STRATTON DORSET
   
             
    THE RAILWAY THROUGH STRATTON    
         
 
On Thursday 27th August 1846, Mrs. Marcia Maria Sheridan, wife of Mr. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Whig Member of Parliament for Shaftesbury between 1845 and 1852, whose home was at nearby Frampton Court, laid the foundation stone of the structure that we now call Grimstone Viaduct using a silver trowel. When Marcia laid the stone, the viaduct was going to be called Frampton Viaduct.
 
 
   
  Grimstone Viaduct  
 
 
The Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway Company had obtained an Act of Parliament on 30th June 1845, to build a broad gauge (7’ ¼”) railway line from Thingley, near Chippenham to Salisbury, with branch lines to Bradford-on-Avon, Devizes, Sherborne, and Weymouth, and a coal branch to Radstock.
 
 
The laying of the foundation stone was reported in the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, as a “complete gala day” with “a grand procession” and a “band [that] played lively airs”. Speeches were made by Sir John Awdry, Bart., representing the railway company Directors, and Mr. Richard Sheridan.
 
 
Sir John spoke of “assuring all present that it was the view of the Company that this part of the country should be benefitted by the present line”, adding that “It would give to this part of the country a free communication with Bath and Bristol” and provide “the nearest approach to London”.
 
 
He said that there were “two advantages, from the broad gauge, of safety and stability. They had greater safety, from the breadth of base, as it must be obvious to those who were not acquainted with the science of engineering, that superiority of power must be the result of bulk.” and that the gauge “had speed, not as opposed to safety.”
 
 
Sir John continued, and “in referring to Weymouth and Portland, said, for the starting and return of ships, it would be the most efficient port in England. The importance of the connection of a line of railway with such a port must be self-evident.”
 
 
After Mr. Sheridan had responded, Sir John added that “some delay had unavoidably occurred in prosecuting the works of this Railway; now, however, progress would be made with all possible speed, and no doubt many present had observed the active operations going on at different points. Several additional contracts had been made; the Company had received the ready assistance of the landowners generally on the line, and had to thank Mr. Sheridan and other gentlemen for their co-operation. He had no doubt that the line would be speedily completed, and he hoped satisfactorily.”
 
 
There were many toasts made as “a most agreeable afternoon was passed.”
 
 
The Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway Company opened its first section of track between Thingley and Westbury on 5th September 1848. The Company was finding securing funding extremely difficult and further construction was halted. Only the large established railway companies with an income could raise money. The Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway Company Directors decided in October 1849 to sell their line to the Great Western Railway. The transfer took place on 14th March 1850 and an Act of Parliament dated 3rd July 1851 confirmed the dissolution of the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway Company.
 
 
In order to stimulate local interest and generate capital, the Great Western Railway created a Frome, Yeovil and Weymouth Railway Company which was authorised by an Act of Parliament on 30th June 1852 to complete the route. Its capital was £550,000 with permitted borrowing of £183,000. The company failed and was dissolved having achieved nothing.
 
 
It was not until 20th January 1857 that a Great Western Railway single broad gauge track passed through Stratton, when the line between Yeovil & Weymouth was opened. The railway station was called Frampton Station until July 1857 when it the name changed to Grimstone Station and in July 1858 it was renamed again as Grimstone and Frampton Station.
 
 
 
 
On Tuesday 17th February 1857 an accident occurred at Frampton Station. A Board of Trade report recorded that "As the 12.30pm up express train, from Weymouth to London, consisting of a tank engine and three carriages, was passing round a curve of 34 chains radius, on which Frampton Station is situated, on a rising gradient of 1 in 133, the engine mounted the rails and ran off to the left, dragging the carriages after it. The line curves to the right at this place, and the engine, after running some short distance, came in contact with the longitudinal sleepers of the siding, and diverged to the right. It then continued its course between the main line and the siding, which are situated on an embankment of about 40 feet in height at one side, until it stopped 60 or 70 yards from the spot at which it mounted the rails, after having broken several of the transoms on the main line."
 
