Station Name: MARCHWOOD

[Source: Nick Catford & Darren Kitson]

Date opened: 20.7.1925
Location: On the south-east side of Hythe Road
Company on opening: Southern Railway
Date closed to passengers: 14.2.1966
Date closed completely: 14.2.1966
Company on closing:

British Rail (Southern Region)

Present state:

There have been few changes in the station since closure apart from shortening of the platform at the Fawley end. The station building has been retained by Network Rail with the signal box, which is part of the station building, still in use.

County: Hampshire
OS Grid Ref: SU384101
Date of visit: December 1975, 21.1.2006 & 19.11.2016

Notes: Marchwood station was built on the south-east side of the Hythe Road level crossing. The station had a single platform 350ft long by 12ft wide on the down side of the line. The platform facing was reinforced concrete with an ash fill and finished with a tarmac surface.

The plain utilitarian single-storey station building was similar to that at Fawley. It was of concrete construction with a red tiled pitched roof with a central gable. The building comprised the ticket office, parcels office, goods store, booking hall and waiting room, men's and ladies’ toilets, a porters’ room, coal store, lamp room (at the north end of the building) and a gate box. Radiators were supplied from a Sentry boiler in the parcels office. The station was lit by oil lamps. Although originally fitted with Southern Railway target signs, these were replaced at some time in the late 1950s by British Railways (Southern Region) green totem signs. At least one of these is known to survive but its whereabouts is unknown. No totem signs have ever been offered for sale by auction. Southern Railway concrete running-in boards were provided at each end of the platform. One of these survived until at least 1989. At the same time a large British Rail corporate identity ‘Marchwood’ sign mounted on the signal box replaced a British Railways Southern Region green sign.

Goods facilities comprised two sidings running behind the east end of the platform, One short siding ran parallel to the main line as far as the end of the platform; the other longer siding ran diagonally across the yard to serve a cattle dock with a movable pen. The Railway Clearing House Handbook of Stations 1956 shows that the station no longer handled livestock.

The track and signalling at Marchwood warrants a brief description due to significant changes over the years, not least as a result of the arrival in 1939 of the spur to Cracknore Hard. Information here has been obtained from a number of track and signalling diagrams from various times, and readers are reminded that owing to the line beyond Marchwood Junction ( the junction for the military railway) to Hythe and Fawley becoming effectively disused in September 2016 the present-day situation at Marchwood is unlikely to remain valid in the medium and long terms. References to 'north' and 'south' of Marchwood refer to the Totton and Fawley sides of the station respectively. Mileages mentioned are measured from Waterloo and given in the usual way as miles/chains (m/ch).

As built, the Fawley branch was a single section controlled by Eling Crossing* and Fawley signal boxes using Tyer's No.6 electric tablet instruments. There was also an instrument for the ground frame at Hythe in order to lock a train into the sidings to clear the section for another train. Marchwood was provided with a 5-lever ground frame for controlling the sidings there, unlocked by means of the single line tablet; this being the tablet which remains with a train on the running line and thus gives it the authority to be on this line. Marchwood was not to receive a Tyer's token instrument until the Second World War (WWII). [*This box is in itself interesting, being built by adding a first floor to the original crossing keeper's cottage. It survived in use until 1982, latterly named 'Totton' having undergone a couple of name changes as a result of the existence of the original and so-named Totton box which survived only until 1930.]

The original track and signalling arrangement at Marchwood was vastly different from that in 2016. Prior to 1939 just a single track ran through the station including over Main Road level crossing which was one of just two manned, gated public (as opposed to occupation) level crossings on the branch. The other was, and still is, at School Road, Hythe. Just beyond the south end of Marchwood's down side platform was a loop siding located on the down side and operable only in the down direction. There were trap points at each end of the loop siding (see next paragraph) and a ground frame at the Hythe end unlocked by what has been described as the single line 'tablet'. Points at the north end appear to have been operated from Marchwood box despite this being merely a gate box until 1943; the purpose of a 'gate box' is to operate signals and interlocking at a level crossing. Telephone communication was provided along the full length of branch from the outset.

