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VERWOOD STATION AND THE
  SALISBURY & DORSET JUNCTION RAILWAY 

Southampton and Dorchester Railway Company.

In 1844 the 'Southampton and Dorchester Railway Company' was formed to build a line between the two towns. The route chosen snaked (Castleman’e Snake) across the New Forest from Northam to Ringwood, then via Wimborne to Hamworthy, (the junction for Poole) before heading on west to Dorchester.

Because of the twists and turns the line was nicknamed 'Castleman's Corkscrew' after Charles Castleman, the Wimborne solicitor who was chiefly responsible for the building of the line. This railway was opened on the 1 June 1847.

Salisbury & Dorset Junction Railway

22nd July 1861 - Parliament granted the independent ‘Salisbury & Dorset Junction Railway’ its act to link with Southampton, Dorchester and Wimborne railway.

3rd February 1864 saw building start at Downton. A ceremony was held with the Countess Nelson, who was married to Horatio Nelson, turning the first sod. She lived in Downton and was the daughter of the 2nd Earl of Normanton.

20th December 1866 – The 19 miles of single track line was opened from Alderbury Junction (between Salisbury and Dean) to West Moors and formed a link between Poole and Salisbury passing through Downton, Breamore, Fordingbridge, Daggons Road (Alderholt) and Verwood (OS Grid Ref: SU077093). The track followed the River Avon along the New Forest western edge.

The bypassing of Cranborne reduced its importance and caused the expansion of Verwood which until then had been a minor Hamlet in the Cranborne district known as Fairwood.

It was a single track line with 4 passing loops and one of these was at Verwood Station.

The Albion Inn with its attached stables was built in the Station yard, which was rather unusual and these can still be seen to the north side of the B3081 road which was re-routed to avoid the railway bridge, and now passes through the demolished station and station masters house.

The station buildings included a canopied platform on the up line along with the signal box whereas the down platform only had a canopy. There were few changes in its life and the lighting was by oil lamps until its eventual closure in 1964.

A number of girls used to travel by train to school in Parkstone and they still meet regularly today in the “Verwood Heathland Heritage Centre”; they are known as the train girls. The boys went to Wimborne Grammar School. The railway also enabled Verwoodians to go shopping in Poole.

The adjoining goods yard with cattle pens, a crane and a coal depot encouraged local trade and industry which included the exportation of sand, bricks, timber and other goods. Unfortunately it also encouraged the importation of  household “enamel ware” which led to the gradual cessation of the Pottery Industry. The last pottery, which closed in 1954 was the Crossroads Pottery, now the Verwood Heathland Heritage Centre.

As Bournemouth increased in population and with motor transport available many farmers in Woodlands and Verwood found it more profitable to send their milk to Bournemouth. Many other farmers took their milk to Verwood railway station around 6 p.m. to be sent to London.

Verwood was the nearest station to the large Houses of the many “important” people living in the area and so a number of important personages alighted or passed through the station including King Edward VIII, Queen Alexandra, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

1914 – Women took over the running of the Railways when they came under Government control as WWI broke out.

1923 - The 'Big 4' companies were created - "Great Western", "Southern", "London & North Eastern (LNER)" and "London, Midland & Scottish (LMS)" from the remaining small companies. The Verwood line was now part of the Southern Company.

1939 - Railways become a prime target for bombing  in WWII and the railways came under government control yet again.

1945 - The Labour Government reintroduced the 'Big 4' and pledged Nationalisation but funds were too low at that time.

This picture shows the Albion after the closure of Verwood Station.
The Station Yard is being used as a car park for Lessers Building Systems.

1947 - Royal assent is given to the Transport Act, which set the scene for the national ownership of the railways and canals.

1948 – Nationalisation occurred and the 'Big 4' companies now become 6 regions: Southern, Western, London Midland, Eastern, N. Eastern and Scottish. The line through Verwood came under British Railways (Southern Region)

1955 - British transport Chairman announces £1.2m plan for replacement of steam with diesel/electric traction.

1961 - Dr Beeching is appointed as chairman of the British Transport Commission under the Minister for Transport Ernest Marples.

1963 – Dr Beeching proposes cuts to the railway system and many smaller village stations (including Verwood) and lines are closed. The Great Train Robbery takes place at Seers Crossing.

    

The maps show the railways before and after the Beeching Cuts.

4th May 1964 – Verwood Station closed with the closure being received with much regret in the area. All the last trains were full. Traffic on the line was always light and closure had been discussed prior to the Beeching Axe.

The Station Masters house shown after closure. Lessers Office Block can be seen on the right. The house was demolished to make way for the re-routing of the B3081 Road.

The Ringwood to Broadstone line continued with goods traffic until October 1966 when it terminated at West Moors for military requirements.

The lines were taken up and the buildings dismantled so that dilapidation soon set in.   Few traces of its former route can be seen other than some embankments and some bridges like the one in the Albion Pub garden and also on the Alderholt Road.

This picture shows the dereliction after the track was removed.

THE POLITICAL SLOT.

For a lot more information about the infamous skullduggery that went on under the Beeching and Marples axe then visit http://www.bilderberg.org/railways.htm and you may be as appalled as I was at the conflicts of interest etc. It is only by good luck that we have any Railways at all today. What happened to most of our Trams for instance? Blackpool being an exception to this.

It is unfortunate that it would now be prohibitively expensive (and not necessarily desirable) to open closed lines, as they were destroyed, not just closed. Some successful re-use has been made of the old lines, particularly in Manchester and Newcastle. In addition some railways have reopened as tourist attractions, like the local Swanage Railway. . The recent announcement that some of the Railway bottlenecks will be removed is to be welcomed.

JSC - Webmaster 2007.

 

 
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