Bournemouth West Station
Photo by Jeffery Grayer (1965). © All rights reserved.
The story of Bournemouth West is indeed an interesting one. It was opened by the Poole and Bournemouth Railway on the 15 June 1874. At this time it comprised two platforms, one locomotive shed and a 42ft. turntable and provided the terminus for the line from Poole. By 1886, there was double track to Poole and two years later to Bournemouth East (Central). At this point, the two station buildings in existence were amalgamated to make one rather lovely Victorian building.
It should be noted that until 1885, Bournemouth Central, as it later became, did not exist and West was the growing town's main station. When the S&D came into Bournemouth it was actually over the border into Hampshire by half a mile - it was not until 1974 that this popular seaside resort became part of Dorset thanks to local government reforms; by this time of course the S&D had been dead and buried for eight years.
Over the years, Bournemouth West grew and gained platform canopies and all the extra infrastructure needed to handle the expanding numbers of passengers coming down the S&D not to mention other lines coming in from Weymouth, Swanage and Brighton. Multiple signal gantries rose from the line-side and there was even an inspection pit at the end of the platform.
The last days of Bournemouth West, once proud terminus for the Pines Express, came in 1965. On 2nd August, the line to Branksome was temporarily closed for engineering works to carry out electrification works. At this point, some S&D trains went to Bournemouth Central instead - others started or terminated at Branksome instead; Hants and Dorset buses linked passengers to West. This 'temporary' arrangement soon became permanent and by 6 September, no more passenger services ran through Bournemouth West; a month later the station was officially closed and the bus services between the two stations ceased. Bournemouth Central became the main station for the town and remains a busy rail link to this day.
Thanks to the axe wielding Dr Beeching, many railways and their infrastructure disappeared. After closure, Bournemouth West was demolished and soon the road known as the Wessex Way was built on large parts of the land. What remained of the sidings became a maintenance area especially for carriages and also a storage area for electric trains. This is now South West Trains main 'works'. A large car park now occupies the station site - 90 odd years of railway history buried under a sheet of tarmac and white lines.
If the S&D line from Bath to Bournemouth is to be reinstated properly, then some form of terminus is going to have to be put in place - but where? Obviously the council would not allow the removal of the car park (unless it's no longer needed!) so the only feasible site at the moment is SWT's maintenance yard; I wonder how pleased they would be about that - if they are still there by the time we start thinking about a new station.