Those of you who read my post about James and Sons last auction of 2017 will recall that I secured a collection of copies of Acts of Parliament relating to the development of railways. I am now going to provide a little more detail about each item in that collection.
LOT 544 ACT BY ACT
I am going through these documents in the precise order in which I came across them when I photographed them individually on Friday, starting with…
FARNHAM AND ALTON
The section of line this refers to is a branch that diverges from the main line towards Basingstoke and Salisbury at Brookwood, calling at Ash Vale, Aldershot, Farnham, Bentley and Alton. These days there is also a side branch from Aldershot to Ash, Wanborough and Guildford.
This little branch, which is still very much in service today diverges from the main line at Surbiton and has only two further stations, Thames Ditton and Hampton Court. More information about Hampton Court itself can be found here. I cover a potential use for this branch as part of a greater whole in this post.
EGHAM AND CHERTSEY
This branch, which diverges from the Waterloo-Reading route at Virginia Water has stations at Chertsey, Addlestone and Weybridge, the last named of which offers an jinterchange to the main London-Portsmouth route. This branch, still very much in service, is a part of my envisioned London Orbital Railway.
ARRANGEMENTS WITH OTHER RAILWAY COMPANIES
Rather than dealing with specific infrastructure plans this one seeks to provide the London & South Western with powers to make arrangements with other railway companies. The necessity of bills of this nature, and the fact that on many occasions the companies concerned were at such loggerheads with each other as to be chiefly concerned with doing one another down rather than with providing the best possible service hints at serious weaknesses with having railways in private hands.
READING, GUILDFORD AND REIGATE
This is a substantial line, running in fact from Reading to Redhill, one stop beyond Reigate, and these days having a southern spour from Redhill to Gatwick Airport. There are intermediate stations at Earley, Winnersh Triangle, Winnersh, Wokingham, Crowthorne, Sandhurst, Blackwater, Farnborough North, North Camp, Ash, Guildford, Shalford, Chilworth, Gomshall, Dorking West, Dorking Deepdene and Betchworth.
This was a matter of gaining access to a major London terminus. Today London Bridge remains a very major station, with interchanges to London Underground’s Northern and Jubilee lines.
WHITCHURCH, ANDOVER & SALISBURY
This refers to the section of line that heads west from Basingstoke calling at Overton, Whitchurch, Andover, Grateley and Salisbury.
GUILDFORD, FAREHAM AND PORTSMOUTH
This covers half of the line between Portsmouth and Southampton on todays network and the stretch from Portsmouth to Guildford which goes by way of Fratton, Hilsea, Bedhampton, Rowlands Castle, Petersfield, Liss, Liphook, Haslemere, Witley, Milford, Godalming and Farncombe.
RICHMOND TO WINDSOR
Both the Hounslow loop and the line to Windsor are still very much part of the network. This is one of two lines to Windsor, the other of which runs as a shuttle service between Slough and Windsor. These two branches which currently have terminuses so close together feature in a scheme I have in mind for the District line.
STAINES TO WOKING AND WOKINGHAM
These days there is no direct connection from Staines to Woking. The other route, with stations at Egham, Virginia Water, Longcross, Sunningdale, Martins Heron and joining the western end of the Reading and Reigate line referred to earlier at Wokingham. When I attended Richmond Upon Thames I sometimes used trains travellingf this route because they used to go non-stop between Richmond and Clapham Junction. In those distant days the rolling stock had doors that had to be opened and closed by hand – no push buttons on that line, and it needed either considerable care or a willingness to make a very loud bang to be sure that the doors actually were closed.
WIMBLEDON TO CROYDON
This little line is now the northern spur of London Tramlink. For more detail on this line and its possible role in a wider scheme go here.
This can be though of as tying up a loose end, and the arrangements still hold to this day.
HAVANT TO GODALMING
This line comprises the majority of the main line between London and Portsmouth, and still fucntions today pretty much as it did then (save for South West Trains’ continuing problems with reliability and punctuality).
SALISBURY TO YEOVIL
This little section, which from Salisbury calls at Tisbury, Gillingham, Templecombe, Sherborne and Yeovil Junction was conceived as a useful link. Yeovil has two stations, Yeovil Junction and Yeovil Pen Mill which are so close together as to be considered effectively an interchange.
YEOVIL TO EXETER
A short western extension, which is still in use today, with stations at Crewkerne, Axminster, Honiton, Feniton, Whimple, Pridhoe, St James Park, Exeter Central and Exeter St Davids.
BRANCH TO CAMBRIDGE TOWN
No misprints here – what was then known as Cambridge Town, Surrey is now called Camberley, and this branch, which diverges from the line to Reading at Ascot and calls at Bagshot, Camberley and Frimley (well known to those who enjoy darts) before joining the Aldershot line at Ash Vale, is still very much functioning.
SUSSEX AND SURREY
The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway clearing the way for future developments in Sussex and Surrey, many fo which came to fruition and are still in service, and some of which fell beneath the Beeching axe in the 1960s.
The London and South Western getting the go-ahead for expansionism.
BASINGSTOKE TO NEWBURY
There is these days no direct connection between Basingstoke and Newbury. The mentions of Tooting, Merton and Wimbledon are of interest to me as this is the part of the world I grew up in. The station referred to as Lower Merton is nowadays called Haydons Road. All of Tooting, Merton and Wimbledon nowadays have London Underground stations serving them as well – the District reached Wimbledon in 1869, while Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon (which between them cover Tooting and Merton) were all opened in 1926 when the Northern line was extended southwards from Clapham Common to Morden.
Purely about improving access, and having travelled that way many times over the years I can tell you that the track widening referred to did take place. There are still regular services from Bournemouth and Poole up to the Midlands, as well as between London and Weymouth.
Something of a ‘portmanteau’ act – covering operations in a vast area and relating to many different sections of railway. Over 2,100 years ago a Roman consul named Titus Didius recognised the undesirability of unrelated matters being tacked together in big unwieldy pieces of legislation and outlawed the practice – an aspect of Roman law that we would have been well advised to incorporate into our own laws.