The history of railways in Southampton began in 1831 with the formation of the Southampton, London and Branch Railways and Dock Company, although it was to be another eight years before the town was connected to the network. The railway became known as the London and Southampton in 1834 when the Royal Assent was given to the bill for building the new line. A second act was needed in 1837 to raise additional funds. The company, looking to construct further lines in the south, changed its name to London and South West Railway in 1839.

The new line ran from Nine Elms in London through Basingstoke and Winchester and then on to Southampton. The new Terminus Station on the Marsh was not completed in time for the inaugural journey and a temporary station was provided at Northam. The sections between Nine Elms and Basingstoke and Winchester and Northam were opened on the 10 June 1839. Stage coaches between Winchester and Basingstoke linked the two portions of the railway. Terminus Station was eventually opened on 11 May 1840 and the entire line from Nine Elms to Southampton was brought into use on the same day. An extension was made from the Terminus Station along the public roadway on Canute Road in 1847 and this was eventually extended to the Royal Pier in 1871. At first horse-drawn carriages were used on this line, but these were very quickly replaced by steam engines.

Developments to the west began in 1845 with the building of the Southampton and Dorchester Railway.

A station was constructed at Blechynden and it was planned to link to the LSWR via a tunnel under the Marlands. The construction of the tunnel did not prove easy; it was hampered by the existence of the old canal tunnel which crossed the new tunnel at an angle. Although the Southampton to Dorchester line was opened on schedule in May 1847, it was some time before the two lines were physically connected.

In March 1866 a new line connecting Southampton and Netley, with a station at Woolston, was opened.

In 1880 there were plans to extend the Didcot and Newbury Line to Southampton, with the line passing through Shirley to a new station at the west end of Bargate Street. Although building work commenced the scheme was soon abandoned.

Southampton Dorchester Railway

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Contemporary engraving of Blechynden Station and the Dorchester railway, c.1850

See also

Further reading:

Southampton Railways, by Bert Moody. (HS/pk)
‘Docks, Railways and Politics in Mid-Victorian Southampton’, by P. H. Morris, in Collected Essays on Southampton, by J. B. Morgan (ed), p85-89. (HS/h)
History of Southampton Vol 1, by A. Temple Patterson, p163-169. (HS/h)
History of Southampton Vol 2, by A. Temple Patterson, p5-9, 17-22, 116-118. (HS/h)
History of Southampton Vol 3, by A. Temple Patterson, passim. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman', p29-32. (HS/h)
Georgian and Victorian Southampton, by A. J. Brown, p41-43. (HS/h)


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