Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway
|Basingstoke and Alton
Section of vintage track representing the
Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway,
on the Viables Roundabout in Basingstoke.
reopened August 1924,
final closure 12 September 1932
|Owner||London and South Western Railway
|Operator(s)||London and South Western Railway
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway was a railway in Hampshire, UK, opened on Saturday, 1 June 1901, with no formal ceremony. It was the first railway to be enabled by an Order of the Light Railway Commission under the Light Railways Act of 1896. Despite its closure in January 1917, and the removal of much of the track, the line was relaid and re-opened in August 1924 largely because of pressure from local landowners, farmers and agricultural workers. Passenger services ended in 1932 but a goods service from Basingstoke as far as Bentworth and Lasham continued until 1936. The whole of the line was then dismantled, except for short stubs at either end - from Basingstoke to Thornycroft's factory, and from Butts Junction to Alton Park. These short stretches were used for goods traffic until 1967.
The line was authorised under the Light Railways Act in December 1897. Construction began in July 1898. As the first Light Railway in the country the construction attracted some interest in the railway industry and the first cut in the ground was ceremonially made by Charles Ritchie, the then President of the Board of Trade at a spot next to the Thornycroft works near Basingstoke.
Alton Light Railway
The railway operated from Basingstoke railway station, through Cliddesden, Herriard and Bentworth and Lasham to Butts Junction (just west of Alton). In 1909 a private platform was opened called Alton Park, also Treloar's Hospital Platform railway station, which served the Lord Mayor Treloar's hospital.
Excluding the approach to Butts Junction, the line was entirely single track. Only Herriard station was provided with two platforms. As a light railway, the line had an overall speed limit of 25 miles per hour, and the journey from Basingstoke to Butts Junction took typically 45 minutes. When it opened, there were three return trips to Alton daily, which rose to six by the summer of 1909, with an extra couple of goods trains.
The railway was used for the filming of the 1929 film The Wrecker and the 1937 film Oh, Mr Porter! which features Cliddesden Station as the fictional Buggleskelly.  Unused footage from The Wrecker was used in the 1936 film The Seven Sinners.
A short length of railway track was installed in the centre of the Viables roundabout in Basingstoke in 1976 to commemorate the line at a point close to its original route. There is also a plaque at the main station in Basingstoke. The only part of the railway which survives today is a 100m stub of track 1 mile west of the railway station in Basingstoke.