Spetisbury Open Gardens

On Sunday 11th June we took part in Spetisbury Open Gardens, one of ten locations in the village open to the public. Thanks to some fine weather, there was a steady stream of visitors during the day which raised awareness of the work the Spetisbury Station Project is doing. We set up an exhibition tent on the ‘up platform’ (trains for Blandford and further north) where we provided refreshments, sales items and a display of artefacts found at the station site. On the ‘down’ platform (trains for Poole and Bournemouth) we displayed one of the  two replica running in boards which have been funded by Spetisbury Parish Council. In the near future these large timber signs will be fixed to posts on each platform in the approximate position of the originals. The team also finished off a children’s ‘Pines Express’ log train for the ‘down’ platform. This has been made using left over logs following recent tree clearance near the station bridge by Dorset County Council.

the colour of the S&DJR

The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway was formed on 1st November 1875, following the merger of the Dorset Central Railway and Somerset Central Railway some years earlier. The new company decided on a shade of dark blue, known as Prussian Blue, for its locomotives and carriages, and this must have looked wonderful, especially with the staff uniform of dark green corduroy. This colour scheme had been introduced by 1900 but unfortunately it was rather short-lived, as from 1st January 1923 Britain’s independent railway companies were grouped into the ‘Big Four’ and the S&DJR fell into the hands of the Southern Railway and London, Midland & Scottish Railway. From the following year goods engines began to be painted black, and passenger engines soon followed suit. Carriages were repainted standard Southern Railway green, so the trains must have looked rather less colourful. Although we cannot appreciate the splendour of S&DJR Prussian Blue trains through black & white photographs, thankfully the colour scheme lives on in this little 0-4-0 tank engine ‘Kilmersdon’ and an original S&DJR first class six-wheeled coach on the West Somerset Railway. They can been seen at the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust at Washford station. ‘Kilmersdon’ was built by Peckett of Bristol in 1929. It is not an original S&DJR locomotive and never actually carried the Prussian Blue livery during its working life, but it did work in Somerset at the Kilmersdon Colliery near Radstock. Coach number 4 was built at the S&DJR’s Highbridge works in 1886, and has recently been beautifully restored.


0-4-0 tank locomotive ‘Kilmersdon’ with S&DJR coach number 4 at Washford


So we can only imagine how delightful this train would have looked approaching Spetisbury circa 1900, with locomotive and carriages all in Prussian Blue!

0-4-4T heading south during track widening circa 1900