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Havant

Havant

The station forecourt as rebuilt by the Southern Railway in a mix of Network SoutEast and South West Trains colours

photograph byPaul Emery

Havant station opened on 15th March 1847 as part of the LB&SCR's extension from Chichester to Portsmouth. The line onwards to Fareham was opened one month later, on 14th June 1847, to the existing LSWR route at Fareham. Since Southern Railway days, though, the line from Havant to Fareham has been under the auspices of the south western division and today the stations on this section are painted in South West Trains' colours, though the route is still very much used by central division trains. Far from being the most attractive of stations, Havant's main claims to fame are the fabled "Battle of Havant" and the one-time branch to Hayling Island.

Prior to 1858 the only railway routes from Havant to London were circuitous ones, via either Brighton to the east or Winchester to the north west, despite the Portsmouth Direct Railway from Godalming to Havant having been built and ready for use. The problem was, as always, political! The line, built speculatively by the well known railway contractor Brassey, was in dire need of being adopted. However, despite being geographically situated on the eastern flank of the LSWR territory, that railway was unwilling to upset its neighbour, the LB&SCR, by breaking their working arrangement for Portsmouth traffic. However, to upset the apple cart, along came the upstart South Eastern Railway with their line deep through LB&SCR territory from Redhill into the LSWR's territory at Guildford. In order to stop any further encroachment by the SER into LSWR territory the latter decided to adopt the PDR and were prepared, if necessary, to take passengers by road from Havant to Hilsea, on its line from Fareham to Portsmouth, should the LB&SCR try to block their line at Havant, thus preventing the trains of both companies from continuing on to Portsmouth. The Brighton company's response was to issue a warning on 23rd December 1858 that if the LSWR attempted to carry the traffic of the PDR into or from the joint station at Landport "this company would take measures to prevent them from so doing". Then the PDR announced that they would run a goods train (a LSWR one of course) on 28th December. War was declared! The LSWR train arrived early in the morning, double-headed, carrying officials from the PDR, the LSWR, and an army of police, navvies and "Victorian Rent-a-mob". The Brighton company, however, was ready and had it's own force awaiting them. An old engine, Nº99 Bury, was chained to the rails and part of the turnout on the down line junction was removed. The Brighton pointsman was ordered to give up the missing item or be liable for imprisonment for obstruction. Then the locomotive Bury was rushed and captured by a gang of some eight to ten men after which the LSWR train ran through the station on the wrong road, but the Brighton men were ready for this and had removed a rail, thus stopping the train. Then ensued what can only be described as a pitched battle until the LSWR contingent accepted defeat and withdrew around lunchtime. The Brighton contingent then went home victorious, having decorated its train with flags.

Havant

The front of the station on 22nd August 2009.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

Havant

A view from further back on the same date, also showing some of the platform and platform canopy.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

Havant

Havant Station from New Lane footbridge looking west towards Portsmouth. Where the righthand line slews across there was at one time an up fast line through the station.

photograph by Paul Emery

Havant

Looking across to platform 1 and the up line. Havant had at one time two fast lines through the station, but today just the down fast line remains.

photograph by Paul Emery

Havant

Looking east on Platform 1. The SWT train that is just leaving from platform 2 will almost immediately turn left at the junction onto the "Portsmouth Direct" line via Guildford to London.

photograph by Paul Emery

Havant

Looking west, the rusty rails of the remaining fast line seem little used.

photograph by Paul Emery

Havant

A good overall view of the station. The date is now 22nd August 2009 and the remaining fast line shown above has been lifted. Class 377 unit Nº377455 is waiting at the platform.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

Havant

Straight on for Chichester and Brighton, left for Guildford and Waterloo. This is most probably the site of the "Battle of Havant" between the LB&SCR and LSWR over routes to Portsmouth in 1858.
During the time of the stoppage passengers had to be ushered from one end of the obstruction to the other. George Hawkins, the LB&SCR's Traffic Manager, reported to his railway's Secretary that although he regretted the state of affairs he had felt it necessary to prevent the LSWR making a forced entry onto the Brighton company's line without the permission of its directors.
This situation could not last, of course, so eventually an agreement was struck whereby the LB&SCR allowed the LSWR entry to the station. Having done this, there then followed a vicious fares war with each company successively undercutting the other's excursion fares in the hope that it would break them. In the end it didn't, of course, but it is said that the only ones to profit from the experience were the sailors who had ridiculously cheap tickets, and the lawyers!
There was less cut-throat competition where the ordinary fares were concerned, and no racing to reach Havant first. The LSWR had the shorter, and a direct, route but the LB&SCR took only ten minutes longer on their route despite having a reversal and an engine change whilst negotiating their two sides of the triangle.

photograph by Paul Emery

This page was last updated 11 November 2009

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