I only had one trip on the Billy and that was in about 1949 when I was 12. I was with a school friend who was a railway nut and was rhapsodising about ‘longitudinal sleepers’ and so forth. For me the trip to the seaside was the thing, but for him it was the train ride.
However, long after the Billy Line had closed I took a local taxi which proved to be driven by an ex-Billy Line driver. He explained that he left the railways when he was offered a diesel to drive instead when the line shut. He told me that, as there was no water at Hayling, if the train was badly delayed the engine might run critically low on the way back. If so, in order to stop the fire tube seals failing, he would stop on the bridge so that his fireman could shovel the fire over the side into the harbour. Another engine would then have to come from Havant and tow him back. It does seem a bit strange that a Terrier could only do a bit over ten miles before running dry, but that was his story.
Mr Griffiths has provided some additional information regarding his memories of the time shortly after the line closure, particular to the part of the line running from Langstone to Havant:
He recalls that in late 1969 the concrete sleepers still remained in place and he could walk along the line by stepping from sleeper to sleeper.
Some local residents took the opportunity of extending their back gardens by grabbing some of the railway land. Also using the disused line to dump garden waste. One resident built a bonfire on the old track, the bonfire got out of control and the fire brigade were called.
He recalls that opportunities to obtain funding for the future use of the disused line were missed.