Notes: The first plans for a railway in the area dated from
1860 but it was to take more than 60 years before Fawley finally
saw a train service. In the 19th century there were elaborate
plans for a railway line to Stone Point (to the south of Fawley)
to connect with a Solent tunnel to link the mainland with the
Isle of Wight. In the early years of the 20th century it seemed
that a railway-operated bus service might negate the need for
a railway at all.
At the beginning of the war the Fawley district was still
essentially rural in character and apart from farming and fishing
there were few industries. The construction of the oil refinery
in 1920/21 by Anglo Gulf West Indies Petroleum Corporation Limited
was to change the Fawley area forever. Opening of the railway
finally came in 1925, a Light Railway Order having been sought
as long ago as 1903, a single track branch from Totton to Fawley
was constructed and opened on 20 July 1925. There were intermediate
stations at Marchwood and Hythe, but the line was mostly noted
for its numerous ungated crossings. Even thought Fawley and
Hythe were close to the seaplane bases on Southampton Water,
passenger traffic was never heavy.
Branch train's commenced from either Southampton
Terminus or Central stations, being little changed from
inception until the 1950s. The railway's salvation was the dramatic
buildup of oil traffic from the refinery at Fawley.
As only tank locomotives were permitted because of lack of
turning facilities and the ungated level crossings, loaded wagons
soon proved to be beyond the resources of one, or even two,
small engines. Robert Urie's hefty Pacific tanks, the 'H16'
class built in 1921, were tried out early in 1960 and soon became
a familiar sight on the oil trains - even they needed assistance
up from Fawley. A loop was put in at Marchwood to allow trains
to pass on the 9-mile branch. With the withdrawal of the `H
16' tanks during 1962, they were replaced by the freight-only
Class W 2-6-4T locomotives dispatched from London; again, double-heading
proved necessary with loaded trains. In 1964, diesel locomotives
took over and were allowed to travel through to Fawley.
Steam was displaced on the passenger services by Hampshire
DEMU's in 1960, but this proved only a temporary arrangement
as closure took place from 14 February 1966.
The lone still remains open serving the oil refinery at Fawley
and all crossings now have gates, half-barriers or flashing
lights. At Marchwood the Army maintains a small standard-gauge
system at the Marchwood Military Port, with access to Fawley
branch at the southern extremity of the station. During the
1950's reservists were carried by through trains from Waterloo
to Marchwood Military Siding.
Further reading: The
Totton, Hythe & Fawley Light Railway by J. A. Fairman:
Oakwood Press 2002 ISBN 0853615845
To see the other
stations on the Totton, Hythe & Fawley Light Railway click
on the station name: Hythe