This is a sort of railway travel book, although I suspect that it will never be really long enough to be a book, the basic idea came from my father. I was given some floppy discs with some saved Microsoft works files on to see if there was anything important on them after my father had died.
It took some time to find a way of reading the floppies as they were not in good condition and the type of files on them went back to what appears to be the very first version of Microsoft works that was ever written.
But in the end, I did manage to get a load of files off the discs and a programme to convert them into files that more modern word processor programmes can read.
What I found, where a lots of files, it appears that at some time or other my father did a writers course and so produced a lot of files to do with the course. It so happens that he appears to have completed the course and then for some little time afterwards, while his health was good went on to produce some more written items of his own.
One such item was a series of notes that he put down on describing a journey
I suspect, that what ever I end up with, will not be the same as what my father had in mind but at least I have carried out something of the idea that he originally had. So in one way this article or book is my small tribute to my father.
This is the start of our little journey and it still evokes a thrill of excitement. Steam has faded but the crowds and the bustle are still there. The main line station from which all adventures seemed to start. The scurrying of travellers their luggage being carried pushed and dragged or moved by any means, some luggage so large you wonder what the owner is taking with them.
We stand on the platform and check our watch then check out our surroundings. The station is like many others on this line, starting to show its age but with bits of modern technology dropped in here and there, as if no thought had gone into what the final result would be. As I slowly give this main line station the once over I see the tannoy system with its harsh metallic voice. The indicator boards now multi-coloured and electronic flashing away. Gone now and lost to the past, the large square or round station clock with its large hand that you could see from tens of feet away. In its place the oblong electronic box whose figures continually count away the days and hours without as much as a tick. They might be more on time but in bright sunshine, when we get it, are hard to read and you find you have to be much closer to see what time it says it is.
The tannoy booms out a phrase heard so many times
through the years “The next train to arrive at platform two will be the London
Waterloo service to
On the way I will point out places and things that have peeked my interest or items that you might never have heard about that this part of the country likes to hide.
Finally the train pulls into the station, and the mad activity on the platform increases as people change places some getting off, some getting on with lots of luggage, some with none. On to the train we look for a space not in a smoking carriage and not with children screaming and shouting somewhere quite with only an odd passenger deep into book who hardly gives you a glance as he does not want to loose his place. Finally we find just the right spot.
A window seat away from the door, with the modern coaches the doors are at
the ends of the carriage no fear of trampled toes by ones fellow travellers;
Settle down for a panoramic journey through the beautiful ever changing Surrey
and then Hampshire countryside. Most of the journey from
Hampshire is a county in southern
With a lurch the train gets underway soon we are leaving behind the seemingly
ever growing town of
The clatter of points and some lurches this way and that, soon we leave
A long stretch of straight parallel tracks lead into Brookwood Station. A well used golf course flits by the window. There seems to be a great many pine trees in this area as we reach the walls surrounding the London Necropolis (Greek for city of the dead) opened in 1889. The railway company had a train to take the deceased to Brookwood where it was taken off the main line into a siding adjacent to the Necropolis. This has now been abandoned for many years. The station is very quiet at this time of day the morning commuter rush is over.
We pass through the old
On either side of the tracks are to be found Pirbright army camp, part of which is used as a training area for summer camps appropriately called Stony Castle and it is how the army make it comfortable I do not know, but succeed they must do as every year they come back for more than six weeks each summer.
Looking down the embankment we glimpse through the trees stretches of water
and locks this then the restored
Quite suddenly we have crossed the border from
Farnborough is listed in the Doomsday book as Ferneberga, which means Fern Hill; it remained a small village
until the mid-nineteenth century and the establishment of the military camp
As our train speeds into the outskirts of Farnborough we spot a hill which dominates the skyline. A quick glimpse ahead reveals surmounted on that hill the Abbey and mausoleum of St Michael this a Cistercian order far removed from where one would expect to find such an order.
The mausoleum is the burial tomb of the Empress Eugene and Napoleon III who both resided here for many years.
Napoleon III born 1808 and died 1873, ruled as Emperor of France from 1852 to 1870, and was closely associated with major European political changes.
If you visit the building you will see that behind the High Altar is a late
19th century Cavaille-Coll organ. This is a rare and outstanding
organ and is the only un-restored example of its type in the
Though not seen from the railway Farnborough was the home of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, of which I spoke earlier which has now changed its name to Quentic, what ever that means.
