Bournemouth Central

The first station, called Bournemouth East, was sited at the other side of Holdenhurst Road to the current station. Finished on 14th March 1870 this was at the end of an extension of an existing branch from Ringwood to Christchurch which originally opened on 13th November 1862. The facilities offered by this station were very basic and not befitting of a wealthy town which by 1871 had reached 5900 inhabitants. The second station in the town, Bournemouth West, opened on 20th July 1874 and this was a far more substantial affair at the end of a new branch from Poole. It was served initially only by the Somerset and Dorset Railway with trains connecting with the LSWR at Wimborne. As in many other British towns the coming of the railway led to a step change in development and expansion. By 1881 the population was 16,800. Despite still wanting to keep the railway at arms length the town was nevertheless frustrated by both the circuitous and slow routes serving it and the dilapidated East station. Thus it actively encouraged competition from the LSWR's rivals. This prompted the LSWR into providing a more direct route to Southampton via Christchurch and Brockenhurst which opened in stages, the full route being completed on 6th March 1888. Before this completion the town's two stations and the branch to Poole were linked by a new line opened on 28th September 1886 with a triangular junction into Bournemouth West. Thereafter the West station became the terminus for most LSWR Bournemouth services from Waterloo and remained so for Somerset and Dorset services.

A new Bournemouth East Station opened on the other side of the Holdenhurst Road on 20th July 1885. Designed by William Jacob, the company's Chief Engineer, this station was a far grander affair designed to resemble a winter garden and has been described as the most impressive overall roofed station west of Waterloo. With fine brick station buildings on both sides topped by a second story wall with airy windows the effect was completed with a high glass canopy (40ft up, 350ft long and 100ft wide) and glazed ends. In addition to the two main platform roads through the station there were two through roads and both the up and down sides had small bay platforms, on the down side towards Poole (and in the very early days also towards Southampton), on the up side towards Southampton. A locomotive depot was built at the western end of the up side of the station. The area of the former east station was then used for goods traffic. About the same time Bournemouth West station was enlarged. The new East station was renamed Bournemouth Central (even if it wasn't and still isn't) on 1st May 1899. The station was not provided with much in the way of coach berthing facilities as this was dealt with at Bournemouth West station where most services terminated. However early accounts note that the central roads were used for stabling coaches. When free the central roads were mostly used for passing goods services. The down western bay was used for local Weymouth services but until comparatively recent times the up bay was mainly only used for goods/parcels stock and holding locomotives.

Signalbox The signal box dating from 1928 high above the down platform extension (platform 4) on 28th April 2001.

photograph by Colin Duff

A similar view taken on 6th May 1967 with standard class 4 Mogul 76008 shunting coaches.

photograph by Alan Robinson

76008 shunting
Down platform extension Another view of the down platform extension in 2001 - the ground on the right occupied by the station car park was formerly the MPD.  An April shower - well more of torrential storm - had just passed!

photograph by Colin Duff

West end of station

photograph by Alan Robinson

This atmospheric photograph taken on 12th August 1964 illustrates the western end of the station from almost the end of platform 4.; This clearly shows how the down platform extension, when not occupied by a train, provided a grandstand view (and protection from the weather) of the MPD for enthusiasts. Although the picture is not clear the coaches in the platform look like Pullmans so it is probably the Bournemouth Belle awaiting departure to Bournemouth West station.

The interior of the up bay platform 1, looking east, which has only come into regular use for passenger services since electrification.

photograph by Colin Duff

Bay platform 1
Train shed roof

photograph by Colin Duff

A clear view of the recently magnificently restored train shed roof and station buildings taken in a rare quiet moment between trains.  Note the use of potted palms - reinforcing the Winter Garden theme of the building - in sleeper boxes decorating the area formerly occupied the the through roads.

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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