The Railway and Pokesdown

The Railway and Pokesdown

The coming of the railway to Bournemouth had little immediate impact upon Pokesdown. In 1862 the Ringwood Christchurch and Bournemouth Railway had opened its line from Ringwood down the Avon valley to Christchurch, and on 14th March 1870 this line was extended to Bournemouth, passing under Christchurch Road at Pokesdown. It had been confidently forecast there would be a station at Pokesdown, and in a number of advertisements for the sale of properties it had been stated that these were within reach of the proposed station at Pokesdown.

A public meeting was held in the village on 25th October 1870 to consider the desirability of a station at Pokesdown, and Mr. F. Moser of Carbery and Mr. R. Sharp were appointed a deputation to meet the directors of the Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth Railway. An editorial in the Christchurch Times of 19th October commented on the matter, saying "Since the opening of the railway extension to Bournemouth the question why is there no station at Pokesdown has been repeatedly asked, but as yet we have heard no satisfactory answer ... Here is a fast rising place needing only railway communication to ensure its prosperity ... a present population of nearly seven hundred people left entirely out of all railway arrangements, although a railway runs through its very centre".

Although the railway ran right by the village, the inhabitants were obliged to go to Christchurch, the nearest station, two miles away. Visitors were reluctant to take up residence in a place which could not boast of a railway station.

The deputation had an interview with the Directors on 5th November; the Chairman of the Company was Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, who two or three years earlier had come to live in Boscombe. The members of the deputation pointed out that their nearest station of Christchurch was two miles away, and they emphasised that there was building land at Pokesdown which would come into use immediately if a station was made, so increasing the potential for both passenger and freight traffic. Sir Henry himself said that he had worked hard to get a station for Pokesdown; indeed he had understood that one was to be provided. However, the burden of cost for it would have fallen upon Mr. A. Ogilvie, the line's contractor, who had become the principal shareholder, and who was reluctant to expend more capital.

Mr. Moser said that the land he imagined the station would be built upon had originally sold for £36 an acre; recently it had been purchased by the present owner at £120 an acre, and he understood that the owner wanted £200 an acre.

Sir Henry hoped that the local people might be able to influence the owner to sell at a lower figure. He suggested also that if local people would take up shares towards the expense then he himself would subscribe, and this would help to remove the difficulties. It was suggested to the deputation that they might present a petition to the London and South Western Railway, who were responsible for working the line, urging the need for a station.

Mr. Moser and Mr. Sharp reported to a public meeting on 9th November, when arrangements were made to organise the suggested petition. In response to this petition, Mr. A. Scott, General Manager of the London and South Western Railway, stated that if the Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth Railway were to build a station, then his Company would provide a train service. At their meeting on 2nd March 1871, the Directors of the latter Company considered the possibility of providing a temporary station to see what traffic would result, and instructed their Secretary to discuss the proposal with Mr. Ogilvie. At their October meeting the Directors were informed that Mr. Ogilvie declined to incur any further expenditure at that time.

Sir Henry Drummond Wolff continued his efforts to influence the other Directors, but it is clear that Mr. Ogilvie's position as the principal shareholder gave him virtually the final word; this was borne out by a letter which he wrote to Sir Henry in February 1872,saying that he thought any arrangement for a station at Pokesdown ought to be made by the London and South Western Company.

Mr. Moser wrote to the General Manager of the L.S.W.R. on 22 June 1872, in anticipation of a public meeting to be held on 26 June, asking whether the Company would be prepared to erect a station. In reply, Mr. Scott stated that the matter was one for the Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth Company.

The purpose of the Pokesdown meeting on 26 June was to see what could be done to secure the provision of a station, which it was considered to be indispensable for permitting the community to develop its resources still further. Mr. Moser was Chairman, and expressions of support were received from Lord Portman, Captain Lamb, Mr. H. Smith, Dr. Compton and Mr H. Popham, all owners of land in the neighbourhood. The opinion was expressed that visitors were reluctant to take up residence "in a place which in these days of rapid locomotion cannot boast of a railway station". After a long discussion, Mr. Moser and Mr. Sharp were asked to meet the Directors of the Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth Company once more and to express to them the unanimous feeling of the meeting that a station ought to be built.

