The hunt for Buggleskelly: Market research reveals forgotten Basingstoke railway line

Written by Kaia Vincent
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My hunt for “Buggleskelly” started back in 2016 when my 92-year-old Grandfather, Kenneth Albert George Sole told me a story about the time, as a child, he walked from Basingstoke to Cliddesden Station to watch the filming of the 1937 classic “Oh Mr. Porter!” starring Will Hay…

Intrigued by the fact that I didn’t even know there had been a railway station at Cliddesden, or a line that connected Basingstoke with Alton, I set about conducting some market research to see what I could find out about the forgotten track.

Although the station and its building have long since been demolished, there are quite a few indicators of the existence of the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway.

Market research both online and field revealed:

  • Row of railway cottages still existing in Station Road, Cliddesden

  • Remains of the old railway bridge connecting Cliddesden with Basingstoke along B3046 (Farleigh Road) (image below)

  • Using Google Maps it is still possible to see the location of the track, some of which has been turned into a public bridleway from near Cliddesden to Winslade (image below – red line indicating the location of the track)

  • At Winslade, the railway bridge has survived, although it is now classed as a conservation area, you can walk the route of the old track

  • Last remaining track, located in the middle of Viables roundabout, Basingstoke

  • I even found ‘behind the scenes footage‘ (see below) from the 1937 shoot (I wonder if my Grandad was one of those spectators?)

In its heyday, the single-track railway line ran from Basingstoke railway station, past Thorneycrofts (site of Morrison’s supermarket) and Viables Farm (Viables Craft Centre) heading out towards Cliddesden. There was even a track that went via Park Prewett.

So if you’ve wondered why there is a piece of track in the middle of one of Basingstoke’s many roundabouts – that’s why!

In 2018 a commemorative bench was constructed in Cliddesden village (see below) – I’ll leave you to find its location.

I wonder what other treasures of yesteryear exist in the local area? I heard the other day that there is an ancient well situated somewhere in Oakridge that dates back to 1AD! – perhaps this historic tale will feature in a future brevity blog!

Read our other recent ‘Basingstoke history’ inspired blogs: