While doing my Southampton retrospective I realised that I never did a post about Hythe, although did do a short page on the Hythe Pier Train at aas. Realistically there is not much to say about it, although like everything it does have odd quirks that are worth highlighting. How do you get there? you hop a ferry at Town Quay of course. Please note that things may be slightly different now and this post is about how I experienced it way back in 2013.
When I was in Southampton there were two ferry boats that operated to Hythe, the main one being “Great Expectations”
and the standby boat “Hotspur IV”. Sadly she is no longer available as she is “on the stocks” and in a poor condition.
Technically the ferry runs every 30 minutes from point to point and the first time I went to Hythe was to see the Oriana on the 14th of April 2013. You get nice images of ships berthed at QEII terminal from the ferry, and of course you get nice images of everything coming and going into the harbour.
This was the first time I had seen Oriana since 1997, and it was like seeing an old friend once again. Also in port was Azura at Ocean Terminal, Arcadia at Mayflower and Saga Sapphire at City Terminal.
Our ferry ride over I strolled down the pier, more interested in seeing the sights than rattling down that short stretch onboard the pier train.
The pier opened on the 1st January 1881, and at the time was the 7th longest pier in the country. The pier train came into operation in 1922; it had been built in World War 1 and was originally used at the Avonmouth Mustard Gas Factory. It is the world’s oldest continuous operating pier train.
My pier promenade over I was finally in Hythe and there was not a lot to see.
Don’t blink now, you have just seen Hythe. Actually there is much more to it, but I did not explore too far from the ferry terminal. I did however find a War Memorial to the Royal Navy (Beach Head) Commandos that embarked from Hythe en route to the beaches of Normandie on 06 June 1944
Hythe also has a small boat marina, and it was a favourite spot for ship viewing because of the view of the harbour.
At this point we will leave Hythe and return again on the 26th of April 2013 when I went to photograph the Queen Mary 2 that was sailing from Ocean Terminal.
Return to Hythe
My next expedition to Hythe was to see that Queen Mary 2 sailing, I had watched her arrive from her world cruise in the morning but wanted to see her sail from here.
As much as Town Quay is a useful viewing platform for ships in Ocean Terminal you still end up battling sun, mist and clouds. At least at Hythe the sun is behind you so things are easier. The problem was that on this particular day the weather was iffy and there were dark ominous clouds in the sky. I headed across to Hythe and walked up to the marina and a suitable photography spot. Occasionally drops of rain splattered against me and I was really in bad position if a storm broke out because there was no shelter nearby.
The lifeboat below does not seem to be in operation, as it was high and dry in the marina. She is named R.N.L.B Ruby and Arthur Reed, she was built in 1966 at the yard of William Osborne at Littlehampton, West Sussex and is an Oakley class self-righting design which combined great stability with the ability to self-right in the event of the lifeboat capsizing
She is a really famous old lady and lives out her retirement safe from the battering of the sea. It is sad to see a vessel like this because ideally she should be afloat.
By 19H00 there was movement at Ocean Terminal and they started to back the QM2 out of the terminal. It was quite strange that she had berthed bow inland, usually they back the ships into the berth, but then I have seen many odd things while ship watching and without local knowledge of why and wherefore it is just conjecture as to why she was berthed like that.
I have not reproduced the complete sequence of movements but the image above is her best angle as far as I am concerned. I just wish they would raise her funnel.
Photography completed it was time to head for home. I had already started walking towards the terminal because at some point the ferry stops running and I did not want to be stuck on the wrong side of Southampton Water.
While I waited I poked around and investigated the rolling stock of the railway. It is really self contained and is an attraction all on its own, albeit with a very short track and only 3 coaches.
The late afternoon sunset was beautiful though and I captured quite a few stunning images on my walk. Fortunately I managed to make it in time to get back to Town Quay.
I made one final trip to Hythe to see Black Watch sail past, again it was late afternoon and once again I was blessed with beautiful sunsets.
And that was Hythe in a nutshell. I always regret not having a good look around, but was always really tied to the ferry schedule. I really needed a reason to visit a place like it, and sailaways are always great, and there is the added bonus of a wonderful sunset. I should have really gone to Hythe for the maiden arrival of Britannia but never considered it at the time, and of course once again I was on the clock. Who knows, maybe one day I will return.
DRW © 2013-2018. Retrospectively created 09/04/2018