The 60½-mile-long single-track Southampton & Dorchester Railway (S&DR) was opened to public traffic on 1st June 1847, the line assuming a rather circuitous course via Wimborne in Dorset. Through traffic between Nine Elms and Dorchester commenced later, on 29th of the following month, and these trains initially had to endure a reversing manoeuvre into what eventually became known as "Southampton Terminus" station.
In The Dorset County Chronicle and Somersetshire Gazette on 20th May 1847, a test trip along the S&DR, prior to opening, was recounted:
SOUTHAMPTON AND DORCHESTER RAILWAY
The following sketch of the experimental trip, on Saturday — which is further noticed in our fourth page — was taken by a gentleman who was among the travellers over the whole line : —
"The train, consisting of three carriages, and some trucks laden with furniture for the several stations, started from the Blichynden-street station, Southampton, at 8 o’clock in the morning; and for the first three miles we ran along the banks of Southampton-water. A very agreeable view of the opposite shores and the New Forest in the distance is here afforded. At Redbridge station we entered upon a single line of rails running over a carved viaduct of wood of considerable length, crossing the head of Southampton-water; and passing onwards through the village of Totton and a well cultivated, gently undulating country, we entered, on the seventh mile from Southampton, the New Forest — the ancient hunting-ground of the Plantagenete — and stopped at the Lyndhurst station."
There was no mention of a station at Totton — although the actual village was referred to — but platforms were evident at Redbridge and Lyndhurst (Road) from the outset. In fact, it has been difficult to track down an exact date on which today’s Totton station was brought into use. Within a notice posted in The Hampshire Advertiser on Saturday, 16th February 1856, there is mention of an "Eling Junction Station". Eling Junction was the point of divergence of a single-track goods-only branch line, ⅔-mile west of Redbridge. This branch, and that to Lymington, had been submitted to Parliament in 1847 as part of the same Bill which also stipulated the amalgamation of the S&DR with the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR). The junction was situated at the western end of today’s Totton station — was the Eling Junction station mentioned in the 1856 article perhaps west of the point of divergence, or actually where the present-day platforms are?
Click the above for a larger version.
© David Glasspool
In The Hampshire Advertiser on Saturday, 26th March 1860, it was reported that the LSWR was contemplating closing Redbridge station and replacing it with one at Totton:
These movements of the [London, Brighton &] South-Coast Company are likely to lead to a slashing competition, as we understand that the London and South-Western directors have an intention to reduce their fares to a considerable extent. They [the LSWR] also contemplate the substitution of the Totton station on the Southampton and Dorchester line for that at present in use at Redbridge. The inhabitants of Redbridge have memorialised the Board of Trade on the subject, praying their Lordships to prevent such an alteration for the obvious reason that, independent of the inconvenience which would be occasioned if the residents near the present Redbridge station were compelled to go to Totton, a step so objectionable as that threatened would increase their mileage to Southampton. The removal of the Redbridge station is unquestionably meant as a feeble blow at the Andover and Redbridge line, to prevent its use to the new company. We believe, however, that the latter have ample powers in their bill to secure the use of this station; and if so, the inhabitants of Redbridge need be under little apprehension. The general meeting of the Andover and Redbridge Railway Company is fixed for next week, and we may hear something further in the subject.
At the time, the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) had started to compete for the LSWR’s Southampton traffic. The LB&SCR had started running services between London and Portsmouth that took two hours and fifteen minutes in duration, linking with steam boats and omnibuses provided by the same company for journeys to and from the Isle of Wight. The LB&SCR was, at that time, also planning a fast steamer service to link Southampton with Portsmouth, the latter being where passengers could connect with that company’s London services. The promise of cheaper fares than the LSWR between the South Coast and capital aimed to attract passengers to the LB&SCR’s route. That seemingly not being enough to worry the LSWR, the independent Andover and Redbridge Railway was approaching from the north via Romsey and, to prevent that company using the former’s station at Redbridge, it was speculated that it would be closed completely and passenger traffic diverted to Totton. Was Totton an operational station at this stage, or just proposed? In The Hampshire Advertiser on Saturday, 14th May 1859, a "to let" classified advert mentioned a property in Testwood Lane, Eling, "near to the new Totton Station of the Dorchester Railway". So, perhaps the history of today’s Totton station starts in the first half of 1859.
3rd March 1965
The signal box and footbridge over the running lines adjacent to the level crossing at Junction Road can be seen in the distance of this westward view from the "up" platform, depicting "N" Class No. 31816 with "Guildford" scrawled on the tender. The siding seen diverging to the right and disappearing behind the "up" platform terminated about 50-feet from the main building. SR concrete fencing and a barley-twist lamppost with "Target" name sign are in evidence on the platform.
