The 'Slow & Dirty'


Bournemouth, United Kingdom

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The ‘Slow & Dirty’

The emblem of the former Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway, colloquially known as the ‘Slow & Dirty’ or ‘Slow & Doubtful’, somewhat unfairly in my opinion as the railway ran through some of the finest countryside in Southern England.

In 1862, an amalgamation of the Somerset Central Railway and the Dorset Central Railway led to the formation of the Somerset & Dorset Railway. Trains ran between Burnham-on-Sea (in Somerset) and Wimborne (in Dorset).

An agreement with the London & South Western Railway (LSWR) allowed S&D trains to run from Wimborne down to Hamworthy on the south coast.

Sadly, the anticipated traffic using the line between the Bristol Channel and the English Channel failed to materialise and the railway soon found itself in financial difficulties.

In a last ditch attempt to improve the railway’s fortunes, the company built a link from Evercreech Junction to Bath, to link up with the Midland Railway.
Although this strategy was successful, it came too late to save the company and it entered receivership.

In 1875, the railway was rescued under a joint ownership scheme between the LSWR and the Midland and the railway was renamed as the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway.

After the 1923 regrouping, ownership passed to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) and the Southern Railway (SR).

Part of the attraction of the S&DJR to railway enthusiasts were its varied scenery and steep gradients. A considerable amount of holiday traffic used the line on summer Saturdays, including the Pines Express between Manchester and Bournemouth, and some trains required ‘double header’ (two locomotive) operation to handle the gradients.

The railway survived until 1966, when it was closed under the infamous Dr Beeching’s axe.

A group called the New Somerset and Dorset Railway was set up in 2009 with the aim of restoring the line between Bournemouth and Bath, as a commercially viable railway running freight, commuter and heritage services. Good luck to them I say.

Date: 26th August 2018.

Artwork Comments

  • lezvee
  • RedHillDigital
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