THE Angel Inn on the A32 at Privett has become home to a permanent display of rare photographs documenting the history of the Meon Valley Railway line.

The exhibition is the work of enthusiast Ron Stone, who now lives in Alton but grew up beside the railway at West Meon and recalls seeing the old Southern trains (later British Rail) steaming along the line.

His work takes the form of an exhibition of photographs collected over the years to provide a fascinating insight into the history of the line, triggering memories for those who gathered at The Angel on April 30 for the official unveiling.

Running the 22 miles between Alton and Fareham, closely following the River Meon, the line had stations en route at Farringdon, Tisted, Privett, West Meon, Droxford, Mislingford, Wickham, and Knowle Halt.

At its northern end in Alton, where the first sod was dug in around 1900, it linked with the Mid-Hants Railway to Winchester, the main line to Brookwood, and the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway.

At Fareham, it linked with the Eastleigh to Fareham line, the West Coastway line, and the line to Gosport.

Built by the London and South Western Railway, it was authorised in 1896 and opened in 1903, making it one of the last railways of any size to be built to mainline standards in the UK.

The Meon Valley Railway closed to passenger traffic on February 5, 1955, although the southern goods services to Droxford was retained until 1962 when British Railway was urged to cut costs.

A goods service to Farringdon was maintained until 1968, when the final part of Meon Valley Railway was finally closed to all traffic.

The exhibition has been a labour of love for Mr Stone, who was joined at the launch by members of his family. It is an exhibition that is sure to prove a draw for steam line enthusiasts keen to witness pictorial evidence of the rise and fall of a cross-country line that enjoyed a colourful, if relatively brief history, but one that Mr Stone for one will not see forgotten.