Passenger Stations serving Southampton Docks

[Source: Dave Marden]


Southampton’s White Star Dock (later Ocean Dock) was constructed between 1908 – 1911 by the then dock owners LSWR. Passenger and cargo transit sheds were built on both sides of the dock to accommodate the vessels of the White Star line. The sheds had rail access with pedestrian viewing galleries along the seaward roof frontages.

The terminal building at 46 berth with nearby bomb damage, and the old sheds at 43/4 before the Ocean Terminal was built in 1950.
Photo from Dave Marden collection

A brochure issued at the opening of the 'new' Ocean Terminal on 1 July 1950.

The dock was first used in June 1911 and perhaps the most famous of the terminals was at berths 43/4, originally two separate sheds, and the departure point for the ill fated Titanic in 1912.

Ocean Terminal nearing completion in 1950.

After WWII the prestigious ocean liner trade demanded a new 'state of the art' departure point and port operators (by then) British Transport Commission, set about building the Ocean Terminal which was opened on 31st. July 1950.

The cabin class waiting hall.

Platform inside the terminal.

Outside the terminal.

The two storey building had both internal and external rail facilities. As well as boat trains, the ground floor catered for customs examination, cargo transit, stores and motor vehicles. The upstairs passenger accommodation was divided into two lounges, one first class, the other being cabin class. Each had shops, buffets and bars

Lifts and escalators assisted passenger movement, and transfer to the ship was by telescopic gangways, there was also a visitor’s balcony to wave people off.

With the advent of cheaper air travel, a slump in transatlantic passengers came in the 1970s as fewer ocean liners graced the waves or visited Southampton, the terminal seeing less usage, and its construction being unsuitable for any other type of cargoes, it was demolished in 1983, but not without a fight! The thick concrete walls put up sturdy resistance to the
contractor’s heavy metal ball, which swung back and wrecked his crane, putting him out of business. When the site was finally cleared the open area was used at one time for the export of scrap and latterly the berth was used to lay up vessels.

The Ocean Terminal in the early 1960s. The terminal opened in 1950 and you can see the concrete is still gleaming white - as is the new Ocean Road along the left of it. War damaged berths 20/21 in the Empress Dock at bottom left.

With the recent resurgence of the cruise trade, a new ocean terminal (opened in 2009) has been constructed on the opposite side of the dock at berths 46/7 but sadly, this has no rail connection.

Boat train approaching the Ocean Terminal c.1970s.
Photo by Bob Cable


During the mid 1920s the Southern Railway began the reclamation of Southampton’s West Bay, the new shoreline being fronted by almost two miles of quays stretching from the Royal Pier to Millbrook. Along the frontage would be four new terminals, each consisting of a pair of transit sheds with a central waiting hall on a mezzanine floor.  By 1932 the first terminal at berths
101/2 was in place, the others being 103/4, 105/6 and 107/8 completed by 1934. To reach these berths, trains entered the docks at the Millbrook end, to the west of Southampton Central Station. As was expected from the Southern all facilities were very much rail orientated with passenger platforms both inside and outside the terminals which served a variety of shipping lines.

The eastern end of the New (Western) Docks in the early 1930s shows 101 berth shed in the distance. On the left is the contractors yard and the concrete mixing plant used in the dock construction. On the right is reclaimed land that was once the West Bay. The train heading for the Old (Eastern) Docks is a works personnel special headed by class T9 No.120 and is seen passing the Mayflower memorial near the Royal Pier.
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Plan of the New (Western) Docks as completed around 1935 showing the four sets of terminals.

101/2 was severely damaged in a WWII air raid and rebuilt and reopened in January 1956, becoming the arrival berth for the Union Castle Line services which also used berths 103/4 for departing vessels. Berths 105/6 became the base for P&O lines vessels while 107/8 often played host to those of the United States Lines.

Western Docks in the 1950s.
With the general decline of passenger services to air transport, the terminals were either demolished or redesigned for general cargoes and freight services but the one at 105/6 survives, albeit greatly altered. The centre section was rebuilt in 1959 and has since undergone several refurbishments as the Mayflower Terminal. During these alterations it lost its rail facilities
but with a recent (2010) revival of boat train operations, a temporary platform has been provided at the rear of the sheds.
Either 102 or 103/104 berths at the Western Docks c.1970s.
Photo by Bob Cable

Boat train at the temporary platform at the rear of the Mayflower terminal in December 2010.
Photo by Simon Pielow from his Flickr photostream


Lastly, there was a little known station, just inside the dock gates at Canute Road, near to the original Dock House. It was a small curved bare and open platform which appeared around the turn of the 20th century. Its purpose was to collect the various railway workmen for transportation by works train around the Eastern Docks. It is shown on maps and in photographs but seems to have fallen out of use by the time of the Southern Railway and was gone by the 1930s.

The platform is seen on the right.
hoto from Dave Marden collection

Although no longer in use, the platform is clearly shown on this 1953 1:2,500 OS map.

Click here for more pictures of Southampton Docks

See also Southampton Flying Boat Terminal, Southampton Royal Pier, Southampton Terminus & Southampton West

Southampton Docks map drawn by Alan Young, Tickets from Michael Stewart




[Source: Dave Marden]

Last updated: Thursday, 18-May-2017 17:22:44 CEST
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