Southampton Terminus

Southampton Terminus railway station served the docks and city centre of Southampton, England. It began as the terminus of the London and South Western Railway (which was the London and Southampton Railway until the line opened). The station opened on 10 June 1839 as "Southampton", although it was not officially operational until 11 May 1840, due to the track not being fully linked between Winchester and Basingstoke.

The former terminus station was built in 1839-40 for the London & Southampton Railway, to the design of Sir William Tite. The LSWR added the large South Western Hotel which rather dwarfs the station. The line was later extended into the Ocean Dock Terminal to allow boat trains to terminate on the quayside.

History

During the building of the track between Winchester and Basingstoke, the Southampton and London Railway company renamed itself the London and South Western Railway. When it opened it was the only station in the area and so called "Southampton". Initially it had two platforms and an engine shed.

The station did not originally handle passenger services because of a dispute over running rights. To overcome this, a small open platform at Northam Road, opened. Access was from Bridge Road Level Crossing which was demolished in 1882 when the new "Central Bridge" was built. This still stands to this day as a major route into Southampton from Woolston; at either end of the bridge is a plaque dedicated to the railway.

In 1847 engine sheds and a turntable were built.

During July 1858 Southampton was renamed "Southampton Docks" to distinguish it from "Southampton West" Railway Station. A few years later during the 1860s, additional sidings and sheds were built, followed by the "Imperial Hotel". Standing at the most southern end of the station this was later renamed as "South Western Hotel", and still stands today as "South Western House" after being converted into private flats.

More development took place during the early 1870s when land opposite (eastern side) the station was purchased, which allowed the railway to expand. Much larger goods sidings, a telegraph office and buildings for shipping businesses where built. At the same time the platforms were extended.

London South-Western Railway purchased more land during 1876, located north of Southampton Terminus, and built new locomotive work sheds and a turntable. Three new platforms, two arranged as an island were opened 1891. Additionally the goods and parcel yard which were located at St. Lawrence Road were improved.

In 1895 the old 1847 engine sheds were still heavily in use but as demand rose for goods, they were converted into a one road depot for freight trains. The original turntable was replaced with a open turntable which had radiating roads, coal stage, water columns and crew bothy. Over the years the turntable was improving all the time and eventually became a 70-foot (21-metre) vacuum turntable, which was eventually closed and removed in September 1966.

During September 1896 the station was again renamed to "Southampton Town & Docks", later changing to "Southampton Town for Docks" in November 1912 and finally being renamed to "Southampton Terminus" on 9 July 1923,

As road transport became more common the platforms at Southampton Terminus began to shrink, first to accommodate a private road between the railway station and the hotel. To make the station more comfortable for its uses, a glass canopy was erected in 1924. Two years later in 1926 a new parcel and mail offices were built. Around this time the station platform numbers were reversed and numbered to left to right when originally they were numbered right to left.

In the early 1900s, Southampton Terminus saw a high increase in traffic from several locations like Reading, Alton, London, Portsmouth and by 1905 traffic from the Great Western Railway via the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway.

Southampton Terminus is also remembered for being the station that saw many passengers of RMS Titanic pass through it. Many of the RMS Titanic's wealthy First Class passengers stayed in the South Western Hotel next to Southampton Terminus until they boarded for their disastrous journey.

The station closed for passengers and parcels on 5 September 1966 prior to electrification between London Waterloo and Bournemouth when neither Northam Railway Station or Southampton Terminus were included in the upgrade. The mail offices closed the following year in December 1967, the parcel and mail offices being transferred to Southampton Central. By December 1968 most of the track work in had already been taken up. In 1970 the remaining signal box and track work was removed and the running lines filled in to platform level to act as a car park.

Architecture

The main building in the Italianate style, by Sir William Tite, is a Grade II* listed building and is used as a casino by Stanley Casinos.

Motive Power Depots

There have been a number of motive power depots situated at Southampton Terminus Station and nearby in Southampton Docks. The first of these was opened 10 June 1839 by the London and Southampton Railway, but was soon demolished due to track widening. This was replaced by another structure adjacent to the goods shed, but this was closed in 1895. It was replaced by an outdoor servicing facility north of the station, which included a turntable coal stage and offices. These remained open until 1966.

An engine shed was opened in Southampton Docks, by the Southapton Docks Railway Company in 1865. It was rebuilt in 1879, and taken over by the London and South Western Railway in 1892. The building was enlarged and re-roofed by the Southern Railway during the 1930s and rebuilt by British Railways in 1955. It was officially closed in January 1966, but remained in use until July 1967..

The Southern Railway opened an outdoor locomotive servicing facility in the New Docks in 1933 and added a turntable in 1949. This remained in use until 1966.

Today

Southampton Central is now the main railway station in Southampton.

The former Terminus station building still stands, the South Western Hotel having been converted into apartments and the main station building into a casino. The private road into what would be the platforms is still there, but is now a car park. Of the platforms, all that remains is the glass canopy and a single line that runs from Northam junction to the docks.

Plans for a future railway station

A £10 million pound plan was put forward in 1999 to reopen Southampton Terminus and Northam Station, which was to have been controlled by East Anglia Railways Train Company, their plans would of included building a new rail-link using the current remaining track by St.Marys Stadium and as far as the Waterfront, which is now safe guarded by Southampton City Council for future rail links. This would have allowed trains to go from Southampton Waterfront to East Anglia with out the need to change at London, it was also hoped it would reduce the traffic around Southampton with a local commuter line linking the Waterfront to Romsey, Halterworth and Chandler's Ford, the plan failed to come about for reasons unknown.

Southampton City Council has safeguarded the remaining land for future use to build a small railway station on the former down line at Canute Road level crossing, opposite the former Southampton Terminus railway station, the project is named TI4 Waterfront Station.

Bibliography
  • Moody, Bert (1992). Southampton's Railways. Waterfront Publications.  ISBN 0-946184-63-1
  • Course, Edwin (1973). The Railways of Southern England: the Main Lines. Batsford.  ISBN 0-7134-0490-6

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