 
The Western Gazette of Friday 29th March 1867 reported, "GRIMSTONE - A slight delay was occasioned on the railway on Friday last, by the breaking of one of the piston rods of the engine, whilst the train leaving Dorchester at 9.17 a.m. was proceeding towards Grimstone. A second engine was procured from Weymouth, and the train was enabled to proceed after a delay of about an hour and a half."
 
 
Between 18th & 22nd June 1874 the track was converted to standard gauge (4' 8½").
 
 
The Post Office Directory of Dorsetshire 1875 shows Richard Tucker as the Railway Station Master at Grimstone. He was born at Colyton, Devon in 1836. Richard and his wife, Susanna, had four children; Abigail, John, Selina and William. They had lived locally since 1871. Throughout, records show him as an employee of the Great Western Railway Company and he was still employed as Station Master at Grimstone in 1901.
 
 
Doubling of the track from Yeovil reached Grimstone & Frampton Station in 1884 and Dorchester in 1885.
 
 
The Railway Times and Joint-Stock Chronicle journal carried an advertisiement on Saturday 8th March 1884 which read "GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY - The Directors of this Company are prepared to receive TENDERS for the LABOUR REQUIRED in BUILDING in MASONRYand FIXING GIRDERS in TWO BRIDGES on the Railway, near the Grimstone Station, Dorsetshire. Plans and Specification may be seen, and Forms of Tender and Bills of Quantities obtained, at the Office of the Engineer, at the Reading Station. Tenders, addressed to the undersigned, and marked outside "Tender for Bridges near Grimstone." will be received on or before Tuesday , the 18th instant. The Directors do not bind themselves to accept the lowest or any Tender. FRED. G. SAUNDERS, Secretary, Paddington Station, London, 1st March 1884."
 
 
The names and positions of some of the Great Western Railway Company staff employed at Grimstone Station between 1898 and 1905 were: -
 
 
 
NAME POSITION MOVED TO GRIMSTONE FROM LEFT GRIMSTONE FOR
Percival W L Brayley
Signalman
/
Puxton - January 1899
A J Ricketts
Porter
Stratton - March 1898
Bruton - May 1899
John L Bray
Signalman
Bristol Temple Meads - December 1898
Axbridge - November 1899
R P Davis
Signal Porter
Castle Cary - May 1899
Mells Road - August 1899
William H Cossens
Signal Porter
Weymouth - August 1899
Wells - April 1900
Edward Samuel Hillman
Signalman
Pensfold - October 1899
Clifton Bridge - May 1900
H Lindsey
/
Wootton Bassett - April 1900
Mells Road - May 1901
F J Husbands
Signalman
Castle Cary - April 1900
Resigned - October 1900
F Ayres
Signalman
Pill - August 1900
Yeovil Pen Mill - February 1901
Russell B Davis
Signalman
Westbury Junction - February 1901
Yeovil Pen Mill - June 1901
P Hopkins
Porter
/
Mells Road - August 1902
Albert H Chaplin
Signalman
Pilning - June 1901
Bedminster - August 1901
E G Wootten
Signalman
Clifton Bridge - August 1901
Hammersmith - February 1902
H J S Winter
Signalman
Pensfold - February 1902
Portland - August 1902
H Lindsey
Signal Porter
Mells Road - September 1902
Westbury - May 1903
William G Harding
Signalman
Portland - October 1902
Keynsham - May 1903
William H Govier
Signalman
Bampton - April 1903
Little Somerford - August 1903
H Howland
Signal Porter
Dorchester - May 1903
Radstock - November 1903
Ernest E Jakeways
Signalman
Cheddar - August 1903
Flax Bourton - December 1903
T Willmot
Signal Porter
Evershot - October 1903
Freshford - April 1904
F Warfield
Signalman
Wilton - November 1903
Dauntsey (Temporary) - March 1904
Wiliam H Cossens
Signalman
Wells - March 1904
Wishford - /
C R Cruse
Signal Porter
Freshford - April 1904
Wells - /
Ernest R Lathey
Signalman
Wishford - /
Bridport - January 1905
S Wootten
Signal Porter
Pill - January 1905
Upwey - July 1905
W Lambourne
Signal Porter
Saltford - /
Evershot - October 1905
Edwin R G Summers
Signal Porter
Weymouth - June 1905
/
J Boyles
Signalman
Brent Knoll - March 1905
/
 
