John Speller's Web Pages Castleman's Corkscrew

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Charles Castleman (1807-1876) was a Wimborne Minster solicitor who was the chief promoter of the Southampton & Dorchester Railway. Captain William Moorsom was appointed Engineer and presented his report on 18 July 1844. As with the West Cornwall Railway and other lines he engineered Moorsom went primarily for cheapness, and the route he proposed from Southampton via Redbridge, Brockenhurst, Ringwood, Wimborne and Wareham to Dorchester was so circuitous that it has ever afterwards borne the nickname "Castleman's Corkscrew." The line would rely upon the Great Western Railway for access from Dorchester and Weymouth, and the stage was set for an unholy battle between the London & South Western Railway and the Great Western. The Great Western would have liked the line as an independent, albeit circuitous, broad gauge line to Southampton, while the London & South Western and its narrow gauge allies wished to keep the GWR out. In the end the LSWR emerged victorious in Parliament, and the GWR was forced to lay down mixed gauge between Dorchester and Weymouth and give the Southampton & Dorchester running powers. Rather curiously the Southampton & Dorchester was also forced to lay down mixed gauge and give the GWR running rights 8 miles east of Dorchester. The reasons for this are not entirely clear -- it may just have been tit for tat, or the GWR may have intended building a line from this point. The line was incorporated by an Act of 21 July 1845 with an authorized capital of 500,000 and was to be worked by the LSWR. The public opening had been planned for 1 June 1847, but following the collapse of a tunnel at the Southampton end of the line did not actually take place until 6 August 1847. Almost immediately afterwards, on 20 September 1847, there was a serious collision at Wool, though fortunately without any fatalities, which was a great embarrassment to the railway's management, and they promised to install the electric telegraph by the end of the year. The Southampton & Dorchester merged with the LSWR by an Act of 22 July 1878. Mr. Castleman later became successively a Director, Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the LSWR. The line became part of the Southern Railway on 1 January 1923, and British Railways on 1 January 1948.
Map of the Southampton & Dorchester Railway
Charles Castleman (1807-1876)
Brockenhurst station in a postcard view of 1906
The signalbox and level crossing at Wool. Image Copyright Roger Templeman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
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