MUSIC fans turned out in force to celebrate the centenary of the world's oldest continuously operating pier train.

This year's Rock the Pier event marked the longevity of the electric train that takes passengers to and from the Hythe ferry, which berths at the end of the 700-yard jetty.

In 1944 it was used by King George VI, who visited the Southampton area to review preparations for the D-Day landings.

Daily Echo: This year's Rock the Pier event celebrated the centenary of the narrow-gauge electric railway that operates on the pier.This year's Rock the Pier event celebrated the centenary of the narrow-gauge electric railway that operates on the pier.

Rock the Pier is an annual festival staged by the Hythe Pier Heritage Association (HPHA), which is restoring the pier and the railway.

The seven-hour event featured local bands including Wire JD, When Harri met Alli, REMbrandt, Magicats, the Soulcatchers and the Trav Cats.

Before the railway was built ferry passengers had to walk the length of the pier to reach the boats to Southampton.

The two locomotives that trundle along the jetty were built for use in First World War munitions factories.

Thomas Percy, whose family operated the ferry service, spotted them in a War Office catalogue listing redundant plant and put in a bid at the end of 1919.

Two-and-a-half years later, with the help of railway engineer Gerald Yorke, they were carrying ferry passengers and pier promenaders alike.

Daily Echo: The narrow-gauge electric railway that operates on Hythe Pier.The narrow-gauge electric railway that operates on Hythe Pier.

The centenary celebrations saw the two locomotives reunited with a similar engine currently housed at Amberley Museum in West Sussex. It was the first time they had been in the same place since June 1920.

Other attractions included an exhibition of working model railway layouts by Romsey & District Railway Modellers' Society at Hythe & Dibden Community Centre.

Volunteers from the Hythe Shed (at the Pier) have restored two carriages used on the first run along the pier 100 years ago and were on hand to talk about the project.

Other attractions included children’s face painting and a century-old charabanc from the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

In 2016 the future of the ferry and the pier was thrown into doubt when the previous operator, White Horse Ferries, announced it was “unlikely” to continue operating the service.

The following year Blue Funnel bought the ferry service and gave the pier to HPHA.

Daily Echo: A birthday cake baked to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Hythe pier train. Picture: Alan Titheridge.A birthday cake baked to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Hythe pier train. Picture: Alan Titheridge.

Last year the structure was awarded listed building status by Historic England in a move that could help HPHA secure the funds needed to carry out vital restoration work.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article - we appreciate your support in reading the Daily Echo.

Subscribing to the Echo means you have unrestricted access to the latest news, features and Saints coverage - all with an advertising-light website.

You will also have full access to Saintsplus, your new home for Southampton FC tactical analysis, features and much, much more.

Don't take my word for it - subscribe here to see for yourself.

Follow the latest breaking news in the Southampton area by joining our Facebook group - Southampton News - Breaking News and Incidents

Follow the latest court and crime news on our dedicated Facebook group - Hampshire Court and Crime News