President David Shepherd CBE FRSA FGRA
Something About The LSWR
Some general information about the LSWR that, within the REC as Club Members, we should know. In its heyday the LSWR was known for its military importance, serving more military towns and bases than any other railway oin the country. In the Aldershot and Farnborough area, the surrounding heathland was of little use for agriculture, but ideal for military use. In 1855 Queen Victoria opened two camps near Aldershot, called North Camp and South Camp. At first Farnborough on the mainline and Tongham on the Alton line were the railheads, which made access to the Channel ports easy. There were also two small branch lines; The Bisley Branch, leaving the mainline at Brookwood and serving the rifle range, Pirbright, Deepcut and Blackdown; and the 4.5 mile branch to Bordon from Bentley on the Alton line. The typical station used by the military in the area had long broad platforms with little shelter, making it easy to load and unload troops and horses.
During one 48 hour period in September 1910, the LSWR moved 25,080 troops, 6,722 horses and l,l74 guns – no mean feat considering it was during one of the busy holiday periods.The railway also served three great naval bases at Plymouth, Portland and Portsmouth. Due to the concentration of troop ships in the Southampton area, the LSWR once carried every British soldier that went to, or returned from, foreign service.
From the public point of view, the LSWR was better known as a pleasure line. It served nine race courses, including Epsom, Ascot, Hurst Park and Sandown Park, while boating and regattas could be reached along the branches to Hampton Court, Shepperton and Windsor. Also numerous golf clubs could be reached throughout the Home Counties. In fact, the LSWR made more from the revenue of sporting and recreational persuits than any other railway in the country, especially with 17 seaside resorts.