[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 14.4.1948
Location: Berth 50 within Southampton Eastern Docks
Company on opening: British Railways
Date closed to passengers: September 1958
Date closed completely: September 1958
Company on closing: British Railways
Present state: Demolished - some embedded track remains
County: Hampshire
OS Grid Ref: SU422106
Date of visit: Not visited

Notes: For almost 40 years a flying boat services were operated from Southampton. During that period five different locations were used as terminals. The very first was the Royal Pier which was used by Supermarine during the summer of 1919; They operated services that only lasted a few weeks to Bournemouth,Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Official opening of the new marine air terminal by
Lord Nathanon on 14.4.1948. The Mayoress of
Southampton christens the 'Southampton'

In September 1919 Supermarine operated the first international flying boat services from their base at Woolston to Le Havre. The service ceased after a short time,and it was not until September 1923 that any further international services were operated.In September 1923 The British Marine Air Navigation Company jointly owned by Supermarine and Southern Railway, started operating a service from Woolston to Cherbourg. In 1924 British Marine became Imperial Airways and as such, continued to operate flying boat services from Woolston until 1929.

The next development was the commencement of the 'Empire' services in March 1937 when Imperial Airways stared services to Alexandria and later that year to South and East Africa. On 5th July 1937 the first Transatlantic service was started with flights from the UK by Imperial and from the USA by Pan American. The Imperial Airways terminal was at 101 Berth in the 'Western Docks.

In 1938 a new terminal was built at 108 Berth, however the start of WW2 brought an end to services and operations were moved to Poole and Hamworthy in Dorset.The building 'Imperial House' at 108 Berth is still existing .

After WW2 BOAC recommenced operations, initially at Poole, but on 14th April 1948, services moved back to Southampton. British Railways, the then owners of Southampton Docks, had completed the building of a specially designed marine air terminal at 50 berth in the Eastern Docks.The new terminal had office space for the staff, customs and immigration officials. The flying boats could dock alongside and there was capacity for handling baggage and freight. The passengers were well

The BOAC terminal at Berth 50
provided for and could relax waiting for their boat in the restaurant or bar. Passengers arrived by boat trains at a new station at the terminal. Despite these new surroundings, aircraft development was moving rapidly toward jet transport and higher speeds and flying boats were becoming uneconomical. BOAC announced the phasing out of flying boats by 1949 and they ended their operations on 3rd November 1950.

BOAC's flying boats were sold to Aquila Airways became the sole operator of flying boats in Britain for nearly 10 years operating from the terminal at Berth 50. In 1958 the companies fortunes had begun to decline. Confidence in the safety of the aircraft took a knock when a bad crash of a Solent flying boat on the Isle of Wight killed the crew and all 35 passengers. The airline was also struggling to find replacement parts for the old aircraft, and with other problems the decision was made to cease trading in September 1958 when the last trains ran into the terminal at Berth 50.

After closure Berth 50 was used by the London Division of the Royal Naval Reserve from 1964 and a few remains of the terminal sill exist today.

Source: Southampton Flying Boat Service web site & Port Cities - Southampton web site

'Ile de France' boat train at the Southampton Flying Boat Terminal on 13th August 1949
Photo received from Chris Heaven

Layout of flying boat terminal and berth in 1959

4-P 5-F No. 30487 at Southampton Flying Boat terminal on 13th August 1949
Photo received from Chris Heaven
4-P 5-F No. 30487 at Southampton Flying Boat terminal on 13th August 1949
Photo received from Chris Heaven

1959 aerial view showing the station with the terminal building on the left

Recent aerial view of the terminal site shows some embedded track still in place.




[Source: Nick Catford]

Last updated: Friday, 26-May-2017 10:58:59 CEST
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