CELEBRATIONS are being planned to mark the centenary of the little electric train that has made thousands of journeys along historic Hythe Pier.

Described as the oldest operating pier train in the world, it takes passengers to and from the ferry that operates from the end of the 700-yard jetty.

Passengers have included King George VI, who visited the area ahead of the D-Day landings in 1944.

Now members of Hythe Pier Heritage Association (HPHA) are drawing up plans to mark the line's century of service to people travelling to Southampton and back.

This year's Rock the Pier music festival will be renamed Rock the Train to mark the line's contribution to the area.

The facility began serving the area just four years after the end of the First World War.

It has been operating ever since, apart from a two-month closure caused by a dredger that smashed into the pier - destroying a 150ft section of the structure - in November 2003.

According to the Guinness Book of Records it is the longest continuously running electric pier train in the world.

King George V1 paid a surprise visit to Hythe, arriving by launch from Southampton, before reviewing some of the troops who were preparing to take part in the Normandy invasion.

Two groups of sailors had to make hasty preparations for the visit once the 5pm ferry to Southampton had departed.

One group had less than ten minutes to clean the train before the royal party arrived. The other sailors formed a guard of honour along the pier, saluting as the king's carriage passed.

In 2020 HPHA announced it was embarking on a £222,000 project to restore the train.

Members and their supporters began by refurbishing one of the wooden carriages that arrived in the village a few weeks before the railway opened.

They were originally pulled along the pier by three tractor units which had been bought from the War Office by General Estates, which owned the ferry and the pier.

Rock the Train is due to take place on July 23.