The two-ft-gauge railway, which runs for a mile from Eastoke Corner to Beachlands, on Hayling Island, can be leased for seven years for £60,000 or bought outright for £300,000.
It’s the ultimate dream for fans of Thomas The Tank Engine — a chance to run their own railway (complete with Fat Controller). And that dream can become true now that the Hayling Seaside Railway has come up for sale.
The 2ft gauge railway, which runs on a one-mile track from Eastoke Corner to Beachlands on Hayling Island, taking in views of the Solent and the Isle of Wight, is the brainchild of train enthusiast Bob Haddock, a former bookshop owner who battled plenty of red tape for years to set it up.
Originally pitched as a replacement to the Hayling Billy line — and turned down by the local council — the railway was first established in 1988 at Hayling’s Mill Rythe Holiday Camp and later, after a number of planning controversies, moved to Hayling Beach, where it opened in July 2003 under the name of the Hayling Seaside Railway.
The service, which is supported by about 70 volunteers, runs for three days a week (daily during the school holidays) and comes with two diesel locomotives, five carriages and its very own Fat Controller — volunteer driver and conductor Robert Hazelton.
Would-be owners have two opportunities to make the line their own — they can either buy it outright for £300,000 or lease it for seven years at a more affordable £60,000. According to the sale listing, it has a turnover of £60,000 and a profit of £20,000.
But the real joy of owning the Hayling Seaside Railway is meeting the people who ride on it, according to Mr Haddock, who, at 72, is retiring and wishes to go travelling. ‘I love it because I talk with people, I bond with people, and I’m looking at the beach all day long,’ he told The Times. ‘I will advise the new owner to enjoy meeting the public. I’ll miss the camaraderie, the friendship, and meeting the people.’