Had a great email from Australia today!
I was born and raised in a house on
very close to Poole Road Bournemouth West station. By the time I was five, in 1956, I had become an avid train spotter after discovering a perfect hiding place beside the line only a hundred yards away from my house. I spent most of my free time for the next ten years watching the most amazing array of trains and locomotives. One minute it was a Merchant Navy leaving with the Bournemouth Belle to , and the next was a Castle arriving with a train from London or York Birkenhead, or else the Pines Express which had so many different locos heading it. I shall never forget seeing ‘Evening Star’ arriving with the Pines in the summer of 1962.
I was used to seeing many old locomotives from the ex LSWR pulling local trains before they were replaced by the standards in the early 1960s. Especially the M.7s on push pull work for trains to Brockenhurst on the old road via Wimborne, but I was also excited to see Nelsons and King Arthurs arriving regularly from
, and the greyhound T9s on the local services. Did the T.9s ever do runs to London ? What a great sight they made pulling away uphill towards Branksome, (and the old S&D shed in the triangle there) past my hiding place in the bushes beside the track. . Bath
But then add to all this the regular arrivals from
on the S&DJR behind Bath Midland locomotives, which were not seen anywhere else in Hampshire. I was so used to seeing Fowler 7Fs I thought they were ‘ordinary’ engines, and the little 4Fs would come trundling in piloting larger Southern or Midland engines, or else in earlier days I remember the 2P Fowler 4-4-0s were common pilots. Then every once in a while a Black Five would arrive with the northern trains.
By 1962, when I was 11, most of the old engines had disappeared and were replaced by Standards, which saddened me as I realised my favourites had been scrapped, but the only consolation was the regular arrivals of the 9Fs from
. There were still Bulleid Pacifics starting on the many trains to London every day, but I didn’t realise that there would only be another three years of the line into Bournemouth West, let alone only another five years of steam. I can’t remember when the Bath closed and the Old Road and Somerset Dorset trains diverted to Central, I was just waiting in the bushes and didn’t see so many trains arrive anymore. I didn’t read about Dr. Beeching, and no-one told me that steam engines would all be scrapped in another few years.
One day in 1965, while on holiday from my boarding school, I went down to the station and asked Mr. Jones, the man who always made me buy a platform ticket, what had happened to the trains. He told me the station was going to close soon, and the
line was finishing too. I couldn’t believe it. Being only 14, I couldn’t quite understand that what you had known all your life, could just end… Bath
I kept seeing regular steam on the line to my boarding school in
Dorchester until the final runs in July 1967, the very month I left school forever. By then I was depressed about the condition of the Pacifics, devoid of name or numberplates, the closing of my station and lines all over the country, and the advent of the diesel electrics which I saw as featureless and rather uninspiring.
What a sad end to a wonderful childhood memory seeing those magnificent steam machines mesmerising me as they heaved, hissed and blew past. I only now realise what a fantastic range of locomotives I got to see and feel so affected by. I’ve been in
for most of my life since those days, it’s 50 years now and I am totally inspired by all the old photos of steam which is now available on the internet. Australia
Thanks to all my fellow train spotters for keeping it all alive, and good luck to the
and Dorset Trust in their efforts to preserve, and even re-open some parts of the line. Somerset