Hayling Billy upgrade

The Hayling Billy trail runs all the way up the west side of the island starting in West Town and ending near the bridge.  It is a bridleway open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

There’s another section starting from the main Langstone Road that passes the Spring Centre in Havant and ends at Havant railway station.

Havant Borough Council is working to join the two sections and the shared pavement/cycle path over the bridge to make a complete cycle path from West Town all the way to the centre of Havant.  Our view is that a separate, parallel bridge, attached to the road bridge would be an infinitely preferable and safer option.

The condition of the Island section of the trail is not good, however:

  • The condition of the trail makes it suitable only for mountain bikes
  • Any rain means even mountain bikers can’t use the trail without getting covered in mud or sand

The same issue affect walkers, prams and mobility scooters.  There is therefore increasing pressure to re-surface the island section in line with the Langstone sections.

There is a possibility that money will soon be found to resurface the section from the Texaco Garage through to the Esso Garage (the site of the old North Hayling Halt).

We need to prepare to build on this momentum to complete the resurfacing for the entire length of the trail.  The southern end of the trail is in a worse state than the rest and it is degrading at a faster rate.

This is early days in what is likely to be a long-term project.  If you would like to know more, please contact Andy Henderson at Andy@cyclehayling.org.uk

Maintenance of the Hayling Billy Trail is in Hampshire County Council’s long term plans.  We’ll be watching to see what happens with the nascent north end re-surfacing project.  That will give us a good indication of how willing the Council is to re-surface the rest of the Billy Trail.

That’s a question of balance.  As it stands the trail is inaccessible to most people during bad weather.  Recent resurfacing of the Langstone sections show that access can be improved without taking away from people’s enjoyment of the paths.

It is the best part of 30 years since John Grimshaw, founder and leader of Sustrans, conducted a comprehensive study of the Billy Tail, with the recommendation that it should be upgraded to an all-weather path, enabling all types of users convenient passage at all times of the year.

Hampshire County Council, owners of the land, purchased at a nominal sum from British Rail, following the closure of the railway in 1963, have consistently resisted this recommendation, generally citing its nature reserve status.

English Nature (now Natural England) then wished to impose a ‘managed retreat’ policy, thus allowing vulnerable sections of the Trail to be at risk from the tide. Once again, HCC took this as an opportunity to avoid contemplation of upgrading the trail, despite having by now upgraded the northern sections on the mainland, bowing to pressure from local residents.

Fortunately, the power of Natural England to dictate policy towards the western coast of the Island has receded and the Environment Agency now have control, recently changing the policy to ‘hold the line’, meaning that the route of the Billy Trail will be protected. HCC, therefore, have no excuse not to upgrade the Trail, other than citing a lack of the necessary finance.

It is to be hoped that the funding for the northern Island section will be found for the HB50 project and that this will lead to the real possibility that the whole Trail will be upgraded in the not too distant future.

An upgrade will not just benefit existing users, principally cyclists (75%), walkers (21%) and horseriders (4%), but also disability ‘buggy’ drivers and runners. Indeed, Mike Williams of Havant Athletics Club, organisers of the Hayling 10 and Rob Piggott, organiser of the Portsmouth Marathon, with both events using the Trail, are critical of the state of the Trail and fully support our upgrade campaign.

Finally, The Billy Trail has been designated part of the ‘The Shipwrights Way’ project from north Hampshire to Portsmouth and at least two original sculptures are to be erected alongside the Trail, reflecting some aspect of the trail and local history. Let us hope that these works of art are not soon covered in mud!

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Latest posts

Repairs on the Billy Trail

Posted on: October 19, 2015 by: Andy Henderson

We understand that work on repairing the section of the trail that eroded away last year is due to start in early November.

This will seek to restore the trail to the state it was in before the storms. It’s not a permanent fix, however. We can expect erosion to continue until a longer-term solution can be implemented.

The work will involve some lorries on the trail and, therefore, some closures. We’ll let you know if we hear more.


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Another Billy Trail closure – more improvement

Posted on: June 20, 2014 by: Andy Henderson

See below for an update from the Havant Transport and Implementation Team.  We don’t yet have dates for the closure but will post them here when we do.

It’s good to see more improvement.  It’s early days, but the new section seems much better than the southern section, so we’re hoping it will set the standard for future improvements.

The update provides interesting insights into the planning that’s going in to the development.  I hadn’t considered that the work might also help protect other sections of the trail.

Having completed the 250m long rebuild of the north end of the Trail, the granular material for which is presently behaving as expected, we have been able to commission a further length of rebuilding. This will be from the west end of the section recently rebuilt, southwards down the trail along the railway route, towards the Oysterbeds north access, along a length that whilst firm underfoot is poorly drained and has a poor surface which traps water in wet weather. Funding is from the Hayling Billy 50 (‘HB50’) project.

The construction will be different from that used on the initial 250m section, since the railway solum is wider. We plan to excavate a 2m wide shallow trench (100mm or so deep) down the west side of the Trail and use this shallow trench for the construction of the new path. In this way we hope to avoid the use of edging timbers and so as a result be able to rebuild a longer section of path using the money ‘saved’. The untouched east side of the path will remain suitable for equestrians and it is planned to erect small notices suggesting pedestrians and cyclists use the west side and equestrians the east side. This all hinges on how well we can excavate the shallow trench for the new material, and also achieving correct drainage which may require some work to the east side. We’re taking levels today just to confirm matters, but I thought you would appreciate a ‘heads up’ regarding this extra work which will require, as before, a 3 week closure of the Trail. In this way we should be clear by the school holiday.

