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Then and Now


1966 - 2016
A 50 Year Then and Now special 

This is my second feature where I try to replicate train spotting trips from 50 years ago. On the 14th April 1966 along with my father and a school friend, I visited Eastleigh Works. I went back to Eastleigh 50 years later to try and retake some of the pictures to show how things had changed over half a century. I also drove over to Ropley, on the Mid Hants Railway, to see what was present in the yard.

The first big difference was the weather. Thursday the 14th April 1966 arrived with heavy snow which persisted throughout the morning before clearing after lunch. By the evening it was already starting to melt.

50 years on and Thursday 14th April 2016 was a warm sunny day with some passengers at Eastleigh brave enough to wear shorts and a T shirt.

11.21am on 14 April 1966 and 1100 on 14 April 2016

In 1966 we travelled to Eastleigh on the 9.30am to Bournemouth. Not the fastest of services, it took almost 2 hours (arriving at 11.21am). The motive power was BR Standard class 5 no. 73118. By this time it had lost its “King Leodegrance” nameplates.

50 years on the equivalent train was the 0939 to Poole arriving at Eastleigh at 1100 with the ubiquitous class 444 providing the service. These two pictures were taken 50 years apart – less 20 minutes.  

In 1966 Eastleigh station was being rebuilt with a rather drab concrete building on the down island platform. The up platform still had the bay, this now being part of the car park, although part of the canopy survives at the station entrance.

The current station entrance is in what used to be the London bound island platform buildings.

There were two principle through services in 1966. The Pines Express from Poole to Manchester succumbed to class 47 haulage at the start of the year and did not stop at Eastleigh. 

I did not see that train in 1966 as it was through before we arrived (10.39 ex Southampton Central). 

A through service from Bournemouth to Manchester still runs in 2016 but alas the Pines Express name has gone. Somehow the 4 coach Cross Country unit doesn't have the same appeal as a 12 coach restaurant train but the journey is probably quicker and smoother.

The other through train in 1966 was the 10.30 from Poole to Newcastle and this service stopped at Eastleigh. It was steam hauled as far as Banbury with Stanier’s Black 5’s being the staple motive power. Steam operation of this service ceased in September 1966. The picture here is of Black 5 no. 44942, a regular on this working. This engine survived to the end of steam in 1968 being reallocated to Lostock Hall shed.


This service still runs today (2016) although starting at Bournemouth. it no longer stops at Eastleigh. These two pictures were taken 50 years and 3 minutes apart.

In 1966, Eastleigh was a hive of activity with lots of movement from the nearby shed and shunting in the yard on the down side of the station. Back then we snapped Ivatt 2-6-2 tank locomotive no. 41294. 50 years on there is still shunting activity and diesel locomotive 66206 is seen propelling its train in the yard. The two pictures were taken 50 years less 35 minutes apart.


The picture of 41312 was taken at Ropley, on the Mid Hants Railway later in the afternoon. 


A familiar sight at Eastleigh were the London bound trains that stopped at the end of the up platform, as seen here with West Country class no. 34005 “Barnstaple”. It was difficult to get a similar picture in 2016 as the leading coach of a multiple unit is not so interesting. However the two 2016 pictures shows the location.
Much has changed including the signals being replaced, a new road bridge over the line and office blocks opposite the station. 

One can occasionally replicate the steam era picture, as I have done with this shot of Merchant Navy no. 35005 in May 2002. It was working a return Steam Dreams tour from Salisbury to Waterloo via Southampton.


Some shots from the south end of the station. BR Standard 2-6-4 tank 80016 is backing onto its train for the 2.2pm service to Bournemouth whilst the rear coach of a class 444 unit takes up the same position in 2016.

The USA tanks were a familiar sight at Southampton Docks and around Eastleigh works. Here no. 30067 ventures into the station. The works can be seen in the background on the left. Today there are not the light engine movements but I captured diesel no. 66053 taking a freight train into the yard. Steam can sometimes be seen at this location and here is a picture of 35028 “Clan Line” with an up boat train on 1995.





Away from the station, Campbell Road provided a great vantage point of both the running lines and traffic in and out of the shed. The 1966 view shows BR standard class 4 no. 75077. In 2016, a down freight hauled by 66116 rumbles towards Southampton. The differences in the townscape can be seen. The terraced houses along Southampton Road (on the left) are still there but the town centre has changed beyond recognition with multi-storey carparks providing the backdrop. 

We had booked a visit around Eastleigh Works but the gloomy weather precluded any pictures. Unfortunately our unplanned visit to the loco shed was not successful. Thursday was pay day and no visitors were allowed!  

Whilst there was no steam to be seen at Eastleigh in 2016, a visit to Ropley on the Mid Hants gave me my steam fix. A Black Five was in steam (no. 45379) which was a bonus as trains were not running on the Mid Hants line that day.  

A view of the workshops was the next best thing to a visit round Eastleigh works. 30506, 76017 and 34105 were under repair in the workshop whilst S15 no. 30828 was outside alongside “Lord Nelson”. Incidentally, one of the Mid Hant’s fleet, 35005 “Canadian Pacific” is under overhaul at Eastleigh Works.

Our day ended at Waterloo and this picture of Battle of Britain no. 34057 “Biggin Hill” departing with the 7pm train to Salisbury. This is contrasted with West Country no. 34007 “Wadebridge” at Ropley and which even had the same painted embellishments on its buffers and lamp brackets as 34057. 

In 1966 West Country no. 34007 had been withdrawn from BR service destined for Woodham’s scrap yard in Barry. It survived and 50 years, almost to the month, was again withdrawn following the expiry of its 10 year boiler certificate. This time it’s not the scrap yard that beckons but the workshops for a full overhaul.

Published 16 April 2016

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