Rise of the Railway – Part 1 Arrival of the Railway and development of Eastleigh Carriage Works By Chris Humby (from a talk first presented in May 2015)
In Victorian times railway networks developed at a rapid pace. Such was the desire and drive to connect the country by rail decisions were taken in haste. Many railway stations were constructed outside the boundary of the town or village they were intended to serve for expediency. In the case of Bishopstoke, the decision to construct the railway line and station about a mile to the west of the village was a sensible thing to do because of rivers, waterlogged ground, and the risk of flooding.
It is important to remember that this was an agricultural area and in the early days of rail travel many people believed that to travel at more than 20 miles per hour could endanger health, whilst country folk were concerned that railway lines near to their communities would cause horses and cattle to be petrified to the point where they would abort their unborn offspring. As you can imagine, the arrival of the railway would not have gone down well with the local landowners and the farming community.
In 1834 the Bill for construction of the London and Southampton Railway was approved in Parliament. In 1838 the line was opened from London to Basingstoke and from Winchester to Southampton. There was a delay in opening the section from Basingstoke to Winchester because of difficulty tunnelling through the chalk hills north of Winchester. When the line from London to Southampton was completed in 1840, Bishopstoke was just one of 12 stopping points.
When Bishopstoke Station was opened in June 1839, the London & Southampton Railway developed plans to connect to the West Country. The London & South Western Railway was created to extend the line to Weymouth. The company also wanted to connect to Bristol, but this decision was blocked by Parliament. With the thought of an east/west connection in mind, the London & South Western Railway proposed a route between Portsmouth and Salisbury, to connect with the Great Western Railway. The desire was to connect the major ports and commercial centres of the south and south west, Southampton, Portsmouth, and Bristol. Portsmouth did not welcome this suggestion and wished to have its own direct route to London rather than be served by a branch line. Portsmouth also feared losing trade to the port of Southampton if a direct connection was made between the two.
Faced with political pressure, the London & South Western Railway constructed a line from Bishopstoke to Gosport, which opened in 1841. Passengers wishing to travel on to Portsmouth could do so by using the local ferry service. The line from Bishopstoke to Salisbury commenced operations in March 1847. Around this time an engine shed was provided for the first time at Bishopstoke. This stood north of the station by the junction with the Romsey line, near where the Lidl supermarket is sited to-day. It is likely to have been a small two road affair of timber construction. Bishopstoke, by political and geographical expediency, had become the central connection for rail travel linking major towns and cities in the South of England. When the Bishopstoke to Salisbury line opened it was only the third rail line to have been constructed in Hampshire. The first two were already connected to Bishopstoke via the London to Southampton and Bishopstoke to Gosport routes.
Bishopstoke Station was re-named Bishopstoke Junction in December 1852. When Bishopstoke Station had been built in 1839, Eastley and Barton were two small tithings with a population of 78 people living in 13 houses. All residents were associated with farming. Eastley had two farms, a tavern and a couple of cottages. One writer at the time described Eastley as “a village near Bishopstoke”. Bishopstoke, by comparison had around 1000 residents, although it covered a far larger area than it does today. This early picture of Bishopstoke Junction Station reflects the rural nature of the district and shows livestock pens in front of the station entrance.
The Hampshire Cheese Market was established in 1852, when a large shed and sidings were erected to the north of Bishopstoke Station. (Where the recently demolished BRS Parcels Depot stood). The Cheese Market was held on the third Thursday of every month and was an instant success. It is therefore not surprising that these facilities with rail connection to all the major urban and agricultural areas of the south, and south west, would soon attract other business and a successful livestock market was soon also established on the site. This picture is an artist’s impression of what the facility would look like. The County Cheese Market was a square enclosure, situated close to the main rail line, with sidings to bring product directly into the area. Sheds and stores were on the east and west sides. The large building shown fronting Bishopstoke Road was never built.
With rail connections, both buyers and sellers could now travel far further than had been previously possible. The railway also enabled livestock to be transported at considerable ease and delivered directly to urban destinations. This meant that better prices could be achieved for farmers using the market at Bishopstoke. Travel by rail was not as fast, nor as comfortable as it is to-day. The driver and fireman in this picture have no cab to protect them from the weather and passengers in third class carriages, were fully exposed, in open trucks, to the elements. The locomotive pictured is “Creedy” a North Devon Railway 2-4-0 locomotive, built in 1855. It was a wide gauge loco and would not have run through Bishopstoke. The picture has been used as an illustration because I think it is a great photo.
The Junction Hotel, next to the station, was originally constructed by the London & South Western Railway to accommodate workers building the lines to Gosport and Salisbury. Not surprisingly the premises were licensed to sell beer. The success of the market meant that higher class establishments were needed where people attending the regular auctions could rest and be entertained. The navvies’ hostel was developed, after completion of the Salisbury line, into the Junction Hotel to serve the needs of the market. Later developments led to the addition of banqueting facilities so that farmers, and bidders, could celebrate their business successes.
