Bailey Gate Station
Photo by Jeffery Grayer (1968). © All rights reserved.
Opened on 1 November 1860, for the first three years of its life Bailey Gate was known as Sturminster Marshall, but soon after the opening of Sturminster Newton on 31 August 1863, to avoid confusion, they renamed Sturminster Marshall as Bailey Gate (in November 1863). It was named after a nearby feature on a turnpike road. The line to Blandford was doubled in 1901 and to Corfe Mullen in 1905.
Bailey Gate was never really used much by passengers but had strong freight connections especially with the milk/cheese plant behind the station which in 1919 gained its own siding for a milk train that eventually ran seven days a week to London via Templecombe. A year prior to this, United Dairies had acquired the factory and decided to really make a go of things. By the 1950s, this factory was reputed to be the largest producer of Cheddar cheese in the world.
As with other stations, Bailey Gate was closed to passengers on 7 March 1966; however freight carried on between Blandford and Broadstone for three more years allowing the milk train to continue until January 1969. Even at this point, the cheese kept rolling out of the factory and did so until closure in 1975.
Maybe if you go down to Bailey Gate Industrial Estate in Sturminster Marshall late at night, you might hear the sound of ghost trains hauling their milky cargo but otherwise you would never know a railway had existed here.
This section of the S&D is high priority for rebuilding but when trains do run here again the station may need to be built in a slightly different location unless the existing buildings are demolished.