© David Glasspool Collection
At Totton, two curved platforms were situated either side of a double track, which had been upgraded from the original single line in 1857. The main station building was located on the "up" (London-bound) platform and was red brick in construction; the design was fundamentally gothic, on par with those structures built on the LSWR’s line between Yeovil Junction and Exeter in 1859-1860 (albeit a smaller version), suggesting it was a product of architect William Tite. A timber canopy with plain valance and sloping roof, complete with wooden windbreaks, was attached to the main building. The "down" platform was equipped with a canopy comprising a shallow pitched roof and cast-iron stanchions, underneath which existed enclosed timber-walled waiting accommodation. From the outset, passengers moved between the platforms using a level crossing situated at the London end of the station.
Sidings were mainly concentrated to the west of the station, a sprawl of tracks developing around Eling Junction and beyond, where a goods yard was established. Many of these tracks were laid during the site’s expansion in 1885:
RAILWAY IMPROVEMENTS. - Of late several improvements have been carried out at the [Totton] Railway Station here, including the lengthening of the platforms. Sidings have been put in to meet the traffic requirements, including one for the new steam four mill, erected for Mr. Pamplin by Mr. Barter, of Shirley, and now the gates at the level crossing at what was formerly known as Eling Junction are opened and closed from the signal box, this improvement having been commenced. [The Hampshire Advertiser County Newspaper, 26th December 1885]
The above extract provides an indication of when the signal box, situated about 150-yards west of the station and seen in a couple of photographs on this page, came into use. The signal box is rumoured to have started life as a single-storey crossing keeper’s house; the latter was converted into its ultimate form by the addition of a second floor and lever frame. The flour mill mentioned above was situated on the northern side of the tracks, west of the station, and its siding is marked on the track diagram. At this time also existed a second level crossing, located immediately east of the platforms, which was overseen from an adjacent signal cabin position on the "down" side of the line. It is likely that today's footbridge was built as part of the 1885 works: this comprised huge red-brick staircases that were linked by a steel span above the tracks, and was situated at the eastern ends of the platforms.
17th March 1965
The "down" side canopy is just about visible in the background of this eastward view, which shows Bournemouth-bound "U" Class No. 31369. The single track of the Eling Wharf branch is in the foreground and curves off to the right, this of which sprouts the siding behind the "down" platform.
© David Glasspool Collection
Early maps refer to the station as "Totton & Eling", and contemporary photographs showing the platform name boards reflect the same title. In the 7th January 1922 edition of The Hampshire Advertiser County Newspaper, the station was still referred to as "Totton and Eling", and the signal cabin by the junction was called "Eling Box". Perhaps this was not the reality, because other newspapers of the same era call the station plain "Totton" and, by January 1923, the Southern Railway’s own timetables show this shortened version, too. In the same 1922 publication, it was stated that the station’s service in 1871 comprised five trains a day in either direction and, in 1876, there were eight staff. As of 1922, the total number of staff at Totton station had risen to eighteen.
By the mid-1920s, Totton’s two level crossings had become a source of complaint, given that they held up road traffic for prolonged periods (indeed, serious road congestion even back in those days). In 1926, the Southern Railway reportedly sought powers to abolish the level crossings; however, the ultimate solution to the congestion problem was the construction of the "Totton Bypass". This was a 900-yard-long stretch of road that was carried over the top of Southampton Water and passed to the south of Totton. The road passed over Salisbury to Southampton and Southampton to Bournemouth lines and the Eling Tramway. As reported in The Hampshire Advertiser & Southampton Times on Saturday, 25th October 1930, the then new highway opened on Monday 20th of that month. It took four years to build at a cost of nearly £100,000 and, before the end of the year, the SR closed the level crossing and signal box on Station Road (that immediately east of Totton station).
TOTTON LEVEL CROSSINGS
One Soon to be Abolished.
The Divisional Superintendent, Southern Railway, wrote in reply to a complaint from the Council that it was hoped to make a very material improvement at the Junction-road crossing in the near future.
With regard to the crossing at Station-road it should not be many weeks before this was abolished. Any repairs, however, of an urgent nature would be attended to. [The Hampshire Advertiser & Southampton Times, 18th October 1930]
The level crossing which remained at Junction Road, west of the station, continued to be a point of contention between the SR and locals. The complaint of residents was that the crossing gates stayed closed against the road for too long. A bridge could not be built over the tracks at this point, but the question was raised if one could be constructed elsewhere. The Totton Ratepayers Association suggested that a bridge would be too costly and that the best course of action would be to approach the Southern Railway to ask for the duration of the gates being closed to be reduced (ref: The Hampshire Advertiser & Southampton Times, 9th July 1938).
Brief mention should also be made of the branch line to Fawley. This was a single-track branch line, nine miles in length, which made a facing connection with the "down" running line ⅔-miles west of the level crossing at Junction Road. The railway cost £250,000 (£15,170,000 at 2021 prices) to build and was originally known as the Totton, Hythe, and Fawley Light Railway. It ran largely parallel with Southampton Water, and opening to public traffic occurred on Monday, 20th July 1925, with stations provided at Marchwood, Hythe, and Fawley.
