A selection of articles about the DNSR from various papers of the time

24th March 1883


Active steps are now being taken by the contractors for the DNSR, Falkiner and Tancred, for the beginning of the line at several points of the route. They commenced the works south of Whitchurch at the beginning of the present week, and the Company have arranged with the Dean and Chapter of Winchester for the purchase of that portion of the property of the ecclesiastical corporation, situated at Milland, Winnall, and Chilcomb, near this city, and they have also virtually agreed with the respective tenants with regard to the amount to be paid them for their interest in their several occupations in the parishes named, so that the Company will acquire possession of the property without being compelled to resort to the compulsory powers of their Act in this neighbourhood. At Winnall, in a field adjacent to Winnall Moors, in the occupation of Mr Perks, on Thursday, the first sod was turned at about noon by Mr Scott, representing the contractors, when a party of navvies arrived and were soon engaged in cutting down certain trees and marking out the ground. During the construction of the railway in this neighbourhood Mr Smith will superintend the works, and we believe that the contractors expect to have a mile of fencing completed by the end of next week, and that within a couple of months there will be as many as 500 navvies employed in the neighbourhood of this city. At Southampton the contractors have begun to excavate in the neighbourhood of Hill Lane, some 50 yards of roadway having already been levelled for ballasting near Bedford Road, and on a portion of the grounds of Spring Hill School (Rev J L Carrick’s). The ground is also being secured and fenced in on land extending from Hill Lane towards Whitedswood Park, Shirley, some fifty men being employed on the work.

The embankment alongside Hill Lane, Southampton – still to be found hidden in the trees in the 21st Century.

29th December 1883


I confess to a feeling of astonishment and indignation upon reading your report of the recent meeting of the Didcot, Newbury, and Southampton Railway Company. The extension of this line to Southampton, under the auspices of the Great Western Company, was the object for which the town fought hard and gallantly in 1881 and 1882: and its thoroughness in the matter was shown by a guaranteed subscription of £50,000.

The Parliamentary battle — as we all know — was a fierce and prolonged one; but in the end victory crowned our united efforts and Southampton fondly hoped that there was at last probability of its getting what it had so long and sadly needed — new and independent railway communication with London and other parts of the country.

The prospect of this expectation being fulfilled seems, however, according to what took place at the meeting, to be exceedingly remote; and I desire, through the medium of your columns, to urge upon the inhabitants of the good old town the importance of realising the gravity of the situation, and of insisting that the original intention, for which we subscribed our money and went to Parliament, should be carried out in its integrity. Appearances, I do not hesitate to say, indicate that we are being “sold;” and the reported treaty of peace between the Great Western and South Western Companies must not be lost sight of in this connection. Many, like myself, took shares solely that Southampton might be benefited. My late father subscribed £1000; I went in for a similar amount, and other members of my family did likewise.

Altogether the community contributed nobly — many, who perhaps could ill afford it, adding their names to the subscription list in order that the requisite amount might be provided. And yet it now seems that we are to be called upon to pay the large aggregate sum of money thus raised in order that Southampton may be left “out of the running.” I can only say that, should it actually be so, infinite discredit will attach to those who had the management of the undertaking, and that they will be held responsible for a direct violation of the conditions upon which the money of the Southampton shareholders was subscribed.

It is now coolly said that the town has not done what was expected of it, when we have been told all along that the applications for the half-million preference stock issued last year were equal to something like double that amount. Was it not a serious mistake to put this preference stock on the market before the investing public had been asked to take ordinary stock? And why should Southampton be accused of not having done more, when no steps whatever were taken to make known the actual facts, and no intimation given that further assistance in the way of subscriptions was needed? Since the £50,000 was guaranteed have the directors made a single effort to obtain more in Southampton? On the contrary, they allow a false impression to prevail, and then turn round upon the community and say “You have not done what you ought.” I say this is both ungenerous and unjust, and that we had a right to expect very different treatment.

Two hundred thousand pounds are now to be borrowed in order that the line may go into the South Western at Winchester.

That will be worse than useless to Southampton, and of very little value to the undertaking itself. The South Western people will be far too cunning to allow much of their traffic to be diverted over the new line from Winchester to Didcot, whether it be an independent line, or worked as part of the Great Western system. Had the scheme been properly financed, I cannot see why anything should have hindered its being carried right through.

And that must be done now! Southampton cannot afford to allow its Andover and Redbridge experiences to be repeated.

No time should be lost in taking action upon the matter. It would be a flagrant breach of public faith if any intention short of completing the railway to Southampton as an independent line were permitted to prevail.

