Hythe Pier is easily reached via the ferry that runs from Southampton’s Town Quay to Hythe Pier and it was a great spot for shipwatching. However, there is one curiosity on the Hythe Pier that is worth mentioning, and this is what this post is about.
The railway is the oldest continuously operating public pier train in the world, and runs along the 640 metre pier between the ferry terminal and the shore, although logically it is just as easy to walk that distance. It consists of an electric locomotive that gets its power from a third rail and four bogie passenger cars, two of which have a driving cab at their seaward ends. The train normally consists one locomotive driving three passenger cars and a flat wagon.
The locomotive is not a very complicated machine and can be driven from the cab or from a driving cab at the opposite end of the train. The loco heads the train from the ferry terminal to land and the driving cab is at the head of the train going towards the terminal.
There are only two locomotives left from the original three that were built in 1917 by Brush and they were originally battery powered, being used at the World War I mustard gas factory at Avonmouth. The batteries have been removed and equipment converted to third rail 220V DC. The track gauge is 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge.
In 2013 there were two ferries: Great Expectations was the ferry that was in use at that point in time and Hotspur IV was kept in reserve. Hotspur IV was built in 1946 and served on the service until 2014 when she was taken out of service due to corrosion.
According to the Wikipedia page, The pier, railway and ferry service are currently operated by Blue Funnel Ferries of Southampton. The ferry website has additional information about the service and attractions in the area.
DRW 2022. Created 16/01/2022