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 west side of Southampton Water. It is used both by commuters and tourists, and forms an important link in the Solent Way and E9 European coastal paths.
The pier, railway and ferry service are currently operated by White Horse Ferries Ltd of Swindon. In October 2016 the White Horse Ferries staff were given redundancy letters which suggests an uncertain future from the pier and ferry service.
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.
A second company called the Hythe Pier & Hythe & Southampton Ferry company was formed in late 1874. A new act passed parliament in 1875 but legal disagreements with the Southampton Harbour and Pier Board delayed royal assent until 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 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 company only has one operational vessel at present:
- Great Expectations is a catamaran ferry originally used on the White Horse Ferries service across the River Thames from Tilbury to Gravesend.
- MV Uriah Heep is currently out of service following a collision with the pier on May 13th, 2016, which is still under investigation (Jan 2017) by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch..
Previous ferries to have operated on the service include:
A local community group held a public meeting on 24th November 2016 and announced its intentions to "Save Hythe Pier and ferry" by setting up a Charitable Incorporated Organisation under the name of "Hythe Pier Heritage Association.In February 2017 Hampshire County Council made an emergency payment to White Horse Ferries to allow them to charter a replacement ferry while MV Great Expectations underwent maintenance. 
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.
- "Future of Hythe Ferry thrown into doubt and staff given redundancy letters". Daily Echo. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
- "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.
- Easdown, Martin; Sage, Linda (2011). Piers Of Hampshire & The Isle Of Wight. Amberley. p. 86. ISBN 9781445603551.
- "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.
- "Hythe ferry services cancelled after ferry crashes into pier injuring three". Southern Daily Echo. 14 May 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
- "Marine Accident Investigation Branch: current investigations - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
- "Calls for pier revamp to save Hythe ferry". Daily Echo. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
- Rimell, Will (11 February 2017). "Hampshire council throws under-threat Hythe Ferry service a financial lifeline". Southern Daily echo. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
- 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.
- Ford, Emily (18 May 2016). "High winds 'were a factor' in Uriah Heep Hythe Pier crash". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- Media related to Hythe Pier, Railway and Ferry at Wikimedia Commons
- Hythe Ferry website
- MAIB report on the 2003 collision
- Map sources for: