The originally independent Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway was authorized by an Act of 5 August 1873 to build a railway from a junction at Didcot on the Great Western Railway to a junction near Micheldever on the London & South Western Railway, to be worked in perpetuity by the GWR. The first sod was cut on 26 August 1879. The line opened from Didcot to Newbury of 12 April 1882. Due to lack of co-operation on the part of the L&SWR the plan was emended by an Act of 1883 for the line to run through to Southampton. The line opened to Winchester on 1 May 1885, but the line ran short of money to complete the line to Southampton and an agreement was reached with the L&SWR whereby the DN&SR terminated with a junction with the L&SWR at Shawford. The Winchester to Southampton line was abandoned under an Act of 1889. As part of the Grouping of 1923, the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway was absorbed by the GWR on 27 March 1923. The line was of considerable strategic importance in World War II as a route from the North to Southampton, and between 4 August 1942 and 8 March 1943 the section from Didcot to Woodley, the first station south of Newbury, was doubled, and the remaining passing loops between Woodley and Shawford Junction were lengthened to be able to take 70-wagon goods trains. It is a pity the whole line was not doubled, since the need to exchange tokens made it a much less suitable route for through trains than the Basingstoke Branch. Passenger service between Didcot and Southampton was withdrawn on 7 March 1960, with Didcot to Newbury following on 10 September 1962. Complete closure of the branch came on 4 April 1965.
Map of the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway
One of the earliest photographs of the DN&SR. Ex-Pembroke & Tenby Railway 2-4-0 locomotive No. 3, "Pembroke," built by Sharp, Stewart & Co. in 1872, as GWR No. 1361, hauling the 2.10 p.m. Southampton Docks to Didcot train just north of Winchester Town in 1898