Opposite the Junction Hotel stood the Home Tavern, which remained a beer house until the 1890s. When this picture was taken around 1870, the population of Eastleigh had risen to just over 500 people. It was also around 1870 that the running sheds were moved from their original position north of the station, to the site that was later used to house the Locomotive Works Offices. This relocation was necessary because more workshop facilities and more running sheds were needed to support maintaining the additional rail traffic now being handled in the area. In the early 1870s there were minor developments linked to the proximity of the railway. A brewery, the beginning of industrialisation in the Bishopstoke area, was established in Southampton Road to supply beer to military personnel stationed across the South of England. This brewery was where Eastleigh Swan Centre stands to-day.
In 1874 the owners of the brewery applied for a licence to offer beer for sale on the premises. This application was rejected because license holders of the Home Tavern, The Crown Hotel, The Junction Hotel and the Stationmaster, Mr Wilmer, maintained that the community consisted of one long row of houses, 90 in number, and for their accommodation they already had three licensed premises apart from the railway refreshment rooms. This should be considered sufficient, and the application was dismissed. The Brewery was called Dilke and Tanner, Eastleigh Brewery, Bishopstoke and the name Eastleigh reflected changes that had taken place in 1869 when Queen Victoria had constituted a new Ecclesiastical Parish which included portions of Boyatt and Barton. The original Church of the Resurrection in Romsey Road was built in 1868. Charlotte Yonge (Author) contributed a sizeable sum for the building of the new church and was consequently accorded the privilege of making the final decision as to the name of the new parish. Whilst new Bishopstoke and Barton Peverel were contenders, it is thought that East was chosen to reflect a rising sun, a rising faith and a rising town, according to Arthur Drewitt in his book, Eastleigh’s Yesterdays. The Parish may have been becoming known as Eastleigh, but it was still Bishopstoke Junction where passengers arrived.
The new Parish of Eastleigh developed slowly over the next decade. The population of Eastleigh rose to about 1000 people by 1881, but it was still smaller than its neighbour Bishopstoke. What brought about major change was the decision, in 1886, by the London & South Western Railway to move their Carriage and Wagon Works from Nine Elms in London. Several locations were assessed, and records show that Andover, Basingstoke, Bishopstoke, Salisbury and Winchester were considered. Apparently, Bishops Waltham also submitted a bid, but this was discounted early in the selection process. The final choice fell between three locations: Andover, Basingstoke and Bishopstoke. What made Bishopstoke the final choice is not immediately clear, although we can examine some of the possibilities.
- Bishopstoke was the intersection for east and west routes of the London and South Western Railway and had already established considerable freight yards to serve the cheese and cattle markets. Geographically it was well positioned.
- It occupied a fairly central position along the length of the line (between London and Weymouth), although it is doubted that this was a major contributing factor.
- It was quickly realised that if the decision to re-locate the workforce from Nine Elms was taken, housing would be needed to accommodate the railway workers and Bishopstoke, with Eastleigh as a greenfield site, could offer greater flexibility for expansion than the more established communities of Andover, Basingstoke, Salisbury, and Winchester which would have been constrained by existing infrastructure. Furthermore, Jonas Nichols, a builder and developer from Southampton, spotting a business opportunity, leased a large tract of land from Thomas Chamberlayne, of Cranbury Park and laid plans for an extensive housing development, of which the railway company was made aware, so housing could be provided at no cost to the railway company.
- The Chairman of the London and South Western Railway lived at Timsbury, near Romsey, and had also owned Spring Grove in Bishopstoke. He was also a frequent visitor to Bishopstoke Cheese and Cattle markets, was familiar with the area, and could be on hand to monitor progress.
- Reflecting the growth of the new parish and the anticipated influx of railway workers, the station was re-named Eastleigh and Bishopstoke in July 1889.
Development of the new town was rapid as this map from 1897 shows. All this had been achieved in little over ten years.
This map, probably dating from about 1890, was produced to show the plans for railway development. It is of interest for one piece of information. The notation which refers to land north of the Carriage Works as being under the ownership of the London & South Western Railway and reserved for proposed further development. This would indicate that further works were planned, and I believe that it is probable that, even as early as the mid-1880s, a strategy had been developed to also relocate the Locomotive Engineering Works to Bishopstoke. The already developed towns of Winchester, Basingstoke, Andover, and Salisbury are less likely to have been able to offer such a good long term opportunity. Bishopstoke and its emerging neighbour Eastleigh, with its existing network of rail links and plans in place to provide housing, with potential for further expansion offered flexibility which could not be matched by the other locations. The decision by the directors of the railway to relocate operations from Nine Elms to Bishopstoke Junction on these assumptions appears to have been sound.
