Well, not strictly one of our usual Sunday work parties, but members do go up and work at the station at other times. Today one member (me….) cleared the vegetation from the site of the signal box. Eventually this area will be fully cleared and some minor ‘Time Team’ excavations made to see if any artefacts remain. In time we hope to provide information boards here explaining how the signal box worked. These foundations remain fenced off due to their proximity to the bridge parapet. Several passers-by remarked how much they enjoy visiting the station, which was good to hear. I also noticed a large hole in the bank behind the ‘up’ platform and wondered what animal lives here. A rabbit maybe? Or a fox? Either way it’s good to know wildlife has made the station its home.
One of the best-known engine drivers on the Somerset & Dorset railway was Donald Beale, who began his S&D career in 1919, becoming a driver in 1936 and retiring in 1966, the same year the line closed. He was one of the leading drivers based at Branksome shed near Poole. In his memoirs Donald recalled a well known Spetisbury passenger. “The track now climbed the hillside through a small cutting, with a short row of wood framed bungalows spaced evenly apart, looking downwards onto the Railway Hotel in the street below. One was painted green, and occupied by a young lady who worked in a solicitor’s office in Blandford, so I was told. She travelled to Blandford on the 9.10am ex-Bournemouth, but her return journey was not so straightforward. Work might prevent her catching the 4.10pm ex-Templecombe. The next train at Blandford was the 6.10 ex-Templecombe, the return of the 11.40am Bournemouth-Bath. Branksome men worked this turn throughout in the 1930’s, but this train was booked non-stop from Blandford to Broadstone, although passengers could be set down at Bailey Gate, on request to the guard, who would advise the enginemen. Gradually the young lady became known to all five sets of enginemen at Branksome, and it became regular practice, if ‘Miss Spetisbury’ was standing on the platform as we ran into Blandford, we would ‘tip her the wink’, and with a smart departure from Blandford, we would slide to an unscheduled stop at Spetisbury. ‘Miss Spetisbury’ joined in the time saving – hardly had we come to a stand then she was out of the compartment, the door slammed shut, and we were on our way, the time regained by Broadstone. As in all such cases, someone would inform the Traffic Superintendent at Bath, that the 4.0pm ex-Bath was making a special stop at Spetisbury. We would find a notice pinned up on the Notice Board, where we signed on and off, that the practice must stop forthwith. It never did, ‘Miss Spetisbury’ was one of our regular customers, and we liked to look after them all.”
For more tales from the railway at Spetisbury, visit the station history page.