This is the page for my recreation of Verwood Station and the trains that served the line from 1954 until it was mothballed in 1964 and lifted in late 1965. In my alternative world the mothballed line was re-opened in 1966 as a more convenient and integrated replacement route for services from Bristol to Bournemouth that had previously used the Somerset and Dorset Railway and for diversions in general. Sadly the ongoing decline in traffic particularly goods traffic in the late 1970’s led to final closure in the early 1980s, but this pretence will give me some scope run my 4TC and full length HST and eventually other blue/grey trains of my teenage years as seen at Salisbury and of course on South Junction.
The Salisbury and Dorset Junction Railway opened in late 1866 and was a minor cross-country line from Alderbury Junction to West Moors on the Old Road of the Southampton and Dorchester Railway. For the first twenty seven years of the line’s existence there was no direct line from London to the burgeoning holiday resort of Bournemouth and onto Weymouth, so Weymouth trains continued to be routed through Ringwood and in some cases Fordingbridge. Even after the Holes Bay line was built in 1893 some trains to Weymouth would still be routed along the Old Road to avoid the heavy rail traffic through Bournemouth. One legacy of this was the early morning Weymouth newspaper train that ran from Salisbury via Fordingbridge hauling vans detached from the London train.
Nigel Bray’s ‘The Salisbury and Dorset Junction Railway’ published by Kestrel Railway Books is a well researched book and an excellent read, and covers the history and operation of the line in considerable detail.
The line left the Salisbury to Southampton line at Alderbury Junction near Whaddon and travelled through rolling chalk countryside before going through the only tunnel on the route and into Downton and the Avon Valley. From Downton the line crossed the River Avon on a simple pile bridge on its way to Breamore. From Breamore the line went under the A338 at Burgate where there was a nasty bend over the bridge and climbed out of the valley towards Fordingbridge station which no-one could possibly claim to be conveniently situated for the only town of any importance on the line. From Fordingbridge the line climbed up onto heathland passing through Daggons Road station on the way to Verwood in the Crane Valley. From Verwood it was a straight run across further heathland to West Moors Junction.
Fordingbridge was the most impressive station on the line with a substantial station building, a passing loop and goods shed with a good spread of sidings. Passing loops also existed at Breamore and Verwood. As an economy measure in the thirties the signal box at Breamore had been abolished and a lever frame set up on the platform operated by a porter signalman; at Verwood provision was made for the box to be switched out completely. Downton had been a block post until the twenties, but the down loop was made into a siding with the signal box becoming a ground frame. Daggons Road, which had originally been more logically named Alderholt, was provided after the line had opened, and was never a block post despite having a loop siding. None of the intermediate stations boasted a headshunt so that goods trains blocked the line whilst shunting.
The sparse local service was generally poorly timed for commuting, evenings out and London connections and after the war the service was further reduced during the winter. However with three passing loops and long gaps in the scheduled service there was considerable spare capacity, with the line coming into its own as a through route during high summer both during the week and at weekends.
As a taster this is a pathing diagram for high summer weekdays using passenger workings from the 1957 WTT with goods trains added from a 1956 freight WTT which is not ideal:
Details of trains services with coaching stock and engines used for 1953, 1957 and 1960 can be found here.
Verwood – The Prototype
Verwood was a small station somewhat inconveniently sited on the Cranborne road some distance from the village centre, but close to several brickworks one of which had a private siding for a short period. The line curves through the station and is in a slight cutting at this point. The Albion pub was in the station yard and it’s entirely possible that the building pre-dates the station and that the road was diverted behind it when the line was built. The setting is essentially rural despite the brickworks, the nearest of which was taken over by Lessers who specialised in portable buildings. Dorset Farmers also had a depot that appears to have been built on railway owned land at the back of the yard. The brick and slate station building was a larger version of the ‘lodge’ design that survives at Breamore. There was a LSWR Type 1 signal box immediately adjacent the station building to which the canopy was attached. A ground frame off the end of the down platform released from the signal box gave access to three fairly short sidings. A small goods shed was provided on the short up platform for road box deliveries. On the longer down platform there was a shelter and lamp room. A station master’s house was at the entrance to the yard which sported a weighbridge, coal merchants hut, goods platform with end loading facility, and a 5 ton crane sited on a bank that gave an unusual amount of lift for that type of crane.
Verwood – The Model
The model will portray Verwood as it was in 1957, so not quite as dilapidated as it was in 1964. The station changed little from 1953 onwards, although a sleeper built goods dock was rebuilt in brick in the early part of the period modelled. By almost any standards Verwood would be considered a compact station, however it still takes up a lot of room in 4mm scale! I have been a member of the EM Gauge Society since 1984 and have been a member of YMRG and have been building stock to run on their South Junction layout since 1985 so it is natural that Verwood will be built to EM gauge standards. For the model the curve through the station will be slightly tightened for visual effect and limited compression will be applied to fit the core of the station into a 5’6″ by 2′ module that will fit in a perspex case for display or plug into the layout for operation.
Plug-in Station Module
The plan for the plug-in display module of the station area has been overlaid onto part of the 40′ plan from the Waterloo Arch. This illustrates the compromises required to fit even a compact station like Verwood into a 12′ length room, particularly the tightening of the curve required.
With limited space available it will be this station module that I will be concentrating on for the moment. More details of the model buildings can be found here. Details of locos and rolling stock will follow in due course.
Verwood signal box was initially drawn (pencil and paper) in 1992, having decided that Fordingbridge really was too ambitious – so this is officially a ‘slow burner’. Since that date I have been helped by very many people and hope that those left out of the list will not be too offended.
Thanks are due to the old Plan Arch at Waterloo for the 40′ plans; Pamlin Prints for some splendid pictures of the signal box and under the canopy (partially over exposed on printing to bring out the detail from the gloom); Frank Parsons for encouraging my interest in the line; Nigel Bray for writing his wonderful book. I now have pretty good photo coverage of the station thanks to Tim Hale, Peter Swift (Guildford), Roger Merry-Price, Howard Sprenger, Peter Russell and Colin Divall amongst others. More recently I have had a huge amount of help on signalling and operational details from Chris Osment, David Vidler and Mike King.
The EM Gauge Society is a very friendly society with two excellent ‘ExpoEM’ branded annual shows, an AGM that is also a modellers day, and the now established Chris Kedgeley Skills Days in conjunction with the Scalefour Society. The EMGS offers excellent support via a trade officer and a useful paper manual that is now available on CD and on-line to members. I also belong to the South Western Circle which hosts informative and enjoyable meetings five times a year all of which are attended by the SWC bookstall which has been an excellent source of reference material. The SeMG Yahoo Group has also proven both entertaining and useful on matters Southern.