Eastleigh Works Centenary Open Days
Saturday 23rd - Monday 25th May 2009
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff
The London & South Western Railway first established manufacturing capacity at Eastleigh in 1889 when it started building its carriage and wagon works adjacent to Eastleigh and Bishopstoke station (re-named from Bishopstoke Junction in the same year). The locomotive works followed in 1909 so moving all of the company's manufacturing capacity out of London. Following the grouping Eastleigh Works became one of the three major works of the Southern Railway and upon Nationalisation of the Southern Region. Scaling down of work on the site began in the mid 1960s with the cessation of steam operation. March 31st 2006 potentially marked the end of Eastleigh being a "railway town" when the remaining works were finally closed by Alstom and the vast majority of equipment auctioned off. The site was sold to a property development company. The prospect of being able to celebrate the centenary of the works in the works appeared to be gone.
However, all was not lost after all. Planning permission for housing on the site was refused because it is under the final approach to Southampton Airport. Then the somewhat surprise premature withdrawal of the Class 442 fleet by South West Trains led to the requirement for somewhere securely to store twenty three 5 car units (the twenty fourth unit being delivered straight from overhaul to Stewarts Lane for appraisal by Southern/Gatwick Express). Enter the entrepreneurial Bruce Knights of Knights Rail, who already had a viable business at Shoeburyness. Knights Rail leased Eastleigh Works, not only stored and cared for the Class 442 fleet but also took in other railway work, either to be performed by themselves or by other companies who obtained sub-leases on parts of the works.
It rapidly became clear that Mr. Knights, whilst running a business, has a keen sense of railway heritage and thus a major event to celebrate the centenary of the works was organised by Knights Rail in conjunction with The Railway Magazine. This proved to be the biggest and best railway event in the south of England for many years, for which our grateful thanks are due to the organisers. Over £50,000 was raised for charity and just over 19,000 visitors attended.
Here is a collection of my photographs taken on Saturday 23rd May. They can be viewed according to the below menus as a complete presentation, presentation of specific selections, or of individual items of stock. By use of the navigation available, albeit sometimes via this index, it is possible to flit between ways!