When the Carriage and Wagon Works were opened in 1890, they employed 1500 men. This was a substantial impact on the community and changed the area from a rural community to an urban residency for industrial workers and their families. There would have been some disadvantages to the first arrivals as many of the infrastructures for the new town were still to be completed. There would, however, have been access to open countryside for the families of railway employees to enjoy. This may have been an incentive to encourage existing employees to move to the new location from the smog of Victorian London. The impact of the newcomers on a traditional south Hampshire rural society can scarcely be exaggerated and controversy, at the time, centred on the deplorable state of the unmade streets, lack of street lighting and lack of adequate drainage and sewerage in the town. This picture shows the Carriage Works from the bridge looking towards Bishopstoke. The office block is the prominent feature to the right, with the clock tower and workshops beyond. To the left is the works canteen and social club on the corner of Dutton Lane.
This picture gives a clearer view of the clock tower and the three bells that would be chimed to signal the start and finish of the working day. The works canteen is on the left and in the distance is Barton Mill.
Traffic congestion was not a concept that would have been understood in the early days of Eastleigh’s development, pedestrian power was the order of the day.
The clock tower can be seen in more detail in these pictures, and it was an important and commanding feature of the area. The picture to the left shows the tower complete with a chime of three bells. The picture on the right is from the 1950s and shows the clock tower, with the bell gantry removed, although there is still a bell located on the roof of the office building. This single bell, with its distinctive tone, was probably a fire alarm to summon assistance in the event of an emergency.
This picture, taken in the early 1960s, from the roof of the office building shows the clock tower in the foreground, the off-licence on the corner of Dutton Lane and cars parked on the yard of the works canteen. In the distance, the old St. Mary’s church tower can be seen at Bishopstoke. This church tower was demolished in the mid-1960s. The pictures shown up to now do not really illustrate how many men were employed in the works and remember, we mentioned previously that manpower was the order of the day, the next picture provides a very visual impression.
The caption on this picture could indicate that it had been taken during a return to work following a dispute, it could just as easily illustrate men returning to work after lunch. Whichever is the case, it illustrates the enormous volume of people that were employed. By 1891, just a year after the Carriage Works opened, the population of Eastleigh had grown to 3,600.
This booklet was published as an example of work undertaken in Eastleigh Carriage Works during WWI and shows in detail how hospital trains were designed and used in the repatriation of wounded personnel.
Some of the ambulance trains were based in Europe, whilst others were used to transport troops throughout the UK to specialist Military Hospitals and Clearing Hospitals that had been set up specifically for the duration of the War. There were 16 carriages in each ambulance train. The booklet contains a series of photographs related to an ambulance train that was built for the American Army, for use in France, and was completed in Eastleigh Carriage and Wagon Works in April 1918. The train was painted khaki-green, with the Red Cross initials featuring prominently on each side of the vehicle.
The Carriage Works and railway workers cottages in Bishopstoke and Eastleigh would not have had the convenience of electricity when they were built in 1890. We forget that electricity is a relatively modern phenomenon. Electric street lighting was first developed in 1881 but was not generally accepted until the end of the 19th century and then only on a very limited basis. Generation of electricity for public and private use did not commence until the 1920s. Gas Street lighting was still common in Bishopstoke and Eastleigh in the 1950s. We know that stationary steam driven beam engines were designed and built to power machinery in the newly built Carriage Works when it was opened in 1891. These steam engines would have been used to power lay shafts that ran at high level through the workshops. These lay shafts would then power individual pieces of machinery via a flat belt and crowned pulley system. This picture shows electrical generation and distribution plant in the Carriage Works. These pictures, with insulated pipework, indicate that the turbines were driven by steam. These pictures were probably taken in the early 1930s.
This picture shows the power distribution switch room and heavy switchgear that was a feature of switchboard design in the 1930s.
The fitting shop and millwrights’ shop (pictured) produced components and sub-assemblies for carriage and wagon construction. There are 30 or 40 years’ time difference between the pictures top and bottom but little seems to have changed. The lay shafts mentioned earlier to drive the machinery can be seen at high level.
The tool shop was part of the machine shop and provided the jigs, fixtures, stamping dies and press tools required by the works as well as the general repair and maintenance of tools. The spring making shop was part of the smith’s shop where laminated bearing springs of different sizes were produced.
This is a particularly nice early picture of the paint shop.
From 1929 the main activities of the Carriage Works centred on the building of new coach bodies and the repair of wagons. The building of all-steel suburban electric coaches, from the late 1930s, meant that the Eastleigh Carriage Works was producing around eight new coaches per week, in addition to repair works. The site was a large industrial complex covering a total of 54 acres, of which 14 acres (600,000 sq ft) were under cover and there was about 18 miles of track within the site. The majority of the workshops were housed in seven main buildings, each approximately 200 feet wide by 300 feet long.
This aerial view of Eastleigh Carriage Works taken around 1960 shows how extensive the operations at Eastleigh once were. Eastleigh Locomotive Works are pictured to the bottom left of picture.
