The Hengistbury land train at 50. 50 years of joy, headlines and nostalgia. You can take part!

Posted on Wednesday 7th March 2018

On April 1st, 1968, the first land train set off from the terminus at the Broadway, Southbourne, headed for Mudeford Spit. To celebrate this well-loved train, the land train staff are asking for you to become part of its history, by sharing photos and memorabilia for the new exhibition. The exhibition opens on Friday 30th March in Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre.

The photos will form part of a digital slideshow, running in the ‘upstairs gallery’ and in the courtyard. Upload your photos via www.visithengistburyhead.co.uk/landtrain or ask the staff on the trains (for those who do not have access to the internet).

The Hengistbury team are also planning a series of events throughout the year – details will appear on posters, the website and on the Facebook page. 

Entitled ‘Hengistbury land train at 50. 50 years of joy, headlines and nostalgia’, the exhibition will embark upon a journey through the years. From the controversy of the original train setup, through the happy memories of  travellers young and old, through to the present day. The exhibition will run until 18th May, with the potential for it to return in the late summer.                                                                         

Helped by the original owner, Joyce Faris and her family, we are delving into the archives to share so much about this popular train service, and to jog fond memories for those who rode Dunlin (green), Mallard (orange) or Shelduck (blue). Head of Parks Development, Michael Rowland said “We’re very grateful to Joyce and her family for delving into their own archives to provide so much for the exhibition. We can’t wait for the general public to start sending in their own memories to enrich this exhibition.”

The family ran the business until November 2015 when Joyce retired (Roger sadly passed away in the late 1980’s). It has been run by Bournemouth Borough Council (and almost all of the same team) ever since. Portfolio Holder, Councillor Robert Lawton, said “The Hengistbury land train began as an environmental solution to traffic crossing the headland. To this day, it continues as a popular leisure attraction that helps to minimise other traffic on this precious site. The ticket sales help contribute to the upkeep of the trains and this wonderful nature reserve.”

Nothing much else has changed. The service still runs daily (apart from in bad weather and on Christmas Day), providing a much-needed transport link between the Hiker Café on the Broadway and Mudeford Spit. The stunning landscape has barely altered in 50 years and the site remains protected as a Local Nature Reserve, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).