The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Remains of the S&D

Christopher Down looks at what’s left of the hardware that shows the presence of the Somerset and Dorset railway

 The brick pier of one of the two remaining flood arches of Blandford Forum rail bridge over the Stour

The brick pier of one of the two remaining flood arches of Blandford Forum rail bridge over the Stour

In 1963, as part of the British Railways Board report The Reshaping of British Railways, one third of the country’s rail network was recommended for permanent closure. With many rural lines forming the proposals, twenty stations and numerous miles of track were closed in Dorset between the mid 1960s and mid 1970s.

 Charlton Marshall halt was open to passenger traffic from 1928 to 1956

Charlton Marshall halt was open to passenger traffic from 1928 to 1956

Dr Beeching’s report however, was not the first time the county’s railways had been subject to closure. During the 1950s close to 20 stations and halts were also lost, including Stourpaine in the north, Portland in the south, Corfe Mullen in the east and Abbotsbury in the west. Systematic closure on such a scale left a network of obsolete track, buildings, associated infrastructure and rolling stock.

The remains of a kissing gate leading up to the platform at Powerstock station; it was demolished after this photograph was taken

The remains of a kissing gate leading up to the platform at Powerstock station; it was demolished after this photograph was taken

Today, deprived of their intended purpose, these remaining monuments in iron, steel, concrete, brick and wood can appear anachronistic, often standing alone and devoid of context.

A gangers’ hut with brick chimney sits beside the Maiden Newton to Bridport branch line. It would have been used by railway maintenance teams.

A gangers’ hut with brick chimney sits beside the Maiden Newton to Bridport branch line. It would have been used by railway maintenance teams.

 

An open wagon with wooden side-boards carrying a cargo of decaying rolling stock frameworks, stands stationary close to Norden station

An open wagon with wooden side-boards carrying a cargo of decaying rolling stock frameworks, stands stationary close to Norden station

 

Cast and galvanized iron fencing posts mark the boundary of a shallow cutting close to Loders. The distinctive winding straining pillars and fence post caps were manufactured by Francis Morton and Co. of Liverpool.

Cast and galvanized iron fencing posts mark the boundary of a shallow cutting close to Loders. The distinctive winding straining pillars and fence post caps were manufactured by Francis Morton and Co. of Liverpool. 

Fifty years on, Dorset’s rich legacy from this once state-owned transportation system, offers a poignant reminder of a time before the motor car was king.

 The line from Maiden Newton to Bridport was officially opened in 1857. The iron bridge depicted here crosses the River Hooke close to the dismantled Toller station.

The line from Maiden Newton to Bridport was officially opened in 1857. The iron bridge depicted here crosses the River Hooke close to the dismantled Toller station.

 

 

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