Railway carriages are designed to travel backwards or forwards. This is somewhat of a restriction when you want to build and assemble components in workshops which are alongside one another. One of the features that was included in the design of “The Works”, in 1890 was the gap between workshops which had rail track running between them. A Traverser was incorporated to convey coaches or carriages laterally between workshops, or to the running lines, without the tedious necessity to shunt these units to the marshalling yards which would have caused significant disruption. The gaps between workshops were deliberately maintained as a fire break between buildings as carriages and wagons in the early days were constructed mainly in timber. The Traverser looked a bit like a tin shed on rails. The yard between workshops was wider than the length of a railway carriage and the Traverser simply picked up the carriage and carried it on lateral rails, sideways, before placing it onto the longitudinal rails that allowed it to enter the next workshop for further processing.
Another unusual item of equipment is this travelling steam crane photographed at Eastleigh Carriage Works, probably in the 1930s. The caption on the picture explains that it is lifting a 7 ton load at a 30 foot radius.
There was a tradition of taking photographs to record events and of personnel relating to the operations at Eastleigh. The following pictures were commissioned as a gift to R.E.L. Maunsell, Southern Railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, when he retired in 1937. We have a number of these pictures in our collection and have selected just a few for illustration from this period.
We tend to think of rail electrification and the demise of steam locomotives as a trend from the Beaching era in the 1960s. This electric 2 coach motor unit was one of a series of new locomotives constructed at Eastleigh Carriage Works in 1938. When this picture was taken there would have been no inkling that a year later war would be declared, and that activity in “The Works” would take on a new direction.
With the outbreak of World War II, one of the first challenges for workers at Eastleigh Carriage Works was to strip carriages built to transport passengers and re-fit them for the Red-Cross Service as can be seen in the top picture. Impressively, the first four Ambulance Carriages were completed, by Eastleigh Carriage Works, just twelve days after the outbreak of War in 1939. Whilst this seems to be an outstanding achievement, it is probable that there had been a significant amount of pre planning and preparation for this type of work before hostilities began.
Large sections of the Carriage works were soon given over to the war effort. The largest building in “The Works” was the Wagon Shop and during World War II this unit was adapted for building boats and assault craft. This picture shows a batch of Harbour Launches being prepared for the Royal Navy in the Wagon Shop.
Harbour Launches were loaded onto wagons and transported to their destination, usually a relatively short run to Southampton or Portsmouth.
The Eastleigh works was also assigned to construct tail sections of the Horsa Glider, which was used by British and Allied Forces in the D-day assault. In particular Eastleigh constructed the tail assembly. These units were then shipped to other sites for final assembly. It is to the credit of those that worked in the Eastleigh Carriage Works that activities, such as these, remained largely unknown outside of the factory gates until the end of hostilities. Presumably it was thought by the general public that military equipment, seen in the marshalling yards, was simply, en-route. Had it become known that Eastleigh was an extensive manufacturing base for the war effort, it is quite probable that the workshops would have become a legitimate military target for the Luftwaffe, particularly with the close proximity to Portsmouth and Southampton, which were being heavily bombed. This knowledge must have added considerable stress to those in the works and whose families lived close by. The propaganda phrase of the time, “careless talk costs lives”, would have been a very real concern to those involved.
Women were used for the war effort and these ladies are preparing and assembling tail sections for Horsa Gliders. Plywood was extensively used for construction and, at the time, was a newly developed material which was light and provided rigidity for the canvas covering that formed much of the fuselage. A series of pictures were taken by Southern Railway to record the work undertaken at Eastleigh, and a film was also made at the same time. This Southern Railway film is titled “Peep Behind the Scenes. It was available on Youtube but has now been deleted. I suspect that the ladies pictured knew that they were going to feature in the film and dressed up for the day. I can’t imagine that these were their normal daily work clothes.
A large section of Eastleigh Carriage Works was seconded to the construction of boats, and landing craft.
LCP’s (Landing Craft Personnel) were built in Eastleigh in preparation for D-Day, as can be seen in this picture. Note that the front of the boat was pointed and did not have a hinged drop down door like assault landing craft. This boat was designed to carry troops only and was constructed from layers of laminated plywood. They were nicknamed Ducks.
Assault landing craft were also made at Eastleigh Works and this loco can be seen pulling an assault unit, personnel carriers, and at the back a harbour launch. The Eastleigh Carriage Works where they were made can be seen in the background. It would appear from the picture that there are tarpaulins, folded back on the roofs of the units. Presumably this had been done to permit filming and it is reasonable to expect that the cargo would have been covered and camouflaged before the wagons continued on their journey.
Due to necessity, WWII introduced women into the male dominated world of heavy industry. Women were quickly trained and integrated into assembly work, at which they proved to be most skilled and efficient.
Women were employed in a variety of roles. Some of the work was skilled and intricate, whilst other tasks were relatively mundane.
Whilst some women were given responsibility for work that had, up to now, only been undertaken by men.
Training developed skills, and soon women were employed in all aspects of engineering production.
Including the higher skill aspects of precision machining.
Although not all work in Eastleigh Carriage Works during WWII was done by women, some of the heavier industrial work was still undertaken by men.
