Bridges & Signal

From here, you can see the evidence of a number of transport links between Langstone, Hayling Island and the Isle of Wight and also the remains of the canal linking Portsmouth with London. We shall present each in the order they were created.

This image is based on an 1864 map of North Hayling and Langstone showing the transport links in this area. These are the ancient Wadeway between Langstone and North Hayling. The Portsmouth and Arundel Canal which cut through the Wadeway in 1823. The 1824 road bridge which restored the link between Langstone and North Hayling. The 1865 railway bridge and the Langstone to Isla of Wight train ferry which operated between 1885 to 1888. Also included is the restored signal on the southern embankment to the railway bridge.

Transport links at North Hayling (based on an 1864 map) – Mike Beel

When following links to further information, press the ‘back’ button to return to this page and continue reading.

The Wadeway

The Wadeway was constructed in about the 14th Century to combat rising sea levels which would have isolated the island from the mainland (shown as a light blue dashed line in the map above, to the right of the road bridge). It linked the end of Langstone High Street with Hayling near the present day Langstone Hotel.

This image is a sketch of a group of people, crossing to North Hayling. One person is driving a pig along, Two are carrying items they have purchased and the remaining three people are following behind. In the background can be seen the Royal Oak Public House and the Tidal Mill which also has a windmill.within the complex.

Crossing the Wadeway at low tide (pre 1823) – John Morley

Note the sails on the Langstone Mill (right background) and the building to the left which is the present day Royal Oak public house. The sails on the windmill were removed in the 1930s. Today, both of the mill buildings are private dwellings. The building of the canal in 1823, severed the wadeway.

Most of the wadeway can still be seen at low tide as a dark route across the mud. A good vantage point would be from the road bridge.

Further information sources about the Wadeway

  1. The Hayling Bridge and Wadeway A collection of articles compiled by Ralph Cousins
  2. The Wadeway: Investigation of the Early Medieval Crossing Point A pdf document on the web by Julie Satchell (Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology)

The Portsmouth and Arundel Canal

Portsmouth Naval base needed secure means of transferring  supplies between Portsmouth and London. Using the turnpike roads was not an option for large loads and the sea route through the English Channel left shipping vulnerable to sandbanks in the Thames estuary and enemy attack. The canal was built to provide an inland route which cut through the Wadeway in 1823 to link Langstone and Chichester Harbours,

This image is of a tile map at the north side of the east abutment of the river Arun Road bridge, Arundel -It shows the canal route from Portsmouth to London via the canal system at Arundel.

Tile map at the north side of the east abutment of the river Arun Road bridge, Arundel – Peter Drury

The canal failed to meet expectations, silted up and became disused by 1847.

Read more about the canal

What can be seen today?

At low tide, you can still see the route of the canal between North Hayling and the mainland.

1824 Road Bridge

The Wadeway was cu through by the building of the canal channel, which had to be dredged between North Hayling and the mainland, leaving the island isolated. A bridge was to be built by the canal contractor to replace it, but this was not constructed.

One of the last acts by the Duke of Norfolk (Lord of the Manor of Hayling Island) before selling the Manor House and its title to Richard Padwick (jnr) was to commission, with other local gentry, the building of the wooden road bridge to re-connect Hayling Island with the mainland.

This bridge had a central swing span to allow the passage of vessels along the canal.

This image is an early engraving of the 1824 road bridge, viewed from North Hayling - Ralph Cousins

Early engraving of the 1824 road bridge viewed from North Hayling – Ralph Cousins

What can be seen today?

The road bridge you see today was opened in 1956 to replace the original bridge which had many structural defects. The new bridge was built alongside and to the east, of the old bridge. The embankments to the bridge approach, on both sides. can still be seen today. The car park at the bridge was the route of the old road until the present day bridge was constructed and the curve in the road was eased.

1865 Railway Viaduct

The railway bridge was built as part of the 1860 Act of Parliament; to construct a railway between Havant, via Langstone Quay, to a new port facility to be located at the Kench (near the ferry) on Hayling Island.

This image is a map showing the Hayling branch line from the Brighton and Waterloo main lines to a new docks facility to be built near the Portsmouth to Hayling Ferry, as authorised by the 1860 Act of Parliament.

