Longmoor Military Railway
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. The railway ceased operation on 31 October 1969.
Longmoor Military Railway
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 to Bordon.
The railway was relaid to 4 ft 8+1⁄2 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:
- Bordon – the northern terminal, adjacent to Bordon station and with access to British Railways via the LSWR owned Bentley and Bordon Light Railway.
- Oakhanger Halt - serving the village of Oakhanger, Hampshire. Bordon station was nearer to Oakhanger and Oakhanger station was nearer to Bordon.
- Whitehill Junction - serving the village of Whitehill, Hampshire.
- Two Range Halt
- Woolmer - serving the hamlet of Woolmer.
- Longmoor Downs – the original terminus, and largest station on the line, serving the military camp.
- Weaversdown Halt – originally a passing place at the hamlet of Weaversdown, a station was constructed which served the eastern side of Longmoor Military Camp.
- Liss Forest Road - serving the hamlet of Liss Forest.
- Liss Junction – with access to the exchange sidings, and onwards into Liss British Railways goods yard.
- Liss – the southern terminus, with a platform adjacent to those serving the Portsmouth Direct Line (still running).
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.
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.
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.
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.
The following standard gauge locomotives were in use in 1914:
|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:
|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.|
|Maj-Gen. Carl R. Gray Jr.||93257||2-8-0||ALCO||71512||1944||USATC S160 Class. later numbered as 700, Scrapped October 1957|
|Maj-Gen. McMullen||79250||2-8-0||Vulcan Foundry||5193||1945||Dark Blue Livery with Red Lining. Did Not Carry Number on naming ceremony, later numbered as 401, Scrapped 1957|
|Maj-Gen. Frank S. Ross||94382||0-6-0T||Davenport||2531||1943||USATC S100 Class. Dark Blue with Red Lining numbered as 300|
|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:
|Brussels||118||0-6-0ST||Hudswell Clarke||1782 *||1945||Oil-fired Austerity class|
|Tobruk||156||0-6-0ST||Oil fired Austerity class. Renamed McMurdo 1965.|
|Constantine||157||0-6-0ST||Hunslet||3207||1945||Austerity class, stored in Fitter's School in 1963. Back in use for the film The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery as 68916.|
|Sir Guy Williams||400||2-8-0||North British||25205||1943||Main passenger locomotive in 1963, scrapped 1967.|
|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, scrapped 1967.|
|Bari||876||350 h.p. shunter||Derby Works||1945||Under repair in Fitter's shop, 1963|
|Basra (Formerly Chittagong)||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|
|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.
Accidents and incidents
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.
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.
In the 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.
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.
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.
Preserved Ex-LMR Locomotives
Some of the Hunslet Austerity tanks were only ever at Longmoor for storage, and were not used operationally there.
|LMR 600 Gordon (WD Austerity 2-10-0)||Severn Valley Railway||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||NRM|
|WD192 Waggoner (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST)||Isle of Wight Steam Railway||Isle of Wight Steam Railway|
|WD118 Brussels (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST)||Keighley & Worth Railway||KWVR||On Display at Oxenhope|
|WD196 Errol Lonsdale (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST)||Belgium, stoomcentrum Maldegem||Privately Owned|
|WD197 Sapper (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST)||Kent & East Sussex Railway||KESR|
|WD152 Rennes (RSH Austerity 0-6-0ST)||Dean Forest Railway||Privately Owned|
|WD107 Foggia (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST)||Ribble Steam Railway||Ribble Steam Railway||Converted to Tender Loco, previously named 'Douglas'|
|WD200 (Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST)||Colne Valley Railway||CVR|
|WD610 General Lord Robertson (Sentinel 0-8-0DH)||Avon Valley Railway|
|WD878 Basra 350 h.p. shunter||Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway||Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway|
|Gazelle (Dodman & Co. 0-4-2WT)||The Colonel Stephens Railway Museum||NRM|
In popular culture
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), Runaway Railway (1965), The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery (1966), The Magnificent Two (1967) 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.
Montage on display at Liss railway station
- Melbourne Military Railway – Derbyshire
- Courtney, Geoff (4 September – 1 October 2008). "Longmoor derailed an Arthur". Heritage Railway. Horncastle: Mortons Media Group Ltd (115): 32–33. ISSN 1466-3562.
- 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.
- Hindley, Philip G. (September 1985). "The Kinmel Camp Railway". The Industrial Railway Record. The Industrial Railway Society. 102: 309–322.
- Whebell, Brian (December 1966). "Postscripts to Longmoor". Industrial Railway Record. 12: 303–307.
- Farmer, Keith (March 1966). "Longmoor Military Railway". Industrial Railway Record. 9: 199–205/220.
- Rowledge, S. "Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway locomotive list". Staplehurst: Robinjay Press. Cite journal requires
- Liss, Hants Archived 5 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 February 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Image of three remaining rolling stock items.
- Severn Valley Railway News. 162. 2008. Missing or empty
- "Severn Valley Railway Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Hampshire County Council Website". Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "National Railway Museum Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Isle of Wight Steam Railway Website". Archived from the original on 18 August 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Keighley & Worth Railway Website". Archived from the original on 29 October 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "South Devon Railway Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "K&ESR Website". Archived from the original on 22 December 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Avon Valley Railway Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Colonel Stephens Railway Museum Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "National Railway Museum Website". Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Roberts, Stephen (2 January 2019). "Military service and movie memories". Rail Magazine. No. 869. Peterborough: Bauer Media. p. 62. ISSN 0953-4563.
- "Runaway Railway". www.imbd.com. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
- 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.
- History at HantsWeb
- Industrial Railway Society article from 1966 also includes a map of the system
- British Pathe "Army Railway" newsreel from 1961
- Recollections of LMR operations
- History at Military Railways in Hampshire
- "Army historical article on the LMR". Archived from the original on 31 October 2006.