Station Name:AVON LODGE

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 3.11.1862
Location: On the east side of Avon Castle Drive
Company on opening: Ringwood, Christchurch & Bournemouth Railway
Date closed to passengers: 30.9.1935
Date closed completely: 30.9.1935
Company on closing: Southern Railway
Present state: The station building and platform survive as a private residence called 'The Halt'
County: Hampshire
OS Grid Ref: SU137036
Date of visit: Not visited

Notes: The route adopted by the Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth Railway passed through several miles of land owned by Lord Malmesbury who, as a condition of the sale of his land to the railway, required that two private halts be provided: the first to serve his Heron Court residence in Hurn and the second for his tenants and staff at Avon Cottage (which later became "Avon Castle").

The requirement for Avon Lodge Halt was written into the Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth Railway Act 1859 which authorised the line, Section 27 of the Act states: 'That the company shall erect and for ever maintain a lodge at the point where the railway will cross the occupation road numbered 29 on the plans deposited for the purposes of this Act in the parish of Ringwood, being the northern entrance to Avon Cottage, and the owner or occupier for the time being of Avon Cottage shall at all times have the right of exhibiting at that lodge a road signal, being a red flag by day and a red lamp at night, for the purpose of stopping any “ordinary” train to set down or take up passengers; and whenever such signal shall be visible in reasonable time for the purpose, the company shall cause any such ordinary trains to stop at such point, and shall take up and set down passengers accordingly.'

Section 40 of the Act further provided that the tolls charged upon the line should not exceed per mile 2½d. for each first-class passenger, 1¾d. for each second-class, and 1d. for each third-class passenger.

Avon Castle and its private halt were sold to the Turner family on 25 June 1863 for £14,300, and the new owner exercised his right to travel on services running both ways on the line. In March 1872 a dispute arose between the owner and the London and South Western Railway which had introduced a new through-service to Bournemouth from London. The LSWR argued that these new services were not "ordinary services" within the meaning of the 1859 Act. The owner began an action for a declaration that he was entitled to stop the through-services, as well as an injunction restraining the LSWR from refusing to stop the trains. The railway company argued in its defence that to have to stop the fast services at Avon Lodge Halt would render it practically impossible to run express trains on the line, and that passengers travelling on such services were paying the maximum fares.

Giving judgment on 20 January 1874, Sir Charles Hall VC rejected the owner's arguments, stating that, in his opinion, the new fast services were not "trains for the ordinary traffic and purposes of the branch line, and are not what are commonly or properly understood to be ordinary trains, particularly considering that they are substantially faster than the other trains; that they only stop at one of the two stations; that they have been put on to meet and be in connection with fast trains on the main line, and that they materially shorten the through journeys."

Closure of the Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth line was first considered in 1920 due to dwindling passenger numbers. The opening in 1888 of a more direct route to London via New Milton left the Ringwood line as somewhat of a backwater. At the time Avon Lodge was generating some £50 in annual revenue, and neighbouring Hurn was doing little better.

Avon Castle became the seat of the Earl of Egmont from 1912 to 1938, although after 1932 the family saw little use for their private halt as the 11th Earl preferred to spend his time in Canada. This paved the way to the eventually closing of the station in 1935. When the Egmonts disposed of their estate in 1938, it was acquired by a developer who converted Avon Castle first into offices and then to multiple residences, as they remain today.

The site of the station has been redeveloped into the Avon Castle Drive road serving the private estate of the same name which has been constructed in the area. The building was for sale in 2013 for £600,000.

In its early days, Bournemouth was reached by bus from Poole, at the end of a short branch from the Southampton & Dorchester Railway and Christchurch was served by bus from Christchurch Road (later renamed Holmsley), eight miles away. By the late 1850's, the attention of railway promoters had been attracted to development in the district.

In 1859 the Ringwood, Christchurch & Bournemouth Railway Company was incorporated and given powers to build a 7¾ mile single track line along the Avon from Ringwood to Christchurch; this was opened on 13th November 1862 with two intermediate station at Hearne Bridge (later renamed Hearne then Hurn) and at Avon Lodge. At once Christchurch became the railhead for Bournemouth,

In 1863 an act was obtained for a 3½ mile extension to Bournemouth. This was opened on 14th March 1870 to a terminus which later became Bournemouth East. Two intermediate stations were later added at Boscambe (later renamed Pokesdown) in 1886 and Boscambe in 1897.

The line from Ringwood was worked by the London & South Western and amalgamated with it on 1st January 1874. Despite severe grades and curves which were subject to a speed limit of 25 mph, this was now the main line to Bournemouth and served by through coaches detached from the Southampton & Dorchester's Weymouth trains at Ringwood where a covered bay platform was evidence of its former importance.

As the resort continued to grow so did the rail connections. A new double track was built from Lymington Junction, a mile west of Brockenhurst on the Southampton & Dorchester line to a point just west of Christchurch Station where a new station was built. The line between Christchurch and Bournemouth was doubled and a new line (The Bournemouth Junction Railway) was built linking the East and West stations. A new through station was provided on this link was opened on 20th June 1885 replacing Bournemouth East which was only ¼ mile to the east.

The opening of the new route in to Bournemouth reduced the distance from Waterloo from 116 miles to 107½ miles and also allowed higher speeds and increased traffic capacity.

The Weymouth and Bournemouth portion of through trains were now divided and joined at Brockenhurst relegating the Ringwood - Christchurch line to a local branch operated by railmotors. With the resulting loss in passenger and freight revenue the line closed completely on 30th September 1935.

Sources: A regional history of the Railways of Great Britain - Volume 2 Southern England
David & Charles 1961

Text from Wikipedia, reproduced under creative commons licence. Tickets from Michael Stewart.

To see the other stations on the Ringwood, Christchurch & Bournemouth Railway click on the station name: Ringwood & Hurn

Avon Lodge station c early 20th century.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

1908 1:2,500 OS map.

Avon Lodge station looking south-west in 2013. The platform can be seen at the edge of the lawn.

Avon Lodge station in 2013.

Avon Lodge station in 2013.




:[Source: Nick Catford]

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