Heritage & History

The 'Hithe Ferye' is almost 450 years old

site identity

An awful lot of history...

Hithe Ferye first mentioned in 1575

The Hythe Ferry ('Hitheferye') first appears on maps dated 1575. The first mention of a proposed pier is in an 1844 Act of Parliament but it's not completed until January 1st 1881. The historic electric trains arrive in 1922 and have continued to operate ever since. That's almost 450 years as a landing stage between Southampton and the New Forest.

Locomotives keep rolling on as we mark centenary since manufacture

This year we plan to mark a very special anniversary. The locomotives that pull our famous pier train were manufactured 100 years ago. Records indicate that three locomotives were built by the famous Loughborough based engineering firm Brush in 1917. These unique workhorses started life as battery powered tractor units in the World War One mustard gas factory in Avonmouth, Bristol.

The ferry operator at that time purchased all three of these units from the government after the end of the war and they were brought to Hythe around 1920. They were converted to run on the single phase DC electric current , one of the three units was used for spares and the two remaining locomotives began operating on the pier in 1922. Remarkably they have maintained their uninterrupted operation ever since making our pier train the oldest continuously running pier train in the world, a unique piece of working heritage.

We plan to create an exhibition later this year to recognise this important milestone and begin a five year project which we hope will lead to the refurbishment of the train in time for its centenary of continuous operation on our pier 1922 - 2022.

For more information on this and other heritage projects we plan contact us on via our contact page.