The traffic of such a line can only come from the outward and inward trade of Southampton. And, on the other hand, without such a line, the unrivalled commercial facilities of our port and harbour can never be adequately developed. Southampton is essential to the railway, and the railway is essential to Southampton. It is for the community which has staked so much and centred its hopes so strongly upon the new line to insist that there shall be no departure from the original intention, and that its expectation shall not be baulked or disappointed. Sir F Perkins

 14th April 1883


A public meeting was held at Southampton Guildhall on Wednesday evening in support of the proposed railway from Pewsey and Salisbury to Southampton, to develop the Welsh coal fields.

The line will join the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway at Shirley, and will run into the station on the Western shore.

Resolutions in accordance with the object of the meeting were carried unanimously.

28th April 1883


The works for the construction of the Didcot and Southampton line are being carried forward near Hill Lane, by gangs of workmen, and a steam navvy is also in use. The direction of the line on the mud-lands has also been staked out.

4th October 1890 Excavation at St Catherine’s The new piece of railway to connect the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton line with the South Western system just above Shawford is rapidly progressing at the hands of Messrs Firbank and Co. Much excavation has been done at the foot of St Catherine’s Hill, and the bearings for the extensive viaduct across the Itchen Valley are being constructed with all possible speed.

In the 21st Century, the unbuiltline is still commemorated by street names close to the site of what would have been Shirley Station 

1st March 1884


On Tuesday Mr TB Woodham, under sheriff, and a special jury, sat at the Grand Jury Chamber, Winchester, to assess the amount of damages to be paid by the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway to Mr Chas Mussell for the purchase by the said company of his estate.

Mr EU Bullen appeared for the claimant, and Mr Foote appeared for the company.

Mr Mien, having opened the case on behalf of the claimant, Mr Mussell, stated that he was a dairyman and market gardener, living at Bar End, Winchester. He succeeded to the business in the year 1878, having previously managed it since 1862 for the then proprietor, Mr Burton, now deceased.

By reason of the company acquiring the land they proposed to take, it would be impossible for him to carry on his business in the same way as heretofore, inasmuch as the effect of the acquisition would be to disconnect one portion of the land from the other, and to deprive him of some of his cow sheds. Owing to the land being severed in this way he would be compelled, when removing his cows from one part to the other, to take them a very circuitous route. The extent of the land was about 16 acres, and of this the Didcot, Newbury and Southompton Company proposed to take seven acres.

Mr Foote then addressed the jury on behalf of the company, who, he remarked, were quite willing to give the claimant what was fair and reasonable, in consequence of the land being rendered inconvenient and less profitable, but they naturally regarded the original claim of £1004 as being simply preposterous. The company had offered Mr Mussell £150, which he had declined.

The Under Sheriff having briefly summed up, the jury, after a short deliberation, awarded claimant £340.

  8th March 1884


It may interest many of our readers — those, at least, who have not had the opportunity of seeing for themselves — to know that the new railway works in the vicinity of the city are making rapid progress all along the line, and are in some places in a fair way towards completion.

At Worthy the road has been very ingeniously lowered, and over it a bridge is being erected on which the lines will be laid, while a triple-arch bridge, which exhibits traces of much engineering skill, has been constructed over the main stream of the Itchen above Sedge-bridge. A smaller arch spans the stream nearer Worthy, and another arch the footpath in the meadows leading from Worthy to Winchester.

The deep cuttings at Winnall have been visited during the progress of the works by many of the citizens, who, no doubt, have been amazed at the completeness of the system by which the channel was opened out.

The tunnel from Winnall Farm House to the foot of St Giles’s Hill is the chief engineering work in the neighbourhood, and it is now in a fair way towards completion after several months of constant work. Gangs of miners, working eight hours each, have been night and day employed in its construction, so that now something like 200 yards have been arched over with brickwork. The brick lining is not a great way in rear of the heading, now about midway between the Mortuary and the Magdalen Hill Road. Several millions of bricks have been used in the construction of the tunnel, and as a commencement will very shortly be made at the Cheesehill end of it, not many weeks will probably elapse before the two ends meet.

Near the southern entrance the passenger station will be erected, and it is anticipated that works in connection therewith will in a short time be commenced. The dilapidated state of the empty houses in Cheesehill Street and on Snow Hill, which are to be demolished in the construction of the line, present a sad picture of desolation seldom to be witnessed, and a stranger unacquainted with what is about to happen would most probably presume that that part of the Soke had been sacked by a besieging army. The scene brings vividly before the mind the description given by Goldsmith in his Deserted Village, with the exception that the “modest mansion,” namely St Peter’s Rectory, remains intact.

In Rackhills, where the goods station will be situated, great progress has been made during the last few weeks, and a high white bank is already being extended along Bishop’s Fields towards St Catherine’s Hill, spoiling, we regret to say, the view of the lovely valley as it is formed.

Further away from the city in the direction of Whitchurch considerable progress has been made during the winter.

