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Victorian Railway Pier at Stokes Bay

The Abandoned Stokes Bay railway station – Gosport’s Victorian railway

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Hampshire has been home to a number of railway stations that are now sadly no longer in service and abandoned. Some former railway lines and stations are more prominent than others, like the old Meon Valley line, now a walking and cycling route starting in Wickham, or Droxford, known for being the place where Winston Churchill planned some of the D-Day invasion of France during the Second World War.

But did you know there was an old line that ran down from central Gosport to the coast at Stokes Bay? There were railway stations, located at Fort Brockhurst, Spring Gardens lane and the Pier station platforms constructed entirely over the sea. This extended from a point between the lifeboat station and Gilkicker, onto Stokes Bay and into the sea. The station, which opened in the 1863, was designed to give passengers another route to access the ferry over to the Isle of Wight.

Some adverts and tickets for the Victorian Railway at Stokes Bay

An abandoned railway line located on the Hampshire coast was built exclusively for Queen Victoria and her guests. The British monarch had her own station in what is now Royal Clarence Yard in Gosport, that was built as part of her route to her Osborne House estate on the Isle of Wight.

In the foreground is a lady dressed as Queen Victoria. She is wearing and amplifying headset. She is talking to a group of walkers in the midground. The setting is an ornamental garden.aa
Walk leader and host Ann Sandall dressed as Queen Victoria

According to Friends of Stokes Bay, there was an entry in Queen Victoria’s diary in February 1880 which suggests she had to use the station during poor weather, instead of her preferred Royal Clarence Yard crossing point to the Isle of Wight.

In the early 1900s, another new route opened from London down to Stokes Bay along the Meon Valley line, but this was said to have not brought the expected increase in passengers either. According to disusedstations, services to the Stokes Bay station were not as popular as hoped, despite the ferry crossing being quicker than the one from Portsmouth.

Stokes Bay station was shut throughout the First World War and was never reopened to passengers. Apparently, the track began to be lifted in stages in the 1930s, with only a small amount remaining. Much of the former railway line is now a public footpath through Gosport towards the coast.
The pier platform, which offered a direct transfer onto ferry services over the Solent to the island, has now also gone.

This year Gosport Heritage Open Days is offering a guided walk along the line which will discuss defence, D-Day and diving.


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