The Royal Aircraft Establishment was where
Over the last decade housing has increased to such an extent that fields and woods have decreased as a boundary between Farnborough and Fleet, if it continues they will both lose their identities and become one large sprawling mass of houses with now hint of green to break up the bricks and glass.
The train soon passes Farnborough and in no time we are on the outskirts of Fleet which by rail is some 3 miles from Farnborough.
Fleet has changed from a sleepy town into an ever advancing township surrounded
by woodland and pasture as we pass through the station, on one side is a large
expanse of water, called strangely Fleet pond, this pond was one of many stocked
to provide fish for the clergy of Winchester, seems a long way to come for
fishing. Another nod from the past, during the 1920's the railway company
ran excursion trains from
Pleasant walks in the wooded surrounds of the pond are recommended, numerous water fowl are to be seen. Our metal road takes us takes us onward deeper into the Hampshire countryside.
The original name of this station was Fleet Pond Station back in 1847 and
it became known as Fleet Station on
Winchfield is upon us in a blink of the eye, straining
to the side one sees just below the station the Beauclerk Arms seemingly an
Winchfield railway station is some 39 miles from
London Waterloo and was originally opened on
In a short while Hook station goes by not much of note can be seen from the railway, the countryside around Hook is well wooded and there is a very extensive Hook Common near by.
The oldest building in the village the White Hart Hotel, an old coaching
Rumour has it that
Basingstoke is the next station on our journey, this was an old market town until the 1960's when the majority of the old town was put to the developers the new development, high blocks glass fronted concreted forms can all be seen from the railway many of the towns roads pass beneath numerous flyovers.
After leaving the station the sprawling housing can be seen stretching in
all directions to the right hand side light industry has popped its head up.
Shortly after leaving Basingstoke the line crosses the B3420 the old Roman road leading to Winchester strange to think animals, human feet and carts, then the road monsters of their day are now crossed by the rail this in turn crossed by air corridors all in one spot. The stratum of man’s progress is many layers deep. So we continue on our journey ever deeper into Hampshire and very soon we arrive at
This station is some 58 miles from London Waterloo
Winchester station is next on the line after Basingstoke surprisingly for an old capital of England not a very imposing station edifice, its as if the railway company of the time was not sure what to do once it had got to Winchester, perhaps they were short of money and so just put up something that they could afford.
But let’s get back to the here and now and tell you something more about
the city of
Today, it is the chief town in the district of Winchester, which has a population
of about 93,700 in 2000. It is a religious, service, and light industrial
centre. It is also the administrative centre of the
Both Alfred the Great and the
Alfred the Great born in about 849 and was dead by 899, was king of the
Alfred was born in Wantage, which is now part of Oxfordshire. As a boy, he was
curious and eager to learn. There is a story that his mother offered a prize
to the first of her five sons who learned to read. Alfred, the youngest,
won the prize, a book of Anglo-Saxon poems. Before he was 7, he had travelled
Alfred became king in 871, after the death of his fourth brother. The
But the Danes renewed their attacks four years later and defeated Alfred
at the Battle of Chippenham. Alfred finally defeated them at the Battle of Edington in 878. The Danish leader, Guthrum,
agreed to be baptized a Christian. After the Danes broke the peace again,
Alfred won his greatest victory, the conquest of
Alfred built forts at strategic points and stationed a fleet of ships along the coast to protect his kingdom and guard against invasion. He also issued a great code of laws to improve government.
Education declined because the Danes had looted the monasteries and churches,
the only centres of learning. Few even among the clergy could read or write.
Alfred brought teachers and learned men to
William of Wykeham completed
A little outside the rail station the layout and interest of the city becomes evident the cathedral, the old gatehouse, medieval hall purporting to have the original round table of Arthur and many other sites of interest.
Pulling away from the station heading down country we pass on the left the
high walls of
Flat tilled pastures stretch away in all directions from our path still wending our way to the south into the heart of Hampshire.
The train carries on into Hampshire and very soon we find ourselves at the
next station on the line.
The railway repair and carriage works were moved from Nine Elms to Eastleigh in the 1880’s so busy and populated did it become, a railway town was built to the South of the present town centre to accommodate all the workers. Many and varied are the present day industries.
As we move through we notice how the countryside has changed so much since
the start of our journey in
As we leave the town of