Crumbling away, still very apparent in most places, the Meon Valley railway line ran between Alton and Fareham in Hampshire. The dismantled railway passes a few miles from my home, near West Meon Hut and at the village. It was quite an engineering undertaking considering the small populations along its route, serving only villages along its 23 miles. This is probably why it only lasted 50 years or so – that and Gosport and Stokes Bay not taking off as tourist destinations. Most of the bridges remain, as does the station platform just south of West Meon. Nothing is left of the iron viaduct except some foundations, abutments and the mighty embankments either edge of the river Meon. Here’s my tour:
First up, the north end of West Meon Tunnel. This is near West Meon Hut. The tunnel entrance is locked and it’s used to store caravans. It’s private property but some bloke fixing his motorhome said I could take some photos.
Just to the north, Vinnels lane crosses the old line, now infilled almost to the height of the bridge, by soil and by trash:
West Meon Station building is dismantled. It was situated just south of the village along, yes, Station Road:
Some views of the old platform, being eaten by nature:
At one point the platform lowers to allow people to walk across the line:
The platform runs under the road bridge of Old Winchester Hill Lane:
A few hundred meters north of the station is the site of the viaduct, crossing the Meon Valley. The river here is just a stream. It crossed between two 20m embankments:
All that is left is some foundations and the abutments either end of the viaduct, with huge slots for the iron girders:
North of the viaduct is not open to the public, but I followed the line through some woods, probably overgrown in summer, the embankment turning into a cutting as it approaches the hill:
Less than a km from the viaduct, the hill is too steep and one reaches the southern end of West Meon Tunnel. It’s closed off with earth, metal and blocks. Where the blocks have been knocked though, bars and wire prevent access. There was a damp breeze coming from the hole, and a strange atmosphere about the place. I was drawn to it, wanted to stay, but at the same time I was slightly spooked:
I then walked back to the village via the footpath in the spring sun to shake the mood. Here’s where the viaduct crossed the river and lane, and how it once looked:
Back at the station, the road bridge and looking down to where the station was, and a similar view in the old days:
At the former West Meon goods yard next to the station:
I then drove north out of the village along a little-used gravelly lane over the hill towards Arbor Trees farm where there’s a bridge of the consistent black engineering/red bricks. I find these quite charming. MEL = ‘Meon Line’?
And another bridge just to the east, probably taken down to allow farm vehicle access:
There’s no footpath here, but I couldn’t resist following the old line to the A272 tunnel, for a very different view of a familiar road:
Varied textures, colours and crumbly brickwork of the road tunnel:
Finally, a romantic image of the viaduct, and a brand new station once upon a time:
15 thoughts on “Meon Valley Line: West Meon Station, Viaduct and Tunnel”
Good afternoon – I’m part of a group of people who plan on reopening the section between Knowle to West Meon, your pictures have provided some useful insite into the current condition and we would like to have you (excuse the pun) on-board with us.
At present we have had positive feed back from Hampshire County Council and the South Downs National Park, pelase do join our group and share any other pictures you may have…
Interesting idea. My explorations so far have been from West Meon station northwards. At some point I will walk further down the line again and post some photos which I can share. The trail would be the main obstacle to reopening the line, I imagine, since it is a very popular walking and cycling route. Once I am on the facebook group I can point to some videos which show some of the line WM to about Old Winchester Hill.
Hi, just to say we have since changed names; https://www.facebook.com/groups/Meonvalleyrailwayheritagesociety
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to re-open the entire stretch to Alton and bring the MVR back to life. It would be justice for the men who worked hard to build the line and those who died as a result. These men left a far more lasting legacy than our world leaders. With the government admitting that the Beeching cuts went too deep the county council could be lobbied to offer up the MVR as one of the lines to be re-instated as the population of the local communities of Wickham and West Meon have grown due to modern housing development. Devon County Council have done it for the Plymouth to Tavistock and are planning to re-open the section from Bere Alston to Tavistock so Hampshire CC cound follow suit.
See http://www.meonvalleyrailway.org.uk/ who have recently been turned down for a heritage line. I don’t know of any plans to reopen as part of the rail network…
I take plans to reopen the meon Valley line have been scrapped?
Facinating photo’s and what a great idea to reopen part of this line. I have driven through the A272 tunnel hundreds of times and have often wondered if it would be possible to park up somewhere nearby and take a look at the line at this point but dont wish to trespass. When the tree’s are bare the line is clearly defined along the embankment. Do you think it would be a problem to climb up and take a few photo’s?
It’s not quite clear who owns this land above the tunnel. You could always ask at Peak Farm or one of the nearby houses.
Hi, I got some email notifications from here so I will catch you up on things. In a bit of a twist, we have been provisionally granted to restore West Meon and Wickham Station, we would be working with Hampshire County Council and South Downs National Park. So while there is no plans for tracks to go down, building restoration is planned and hope to increase the idea of restoring the line. Our website will be updated over the coming weeks.
I love the cycle trail from wickham to west meon and would prefer this to be extended north or South to fareham. Great that so many people care about this special part of Hampshire.
Loving your photos, thank you for sharing
Hi great website,visited southern end of west meon tunnel myself some 20 or so years ago and had the same spooky feeling, couldn’t stay there as I felt so uneasy, have never been back since, I wonder if any body else has had this feeling?
very much enjoyed reading the above. If you can assist me, do you recommend anywhere worthwhile to watch the Flying Scotsman pass by between Salisbury and Southampton this Saturday 21st May? West Meon seems a possibility but unsure of the precise route as Network Rail are saying nothing after all the track wandering on the London to York run recently! Any guidance would be apprerciated.
Hi Duncan it was great to see the pics
I remember very well the old tunnel we use to walk through it on a regular basis when I lived in west meon in the early sixties
I was in the Cubs which was run by the local vicar in west meon a rev Hurst if I remember correctly he use to take us up there through the tunnel very scary at one point you can’t see either end so completely pitch black we went there and Old Winchester hill
Kind regards Brian
Hello to everyone!
For the last few years I have been enjoying the disused railway line. I have cycled it from West Meon to Wickham but the other day my wife and I drove to the north entrance of the Privett tunnel, which is easily accessible from the road. We then drove to the old Privett station which is now a residential house. I wonder what the gradient was from the tunnel entrance to the station?
From there we followed the line and the road to East Tisted and there we found the old station which is privately owned. We drove past the house and over the old railway bridge and stopped and looked down towards the station. We saw a railway carriage and tracks in their garden.
We then drove to Farringdon and walked some of the old line to Alton.