Hayling Island 

Hayling Island was a small rural community (population 576 – 1801 census), largely given over to farming and fishing. It was pretty self sufficient with water being drawn from wells and most produce available from the farms. Connections with the mainland were the wadeway to Langstone and the ferry across the Langstone Harbour entrance connecting Hayling Island with Portsmouth. These links were sufficient at the time.

In 1824 the Portsmouth & Arundel Canal cut through the Wadeway and a wooden road bridge was constructed to re-connect Hayling Island with Langstone. A toll was charged to use the bridge. Farm products now had a much improved route to local markets.

The improved access to the Island with the building of the road bridge, kick-started the tourism industry. The Norfolk Crescent (a terrace of lavish town houses) and the Royal Hotel were constructed in 1825. A stage coach connection, using the turnpike roads, was established between London.and the Royal Hotel. With little support for developing this further, the Norfolk Crescent was not completed to create the envisaged grand crescent.

The story continues with the construction of the Hayling Branch line along the original 1860 (modified in 1864) route across Langstone Harbour.  In 1864, The South of England Oyster Company leased 300 acres of reclaimed mud lands to create the Oysterbeds to farm oysters.

Construction Progress 1865

Other Oysterbeds were already in existence on Hayling Island but the South of England Oyster Company was developed as a direct result of building the railway line.

When the railway line was completed in 1867, the railway was involved in the movement of Oysters.

In 1877 a Gas Works was built next to the station providing gas street lighting for the first time on the Island.

The island population had increased to >1600 in 1901 and tourism continued to grow with the easy access provided by the railway. By the mid 1920’s the population in the summer months had grown to such an extent that the wells were at risk of being unable to supply sufficient water. In 1928 water was pumped to the island to supplement the wells.


The Hampshire Telegraph reported an “alarming accident” at Hayling Island Station on the 31st October 1892. The engine normally employed on that branch was returning from repairs at Portsmouth. On arrival at Havant it was attached to four ’waggons’ loaded with oysters from Whitstable and a break-van. The coaches forming the branch train were standing [...]

This image was taken on my recent visit to the National Railway Museum (NRM) York. The Search Engine personnel kindly provided this for me to view/photograph during my pre-arranged visit. This map was probably part of the 1900 application (see this article to create a light railway and Conveyor bridge between Portsmouth and Hayling Island. [...]

The following article was donated by Ron Lamont who spent considerable time in researching the complicated negotiations between these two companies and has laid this out in his very interesting article. It takes us back to the time of the original proposed line on embankments across the harbour and the changes in route introduced by [...]

The first meeting of the flat races, fixed to be held for two days annually at Hayling, came off under extremely unfavourable circumstances..... Heavy rain fell during the whole of the day and this discomfiture was considerably increased by the fact that there was no railway communication from Havant, as had been anticipated, the government [...]

Spurred on by the success of the Hayling Billy and the new transport links to the island, a further rail system, solely on South Hayling, was proposed. This railway was intended build on what had already been achieved. Sadly, the vision was not realised and this article is about what might have been.   The [...]

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