A COMMUNITY group campaigning to save Hythe Pier marked a special milestone.

Hythe Pier Heritage Association, who are campaigning to take over the running of the 140-year-old pier on Southampton Water celebrated the 100th anniversary of the operation of electric locomotives running on the electric pier railway.

Some 1,000 people flocked from as far away as Suffolk to take part in heritage events and rides on the train as part of its fundraising efforts on Saturday.

The pier rail service is one of the longest services of it’s kind in the world and was described by Dan Snow in December 2016 as a “National Treasure” in a video posted on social media as part of a community group’s campaign to take over the running of the pier.

The three locomotives for the pier were originally built for a World War One Brush mustard gas factory in Avonmouth near Bristol before later being sold to the Hythe Ferry Company.

Now, one of the three locomotives has since been used for parts while the other two run along the narrow gauge railway.

At present, the Hythe Pier is owned by Blue Funnel Cruises who purchased it in a deal earlier this year which also included the taking over the operations of the Hythe-Southampton ferry and the railway which runs along its 640m length.

The takeover follows news last October when previous operators White Horse ferries said the Hythe ferry and pier is “unlikely” to continue operating due to decreased passengers and the cost of repairing and maintaining it.

White Horse spent months trying to find a buyer for the service with staff have been issued with redundancy notices until Blue Funnel stepped in.

Peter King, chairman of the society, said: “We were really pleased with the attendance at the event, it was a huge success.

“We are now looking to set up a charity community benefit society, a group set up to bring benefit to the wider community and put an action plan in place for the next 12 months.”

From their community fundraising, the group commissioned a high-level inspection of the pier to assess it’s structural soundness.

Peter added: “The basic condition of the pier is good considering it’s age, it’s still doing its job.”

Councillor Dan Poole, who represents Hythe East on New Forest District Council said: “It was a lovely event, I fully support what the group are doing, it is very admirable what so many volunteers are doing in their own time.

“With so many determined people, the future for Hythe Pier looks bright.”

Previously, Mr King had said a full redevelopment project could cost in the region of between £2 to £3m pounds.

The Hythe Pier ferry is used by 40,000 commuters a year.