Lymington Branch

This article on the Lymington branch is by Bob Poole, GRES Chairman


                                         Lymington by slam door

 From 23 May 2010, the Lymington – Brockenhurst services were due to be provided by Class 158 Sprinters on weekdays and Class 450 at weekends, replacing the Class 421 (3CIG) electrical multiple units which had run the service since 2005.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would travel 200 miles to see slam door stock; but as with most railway enthusiasts, once the commonplace is about to disappear an urge to photograph it takes over. So it was on 15 April 2010, on hearing that the 3CIG units used for the Lymington branch services were due to be replaced, Dave Fisher and I set off for by car for Brockenhurst to sample the CIGs one last time.

4Cig 1498 forming the Lymington shuttle at Brockenhurst

Once a common site on the Southern network, 3 car sets 1498 Farringford and her sister 1497 Freshwater were taking it in turns to travel the 5.6 miles from Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier and back for a connection to the ferry for Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. On the day we went, only 1498 was on duty; painted in Southern Region green livery, with 1497 in the later corporate two tone blue colour scheme.

Built at BR York Works between 1964 and 1972, the 4CIGs were initially introduced on services on the Brighton Main Line. Later units were used on services to Portsmouth. The CIGs replaced older Southern Railway-designed units, such as the 5Bel “Brighton Belle” units, and 4Cor units.

Brockenhurst station still retains its platform traverser, which gives access from the up side to the central island platform. It looked as if the traverser had recently been painted, but whether it still functions I could not say.

Traverser at Brockenhurst

The trip to Lymington was quite nostalgic; with the sound of the air brake compressors at stops and the smell of ionised gas from the 3rd rail shoes. Lymington town station forms the only intermediate stop now, with the former halt at Ampress Works having closed in 1989.

Lymington Pier station was soon reached and is now a basic unstaffed platform with bus shelters and little else for passenger comfort. The station originally opened in 1858 when substantial goods and passenger facilities were provided for the ferry service to Yarmouth.

Having spent a little time in the refreshments at the nearby ferry terminal building, it was time to return to Brockenhurst, not however before taking some pictures of 1498 crossing the bridge over the harbour at Lymington.

The future of the 3CIGs is somewhat uncertain; the stories I heard from fellow enthusiasts on the day ranged from the CIGs being preserved on the Swanage line  to being broken up to form the basis of the reconstituted “Brighton Belle” train. Time alone will tell.

Bob Poole