Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History

The Railway at Weymouth

The year was 1857 when the railway finally came to Weymouth. For so long Weymouth had been lagging behind in the latest form of transportation.

The old station built of Brunel design as most in the south were, was built on reclaimed land from Radipole Lake or the Backwater, as it was known then. Being in a dilapidated state, it was replaced by a modern station in 1986.

Not content to have just one railway company running to the end of the line, Weymouth had two. The South Western Railway company had the line from Southampton and the Great Western Railway had the line from Somerset, through Dorchester, to Weymouth.

The end of the line at Weymouth grew in 1865 to include a line running out of the station, along the road! It ran alongside the inner harbour in Commercial Road, all the way down to the harbour and in 1889 was extended onto the pier, ending at the Ferry Terminal. Commercial Road was then right on the edge of the backwater. It was only later that some land was reclaimed from the backwater where the present day car parks are.

In later times, with traffic running along Commercial Road, the train was preceded by a man waving a red flag, as had been the custom of old, but necessary as the traffic had to move out of its way. It was known as the Boat Train as it was for passengers boarding the ferries. Although it is still there, the line to the Ferry Terminal is rarely used now, except for the odd visit of a special train, but those visits are few and far between.

Up Train from Weymouth harbour to the station, along Commercial Road

The Boat Train returning to Weymouth Station

As anyone familiar with Weymouth will recognise, Commercial Road has changed quite a lot since the picture above was taken during the 1980's. The road junction shown here is no more, it is now part of the car park. At the bottom of the picture, though not shown, was the Crazy Golf Course. That too is now part of the car park.

Down Train going from Weymouth Station along Commercial Road and down to the harbourside

Boat Train just left Weymouth Station

This picture taken in 1982 shows the Boat Train having just left Weymouth Station en route to the Ferry Terminal. It had just stopped the traffic as it crossed over King Street and is proceeding into Commercial Road near the Bus Station.

A branch line to Portland was opened in 1865 going across a bridge over Radipole Lake specially built to carry it. Its first stop along the way was at Westham, then Rodwell. There are no lines there now, but it is possible to follow the route it took from Rodwell by following the Rodwell Trail. The station platform at Rodwell is still there and the line runs down near Sandsfoot Castle. The line was finally closed in 1965, one hundred years after it had opened.

 

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