At some date the loop siding was provided with a headshunt at its north end which ended just short of the platform ramp; there was also a siding, from the loop, serving the small goods facility behind the station. These were taken out of use in June 1960 and June 1971 respectively. The removal of the headshunt appears to have been, logically, when trap points were installed at the north end of the loop siding and at the same time the junction between loop siding and running line was relocated a little further south. More detail will follow on this topic.  

Signalling at Marchwood in the pre-WWII period was very much what would be expected at any similar branch line location. The level crossing was protected by Down Distant, Down Home and Up Starter signals while at the Hythe end of the station platform was a bracket signal with arms for Down Starter and loop siding. There appears to have also been ground signal part way along the loop siding. Approaching from Fawley, trains encountered Up Distant and Up Home signals, both located south of Pumpfield Farm crossing, then the Up Starter protecting Main Road level crossing. It is not clear if the siding and headshunt from the loop were also protected by ground signals but in all likelihood they were. This is one of several question marks hanging over track and signalling diagrams, some of which are modern redrawn versions and although well-intended are in a few cases somewhat confusing.

The next change of any significance at Marchwood concerns what became the military port. The spur from what came to be known as Marchwood Junction is usually quoted as dating from 1943 but actually dated from 1939, precise date unknown, when it was installed to serve what was then the Admiralty Magazine (munitions dump) at Cracknore Hard. The junction was on the loop siding at 86m 23ch with points facing in the down direction. The boundary with military property was, and still is, marked by a gate just prior to which are trap points facing in the up direction. In 1939 there would have been a ground signal at the trap points and presumably others controlling the junction, but this is another issue which remains vague as no signalling diagram from the 1939 - 43 period has been seen and none are known to still exist.

Marchwood Military Port opened in November 1943. The 1939 spur, which in effect was nothing more than a long siding some 1¼ miles in length, thereafter served a military railway which at its peak had some 30 miles of track. In 2016 the system has just 7½ miles of track. Meanwhile Marchwood's gate box, located on the station, and the post-1939 track layout sufficed through the war and beyond until 1960 when major alterations took place. The alterations appear to have come about not through military requirements but because of post-war expansion of Fawley Refinery, work having begun on a new refinery in June 1949. This work involved the purchase of some 3,000 acres of Cadland Estate land from the Drummond family, who are mentioned in the Hythe Pier Railway pages. The first part of the new refinery to commence operations did so ahead of schedule in July 1951. Not directly relevant to Marchwood, but worth mentioning, was the concern of both the refinery’s owners and British Railways about the ability to transport the large numbers of workers that the new refinery required, let alone the extra freight traffic that the new refinery would provide. Plans to provide block sections, most notably south of Hythe, dithered and ultimately came to nothing. Transporting workers had its own problems, largely owing to the hopelessly infrequent and poorly timed (in the opinion of refinery workers) regular branch passenger service. With plans for block sections abandoned it was decided to run relief trains. A half-hearted 'now it runs - now it does not' affair, the relief trains ended up consisting of three ancient 6-wheeled ex-North London Railway carriages which had ended up with the LMS and then BR London Midland Region. This was a reminder of the opening day of the Fawley branch when the inaugural train comprised three scruffy ex-SE&CR 6-wheelers. The Fawley relief train ceased to operate sometime during the 1951/52 period. Track and signalling dictated a 20-minute headway between Marchwood and Fawley and the eventual result of these kerfuffles was Frost Lane signal box (south of Hythe and close to Cadland Siding) and the major alterations at Marchwood.

As we have seen, Marchwood gate box was upgraded to a signal box with effect from 28 November 1943. No photographs of the box taken prior to 1943 have been seen, so the bare brickwork part of the box which juts onto the station platform and does not match the rendered station building is assumed to be a 1943 extension. Certainly the apparent good condition of the brickwork pointing suggests that this part of the box is later than 1925, notwithstanding the possibility of repointing having taken place in more recent times.

