Frederick Furniss 1825 – 1891, Contractor for the Havant to Hayling Branch Line By Ann Griffiths

In July 1860 the Hayling Railway Company was formed, in order to build a branch line from Havant to South Hayling. It was estimated that it would take seven years to raise the money, acquire the necessary land and build the line. The civil engineer contracted to build the line was Frederick Furniss, who was born in Ashford-in-the Water, Derbyshire in 1825. He and his second wife, Septima, rented Langstone Villa in Langstone HIgh Street, where their five children were born between 1864 and 1870.

Work began in the spring of 1863. The first mile of track was laid to Langstone, and opened for carrying freight on 19th January 1865. The railway company then got into financial and technical difficulties when constructing the Hayling section, because the embankment they were building along the mud flats was continually being washed away. However, a rich land agent, Mr Francis Fuller, came to the rescue, becoming chairman of the Hayling Railway Company in 1866. The embankment was abandoned, and land was purchased to allow the line to run along the shore. Fuller had visions of making Hayling into a prominent seaside resort by building villas and a race-course. Frederick Furniss was again the contractor.

On 28th June 1867 an experimental train ran from Havant to Hayling. The passengers included Mr Fuller, Charles Longcroft (vice-chairman), Frederick Furniss and the Mayor of Portsmouth. The company subsequently ‘partook of the contractor at the Royal Hotel’. Mr Furniss presided. The first official passenger train to Hayling ran on 17th July 1867. There were three classes of travel, with 1st, 2nd and 3rd class return fares at 1s 9d, 1s, and 9d. On 27th July 1867 there was a notice in the Portsmouth Times which stated that the Hayling Island railway was now open. ‘Special trains will be provided on very reasonable terms for pleasure parties. For arrangements apply to F. Furniss, Langston.’ Train services were agreed with Furniss providing locos and rolling stock. The initial timetable showed that Furniss was providing 6 trains in each direction, on weekdays only. He ran the train services until the end of 1871, after which the LBSCR took over. On departing from Langstone, Furniss advertised for sale a valuable 8 horse portable steam engine and a mortar-machine with 9ft pan, bed and frame.

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