25th March 1967
USA Tank No. 30064 is seen at Totton after arrival from the Fawley branch with the Manchester Rail Travel Society’s "Hants and Dorset Branch Flyer". The train had originated from Southampton Central, and No. 80151 would take the carriages back in the western direction to Brockenhurst. The main building here has shades of the larger LSWR station structures erected between Yeovil and Exeter during the same period; it must surely be the work of architect William Tite. The third rail is in place; steam had little over three months left in service between Waterloo and Weymouth.
© David Glasspool Collection
Level crossings aside, the Southern Railway made some cosmetic alterations at Totton, which included rebuilding the platform faces from brick to prefabricated concrete, and using the latter material to construct fencing for the rears of the platforms. As standard, Swan Neck gas lamps and "Target" name signs came into use on both platforms. Thereafter, it was left to British Railways (BR) to carry out the most significant of changes. Electrification of the Waterloo Main Line from Brookwood to Branksome (Dorset) was completed in 1967, the full accelerated timetable coming into force on 10th July of that year. Totton retained semaphore signals as part of this scheme, but the section of line from there to Brockenhurst (exclusive) was converted to colour light operation. On 2nd of the following October, public goods traffic was withdrawn from Totton (ref: Clinker's Register, 1980), which for long had been handled at a spacious yard remote from the station.
By 1978, the "down" side canopy had gone and been replaced by a rectangular glazed shelter. Next, as part of a resignalling of the Southampton area, signal boxes at Redbridge and Totton were abolished on Sunday, 28th February 1982, and Track Circuit Block working and colour lights introduced, controlled from Eastleigh (ref: British Rail, Southern, South Western Division, Signal Instruction 66 SWD). The level crossing at Totton was supervised thereafter from Eastleigh signal box by closed circuit television. Totton signal box had been completely demolished by 20th March 1982 and the crossings at Jacob's Gutter Lane (on the Fawley branch) and Ashurst that were formerly supervised from there were controlled from Marchwood and Eastleigh respectively. On Sunday, 7th March 1982, the junction with the Fawley branch was moved slightly further west; a new goods loop was also created by extending the headshunt of the existing "down" sidings' headshunt (ref: Branch Line News, Branch Line Society, 1st April 1982). In 1987, a restoration of the main station building was completed, which included spruced up red brickwork and stone edging, a repainted platform canopy, and renewed slate roofing. At this time, the timber structures that were on the western side of the main building were flattened, and new metal platform fencing upon concrete posts was installed.
What of the Totton to Eling Wharf branch? As of 1988, the line served only an aggregate terminal belonging to the Amey Roadstone Corporation (ARC). In the July 1994 edition of The Railway Magazine, a formal closure date of 11th December 1993 is given for the branch. The same publication remarks that the junction points were removed, having been previously been clipped out of use in late December 1991 after regular traffic had ceased.
23rd May 1979
An eastward view of Junction Road level crossing shows the signal box, the lower half of which was rumoured to have been the former crossing keeper’s house. In addition to the crossing here, the automatic half barriers at Jacob’s Gutter Lane (on the Fawley branch) and Ashurst Crossing were supervised from Totton signal box. In the background can be seen the end of the station’s "down" platform, a fine semaphore signal gantry, and the diverging Eling Wharf branch, the latter complete with loading gauge. The siding between the branch and signal box had been lifted by this stage.
© David Glasspool Collection
In 1989, a station by the name of "Totton Parkway" came to light, one of fifteen stops that BR business sector "Network SouthEast" proposed opening between then and 1992 (ref: Branch Line News, Branch Line Society, 7th September 1989). A site near to the closed Ashurst Level Crossing (1½-miles northeast of Ashurst station, then called "Lyndhurst Road") was chosen, and vehicular access to the site was to be via Totton’s Western Bypass. Totton and New Forest District Councils opposed the plans on the grounds of increased congestion (ref: Branch Line News, Branch Line Society, 19th October 1989), which had to be resolved before construction could begin. By January 1990, the site of the new station had been identified as being approximately 300-yards northeast of the former Ashurst level crossing, with about 2.47 acres of land being required for platforms and associated car parking. (ref: Branch Line News, Branch Line Society, 25th January 1990). At the same time, plans to reintroduce passenger services along the "Waterside Line" — the branch to Fawley — were deemed a non-starter.
Hampshire County Council allocated £27,000 for work to start on proposed stations at West Totton (what Totton Parkway was now referred to), Chandlers Ford, Chineham (Basingstoke), Paulsgrove (Portsmouth), and Halterworth (Romsey), which were seen as having the greatest potential of any contenders for local traffic (ref: Branch Line News, Branch Line Society, 2nd November 1991). As it transpired, the plans for all of these stations were dropped, and none were opened by Network SouthEast. A station at Chandlers Ford eventually opened little over a decade later, on 18th May 2003 (ref: The Railway Magazine, August 2003).
26th August 1989
The former goods yard site west of the station, on the "down" side of the line, remained in use as sidings after closure in 1967, and this is still the case today. The set of points in the foreground provided access to a goods loop, created in 1982, which in turn led to the Fawley branch. In this eastward view, Class 47 No. 47818 is seen passing with an InterCity CrossCountry service, possibly from Manchester Piccadilly to Poole.
© David Glasspool Collection