 
  The names and positions of some of the Great Western Railway Company staff employed at Stratton Station between 1898 and 1905 were: -  
 
 
NAME POSITION MOVED TO STRATTON FROM LEFT STRATTON FOR
A J Ricketts
Porter
/
Grimstone - March 1898
G Winterson
Porter
Witham - March 1898
Wootton Bassett - October 1898
J Alder
Porter
/
Stanton - December 1898
F Parkin
Porter
Stanton - October 1898
Upwey - June 1900
J D Wynn
Porter
Stanton - June 1900
Sparkford - September 1900
William R Bessent
Station Master
/
Sparkford - July 1900
W Gluning
Station Master
Corsham - July 1900
Bridport West Bay - October 1901
S Wootton
Porter
Stanton - September 1900
Corsham - June 1901
William W Harris
Porter
Stanton - June 1901
Sway - June 1902
J Churchill
Station Master
Bridport West Bay - October 1901
Toller - July 1905
R B Spurle
Porter
/
Westbury - May 1904
W W Hendy
Porter
Brinkworth - May 1904
/
A G Hacker
Porter
/
/
Herbert S Hill
Station Master
Toller - July 1905
/
 
 
Map showing Grimstone Station and Viaduct (towards the top of the map) 1902
 

The Grimstone Signal Box (S.B. on the map) was 4 miles 6 chains from the Maiden Newton Signal Box, and 3 miles 77 chains from the Dorchester Station Signal Box. The Grimstone Signal Box was manned from 9:00am to 5:00pm on all days except Sundays, when it was unmanned throughout.

 
  Examples of the 1911 Great Western Railway Time Table: -  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A fatal accident occurred on Saturday 16th May 1914 at Grimstone and Frampton Station. A watercress seller named Carter made it his usual practice to collect watercress from Sydling Water and sell it in Dorchester.
 
 
The Western Gazette of Friday 22nd May 1914 reported, "FATALITY ON THE RAILWAY. WATERCRESS GATHERER RUN OVER - On Saturday afternoon a shocking fatality occurred on the railway at Grimstone, a watercress gatherer named Carter being run over and killed instantaneously. It is not known to what town the man belonged, but he had been known in the district of Dorchester for the past two years, and had lodged at the Mason's Arms, Dorchester. On Saturday afternoon he ventured to cross the railway line at Grimstone Station, but he had not got clear of the rails befor e the 4.30 boat express from Weymouth dashed up and knocked him down. The express was stopped, but Carter was found to be sadly cut about, and dead. Both feet and one of his hands had been cut off, and there were injuries to the head, which in themselves accounted for death. - An inquest was hld at the Stratton Institute on Monday afternoon before the Coroner, Mr. G. P. Symes. The G. W. Railway Company was represented by Mr. W. Boyles, chief inspector, Bristol, and Mr. R. H. Smith, locomotive foreman, Weymouth. The proceedings were watched on behalf of the police by Superintendent King. - Tom Cole, residing at the Mason's Arms, Dorchester, said he had known the deceased five or six years, formerly at Bridport, and during the last two years at Dorchester. Witness never knew the deceased's Christian name. He was about 50 years of age, and witness had heard him say that he had a sisterat Ealing, near London. His hearing and sight always appeared good. Thomas Charles Holding [The Gazette added an 'H'; the correct surname is Olding], station master at Grimstone and Frampton Station, said he saw deceased on the platform on Saturday afternoon, and then he went into the office. He heard the 4.30 express from Weymouth run tghrough the station at 4.57. He heard the whistle twice, and this was quite usual, but then someone on the platform said that something was wrong up the line. In about 60 yards from the crossing he saw that the train had stopped and that the body of the deaceased was lying in the four-foot way. [The central area between the tracks]. When he got to it he found that life was extinct. The body was much mutilated. - Albert Clifton Webb, of Reading, the driver of the 4.30 boat train from Weymouth, stated that as he ran into Grimstone Station he blew his whistle on coming round the curve. He saw a man on the farther slope of the platform. The man looked towards the train, made two or three steps forward and then he stepped back. The velocity of the train would be about 40 miles an hour. His mate told him they had run a man down and witness stopped the train. - Albert Geo. Hutchings, fireman, on the express, stated that after the deceased had stepped back he walked forward again, straight in front of the engine, when it was only about 20 yards away. Witness was certain the man saw the engine and it looked like a deliberate act on his part. There was nobody else about at the time. - Mr. Boyles stated that the train was pulled up 160 yards from the end of the platform. - The Coroner : The engine driver must have got the brakes on pretty quickly then, going at 40 miles an hour. - Mr Boyles : There is a bank at this point. - P.C. Arnold stated that the decaesed had been knocking about the village since about 11 o'clock in the morning. The sum of 3s 1d was found upon him. - Several of the jury who had personal knowledge of the deceased said they did not think he deliberately committed suicide, as he was of too cheerful a disposition. - The jury returned a verdict thatthe decaesed had met his death by being accidentally knocked down by a railway train, that there was no evidence to show how he came upon the line, and that death was as a result of misadventure."
 