The 1960 transformation at Marchwood involved what was, in effect, a section of bidirectional double track between the 86m 4ch and 86m 30ch points, in other words a length of 572yd. To avoid any confusion the new west side track will be described as the 'new loop'. The 86m 4ch point is just north of Main Road level crossing, requiring the rebuilding of the level crossing to its present double track form. One may reasonably wonder why this expense was not saved by placing the points for the new loop south of the level crossing. The answer is twofold. First, the points would have been in the platform and, although this would have little if any effect on the then-still-operating passenger service, it may have given rise to clearance issues. Secondly, trap sidings were provided and the best place for these was north of the level crossing as providing one on the platform road would have been impossible.

At the south end of the layout the original loop siding was extended to the 86m 30ch point, where trap sidings were also installed, with the original south-end points removed and the ground frame at this location being abolished on 18 June 1960. The original junction between running line (i.e. the platform road) was moved a little way south and the running line slewed to join the former loop siding which then became part of the running line. In the up direction the line from Hythe therefore paralleled the former loop siding, now extended and forming the running line, to the 86m 23ch point where it was disconnected and also slewed and then extended to form the new loop to the 86m 4ch point. It is for these reasons that the track south of Marchwood station now has the 'dogleg'. Other changes during 1960 and subsequently have already been mentioned, but as a reminder the headshunt at the north end of the former loop siding went in June 1960. Marchwood station closed to passenger and goods traffic on 14 February 1966 with the goods siding being taken out of use in June 1971. At the same time as the headshunt was removed, trap points were installed on the goods siding and facing in the down direction. This addition was necessitated by the former loop siding now being incorporated into the running line. Also around this time the platform was shortened at the south end; this included the removal of one of the Southern Railway running-in boards.

Current (October 2016) signalling at Marchwood has been partially described with the images, in particular the trap points and signals around the level crossing. Elsewhere No.3 signal serves as the Down Starter (MW4) and Marchwood Junction (MW5). No.4 signal is located at the south end of the loop and has two arms due to the bidirectional nature of both roads. No.5 signal controls up trains and is located at the end of the single track section from Hythe. Again, this has two arms. Despite Marchwood being closed to passengers, the platform road is still referred to as 'Up and Down Main' while the new loop is referred to as 'Up and Down Loop' and this is indicated by the height of signal dollies. Oil lighting of signal and level crossing lamps was abolished in 2003. Signal dollies and finials are of LSWR design, including those installed in 1960 although No.3 signal (MW4/5) was replaced in the early 21st century with a girder type structure similar to those protecting the level crossing but also with replacement dollies.

In addition to the semaphore bracket signals there are a number of ground signals. There is Stop signal on the 'main' line just prior to it and the loop merging into single track; this protects Marchwood Junction and applies to up trains. Two further ground signals can be found on the military spur and on the Network Rail side of the boundary. One is a Stop signal at the trap points facing in the up direction and in advance of this is the well known example of a rare ground Distant signal.

Marchwood signal box additionally monitors a number of Automatic Half Barrier (AHB) level crossings. These are; Jacob's Gutter Lane; Trotts Lane; Tavells Lane; West Street; Veal's Lane. Of these, West Street, became AHB in June 1962 and the remainder in August 1966.

The site of the goods yard is occupied by housing in Plantation Drive. Until the end of crude oil traffic to Fawley the line saw an average of eight train movements a day in January 2015 with a line speed through that station of 15mph.

Marchwood station was the set for two episodes of the British television series The Famous Five in 1978 and 1996.

In June 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a report Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network strongly indicating that the reopening of Hythe railway station would be viable, in that the ratio of business, economic and social benefits to costs would be as high as 4.8.The ATOC report gave the indicative capital cost of reopening as £3 million. ATOC's evaluation was based on a diesel service, but it recommended that electrification of the seven miles from Hythe to Totton should also be evaluated, on the basis that some services now terminating at Southampton could be extended to Hythe.

In January 2014, Hampshire County Council shelved the plans owing to the business case 'offering poor value for money'. The scheme could, however, be revisited in the future if local circumstances change.

Tickets from Michael Stewart and Brian Halford. Route map drawn by Alan Young. Bradshaw from Nick Catford.

Click here for a brief history of the Fawley branch.



