SEmG

Bournemouth West
1874 - 1965

The railway history of Bournemouth is nothing if not interesting. A rail borne visitor to Bournemouth today could reasonably assume that the current station in all its finery is all that there ever was for the traveller to the town in the past but that's far from the case as the 'other' Bournemouth station was of equal importance and significance in its day.
In Victorian times Bournemouth was but an insignificant coastal fishing village that also happened to have a magnificent hotel visited by the gentry of the day. That was the stumbling block where the intrusion by those new-fangled, smoke belching steam trains was concerned and the hotel's owner went to extraordinary lengths to inhibit any such incursion into his territory. Additionally, it was the reason for the existence of the fabled Castleman's Corkscrew about which so much has been written over the years.
That diversionary route, for that was what it was, enabled trains from the east to reach Poole, by far the most important town along that stretch of coastline and a major port to boot, by approaching it from the west which is about as convoluted a traffic arrangement as one would preferably avoid. Poole was reached from Broadstone to its west in December 1872 and would remain as a terminus until an extension was built to Bournemouth which opened on 15th June 1874. Meanwhile, the railway from the Southampton direction had also managed to establish a terminus in 1870. This was originally called just Bournemouth but was subsequently renamed Bournemouth East and then, much later, Bournemouth Central.
The siting of Bournemouth's new terminus station appears to have been based on pragmatism as the line from Branksome (it had no station of its own at that time) then followed the lie of the land to a point quite far removed what we now know as central Bournemouth and so the associated noxious fumes would be similarly divorced from the esteemed guests at the hotel mentioned above.
 
Bournemouth West This looks for all the world like an impressive station frontage and it was when the station was built. However, as will be seen below, once the station had been considerably enhanced with additional platforms, this part of the infrastructure became the parcels office as depicted here in the summer of 1962.

photograph by Michael Blackbourn
Used with permission

 
The enhancements to the main station buildings included a completely new 'frontage' which was built parallel with the platforms as opposed to end on as shown here and constituted a second station when originally built.

photograph by Michael Blackbourn
Used with permission

Bournemouth West
 
Bournemouth West Part of the expansion of the station included a substantial goods handling facility as shown here in 1962. Part of what made the west station a magnet for railway enthusiasts was the sheer variety of motive power and stock to be seen there which is evidenced by the vehicles on view in this image. Although a, theoretically, Southern environment by this time Gresley and Stanier stock are predominant with barely a glimpse of former SR stock in the background.

photograph by Michael Blackbourn
Used with permission

 
Behind the Stanier vehicle in the above picture can be seen a former goods shed, no longer rail connected by this time, that had already succumbed to private use. The van in the above image is related to the whatever business was being conducted in the shed at that time.

photograph by Michael Blackbourn
Used with permission

Bournemouth West
 
Bournemouth West The Tank House was situated to the south of the station throat, opposite the ramp end of Platform 1. with, behind it and to the left, a grounded coach body which was an LSWR Adams 30ft 6-wheeled passenger brake van of 1882-1885. It has a central caboose - the LSWR term for a birdcage.

photograph by Michael Blackbourn
Used with permission

 
The early years of Bournemouth West's existence saw little traffic which all, of course, emanated from the west of the town with contributions to the small volume from the Somerset & Dorset, Weymouth and Castleman's Corkscrew. That status was to change for two reasons after 1888 when the triangle at Branksome came into use and, later, with the advent of seaside holidays being made possible for a larger proportiion of the public.
 
Taken from a similar position as the first two images on this page; the site of Bournemouth West station on 6th May 2013. It is rather small compensation to know that the area is still being used in connection with transport for visitors to Bournemouth.

Photograph by Geoff Allen

Bournemouth West
 
Wherever the Midland Railway spread its influence it opened a "Midland Hotel" and, being served by the Somerset & Dorset, which was jointly owned by the Midland, one was erected opposite Bournemouth West Station.
 
Bournemouth West The Midland Hotel occupied this building until a few months ago and it has now been converted into apartments hopefully assuring its future

photograph by Geoff Allen

The commemorative plaque on the erstwhile Midland Hotel

Photograph by Geoff Allen

Bournemouth West

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This page was updated on 6th May 2013

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