The embankment of the South Western Railway, a few yards to the north of the signal box, has been pierced through, and bricklayers will shortly commence making the archway, iron girders being already deposited near the spot. There is no indication at present that any junction with the old company’s system will be effected at this spot, as the Didcot Company’s Act of Parliament has permitted, but it may be hoped, for the sake of the public benefit which it would bestow, that a junction may yet form part of the scheme.

At Woodham Farm there will be a very high bank, and excavating and tipping are going on at both ends. At the bottom, near where a bridge will cross the road, a stonebreaking machine, driven by steam power, is at work, crushing large quantities of the splendid flints obtained from the chalk to a more serviceable size than when found.

Proceeding northwards there is a short cutting, and then comes a long valley, to the east being Waller’s Ash Tunnel, and to the west the Winchester Racecourse. A great deal of work has been done in this locality in the building of bridges and in the construction of earthworks. Just beyond, to the west of a clump of trees, and not far from Mr. Bailey’s farm at Stoke Charity, we are on some of the highest land in this part of the county, and through the crown of this hill there will be a short tunnel.

From thence the line traverses a comparatively level piece of country for a considerable distance, the next work of any magnitude being a high embankment near Mr Milsum’s farm, which here crosses the road leading to Wonston. Two cottages standing in the line of route here have had to be rebuilt at a short distance to the right of the track.

At Barton Stacey there will be a station, and beyond here, at Bullington and towards Tufton, a great deal of heavy work has been accomplished.

An immense quantity of rails for the permanent way are accumulating in readiness to be laid as soon as the line has been ballasted and is in a fit state to receive them. Thus, at any rate, it is more than probable that some time next year the completion of the line as far as Winchester will be an accomplished fact, and if the public spirit of the inhabitants of Southampton and its immediate neighbourhood, who were the first to agitate for competition with the London and South Western Company, does not admit of the utilization of the powers granted to the Didcot Company for the completion of their line, it is evident that they are themselves to blame for having been chiefly instrumental in bestowing a benefit to Winchester, and other towns and villages above it, while as yet refusing the boon for themselves.

 28th April 1883 Chandler’s Ford junction Mr Grierson, the general manager of the Great Western Railway Company, was under examination on Friday week before a Parliamentary Committee in opposition to the Bristol and South Western Junction Railway Bill.

After referring to the advantages to be derived by South Wales and Southampton on the completion of the Severn tunnel, he unexpectedly announced that the London and South Western Company had just agreed to give the Great Western power to run passengers and goods over their line from Salisbury to Chandler’s Ford, where the trains would pass on to the Didcot line (when constructed) and run to the Western shore at Southampton, thus giving the inhabitants of that town all they asked for in the proposed Pewsey line without a parliamentary struggle, the Salisbury to Southampton section of the bill in favour of it being now withdrawn as unnecessary.

The arrangements now made will greatly benefit Southampton, bringing her about 63 miles nearer the South Wales coal fields as compared with the existing route, and with one independent company to work the coals through from the pits mouth to steamer’s side, the cost of transit and price of coal will be diminished, and Southampton will thus be furnished with increased power to compete with other ports.

30th May 1885


With a view to the completion of the line to Southampton, a circular has been issued by the Directors of the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway to the preference shareholders setting forth the opening of the railway from Didcot to Winchester, a distance of 43 miles, and adding that, to construct the line from Winchester to Southampton (13 miles) with but a temporary station there, will cost £322,400. Until this is accomplished, it is added, the prospect of a dividend is remote upon the million and a quarter already spent on this line. It is suggested that a means of raising this needed capital is to convert a quarter of a million of the unissued preference into pre-preference stock, the balance being made up by an issue of debenture stock or debentures. The future of the line thus rests, it would seem, with the shareholders.

4th October 1890


The new piece of railway to connect the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton line with the South Western system just above Shawford is rapidly progressing at the hands of Messrs Firbank and Co. Much excavation has been done at the foot of St Catherine’s Hill, and the bearings for the extensive viaduct across the Itchen Valley are being constructed with all possible speed. 

3rd October 1891


The new junction railway connecting the Didcot line with the South Western system was informally opened on Thursday. There are four trains on weekdays from this city to Southampton and back, all in connection with those running on the Didcot line.

The line is worked by the Great Western Company from Didcot to Winchester, but between here and Southampton it is worked by the South Western Company. The timetable will be found in our advertising columns. The following are the principal train alterations for October on the South Western Railway affecting Winchester on weekdays:- A new train will leave Winchester for Southampton at 10.15pm, calling at all stations. The 11.30am train from Southampton to Waterloo will call daily at Fleet at 1.3pm. The 9.35pm train from Southampton will cease to run to Micheldever, Basingstoke and Waterloo. Alton line:- the 12.45pm train from Waterloo to Southampton will leave Itchen Abbas at 3.24 and Winchester at 3.37, arriving at Southampton at 4.10pm.