To see the other stations on the Totton, Hythe & Fawley Light Railway click on the station name:
Hythe, Hardley Halt & Fawley

See also The Military at Marchwood (feature), Marchwood Military Railway (feature):
Mulberry Halt, Port Gate Platform, Model Room Halt
& Jetty Halt

See also features: Hythe Pier Railway & Hythe Ferry

Marchwood Station Gallery 1 c.Early 1950s - c.Late 1960s

A postcard view of Marchwood station looking north-east in Southern Railway days and likely within a few years of the 1925 opening as the track ballast and platform face still look nice and clean. This is one of the very few known views offering a good perspective of the platform side of the station building in its original form before the signal box in the building was extended part way across the platform. On the platform are a number of milk churns and appear to be of the conical galvanised 17 gallon type which harked back to Victorian times and replaced wooden types. Conical churns were later largely superceded by the more familiar 'mushroom headed' 10 gallon type. Dairy farmers would either take their churns direct to the local railway station or leave them on wooden platforms at the roadside near the farm entrance for collection. Milk churns were phased out, not least for hygiene reasons, and replaced by tankers. Their last use in Britain is thought to have been in 1979.
Photo from John Mann collection

1932 1:2,500 OS map shows the layout of Marchwood station as built. At this time there was only a single line through the station with the platform on the down side; the level crossing is, however, sufficiently wide to accommodate a second track. The goods yard comprises two short siding, the shorter siding running parallel with the main line while the longer siding runs diagonally across the goods yard to serve a cattle dock.

Marchwood station on an unknown date but believed early 1950s. Clues are the presence of three Southern 'target' nameplates; one on the lamp standard adjacent to the van body and one on each of the first two standards beyond the station building. The track of the platform road has bullhead rail; much of this was later relaid with flat bottom rail and photographic evidence suggests this work had been done by 1961. There is a train in the distance, approaching the station. It appears to be a goods train headed by a tank locomotive running bunker-first but is too far away for a positive identification.
Photo from John Mann collection

This view, taken from the level crossing, shows a goods train passing through the station, the locomotive is an Class H16 4-6-2T. The presence of the loop tells us the photograph is from after July 1960 and before December 1962 when the last of the H16s, No.30517, was withdrawn but by this time the entire class was at Feltham.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

Marchwood, looking towards Totton, sometime around 1960/61. The signal box, more technically a signal 'room' can be seen on the right and still bearing its SR nameboard which was later replaced with a BR black and white (Corporate Identity) example. The level crossing gates were manually operated on site, i.e. as opposed to remotely from the signal box, and remain so at the time of writing. The signals with same-height dollies control up loop and up platform road. They protect, and are interlocked with, the level crossing. The signals beyond the level crossing control down Fawley, i.e. the platform road, on the taller dolly and down loop on the shorter dolly. Beyond the level crossing and before the tracks merge are two trap sidings, both with points facing in the up direction. Signal dollies are of the lattice type with finial and appear to be of LSWR origin, meaning that as the branch was opened in Southern Railway days they were possibly secondhand from elsewhere. The diamond-shaped device on the signal posts indicates a track circuited section or, more specifically, that Rule 55 does not apply. There is a train in the distance but too far away to attempt any form of description. It is not far from the junction with the main line at Totton.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

A rather desolate-looking, but nonetheless quite tidy, Marchwood station in August 1961. Marchwood is known to have received BR totems but under magnification the lamp standard adjacent to the van body appears to still bear a Southern 'target' nameplate. Points of note are the track, all still bullhead rail at this time, and the signals in the distance still having lower quadrant arms.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