Excess material coming off the Trail from the excavation of the west side, will be used to supplement shoreline defences alongside the Trail in this location. You may have seen we have already been doing this at the north end of the Trail, using surplus materials from the ‘main job’.

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Billy Trail re-opens following upgrade

Posted on: June 10, 2014 by: Andy Henderson

The section at the north of the island is now open again, although all users are being asked to treat the new surface with respect while it is bedding in.

There’s also some more work to do that will not require the path to be closed, so please watch out for people working.

Peter Drury’s blog has some photos of the new section and some taken while it was under construction.

We are all hoping that this will prove to be an excellent development that will show the way for future Billy Trail improvements.  We’ll be keeping an eye on it as time goes on.

Thanks – once again – are due to Peter Drury who has done so much to bring this about through his Hayling Billy 50 work.  I’m sure he’d be the first to point out that it’s been a team effort involving Havant, Hampshire, National Lottery and a bunch of others.

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Closure heralds a Billy Trail upgrade

Posted on: May 9, 2014 by: Andy Henderson

Havant Borough Council – acting as agent for Hampshire County Council – is closing the top end of the Billy Trail for three weeks starting on 19th May.  That’s so they can lay a new surface over a 250 metre section.

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Work about to start at the North end of the Hayling Billy Trail?

Posted on: April 25, 2014 by: Andy Henderson

The latest progress report on the bridge works (Works Progress 7: 16th April 2014 on this page) says…

We’ll then move off the road and work on the ‘Hayling Billly 50’ Trail rebuilding, completing everything by mid June.

That’s a reference to Lottery-funded project initiated by Peter Drury as part of the Hayling Billy 50 years commemoration.

It looks like something is definitely going to happen.  We understand that the project will:

  • Use the same surface as recently laid at the south end of the Billy Trail
  • Resurface a limited section of the trail (and not, as hoped, as far as the Esso Garage)

We are concerned over the quality of recent cycle path development by both Havant and Hampshire so – at Peter’s request – I have documented our concerns with an offer to help.  Peter has passed them to the project board.

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Update from Cycle Hayling

Posted on: March 23, 2014 by: Andy Henderson

In this update…

  • Footpath 88 extension project cancelled
  • Billy Trail Phase 4 development
  • Billy Trail south end development
  • Issues with new cycle paths
  • Bike security session
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Improvement to the south end of the Billy Trail

Posted on: February 8, 2014 by: Andy Henderson

Havant Borough Council has had a second go at improving the south end of the Billy Trail next to HIADS.  This after the first attempt caused safety concerns and had to be reversed.

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Hayling Billy Trail Lottery Cash Award

Posted on: December 20, 2013 by: Robert Sebley

As reported in today’s Portsmouth News (see http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/cash-grant-set-to-give-hayling-billy-a-new-lease-of-life-1-5763502) the Peter Drury HB50 project to mark the 50 years since the last Hayling Billy steam train, has now been successful in gaining Lottery funds of nearly £90k. Well Done Peter and we look forward to seeing the improvements on the island part of the Billy Trail.

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More cycle path improvements coming soon

Posted on: September 19, 2013 by: Andy Henderson

The updated Hayling Cycle map published by Havant at http://www.havant.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Back_FINAL.pdf reveals a number of developments planned to complete by Spring 2014:

  • Completion of the links between the Langstone section of the Billy Trail and the Hayling section making it possible to use off-road cycle paths to travel between West Town and Havant – with just a few road crossings.
  • Signposting of a cycle route to the west of Beachlands taking people onto Ferry Road to the East of the Golf Club.

We understand that there might be other developments taking place at the same time and that some work could be completed well before next Spring.

You can find the full list of Havant’s published cycle maps here.

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New money for Hayling’s leisure trails

Posted on: July 18, 2013 by: Andy Henderson

We initially heard from Andy Leneghan that the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) had allocated £60K to improve access to leisure trails.

We’ve done some digging and Havant has confirmed that:

“£60,000 capital funding has been allocated to Havant Borough Council (HBC) by PUSH to improve access and connectivity to green infrastructure on Hayling Island through enhancements to the Billy Trail and the Seafront footpath/cycleway. HBC and Hampshire County Council will contribute S106 funding to match the PUSH grant which is to be spent on resurfacing work and provision of signage for both trails, including restoration of the old Billy Line signal arm. The work will be carried out during autumn/winter 2013/14 so it will be completed for Spring 2014.”

We’ll publish more details as we learn them.

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All clear (mostly) on the Billy Trail

Posted on: May 5, 2013 by: Andy Henderson

The stones that made the South end of the Billy Trail difficult and potentially dangerous have been removed.

Cycle Hayling and several users of the Billy Trail raised concerns through a number of contacts, and they have been heard.  There is a large pile of the stones in the car park next to HIADS.  Hopefully they’ll be removed and not redeployed on the trail.

You should be aware, however, there are still some stones left on the trail.  Some care is needed to avoid them.

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Caution: Billy Trail resurfacing

Posted on: April 29, 2013 by: Andy Henderson

Some of the dips at the south end of the trail that turn into large puddles after heavy rain have been filled in with some kind of aggregate.

Resurfacing at the South end of the Billy Trail

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