One of the more unusual activities in “The Works” was the construction of lightweight Pontoon Bridges to support the invasion of Europe. These sections were light and easily transportable and by design extremely strong and capable of withstanding heavy loads. Across these lightweight constructions, roads were laid to permit passage of tanks and heavy vehicles.
A mobile workshop, like the one pictured, was fitted to 3 ton lorries and used to support equipment in the field for use by the Royal Engineers. Some of these vehicles were fitted out in Eastleigh Carriage Works. Equipment included a lathe, milling machine, pillar drill and probably welding equipment. Storage boxes for tools and material have been incorporated in the frame of the vehicle and clever use of the side panels creates workbenches, with fitted vices and a standing platform to operate the machinery. It is presumed that the vehicle was equipped with a generator to power the machinery. From appearance, driving the vehicle would have been quite a challenge. The front suspension appears to be lifting due to the weight in the back and this would have made steering a little adventurous in wet weather or over uneven ground, not to mention stopping in an emergency. The Ashford Works carried out similar conversions to railway goods wagons, which was possibly a more practical option.
Tanks were not built in the Carriage Works during World War II, but they were modified by the Eastleigh workshops. One particular modification was a flail which was manufactured, fitted, and tested on site. A revolving drum, connected to heavy chains, fitted with fist sized balls was added to the front of the vehicle. When the drum was rotated, the balls hit the ground in front of the tank, deliberately detonating land mines which created a safe pathway for the tank and following infantry. We have been informed that only 42 were modified for the Royal Engineers and none of the tanks modified at Eastleigh saw active service. They were nicknamed “Toads”. Another conversion that was carried out at Eastleigh ahead of the D-Day landings was a bridge carrying tank. The picture on the right was taken in Eastleigh.
Each tank, once modified, had to be tested and again we have been informed that this duty was handed to the crane driver from the works, and testing took place in the nearby fields where the Chickenhall Industrial Estate is now. Why the crane driver? We do not know. Perhaps he was the only person qualified to drive a tank. We will never know.
Rolling stock was subject to damage from enemy action during the war as can be seen from these pictures. Eastleigh Carriage Works would have been active in repairing and maintaining rolling stock as part of the war effort.
This picture, for the railway enthusiasts amongst you, is of the first All-Steel four car motor unit which was released to traffic on April 30th, 1946. By April the 30th 1948, in just two years, Eastleigh Carriage Works had constructed 36 of these units and 165 loose trailers.
This layout, taken from a Mechanical and Electrical Engineers Conference Guide Book for a visit to Eastleigh in 1949 shows the flow of production for the steel body erecting shop. In the erecting shop the process moved left to right. Component assembly coming together before part assembled coaches were transferred to the body finishing line in a separate workshop.
This picture shows the shearing of roof panels in the sheet metal workshop, prior to transfer to the erecting shop.
The panels then have holes punched in them, presumably where ventilation cowls will be added later. These holes are punched through the sheets by a heavy duty press.
The first process in the erecting shop was for the flat roof panels to be welded together before they are formed into the curved shape of the roof.
A jig is used to locate the frames that will form the curvature of the roof. This picture shows the frames being assembled prior to the roof panel being placed in situ and welded.
With the frames in place, the 61 foot long formed roof panel is lifted clear of the jig.
In this picture you can see the carlines on the underside of the roof panel which maintain the curvature.
Coach side quarters are also assembled using jigs and welded.
Meanwhile specialist jig assembly and welding construction of the motormen’s cab takes place before this section is added to a unit.
Once again jigs are used for alignment in the assembly bay, and you can see each quarter panel connected to the roof panel.
Fabrication of the underframe. Bogies (wheel assemblies) have yet to be added.
Underframe with bogies (wheel assemblies) are then matched with coach sides and roof sub-assembly.
The coach body is eventually welded to the underframe and underfloor services installed.
Fitting of coach end and jointing of door head panels before transferring to the body finishing production line in a separate workshop.
The body finishing line layout from 1949 is a more conventional “U” shaped flow line process. The purpose of this layout, with the assembly of many smaller components, was to locate operations adjacent to the point at which the parts are fitted to the body, so that internal handling was kept to a minimum. Flooring is prepared and painted next to stage 1, ready for placing in the body. Doors are completely assembled with drop lights, interior panels, locks, and hinges, ready for hanging. (3) The partly completed coach body is then moved to the next stage by a traverser (7) where interior quarter panels and pre formed roof panels are clipped into the body. (8/9) The first coat of anti-corrosive paint was applied in the erecting shop. Subsequent coats of paint, filler and stain were applied during progress through the finishing stages. The body is then rubbed down before passing to the paint shop for final painting and varnishing.
In this picture door sub-assemblies are prepared for fitting to the coach body.
Doors are hung in position as part of one of the finishing stages.
Pre-formed ceiling panels are clipped into position, as are the interior panels.
This picture is from a later date, probably 1950s. It shows the trimming shop preparing upholstery for seat and back units.
