For the past five years, since the Spetisbury Station Project started, we have been piecing together historical photos, plans and information about the station and the trains that ran through it. It is always interesting when new facts come to light, and we are grateful to Chris Osment for sharing the information below, and to Russ Garner for providing information on locomotives and train services.
This 0-4-4 tank locomotive has been identified as number 10, working the 4.13pm slow passenger train from Templecombe (which left Bath at 1.45pm) on 15th July 1893. It was built by the Avonside Engine Company of Bristol in 1877 and is shown approaching Spetisbury station on the single track line from Blandford. We have learned that some dates quoted have to be taken with a pinch of salt, but we know that this photo must have been taken after the brick ladies’ waiting room was added in 1888, but before 1900 when the station was rebuilt with double track. So a date of 1893 seems correct.
Another 0-4-4 tank locomotive, this time working the 7am slow passenger train from Bath, in the late spring of either 1899 or 1900. This loco might well be number 53, built by the Vulcan Foundry in 1884, but this fact cannot be verified at present. Work began to widen the trackbed between Blandford and Bailey Gate in 1899 for double track, and the fresh chalk earthworks show that this work is well under way. Double track operation through Spetisbury began on 29th April 1901, with the station being rebuilt with a second platform, a new station building and signal box.
This early disc and crossbar signal was photographed at Spetisbury in the 1890’s. It is in the clear position indicating trains could proceed. If the red disc was turned through a right angle so the crossbar faced the train, this was an indication to stop. This signal stood just north of the station, where the track entered a cutting. The chain and wire leading off to the right would have connected to levers on the platform, from where the station staff operated the signals. During track doubling 1899-1901, this signal and the other disc and crossbar signal at Spetisbury were replaced with newer signalling and a purpose-built signal box.
This Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway signalling diagram for Spetisbury is stamped 22nd July 1901, Engineer’s Office, Glastonbury. It also bears a stamp from the London & South Western Railway Chief Signal Superintendent’s Office at Eastleigh. A signal box controlling new signalling and crossover points at Spetisbury came into use with double track operation during 1901.