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
Published in February ’17
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.
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.
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.
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.