Token exchange at Marchwood in February 1966, shortly before withdrawal of passenger services. The Class 3H DEMU is in green livery with small yellow warning panel and black triangle, the latter indicating to staff at which end of the unit the brake compartment is located. In 1965, the year prior to this photograph, headcode 78 applied to Fawley or Southampton Central and Basingstoke or Reading General but may have been amended by 1966. Headcode 76 also applied to the branch and differed in that it covered Fawley or Southampton Central to Alton and in the 1960s one service is known to have operated between Fawley and Alton on Sundays. Unit 1111 has an interesting history. New in 1957 as part of the first batch, it began life as a 2-car Class 2H and later received a centre trailer, thus becoming a Class 3H. In 1980 it underwent a refurbishment and was given gangway connections within the set, thereby becoming TOPS No.205101. It was the only 'Hampshire' unit to be so-treated. Later still, in 1995, it received an ex-4CEP EMU centre trailer, Car No.76134, and was renumbered to 205205. Unit 1105, which might have eventually taken this number, had been scrapped in 1987. Unit 205205 was to soldier on until July 2004 and is now preserved at the Epping Ongar Railway but in its original 2-car form. The final members of what had become Class 205, units 205001/9/33, bowed out in December 2004. Units 205001/33 were the first and last members of the class to be built and dated from 1957 and 1962 respectively. 'Hampshire' DEMUs had first appeared on the Fawley branch in October 1958 when they took over the rather meagre Sunday service, which would appear to have operated largely for the benefit of refinery staff. By 1960 the DEMUs had begun to appear on weekday services and in 1962 took over the timetabled, but also meagre, passenger service completely. One of the station totem signs is seen on the lamp standard. One totem from Marchwood is known to exist but its whereabouts is unknown. A Marchwood totem has never appeared in a railway auction.
Photo from Jim Lake collection

The RCTS 'The Solent Railtour' with USA tanks 30073 and 30064 of 20 March 1966 pauses at Marchwood on its way to Fawley. This train is detailed on the Fawley page. Marchwood station is largely out of view behind the train in the background. Part of the roof of the station building can just be discerned. The hopper, which by this date had replaced an earlier structure, behind No.30073 appears to belong to Blue Circle Cement.
Photo by Graham T V Stacey from Flickr 30937 Photographic Database

USA class 0-6-0T's Nos. 30069 and 30064 during a brief stop at Marchwood en-route to Fawley with the Locomotive Club of Great Britain 'The Hampshire Branch Lines Rail Tour' of 9 April 1967. The line into Marchwood goods yard is behind the locos.
Photo by Robin Barbour courtesy of Bruce McCartney
Marchwood station, looking towards Fawley, sometime after closure to passengers. Station buildings on the branch were basically similar but Marchwood differed in that the station building incorporated the signal box; this is the part of the building seen projecting onto the platform. Despite the loop, Marchwood had a single platform so the platform road was bidirectional in the usual manner of a single-track branch. The loop, also bidirectional, was purely to pass or hold goods trains. The signals in the distance controlled Down Fawley and traffic onto the military railway. Traffic coming off the military railway had, just prior to the junction, a rare example of a ground Distant signal. Presumably this was necessary for sighting purposes as the military railway was bounded by trees where it curved towards the junction.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

Marchwood station building sometime after withdrawal of passenger services. Signal box and lamp shades notwithstanding, Marchwood had the same public lavatory appearance as other stations on the line. As at Fawley, the grounded van body was of LBSCR origin and the sign on its door states 'Staff Private', or at least it would if all lettering were present. The hut between van body and station building was the lamp room. The signs fixed to it are, top, 'Southern Railway No Smoking' and, bottom, 'Staff'. The latter appears to be a cast metal plate and identical signs were located, at least, at Fawley. The semaphore signalling and level crossing lamps at Marchwood are believed to have been illuminated by paraffin lamps until as late as 2004.The signal box was upgraded from a gate box 28 November 1943.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

Marchwood station after withdrawal of passenger services and before the platform was shortened. The cars are a Chrysler/Talbot Alpine, what appears to be a Ford Zephyr Mark III and a Hillman Minx Series IIIC. The latter was produced for a mere two years, 1961-63 but was a variant of the wider and long-lived Minx range. 'Series' should not be confused with 'Mark' which was used for a much earlier Minx range. Rootes Group/Chrysler Europe cars seem to have been very common in Hampshire for some reason.
Copyright photo from Tony Harden collection

Click here for Marchwood Station Gallery 2:
c.Late 1960s - 18 April 1978




[Source: Nick Catford & Darren Kitson]

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