Christchurch tourist attraction to celebrate its 50th birthday

It’s a train that only stops on Christmas Day and has been running for half a century.

But commuters beware – it only serves one route.

The Hengistbury Head land train, which runs from the Hiker Café to Mudeford Spit, celebrates its 50th birthday this year.

A new exhibition will open next Friday to celebrate the occasion.

The display will take visitors through the history of the train, from the controversy of the original setup through to the present day.

The exhibition will run until 18th May, with the potential for it to return in the late summer.

Local 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.”

Bournemouth Borough Council have encouraged members of the public to add their own memories to the display by sharing photos and memorabilia.

The project has also been helped by Joyce Faris, the original owner of the train.

Mrs Faris ran the service until her retirement in 2015.

She was aided by her late husband Roger, who passed away in the 1980s.

Michael Rowland, the council’s head of park development, said: “We’re very grateful to Joyce and her family for delving into their own archives to provide so much for the exhibition.”

A brief history

The train completed its first journey on April 1 1968 – but its introduction was not met with widespread approval.

Vandals had put sharpened roofing nails in the path of the train within the first two weeks of its maiden voyage, causing eight punctures.

It was agreed in November 1968 that the train should run again but there was a need to make it more sophisticated.

This meant roomier carriages, doors, windows and some suspension.

A shelter would also be added at the Mudeford terminal.

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