 
Additional information records that Carter arrived at the station at 4:40pm apparently intending to travel to Dorchester on the 5:12pm train, and that he left his empty baskets on the down platform and crossed to the up platform using the footbridge. It appeared that he had not gathered watercress that day nor that he had forwarded any to Dorchester as he had apparently earlier claimed. The express train continued its journey after an eleven minute delay. Carter’s first name was not known although a postcard was found bearing the initial F. His age was also unknown although he was believed to be about fifty. It was thought that he had a sister in Ealing.
 
 
Carter was buried in Stratton churchyard on Tuesday 19th May 1914. The Parish Register records the event:  F. Carter  50  Killed at Grimstone Station. The burial was conducted by Ernest B. Lock.
 
 
 
 
  Stratton Parish Register  
 
 
 
In 1927 the Station Master at Grimstone & Frampton Station was Frederick Bunce.
 
 
Bradford Peverell & Stratton Halt was first constructed of wood. It opened on 22nd May 1933.
 
 
The Western Gazette of Friday 3rd February 1939 reported, “DORCHESTER MAN KILLED BY DIESEL TRAIN – MISADVENTURE VERDICT A verdict of ‘Death by misadventure’ was returned at the inquest at the Dorset County Hospital on Monday of James King, aged 64, of 34, St. Georges-road, Dorchester, who met his death on Thursday when he was knocked down by the diesel train at Grimstone.
 
 
Colonel G. G. H. Symes, coroner for South Dorset conducted the enquiry, assisted by a jury. Mr A. Frosdick, district inspector, of Yeovil, represented Mr. R. G. Pole, the G.W.R. divisional superintendent, while Mr. W. P. Fisher, secretary of the Eddison Steam Roller Co., the deceased’s employers, and Mr. W. J. Snook, the locomotive foreman, of Weymouth, also attended.
 
 
P.C. Best, of Frampton, gave evidence that at 5.45 p.m. on Thursday, with Sergeant Conway, he went to the G.W.R. station at Grimstone. Close to the signal on the Weymouth side of the down line he found a man’s hat (produced) between the metals. “I saw where something had been dragged in the snow,” he said, “I saw traces of blood along the down line and on the cross-over lines, 160 feet to the south of the signal, I saw the mutilated body of a man.” The body was conveyed to the mortuary at the County Hospital.
 
