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The Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway was a railway in Hampshire, UKmarker, opened on Saturday, 1 June, 1901, with no formal ceremony.It was the first railway to be enabled by an Order of the Light Railway Commission under the Light Railways Act of 1896. Despite its closure in January 1917, and the removal of much of the track, the line was re-opened, largely because of pressure from local landowners, farmers and agricultural workers, in August 1924 (after track was re-laid) and remained in use until 12 September, 1932 when it was finally closed to passengers.

Building

The light railway was built by the London and South Western Railway despite deliberately knowing that the line would be unprofitable. Originally, the Great Western Railway, the L&SWR railway's closest rival had shown interest on building a line from Reading to Portsmouth via Basingstoke and Alton, with the first section of railway being from Basingstoke to Alton. To prevent this, the L&SWR took advantage of the Light Railways Act, proposing to build a small light railway rather than the standard railway proposed by the GWR. The L&SWR's proposal proved cheaper and was granted permission, thus preventing the Great Western Railway from building their own line on this route. However, the railway the LSWR built from Alton to the south coast at the same time as the B&ALR, through the Meon Valley was over-built to full main line standards.

Route

The railway operated from Basingstoke railway stationmarker, through Cliddesdenmarker, Herriardmarker, Bentworth and Lashammarker to Butts Junctionmarker (just west of Altonmarker). In 1909 the southern end of the railway was extended with the opening of a private platform called Alton Park which served the Lord Mayor Treloar's hospital.

Operation

Excluding the approach to Butts Junction, the line was entirely single track. Only Herriard station was provided with two platforms. As a light railway, the line had an overall speed limit of 24 miles per hour, and the journey from Basingstoke to Butts Junction took typically 45 minutes. When it opened, there were three return trips to Alton daily, which rose to six by the summer of 1909, with an extra couple of goods trains.

Filming

The railway was used for the filming of 1929 film The Wrecker, and 1937 film Oh, Mr Porter! which features Cliddesden Station as the fictional Buggleskelly.

Commemoration

A short length of railway track was installed in the centre of the Viables roundabout in Basingstoke in 1976 to commemorate the line at a point close to its original route. There is also a plaque at the main station in Basingstoke. The only part of the railway which survives today is a 100m stub of track 1 mile west of the railway station in Basingstoke.

Gallery

Image:Basingstoke-and-Alton-Light-Railway-track-section.jpg|Section of vintage track representing the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway on the Viables Roundabout in Basingstokemarker.

Image:Herriard Station.jpg|The site of Herriard railway stationmarker.

Image:Lasham and Bentworth Station.jpg|The remains of Bentworth and Lasham railway stationmarker.

References




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