HAYLING LIGHT RAILWAY
The Hayling Seaside Railway began life as the East Hayling Light Railway, formed by Bob Haddock, a member of the ill fated group who in the mid 1980's attempted to re-instate the "Hayling Billy" Line.
Havant Borough Council had already decided to turn the disused railway line into a cycle-way & footpath which precluded any chance of rebuilding the line as standard gauge. Bob with some other like minded members suggested a narrow gauge railway, but that was dismissed by the society committe who declared that it had to be standard gauge or nothing. Sadly at the end of the day that was what they got - nothing.
Bob, along with a number of other avid fans, decided to set about creating their own railway elsewhere on Hayling Island. After numerous setbacks, all the chosen sites were refused planning permission by the council, but eventually a site was found within the Mill Rythe Holiday Camp.
So the EHLR was born and ran successfully for many years perhaps inspired by the success of the EHLR, Havant Council took the unexpected step of including a railway in their draft plan for Hayling's popular Pleasure Beach. Bob jumped at the idea of running the railway at a more lucrative and prestigious location and submitted a plan for a narrow gauge railway to meet the Council's criteria. The council now took the unexpected step of refusing planning permission for their own plan. It transpired that a small but vociferous minority of local residents had made it clear to Havant Borough Council's resolute councilors that if they passed the plan they were in peril of loosing there much cherished seats. As the owner of a local attraction put it " if someone wanted to build a sand castle on Hayling Beach 10 people would complain about it".
Luckily Bob Haddock is not the type of person who takes no for an answer and after a campaign lasting over 12 years permission to build the railway was granted, but only after the Council's decision was overturned by the Department of the Environment.
Following closure of the EHLR at Mill Rythe work started in October 2001 on the building of Beachlands Station on land leased from the neighbouring Funland Amusement Park. Red tape held up the track laying until May 2002. Work continued through 2002 and into 2003 although the original target of opening at Easter 2003 was not met.
The line finally opened to passengers on July 5th 2003, re-christened as "The Hayling Seaside Railway" and as such has gone from strength to strength each successive year.