A follower has kindly contacted us about a fascinating proposed railway scheme which would have greatly changed Blandford as a railway town, and provided increased train connections from surrounding villages including Spetisbury.
In the 1890s the Wilts, Dorset & East Devon Railway was an ambitious plan to construct a new route from Salisbury to Exeter via Blandford. The first 21 mile section would have left the Salisbury to Yeovil line at Wilton and pass through new stations at Broadchalke, Sixpenny Handley and Pimperne before joining the Somerset & Dorset railway at Blandford, where a new junction would have been built. The line would have then run for 11 miles through Blandford St Mary, Winterbourne Whitechurch and Bere Regis to join the London & South Western Railway’s Poole to Dorchester line at Moreton. The line would have then continued 50 miles through Shipton Gorge, Bridport, Charmouth, Lyme Regis, Seaton and Sidmouth and connect with the L&SWR line at Topsham, just a few miles from Exeter.
Plans drawn up by J.F. Errington Barnes of Dorchester sought to ‘connect the watering-places of Devonshire and Dorsetshire and develop the resources of the district.’ The Western Gazette of 23rd November 1894 reported: ‘The country through which the proposed line will pass is certain to be benefitted, a large quantity of agricultural and dairy produce, at present to be conveyed by road for long distances. The local population amounts to 90,000, and if this is to be added to Salisbury and Exeter, the total reaches about 140,000. The advantages possessed by the project railway are obvious and its construction would be welcomed by the large number of landowners, mill owners, farmers and other traders as well as residents in the localities affected.’ The Wilts, Dorset & East Devon railway would have provided faster journey times between London, Dorchester and Exeter, but in the end the line was never built.
The information above is taken from an article published in the Blandford Express .