THE newly-refurbished Railway Hotel in Fordingbridge has reopened its doors after months of being closed due to lockdown.

The former pub on Station Road has been transformed into a new boutique hotel and yesterday (Friday May 21) started welcoming back diners and hotel guests.

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The building's history

It was originally opened in the 1860’s by Eldridge Pope, a Dorchester Brewer and served Fordingbridge Railway Station, which was one of the stops on the newly built Salisbury and Dorset Railway.

The line was closed in 1964 and the Railway Hotel became The Load of Hay and was later named after the artist Augustus John.

The refurbishment

The refurbishment has been spearheaded by Brian Currie, who restored The Regal Cinema in Shaftesbury Street, Fordingbridge.

Work to restore the building has taken around two years and cost in the region of £2million. The design is dedicated to its historic railway links.

There are five en-suite rooms – each named after famous trains including the Orient Express, Bournemouth Belle and Flying Scotsman.

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The rooms have their own individual and unique design inspired by their train namesakes.

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There is also a self-contained two bedroom cottage and a large ground floor room suitable for those with limited mobility. 

Excitement to welcome guests

Manager Mark Pinn said: "It just feels great to actually welcome people to the Railway Hotel. It is a brand new hotel.

"All the team are really excited to welcome all our customers and guests in and be able to show them around."

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Mark says the hotel is "totally different" from other establishments in the area with its "unique" rooms, which offer a different experience for its guests.

What the hotel will bring to Fordingbridge

"It is going to be unique as it is the only hotel in Fordingbridge," adds Mark. "I'm expecting to have a wider field of people to come and travel and stay in the area and visit the New Forest."

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The hotel is also serving up a dining experience for visitors as well as guests in the First Class Pullman dining car with international cuisine available including Korean style beef and Panzanella style salad, pictured below, as well as confit belly of pork and Tandoori chicken some familiar favourites like fish and chips and steak.

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A lunch menu is also available alongside a selection of desserts including a double chocolate brownie with toffee sauce, raspberry tuille and vanilla ice cream, Pimm's jelly and vanilla custard tart.

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All the booths have been created to look like a train carriage and have their own picture view of an iconic landmark destination.

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The hotel hopes the menu will be a draw to both locals and visitors alike.

Covid Safety measures

  • Guests and diners will scan the QR code when they arrive
  • Hand sanitiser will be at various locations around the hotel
  • Staff will be regularly cleaning surfaces
  • Tables will be socially distanced and reservations will be limited
  • Face coverings will be worn by staff and guests
  • The rooms will be sanitised and cleaned between stays

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Mark said: "It is keeping the cleanliness and everything else so people can feel safe."


Due to the pandemic staycations are expected to be popular once again this year and the hotel hopes to see demand for its rooms.

Mark says the hotel is also seeing demand already with rooms "selling quite quickly" with high demand especially on the weekends.

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"We are expecting it to be a busy summer. We will welcome everybody - families, couples, singles, whoever wants to come to this area of the New Forest," he added.

"There is quite a lot to do around here and plenty to see."

For more information go to the hotel's website

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