This department was also responsible for producing curtains and blinds, although we have no pictures to show that process taking place.
This general view of the finishing line shows seat backs and cushions waiting to be installed.
Carriage design work was undertaken at Eastleigh Carriage Works. This picture of the drawing office was taken in the 1950s, although far different to a modern design office, these conditions were typical of industrial drawing offices in the 1960s and 1970s, before the advent of computers. The following pictures demonstrate the variety of designs that were created.
This picture from 1956 shows a unit fitted with an overhead gantry (pantograph) which connected to an AC power supply. The Southern Region had extensively adopted the third rail 750 volt DC system, although the third rail system was not completely installed in some parts of the Southern Region until the 1960s. It is believed that some parts of the line in Kent were equipped with overhead gantry systems, although it is also possible that this unit had been built for use on other regions as overhead power had been adopted by British Rail in 1956 as the standard option in other regions.
Passenger coaches were the main product at Eastleigh Carriage Works and the following pictures a number of variations which were produced locally.
These cafeteria coaches, whilst from a collection of Eastleigh Carriage Works pictures, according to their identification numbers were destined for the Midland Railway. Eastleigh Carriage Works undertook work for other regions, particularly after nationalisation under the British Rail banner.
Restaurant facilities were quite spacious, especially for first class passengers, pictured left, who could choose between two and four seat configuration.
(Kitchen) (Cooking Range) (Pantry)
All food would be prepared in the kitchen/galley area, and on the relatively short distances travelled on the Southern, catering staff would have been hard pressed to prepare, cook and serve meals before passengers arrived at their destination.
In the 1930s when this mail coach was built upwards of 40 million bags of mail were handled annually by the railways in Britain. To enable mail to be set down at points at which the train may not be stopping, nets were provided along-side the track to catch the bags which had been swung out on the side of the coach. Similarly, a net swung out from the side of the coach received the mail from special pick-up posts adjacent to the track. If the train stopped in the station, mail would be off-loaded by hand. The post box built in to the side of the carriage permitted letters to be posted from people standing on the platform.
Interior layout of a mail coach showing pigeon hole sorting system, sorting trays and hooks to hold bags. The cigarette card (pictured left) illustrates mail sorters working in a mail coach similar to the one pictured.
Before and after WWII there was an opportunity to attract people to the railways for leisure. Camping Coaches were redundant railway carriages converted to provide holiday accommodation and were introduced by the L.N.E.R. in 1933. The Southern Railway introduced them in 1935. The relatively low rent of about £3 per week made them immediately popular, and by 1935 there were over 200 camping coaches located at 160 holiday destinations across the UK.
Camping Coaches were provided to enable families to take economical self-catering holidays at a time when camping and hiking were gaining popularity. It has been suggested that the Railway companies liked to place them as far from centres of population as possible, so that they could maximise income from fares for travelling there. The boom in this kind of holiday was short-lived, as with the onset of WWII camping coaches were withdrawn, with many of the vehicles being put to alternative use providing temporary accommodation for railway workers during the war. Camping Coaches made a slow return after the war with the Southern Railway the first to re-introduce them in 1947. They didn’t return in any number until British Railways re-introduced them in other regions during the early 1950s.
Their popularity declined due to the development of holiday camps, like Butlins, which also included refreshment and entertainment. Camping Coaches started to be withdrawn from the mid-1960s. Sales brochures and posters from the 1940s described Camping Coaches as having “everything there ready: you are always sure of a cosy room for meals and a dry and comfortable bed at night after a day’s tramp in the surrounding country. If you have previously camped out in the old way you will appreciate the great advantages of the new method. The coaches have been specially adapted, are furnished with everything necessary for cooking, sleeping etc., and are in perfect condition. They contain a compact little kitchen, a living room and sleeping accommodation for six people… If you want to have a cheap, jolly and quite a unique holiday this year book up early for one of the Southern Railway Camping Coaches.”
“The sites have been specially selected at wayside stations amid the best country it is possible to find in the most beautiful, unspoiled parts of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, and especially for the enthusiastic walker and lover of the open air they cannot be surpassed”. It is hard to imagine today that it was popular for people to holiday in a railway carriage, yet there is a logic that it was very similar to a caravan or camping holiday with the added advantage that you did not have to tow a caravan to you destination or carry and erect a tent when you got there. This was in the days before overseas travel for the masses, and most working people did not have a motor car. The advantage was that you could travel to your destination by rail, and Camping Coaches were affordably priced, according to the publicity. I can remember Camping Coaches being located in sidings at Ashurst in the New Forest and they must have been popular at other locations in the area. It is easy to imagine that they would have been popular in many scenic Counties. The drawback was being able to sleep next to the track when the night mail and freight trains went thundering through.
