About the blog

For the past forty-odd years I have pursued an interest in the Railways of Germany however as the end of the line beckons, I have returned to the railway that has always run past my home - the Southern.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Beaminster Road - a rebirth

Beaminster Road has lain dormant for a number of years, this is its rebirth. 

The concept is based on fact, until 1855, the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) considered two routes from London to Exeter, by one vote the Salisbury extension was chosen over the Dorchester coast extension. Thus, Beaminster, Bridport and Charmouth were denied access to the Southern mainline to the West Country.

The proposed Dorchester and Exeter route 1854-55

In 1855, it would have been difficult to serve Beaminster, population 1,253, as the topography of steep hills and it would have merely warranted a wayside halt near the prosaically named hamlet of  Whitchurch Canonicorum - Beaminster Road.

An alternate proposal from 1864

It is assumed that the LSWR actually built the east-west line through Dorchester,  the fate of the Dorchester coast extension was sealed when dominant forces within the company resulted in building the line from Salisbury via Sherborne thus two routes joining in the Axe valley. The coastal line became merely an unprofitable route used to divert slow goods traffic away from the Salisbury line but its value as a strategic line connecting the Naval ports of Devonport, Portland and Portsmouth would have kept it alive through two world wars. 

Railways in 1924, the topographic map shows the problems faced by the engineers.

The route suffered from a lack of general investment however during both World Wars the line proved its worth as a relief to the Salisbury route. Due to its over use during both wars, the permanent way and railway infrastructure was in a parlous state in 1948, as a result, some of the largest Southern locomotives could not be used. The heaviest traffic was stone from Meldon Quarry and the occasional troop special between Devonport and Portsmouth.    

In the 20s, the line would have been singled west of Bridport and it finally succumbed in the 60s following its transfer to BR(W). 

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