Salisbury to West Moors railway calendar to raise cash for polio mission

Salisbury to West Moors railway calendar to raise cash for polio mission

A Salisbury to Bournemouth train at Fordingbridge Station, May 1, 1964

Looking north towards Salisbury at Downton Station in the 1950s

First published in New Forest News by , Head of News

A CALENDAR to mark the closure of the railway line between Salisbury and West Moors is now on sale - with £2.50 from each going to eradicate polio.

The calendars, priced £4, have been commissioned by Fordingbridge Rotary Club and feature lots of great evocative images from the old line.

They are available from Downton Post Office, Elliott’s, Caxton Decor, Wolvercroft Garden Centre and Woodgreen Shop.

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.

The first sod was cut by Countess Nelson on the Trafalgar Estate near Downton. Construction began 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.

Early January 1866 saw the bridge arch at Alderholt collapse, and the Breamore arch required partial rebuilding. On July 14, 1866 it was declared open.

Further rebuilding work at Alderbury Junction arch delayed the first train service until December 20.

Fordingbridge celebrated with Barters Garibaldi Band playing throughout the town streets early in the morning, finally making their way to the station.

The line cost about £200,000, with land cost and compensations £21,000.

Stations were Alderbury Junction Halt, Downton, Breamore, Fordingbridge, Daggons Road in Alderholt, Verwood, West Moors, where there was a junction with the Ringwood line.

Recorded accidents were few, but the worst accident happened on Tuesday, June 3, 1884. The 4.33pm from Salisbury, with about 80 passengers on board, left the rails near agricultural college Charford Farm, a few hundred yards beyond the bridge crossing the River Avon.

Carriages fell six to eight feet down the embankment into a wide ditch.

The engines carried on 400 yards. The pilot engine carried on 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.

Four were killed there that day, with one further death the following day.

In March 1963 the Railways Board published the Beeching Plan, and the line was set to close in June, but this was delayed until May 4, 1964, with the last passenger service on Saturday, May 2.

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