27 October 2021 – Building the Direct Line from Lymington Junction to Christchurch 1884-1888

Presenter: Philip Benstead

A tale of self-interest, optimism, naivety, fraud, bankruptcy, incompetence, arrogance, violent deaths, royalty & religion with congratulations to the non-participants & ignorance of the achievers.

Philip’s presentation covered the technical and political difficulties in creating the line. On the political front the biggest hurdle was getting an Act through Parliament to allow the line to be created. Opposition from landowners and rival railway operators needed to be overcome which led to some restrictive and expensive constructions.

The initial survey for the new line by the LSWR’s Chief Engineer, William Jacomb, was over optimistic and seemingly overlooked the geology of the line, which was clay based, and known locally as “treacle”. As an example, the use of this clay for an embankment – to save money – caused additional expense when Jacomb built it with sides steeper than the natural ‘angle of repose’.

The building of the line cost the lives of 10 Navvies and countless others suffered ‘life changing accidents”, but the landowners, in the locality generally benefitted greatly from the development that the line brought.

The line was completed in 1888 and a lunch for 200 guests was given to mark the event. Nothing was said about the Navvies, who perhaps were the real heroes of the line.

Philip gave us a fascinating and informative talk, which I enjoyed immensely.

The following hyperlink takes the reader to a web page, written by Philip which contains much of the information in the presentation.

Constructing the ‘Direct Line To Bournemouth’ 1883 – 88 | Milton Heritage Society