Longmoor". Industrial Railway Record 12: 303–307. 
  5. ^ Farmer, Keith (March 1966). "Longmoor Military Railway". Industrial Railway Record 9: 199–205/220. 
  6. ^ Rowledge, S. Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway locomotive list. Staplehurst: Robinjay Press. 
  7. ^ Liss, Hants
  8. ^ [1] Image of three remaining rolling stock items.
  9. ^ Severn Valley Railway News 162. 2008. 
  10. ^ "Severn Valley Railway Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "Hampshire County Council Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "National Railway Museum Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  13. ^ "Isle of Wight Steam Railway Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Keighley & Worth Railway Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "South Devon Railway Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "K&ESR Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  17. ^ "Avon Valley Railway Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  18. ^ "Colonel Stephens Railway Museum Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  19. ^ "National Railway Museum Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ronald, D.W and Carter, R.J, (1974) The Longmoor Military Railway, Newton Abbot: David & Charles, ISBN 0-7153-6357-3.
  • Ronald, D.W. and Christensen, M., (2012) The Longmoor Military Railway: A New History: Volume One: 1903-1939, Lydney: Lightmoor Press, ISBN 978-1-899889-69-3.
  • Mitchell, V. and Smith, K., (1987), Branch Lines to Longmoor, Midhurst: Middleton Press, ISBN 0-906520-41-X.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°05′22″N 0°49′49″W / 51.0895°N 0.8302°W / 51.0895; -0.8302