North Hayling Halt
The arrival of the Hayling Branch line was to transform this area when the railway route was diverted from the offshore railway embankment route in Langstone Harbour to one running along the West Hayling coastline in 1867. To understand this, we shall start with the area as it was in 1864.
North west Hayling Island in 1864
Points of Interest
Creek Common is at the north western extreme of Hayling Island and Stoke Common is immediately south and extends to a point north west of Stoke village.Both areas of Common Land extend to the coastline.
Lanes & Roads
The route taken by Havant Road is much as it is today, passing through Stoke Village. A Lane leaves the Havant Road at a point approximately where Station Road is today. This Lane heads south west to reach the coastline and extends south to the sharp left hand bend on what is now West Lane, making a junction at this point.
The railway was authorised under an 1860 Act of Parliament and was being constructed by the Hayling Railway Company.The line of railway shown on the map was to be carried on an embankment in Langstone Harbour, from the railway bridge to a new dock to be built near the Portsmouth – Hayling Ferry. It was planned that this would reclaim some 1000 acres of mud land.
Both the railway bridge and embankment were under construction during 1864. The only impact the railway had to the area was the construction of the Oyster beds, on reclaimed land, between the railway embankment and the shoreline adjacent to Creek Common and Stoke Common. This story shall be told on the Oyster bed interpretation panel.
The period of uncertainty 1865 – 1866
The construction of the railway embankment in Langstone harbour was not going well with the embankment not being properly consolidated and being washed away by the tide. Work ceased in 1865 with only a short section of embankment completed. The Hayling Island section of the branch line was very nearly abandoned.
The saving of the branch line 1866 – 1867
The docks scheme near the ferry at West Hayling looked as though it would not be built thus removing the purpose of the railway as defined in the 1860 Act of Parliament. The 1864 Act of Parliament to extend the railway from the proposed docks to Seaview Terrace for passenger traffic would be unlikely to attract sufficient investment to overcome the difficulties in building the embankments across the harbour.
What was needed was someone with the vision to redefine the purpose for the railway and find a route that did not include the railway embankment. The person with the necessary attributes, Frances Fuller, took a great interest, in the railway to promote tourism on the island.
Francis Fuller became a Director of the Hayling Railways Company in 1868, had alternative routes surveyed, chose the route along the west coast of Hayling Island and purchased the required land in readiness to bring a Bill to Parliament to abandon the route across the harbour and substitute the coastline route which could be built more quickly and at far less cost than the original route. The Bill was immediately objected to by the South of England Oyster Company, delaying the approval of the Act of Parliament. Construction of the railway along the new route was non-the-less carried out and completed. The Act of Parliament was approved 12th August 1867 and the railway passed inspection 15th August 1867, authorising the carriage of the public.
Impact of the opening of North Hayling Halt
North Hayling Halt provided an important link to transport opportunities for the local farms and the community of Stoke village and the surrounding district. Perishable farm produce, such as milk, was taken to the station by cart for rapid onward movement by train to Havant and beyond. Often, the rival cart drivers would race to be first to reach the station.
The link from the lane between the Havant Road and West Lane (see above) was cut with the building of the railway. The railway was built on part of the Lane. All road traffic was then forced to pass through Stoke Village with its sharp bends. Not a problem in 1867 but a source of much concern today.
Railway employees working at North Hayling Halt
Activities at the site of the station today
The site of the station is now a car park giving access to the Hayling Billy Trail (The route of the former railway), the North West Hayling Nature Reserves (The Oyster beds and the Hayling Billy Trail Nature Reserve) and Windsurfing off the Langstone Harbour coastline, adjacent to the car park.