Proposed railway authorised by the 1860 Act of Parliament – Peter Drury

Read more about the 1860 Act of Parliament

Construction was slow to start but by 1865 the bridge was built but the failure to prevent the embankment across Langstone Harbour from being washed away on the tides very nearly led to the abandonment of the Hayling Island section with the bridge leading nowhere.

Read more about the progress of construction to 1865

A swing section and signal box were included on the bridge to allow vessels to pass through between Langstone Harbour and Langstone Quay.

This image is a map, similar to the previous map, which shows the state of construction by 1865. The Brighton and Waterloo connections are replaced by by a connection to Havant. The railway was completed to Langstone, the railway bridge was completed and a short stretch along the embankment in Langstone Harbour. The docks scheme was uncertain and a new Act of Parliament in 1864 authorised an extension, from the docks, to Southsea Terrace. This was to try and capture the passenger market.

Construction progress at 1865 – Peter Drury

The situation was rescued by Francis Fuller who had the west coast route surveyed, purchased the required land at his own cost and instructed the contractor to build the railway. All this without an Act of Parliament authorising it!

Read more about the rescue plan

This image is a map describing Bill to Parliament to abandon the 1860 railway route from the bridge with a new route following the coastline.

Bill to Parliament to abandon the 1860 railway route from the bridge with a new route following the coastline.

This required changes at the Hayling end of the bridge.

Shortly after the 1923 grouping, the Southern Railway strengthened the foundations of the railway bridge.

Read more about this work

What can be seen today?

  1. The old 1860 alignment of the railway embankment, mostly washed away, leading to the Oyster bed outer bunds which also formed the railway embankment. (Look to the south –  west of the embankment, near the signal).
  2. The track leading from the bridge car park to the railway embankment, was built by the contractor in the 1860s to construct the railway embankments and the Hayling side of the bridge.
  3. The remains of the railway bridge encased in the concrete reinforcement,  added by the Southern Railway circa 1924. The metal swing bridge piers which mark the safe channel through the bridge remains.

1885 – 1888 Langstone – IoW Train Ferry

Langstone - IoW Train ferry by Les Henson. This image is described in the text below.

Langstone – IoW Train ferry by Les Henson

The painting above depicts the shore installation at Langstone, A brief description of the main items (from left to right) follows;

  1. The paddle train ferry ‘Carrier’ – sold to the IoW Marine Transit Company when made redundant following the opening of the Forth railway bridge in Scotland.
  2. Sailing ships alongside the then new Marine Transit quay on which the railway sidings, serving the ferry were also located here.
  3. The linkspan and loading ramp. This was the revolutionary design that allowed the loading/unloading of the ferry at any state of the tide. This was achieved by moving the linkspan, up and down the ramp to suit the water level. Sir Robert Bouch designed this for use on the the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay  prior to the building of the railway bridges. The ferries in Scotland being the first tidal train ferries in the world. The same application at Langstone and Bembridge, IoW created the first tidal train ferry in the south of England.
  4. To the right is the railway viaduct with a Havant bound train leaving the northern section.

The currents and tidal conditions in the Solent did not suit the ‘Carrier’ which previously had operated in more sheltered waters.

Read more about the train ferry

What can be seen today?

Very little remains other than the land profile to the left of the bridge remains and the decaying stumps of the timber piles used to support the marine transit facility.

Looking out from the railway embankment on Hayling Island, the location of the facilty can be still be seen.

Signal Restoration

This is a picture of the remains of the signal in 2011, before the restoration. It is just two rusty rails. bolted together, some original signal parts and a dummy semaphore signal.

The Signal in 2011 – Peter Drury


This was the only remaining piece of railway infrastructure following the demolition of the railway. Why this was left is not known. Since closure, a group of Hayling Islanders had painted the signal and attached a dummy semaphore arm.

Restoration of this signal, to become a permanent reminder of the railway, became the objective of Hampshire County Council, Havant Borough Council and the community group, Hayling’s Best.We applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund  to carry this out and were successful early 2014, being awarded funds for this and other Heritage work we had applied for. The Hayling Billy Heritage Partnership was formed from the above organisations and work commenced.

Read more about the restoration