Replying to Mr. Moser's letter on the subject, the Company Directors said that they were unable to accede to the request for a station as the capital of the Company was exhausted, and that no further capital could be raised since the largest shareholders were not prepared to approve the project.

At a crowded meeting in Pokesdown on 19 July, the letter from the Directors, together with a letter from Mr. Ogilvie, was read. It was decided to seek to form a local Company to build a station, and a committee was appointed for this purpose, consisting of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, a landowner at Boscombe; Mr. H. Popham, owner of Stourfield House; Mr. H. Smith, owner of Heatherlea; Captain Lamb, landowner of Stourwood; Dr. Compton, the founder of Southbourne-on-Sea; Mr. Moser, owner of Carbery and a large estate; Mr. I. Sharp, Mr. White, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Hoare junior, a local builder.

A further attempt to make progress in the matter of the station was made in 1876, when a public meeting was held in the Parish Schoolroom, under the Chairmanship of the Vicar, the Rev. T. Anderson. Dr. Compton read a letter from the General Manager of the L.S.W.R., from which it was inferred that the Company had in mind the erection of a station between Christchurch and Bournemouth, and wished to consult local opinion before fixing on a site. The meeting resolved that a petition be drawn up by the Chairman in favour of a station at Pokesdown; Mr. E. Watton and Mr. M. Cook agreed to canvass for signatures, and Dr. Compton and Mr. Moser were asked to serve as a deputation to meet the Directors of the Railway Company and present the petition. Once again, however, these hopes were dashed, and nothing came of this initiative.

By this date, Boscombe was developing rapidly, and during 1878 residents there were pressing for a station; the matter was discussed on several occasions by the Board of the L.S.W.R. and a committee of the Board visited the locality. As a result, in October 1878, the Board decided that a station to be sited at Pokesdown would serve both districts, and there the matter remained for a few more years.

In the autumn of 1882 the Railway Company published a scheme for a comprehensive improvement of the railway facilities in the neighbourhood of Bournemouth. This included a new direct railway from Brockenhurst to Christchurch, and the doubling of the existing single line between Christchurch and Bournemouth. The Board instructed their Engineer in November 1884 to prepare plans for a station at Pokesdown, and they approved a site adjacent to the 'High Road between Bournemouth and Christchurch', and agreed to the erection of the station at an estimated cost of £2,100.

During the second half of 1885 work was being carried out on the doubling of the line through Pokesdown. By the beginning of July the bridge over the line at Hampden Road (now Southbourne Road) had been lengthened over the widened railway. Work followed on the bridge in Christchurch Road, where a temporary wooden road bridge was built to carry the road while the permanent bridge was being rebuilt.

Construction of the station was commenced early in 1886, and this was opened on 1 July 1886. It consisted of an 'island' platform situated between the two pairs of running rails, and was about 600 feet long. Access was from the centre of the road bridge, down a covered stairway of forty steps. The station was named Boscombe, and did not become Pokesdown until the opening of the new Boscombe Station in Ashley Road in 1897. The first stationmaster was Mr. Samuel Smith, formerly the booking clerk at Christchurch. The original Pokesdown Station was replaced in 1930 by the present much larger one.

Following the opening of the station, Mr. H. F. Beamish commenced in October 1886 to run a 'new and splendid Garden-seated Pair-Horsed Omnibus' between the Station and the Square in Bournemouth. There were five buses each way on weekdays, the fares being twopence to Boscombe, threepence to the Lansdowne, and fourpence to the Square. The vehicle was built expressly for this service at a cost of £200 by Dodson, of Camden Town in London, and it seated ten inside and ten outside passengers. Beamish had already been operating a bus between Southbourne and Bournemouth for several years, and early in 1888 he was advertising a sendee between the station at Pokesdown and Southbourne.