Another unusual carriage design was the Tavern Car, introduced in 1949, and one of Oliver Bulleid’s more unusual designs. They were designed to represent a typical country tavern, with a bar and seating space provided within the carriage. The outside of the Tavern Car was partially painted in a mock-Tudor style, with the lower section of the coachwork originally lined to represent brickwork. They were given typical public house names and the first of the series of eight coaches which carried the running number S7892 was titled “At the Sign of the White Horse”, which you can see in this picture, as the sign writer applies his finishing touches to the Inn sign.
Other Tavern cars were designated: S7893 – At the sign of the Jolly Tar; S7894 – At the sign of the Dolphin; S7895 – At the sign of the Bull; S7896 – At the sign of the Salutation; S7897 – At the sign of the Three Plovers; S7898 – At the sign of the Green Man; S7899 – At the sign of the Crown, later renamed the George and Dragon.
Internally Tavern Cars were decorated to mimic an olde English pub with ’tile’ floor, ‘oak’ beams, whitewashed’ walls and lit by lanterns. They suffered from poor ventilation.
Critics hated the Tavern Cars. One argued that the décor looked like the ‘end of the range from a high street sale’, while another called them a ‘brilliant exercise in the inept’. Because the carriage windows were boarded over to discourage drinkers from loitering to admire the passing scenery, passengers complained too. The Tavern Cars were rapidly withdrawn from service, but they were later reintroduced in modified form and with conventional carriage windows. Probably because of their popularity, or lack of it, they were not exclusively used on the Southern Railway and were often found on the London Midland and North Eastern lines. Judging from the pictures, taken as promotional shots at Eastleigh Carriage Works, the Tavern Car does not seem to be too popular with people from Eastleigh either, judging by their happy smiling faces, but then a pint or two of beer would have probably helped the occasion. The most positive comment I have found relating to Tavern Cars was that if the train was packed and there was nowhere else, you could always find somewhere to sit in the Tavern Car. So, they did serve a purpose after all!
If you would like to see a short movie about Tavern Cars, please paste the following the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THXXrLdSw-s
(Running time 79 seconds)
Despite a liking for alcohol in Tavern Cars, the industrial workforce of Britain, before, during and after WWII, marched to the tune of the tea break. This tune still plays today in shops, offices, and factories throughout the land, although vending machines have replaced the “tea lady” that used to deliver the gossip. This delightful picture, taken in Eastleigh Carriage Works, during WWII, shows the “Trolley Dollies” in flying formation prior to a sortie on the workshops.
The Eastleigh Carriage Works Canteen was located opposite the entrance to the Carriage Works in Bishopstoke Road, and as its name suggests, provided refreshment for employees at lunchtime. It was also a Social Club for railway employees and used to support various concerts and fund raising activities. Pictures of the interior of Eastleigh Carriage Works are relatively rare, and pictures of the interior of the Works Canteen are rarer still, so I am delighted to share a few more pictures with you.
This is the interior of the works canteen. There is a stage located at the far end and, in this picture, chairs have been arranged for the audience to view a play or, more probably, a concert. To permit a larger audience, the tables have been removed. This picture does illustrate that this venue was capable of putting on major programmes of entertainment.
This picture taken during WWII, shows a Female Military Band performing a lunch time concert in Eastleigh Works Canteen. The tables have remained in situ for the performance, and you can still see some empty dinner plates on the tables. It appears that many of the men are still wearing their hats.
During WWII, my father, William Humby, was employed in Eastleigh Carriage Works as a machinist and was active with the Eastleigh Works (S.R.) Male Choir as accompanist and deputy conductor. He was also director and accompanist for the Southern Railway Carriage Works Orchestra. The programmes illustrated, reflect concerts which were held in the Eastleigh Works Canteen, as well as performances by the choir or orchestra in Romsey, Bournemouth, Southampton, and Ashford.
This is a transcript of a live lunchtime radio broadcast to the nation from Eastleigh. The “Works Wonders” programme was aired on Wednesday 28th June 1944 and featured the Eastleigh’s Southern Railway Male Choir and Orchestra.
This programme from the 3rd Annual Southern Railway Fur, Feather, Chrysanthemum, Vegetable and Handicraft Exhibition held on Sunday November 5th, 1944, is notable, not for the length of its title, but for the report that the previous year’s event had raised a staggering £545 which had been divided equally between Winchester and Southampton Hospitals.
For many children whose father worked in the Carriage Works during the 1950s and 1960s, there are fond memories of the Christmas parties that were arranged in the canteen. And yes, this is a picture of me, taken a few weeks ago in the works canteen with a rather skinny Father Christmas, but then I was rather skinny myself in those days. Glad to say that some things never change!!! I am not any taller either.
Sometimes things do change, and Eastleigh Carriage Works was closed in 1967 when work was transferred to the Eastleigh Locomotive Works in Campbell Road. On Thursday 9th September 1971 the landscape of Bishopstoke Road was changed when fire destroyed the old Works Canteen on the corner of Dutton Lane.
Ironically, when the first cottages were constructed on the left hand side of Dutton Lane by the London & South Western Railway, initial allocation for housing was given to carriage works employees who were also trained firefighters. By living adjacent to the works, the trained fire team were on-hand and could be summoned at any time by a specially installed telegraph alarm system or the large fire bell atop the office roof.
