Lyme Regis Midland Road

by Paul Rowntree

Many schemes to build a railway to Lyme Regis in the 19th Century were planned but never came to fruition. Lyme Regis Midland Road is loosely based on the proposals put forward in 1864 and 1874 for a railway between Bridport, Charmouth, Lyme Regis and Axminster.

This N gauge layout is based on the Midland Railway having, after purchasing the S&D jointly with the LSWR, built a secondary main line from Stalbridge via the Lydden and Piddle Valleys to Dorchester South and then on via the Winterbournes and the Bride Valley to Burton Bradstock, West Bay (High Level) and Bridport West, looping around the Marshwood Vale to Charmouth Junction, where a LSW branch from Axminster joined it, and then on through a mile long single track tunnel under the Spittles to terminate on Charmouth Road in Lyme Regis where the football ground is. The road actually known as Spittles Road was named Midland Road until after the line closed, hence the station name (not used on station nameboards which just proclaim Lyme Regis)

With a railway arriving in 1870 Lyme Regis grew to a population of 20,000 and became as popular and important a resort as Ilfracombe. The operational difficulties of operating the last mile through Spittles tunnel with two lines combined plus empty stock workings to Charmouth carriage sidings resulted in colour light signalling being installed in 1928.

Although Midland Railway owned the line was always operated as part of the S&D and LSWR/SR looked after the infrastructure hence the Midland Railway station building with LSW canopy, concrete footbridge etc.

Trains comprise of local services to Templecombe via Dorchester, Axminster and additional push pull services to West Bay or Burton Bradstock and expresses to Waterloo via Ringwood (avoiding Bournemouth) and a portion of the Bournemouth Belle, Portions of trains to Waterloo would connect at Axminster and through trains to Paddington via a connection at West Bay, there would of course also be through trains to the North via the S&D.

In the middle of the day the station becomes hive of activity as freight services from Exmouth Junction and Dorchester yard terminate, swap consignments and return from where they came for onward forwarding of goods East West and North.

Sadly, after WR took the line over in 1963 they rapidly discovered major engineering issues with Spittles Tunnel and the line shut with the rest of the S&D amid great controversy, after having emergency bus services from late 1963-1966 between Lyme Regis and Charmouth Junction causing a huge loss of passengers. The town still suffers.

All photographs on these pages are by Paul Rowntree.

LymeN The pictures show the station with an "N" having just arrived from Templecombe with a Bulleid 3 set .
an M7 awaiting departure with a push pull train to West Bay. LymeM7
LymePP The push pull set comprises an ex LBSCR driving unit and Maunsell high window BTK..
a local street at night. Lymens
Lymempd the motive power depot at night.

All photographs are copyright

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This page was last updated 7 August 2015

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