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The Somerset & Dorset Railway between Stourpaine and Blandford Forum. Following the opening ceremony for the new Hodmoor bridge just west of Stourpaine (see Photo Gallery 49), the Webmaster took a look at the remains of the railway continuing on to Blandford Forum. This is what he found ...

Above: A final look at the new Hodmoor bridge, this time showing the plaque commemorating the work of the major partners in the project to replace it – Liveability, Dorset County Council and North Dorset District Council. Although the name of the bridge has been changed from Hodmoor to the more obvious Stourpaine, the railway is remembered by a replica of the original bridge plate – no. 185 – which has been cast and installed on one of the abutments. The photographer, Mike Rutter, and the Webmaster were standing just 6 ft. away from each other at the opening ceremony, but didn't actually 'meet' until Mike submitted this picture a few days later by e-mail. 7th November 2010. (Mike Rutter)

 
Above: The Trailway currently leaves the trackbed just before Stourpaine and runs into the village via a minor lane, so the embankment seen here, which leads to the village's former station and then a bridge under the busy A350 (both well out of frame to the left), is not open to the public. This view was taken from a local footpath which starts by Stourpaine parish church. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: Stourpaine & Durweston Halt, a concrete structure opened by the Southern Railway in July 1928, is on private land but, from November to April, can be seen (just) from a public footpath. Hover over this image to see the line of the platform, which is slipping somewhat at its left, i.e. eastern, end. The slope seen here is not just the ramp at the end of the platform! The running in board is preserved in the wall of a children's playground in nearby Durweston. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: This bridge, now partially covered by ivy, stood at the eastern end of Stourpaine & Durweston Halt. This is the view from the Durweston side. In years gone by, passengers from Durweston would have passed under this bridge and then turned immediately left to open the station gate and climb the steps to the platform. The halt, opened to local acclaim in 1928, was closed in 1956 as an economy measure. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Above: This narrow road bridge crossed the northern 'throat' of Blandford Forum station, where the single line section to Templecombe began. The building on the right with the tall chimneys is the former station master's house. All the scene needs is a black and white cat. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 
Left: Little remains in Blandford to show that a railway ever served the town, let alone a major railway linking the Midlands with the south coast. However, the street name Station Court is a give-away, and this is where this short section of track can be found, complete with check rails, which once led into the busy goods yard. A token wagon wheel can be seen at the end of the rails, on the left. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
 

Right: Although Blandford lost its railway in 1966, it has not lost its Railway Hotel, nor have the owners succumbed to the temptation to give it a cranky modern name. When one looks out from the windows of the bar, shrubs and trees growing on the stone clad station embankment opposite hide all new developments from view, and one could almost think that the railway was still there ... were it not for the football match being broadcast on Sky Sports and the beer, which is probably a lot better than it used to be in 1966! 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter)

 
Above: I wonder, I wonder ... Although the railway has has been purged substantially from Blandford (a process which was well under way by 1975 when the site was a dusty wasteland with only the platforms remaining), a lot of Victorian buildings survive in the station area. What was this? Railway offices of some sort? Another railway pub? The cream coloured band half way up the front elevation is a clue. If anyone knows the answer – and we do not – please get in touch using the online form on our Contact page. 7th November 2010. (Jeff Vinter) Update: It turns out that this building was indeed a pub, called 'The Railway Inn'; it was situated across from the gates to the goods yard. Our correspondent was able to confirm its former use from a small book he purchased in the Blandford Museum. It looks to us like an old 'Strong of Romsey' house. Readers of a certain age will remember this company's trackside hoardings: 'You're approaching the Strong country', 'You're in the Strong country', etc. (Phil Young)