Soon after the arrival of the Carriage Works, one of the largest buildings to be developed in the new town of Eastleigh was The Railway Institute. This building dominated the corner of Upper Market Street and Leigh Road. Today it has been replaced by Sainsbury’s and the Bus Station. The foundation stone for the Eastleigh Railway Institute was laid in 1891 by the Hon. Ralph Heneage Dutton who was Chairman of the London & South Western Railway. Construction of the institute was completed in 1892 under the supervision of William Panter, Superintendent of Eastleigh Carriage Works. The facilities included tennis courts and bowling greens as well as the usual accommodation for social activities. There were also numerous offices and meeting rooms, and this building became an administration centre for the town and newly formed town council. Reflecting the need for teachers, the Eastleigh Pupil Teachers Centre took rooms at the Institute in 1904. Barton Peveril College can trace its origins back to this building.
The gentleman who laid the foundation stone of the Railway Institute was the Hon. Ralph Heneage Dutton who was the third and youngest son of John Dutton, 2nd Baron Sherborne. Ralph Dutton built Timsbury Manor, near Romsey, on the site of Timsbury Farm when he inherited the estate from his father, around 1840. He was elected an M.P. for South Hampshire in 1857, a seat he held until 1865. During his tenure as an M.P. he was also a director of the London and South Western Railway Company and, after his retirement from politics, he became Chairman of the Company in 1875. He also had a residence in London and, according to Charles James in Eastleigh & District Local History Society Paper no 7, the Honourable Ralph Dutton also lived at Spring Grove in Bishopstoke in the 1850s, often attending the Hampshire Cheese and Livestock Markets and functions at the Junction Hotel.
There is no record of how frequently Ralph Dutton stayed at Spring Grove. A residence in Bishopstoke makes sense if, travelling from London at the end of the day you wish to rest in comfort, or attend functions at the Junction Hotel late into the evening and avoid a long, tiring and potentially unsafe journey at night, by road, to Timsbury Manor. Ralph Dutton died in 1892 and was the longest serving chairman of the London and South Western Railway Company. According to Arthur Drewitt, writing in Easteigh’s Yesterdays, Fisherman’s Lane, which was next to the Cheese Market in Bishopstoke, was re-named Dutton Lane in his honour. As a director of the London and South Western Railway for 38 years and chairman from 1875 to 1892, Ralph Dutton would have been hugely influential in selecting and approving plans for the development of the railway at Eastleigh. With his knowledge of the area and his power of authority, the decisions taken in 1886, to relocate railway operations from Nine Elms to Bishopstoke, were probably taken because it was an area of the country, he was familiar with, and it offered everything that the company required in the short and long term to suit future development. This is where he wanted the new Carriage Works and Locomotive Works to be, because with all the other considerations, it was conveniently close to where he lived, where he could keep an eye on progress. We owe him a debt of gratitude, which over time has been forgotten. Charlotte Yonge, who named the new town could be considered to be the mother of Eastleigh. There is an argument that Eastleigh was created by Thomas Chamberlayne of Cranbury Park, as he owned the land, or Jonas Nichols who laid plans to develop the town. All have roads commemorated to them. I believe that the man who sowed the seed, the man who exerted his influence which created the community called Eastleigh, and gave Rise to the Railway in Hampshire, was the Hon. Ralph Heneage Dutton, a man we should consider to be the true father of the Town.
It is my belief that without his vision and influence, Eastleigh, as we know it to-day, would not exist.
Drewitt, Arthur (1935) Eastleigh’s Yesterdays, The Eastleigh Printing Works.
James, Charles E (1972). Eastleigh & District History Society – Occasional Paper No 7 – The Junction Hotel.
Norris, Norman (1986) – Eastleigh, An Illustrated History of the Council 1895 to 1986, Milestone Publications.
Bowie, Gavin G S (1986) Eastleigh, Bishopstoke and Chandlers Ford in Old Picture Postcards, European Library.
Brown, George J (1986) – Eastleigh Our Town, Golden Jubilee 1936 to 1986, Boyatt Wood Press.
Robertson, Kevin (1987) – The Last Days of Steam in Hampshire, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd.
Robertson, Kevin (1989) – Hampshire Railways in old photographs, Sutton Publishing Ltd.
Robertson, Kevin (1992) – Eastleigh – A Railway Town, Hampshire Books.
Cox, Gordon Daubney (1996) Eastleigh, The Chalford Publishing Company.
Eagles, Barry J (2002) – Eastleigh – Steam Centre of the South Western, Kingfisher Productions.
Winkworth, R (2007) – Eastleigh, The Railway – The Town – The People, Noodle Books.
Melvin Hellard, Bob Winkworth, Roy Smith, Gil and Julia Broom, Arthur Knott, Fred Betts, Denis Holdaway, Colin Chivers, Southern Railway Film Unit Archives, Hampshire Museum Services.