 
Alfred John King identified the hat and other objects as belonging to his father who was a steam-roller driver. He had been working at Grimstone for about a fortnight, but this week he had travelled backwards and forwards every day. He caught the 5.25 p.m. back at night.
 
 
James Edward George Fox, of the Forge, Frampton, a porter at Frampton station, said he had seen the deceased that week as he caught the motor at 5.25. About twenty minutes past five that night he heard the Diesel come through Grimstone tunnel. It blew the clarion. Witness said this could be heard for two miles. Five minutes after the Diesel had gone through the station the driver came back and said he thought he had knocked someone down. They searched the line and found the deceased.
 
 
The Coroner : Have you got any view as to how he got on the line? – Witness : He did not come up the right road to the station.
 
 
How did he come to be crossing the line where he did? – I take it he must have come across a field near the Royal Yeoman and instead of turning right to cross by the footbridge he went down by the signal-box to step across the metals. – In answer to a juryman witness said there was a strong north wing blowing at the time, and it was possible that the deceased would have his head down.  Although he was an intending passenger with a ticket the deceased was a trespasser at the time of the accident, as he was on a part of the Company property on which he was not allowed.
 
 
The Coroner : He may have thought the Diesel was the motor and it was going to stop at the station. It might have crossed his mind that was so.
 
 
CORONER’S THEORY The driver of the Diesel, John William House, of 10, Argyle-road, Weymouth, said he was four minutes late leaving Maiden Newton, and he passed through Grimstone at 5.20. The motor-train, which stopped there, was following him. He sounded the clarions and as he reached the end of the platform he noticed something approaching him on the right-hand side. “I felt the car hit something and I pulled up as quickly as I could.” He said. “I walked back over the line and found the mutilated body of a man.” The accident was over too quickly for him to form an opinion of what the man was doing on the line. – Frederick Albert Wellspring, of Sydling, a roadman, said he saw the deceased a few minutes before five and he appeared perfectly well and cheerful.
 
 
The Coroner said he did not propose to call the medical evidence because it was clear that the man had been killed by the Diesel. He could not say so, but it was possible he did not recognise the Diesel and thought it was the motor which would stop and he therefore stepped across the line. The Coroner said that for the purposes of the Home Office return the jury would find that at the time of the accident King was a trespasser on the line. The jury’s verdict was as stated, and the Coroner expressed his deep sympathy with the family in their bereavement, which was endorsed by Mr. Frosdick. – On behalf of the Eddison Steam Roller Company Mr. Fisher also expressed sympathy with the family, and said, “Mr. King has been in our employ for over 40 years, and by his death we have lost a valued servant.””
 
 
Nationalisation of the railways on 1st January 1948 saw the line become part of British Railways Western Region.
 
 
Grimstone & Frampton Station looking towards Stratton
 
 
The Western Gazette of Friday 10th June 1949 reported,“RETIREMENT OF STATION-MASTER After forty-seven years’ service with the Great Western Railway Mr. W. Samways is retiring on June 11th from the post of Stationmaster at Grimstone and Frampton. A member of a well-known Dorset family, the whole of his railway career has been spent at stations in his native county. Joining the Great Western Railway at Bridport General Station, in 1902, he held the posts of yard checker and goods guard, eventually being appointed station foreman. Leaving the town on promotion, he served five years as Stationmaster at Toller, and in 1935 took up a similar appointment at Grimstone and Frampton. He will not be leaving his old home. Mr. Woodward, Stationmaster at Toller, succeeds Mr. Samways at Grimstone.”
 
 
In 1950 the line transferred to British Railways Southern Region.
 
 
 
 
  Grimstone & Frampton Station c1950 looking towards Maiden Newton  
 
  Bradford Peverell & Stratton Halt was rebuilt using concrete in 1959.  
 
