The Salisbury and Dorset Joint Railway

In 1845 the Poole railway formed an enterprise with the Salisbury, Poole and Dorset Joint railway, bringing about a much needed connection between Salisbury and the Dorset coast.

Formed in three parts:

  1. Alderbury on the South Western’s Bishopstoke – Salisbury Branch line and the Southampton to Dorchester meeting at West Moors
  2. West Moors on the line from Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth
  3. Poole Branch line. (The Poole plan never materialised)

Parliamentary Bill:  Notice was given on 7th November 1860 by Squarey and Whitman of Salisbury, and Hodding’s, Townsend and Lee of Westminster. (Hansard ref: ) On the 22nd July 1861 the Bill received Royal Assent, a Company was incorporated as the Salisbury and Dorset Junction Railway.

Fordingbridge held its first meeting at the Greyhound Inn, on Saturday afternoon 17th November 1860 to consider construction of the proposed railway. Mr Coventry of Burgate House chaired the meeting. Mr C.W. Squarey of Salisbury addressed the numerous attendance.

Gauge: The line was built to standard gauge being 4ft 8 1/2 inches which was currently used throughout the south. The line was built single track throughout.

Commencement: The first sod was cut by Countess Nelson on the 3rd of November 1864, on the Trafalgar Estate near Downton.  Construction began in February 1864 by Garret and Company, not quite three years after the Act of Parliament for the line was passed. Later that year work stopped for three months owing to the failure of the contractor. A new contractor Henry Jackson took over the construction, work proceeded slowly due to a absence of heavy engineering plant, most of the excavation being carried out by navvies.

April 1864 saw work begin at Three Legged Cross in Dorset, by the middle of May a large number of navvies began work at Alderholt.

Fordingbridge Station site position Ashford v Sweatfords?. (Ashford won)

Early January 1866 saw the bridge arch at Alderholt collapse, also the Breamore arch required partial rebuilding. On the 3rd May 1866 the Directors of the S&DJR inspected the line, thus agreeing to announce the opening date, 1st June 1866, the day arrived with no sign of any train operations, eventually on the 14th July it was declared open. Further rebuilding work at Alderbury Junction arch delayed the first train service until Thursday 20th December 1866.

Fordingbridge celebrated with “Barters Garibaldi Band” playing throughout the Town streets early in the morning, finally making their way to the Station creating a greeting the first train.

Building Cost: The only figure recorded is approximate: £200,000.  Land cost and Compensations: £21,000.

Contract Engineer: Hamilton Henry Fulton from the LSWR


  • Alderbury Junction Halt, Wilts. 1 platform (not a recognised stop)
  • Downton, Wilts .2 platforms and sidings
  • Breamore , Hants. 2 platforms and sidings
  • Fordingbridge, Hants. 2 platforms with extensive goods yard area
  • Daggons Road (Alderholt), Dorset. 1 platform and sidings
  • Verwood, Dorset. 2 platform and sidings
  • West Moors, Dorset. 2 platforms, sidings and junction with the Ringwood, Wimborne to Bournemouth Line.

 Accidents: Recorded accidents were few, but the worst accident happened on Tuesday 3rd June 1884, the 4.33pm from Salisbury with a estimated 110/120 passengers on board of which 40 alighted at Downton. Passengers remarked on the trains considerable speed after about 1 mile on its way to Breamore.

Then some 200/300 yards beyond the bridge crossing the River Avon, the train left the rails near Charford Farm (1884 a known Agricultural College), carriages fell some 6 to 8 ft down the embankment into a wide ditch. Neither of the engines overturned with both engines proceeding some 400 yards from the accident. The pilot engine proceeded to Breamore to request help, and then to Fordingbridge to inform the station master Mr Chandler to further send assistance, he arrived to find his daughter had been killed.

Total killed on site were four, with one further death the following day.

Year of change, decline and closure: 1923 saw the grouping of railways in the British Isles, hence Southern, London Midland, Great Western and London North Eastern etc were formed from all the individual Railways Companies

1st January 1948 creating the region system, this system ran until the 27th March 1963 when the culmination of 18 months of study by the Railways Board published the “Beeching Plan”

Date for closure was announced as June 1963, actually this was delayed until 4th May 1964. ( Last Passenger service Saturday 2nd May 1964)

Locomotives which hauled the last trains on the 2nd May 1964 were West Country Class “Weymouth” 34091 which hauled the train from Bournemouth to Salisbury, with Standard Class 4 76066 hauling the reverse journey Salisbury to Bournemouth, crossing at Breamore.