CELEBRATIONS are planned to mark the centenary of the little electric train which has made thousands of trips along the historic Hythe Pier.
Described as the world’s oldest operating dock train, it carries passengers to and from the ferry that operates from the end of the 700-yard pier.
Among the passengers was King George VI, who visited the area before the D-Day landings in 1944.
Now members of the Hythe Pier Heritage Association (HPHA) are drawing up plans to mark the line’s century of service to people traveling to Southampton and back.
This year’s Rock the Pier music festival will be renamed Rock the Train to mark the line’s contribution to the region.
The facility began serving the region just four years after the end of World War I.
It has been operating ever since, with the exception of a two-month shutdown caused by a dredge that struck the pier – destroying a 150-foot section of the structure – in November 2003.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the longest continuously operating electric train in the world.
King George V1 paid a surprise visit to Hythe, arriving by speedboat from Southampton, before reviewing some of the troops preparing to take part in the invasion of Normandy.
Two groups of sailors had to hurry to prepare for the visit after the 5pm ferry to Southampton left.
One group had less than ten minutes to clean the train before the royal group arrived. The other sailors formed a guard of honor along the pier, saluting the passage of the king’s carriage.
In 2020, the HPHA announced it was embarking on a £ 222,000 project to restore the train.
Members and their supporters began by repairing one of the wooden cars that arrived in the village a few weeks before the railway opened.
They were originally pulled along the jetty by three tractors that had been purchased from the War Office by General Estates, who owned the ferry and jetty.
Rock the Train is scheduled to take place on July 23.