Bradford Peverell & Stratton Halt (photo taken between 1959 & 1966) looking towards Dorchester
 
Bradford Peverell & Stratton Halt (photo taken between 1959 & 1966) looking towards Dorchester
 
  The Goods Yard at Grimstone & Frampton Station closed on 1st May 1961.  
  In 1962 the line returned to British Railways Western Region.  
  In August 1964 the British Railways Board announced its intention to withdraw passenger services from Grimstone & Frampton Station, and Bradford Peverell & Stratton Halt.  
 
 
 
 
 
Cardboard tickets were issued for passenger journeys. A day-return ticket from Bradford Peverell and Stratton Halt to Dorchester West cost 1/- (5p) on Friday 21st August 1964.
 
 
 
  Staff at Grimstone & Frampton Station were withdrawn on 11th April 1966.  
  Grimstone & Frampton Station, and Bradford Peverell & Stratton Halt both closed on 3rd October 1966.  
  The buildings of Grimstone & Frampton Station were demolished in 1967.  
  On 9th June 1968 the route between Yeovil & Dorchester reverted to single track working.  
 
   
  Bradford Peverell & Stratton Halt 1987  
 
 
At Ash Hill the railway line passes over the A37, Dorchester to Yeovil road, which, at this point, is a dual carriageway. The southernmost bridge (the carriageway towards Yeovil) also crosses the Wrackle, a winterbourne stream.
 
 
   
  The railway bridge crossing the A37 road at Ash Hill.  
 
 
Five Public Footpaths pass either beneath or across the railway line in the parish. Two of these also provide vehicular access to farm buildings. From East (the Dorchester direction) to West (the Yeovil direction) they are: -
 
 
   
  Public Footpath at Stratton Dairy  
 
   
  The most easterly track-level Public Footpath crossing  
 
Public Footpath and vehicular crossing to New Farm Buildings
 
   
  The most westerly track-level Public Footpath crossing  
 
   
  Public Footpath Bridge over the railway track at Grimstone  
 
 
Occasionally the line sees unusual (for Stratton) visitors: -
 
 
   
  Battle of Britain class 34067 Tangmere - 28th August 2011  
 
   
  15th July 2017 - Can you tell me what type of unit this is? - strattondorset@btinternet.com  
 
 
From time-to-time the notion of pursuing the reopening of Bradford Peverell & Stratton Halt has been considered. The Dorset Echo of 27th January 2009, reporting on a Stratton Parish Council meeting of Tuesday 13th January 2009 carried a paragraph that read " STRATTON Railway Halt. Cllrs T Hughes and J Grocott reported that the condition of the station was very overgrown, but generally considered to be in good condition and it was recommended that the Council pursue this matter. The clerk is to contact Oliver Letwin MP after Cllr J Grocott contacts Network Rail to obtain permission to enter the site. If this is forthcoming a feasibility group will be set up."
 
 
   
  Bradford Peverell & Stratton Halt 2017  
 
Ice on the remains of the 'down' platform at the site of Grimstone & Frampton Station - January 2021
 
 
The track passes over two other structures within the parish. A disused brick-built animal pass, enabling sheep and cattle to be moved from one side of the track to the other, is situated between the most westerly Public Footpath crossing and Grimstone.
 
 
Animal Pass - January 2021
 
 
A substantial culvert takes the Sydling Water under the railway embankment and the A37, Dorchester to Yeovil road.
 
 
  The culvert on the Sydling side of the railway track - February 2021  
 
The culvert on the Grimstone side of the railway track and A37 - February 2021
 
 
In 2021 trains pass through the parish on their journeys between Dorchester and Weymouth to the south and Yeovil, Bath, Bristol, and Gloucester to the north.
 
 
   
  The 13:11 Weymouth to Gloucester train passing Stratton at 13:29 on Wednesday 9th September 2020.
Can you tell me what type of unit this is? - strattondorset@btinternet.com

 
 
 
The photo (above) was taken from a safe position behind a fence and closed gate. Regrettably fatalities continue to take place on the railway in the parish. The last was in March 2020. Heed the advice of the signs at the crossings. STOP. LOOK. LISTEN. BEWARE OF TRAINS.
 
 
   
 
     
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