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Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Basingstoke & Alton Light Railway


This short lived line (35 years) is famous for being the location used in the films 'Oh Mr. Porter' and 'The Wrecker'. The latter being co-written by Arnold Ridley, who also played Private Godfrey in the BBC series Dad's Army.

Much of the route today has been obliterated but there are a few stretches open to walkers and the line is commemorated with a short stretch of track laid on the old route in the middle of a road roundabout. Nearby is the information plaque shown above.
disused railway trackbed

disused railwayAnd so it came to pass that I undertook my first walk along this disused railway line, a half mile stretch near Winslade.

The walk begins with a climb up the embankment near Bridge No.5, which was demolished long ago. What is left is obscured with vegetation. The only signs that this path was a railway is the wide and level walkway bordered by embankment or cutting, both of which are heavily wooded.

bridge 6At the end is Bridge No.6, which is still intact and appears in good condition.

Upon returning home I pulled out my copy of the book "The Basingstoke And Alton Light Railway" (ISBN 0-9534197-0-3), which I had not read since 2008. (I remember that year because this book was one of the catalysts that renewed my railway modelling interest). I was amazed to see in the book a photograph of this very bridge under construction in the late 1800s; amazed because I had not set out to find that bridge and I had photographed it from virtually the same angle as the 1800s photo.

In the 1800s photo the brick portal is built but the embankments are in progress with workmen all around. Temporary wooden decking above the portal carried the track used by constructor's engine and wagons.

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