The history of Shillingstone Station
Shillingstone Station was built and opened by The Dorset Central Railway (DCR) on 31st August 1863 and survived until 1966 when it fell victim to the infamous Dr. Beeching’s cutback of the railway network. It is the last surviving station built by the DCR so it is vital this remarkable building is preserved, for both architectural and historic reasons.
This was a small station built to the north east of the mile-long village of Shillingstone (formerly known as Shilling Okeford). The main station buildings were situated on the up platform, which was the shorter of the two. The much longer down platform had no buildings on it, apart from a small but attractive wooden shelter.
As was common on the railways in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the station boasted a beautiful, compact garden with greenhouse which were tended and cared for by the station staff. The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway staff took great pride in their workplace. Seeds were propagated in the greenhouse which provided the plant stock for the station’s flower beds and borders.
Shillingstone Station has played host to both King and poet in its 103 year history. King Edward VII, who visited on several occasions, alighted here on his way to stay with Lord and Lady Wolverton at nearby Iwerne Minster House. It was as a result of the King’s visits that the station acquired its ornate canopy, unusual for such a small station but considered necessary to protect the royal guest from inclement weather. With the outbreak of World War I, the poet Rupert Brooke joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and was stationed nearby at Blandford Camp. From there, he and his battalion marched to Shillingstone Station where they boarded a train to Avonmouth and then on to a troop ship bound for Gallipoli. As history records, he never returned.
Overlooked by the ancient hill-fort of Hambledon Hill, with the River Stour meandering by in the foreground, Shillingstone was probably the most picturesque station on the former Somerset and Dorset Railway.
Our achievements ... and future plans
The Shillingstone Railway Project aims not only to restore the station and available surrounding area to how it was in the early 1950s and 1960s, but also to enhance it. Much has already been achieved, including ...
• Renovation of the station buildings to include a shop, café, museum and model railway exhibition.
• Repair and reconstruction of the platforms, fencing, signal box, platform shelter and other outbuildings.
• Restoration of the station gardens and greenhouse.
Current projects include ...
• Re-laying track to the main line and sidings.
• Constructing a locomotive shed with gantry crane and all necessary engineering equipment required to allow the restoration and maintenance of the Trust’s locos and rolling stock.
• Providing education, preserving heritage skills, and promoting job creation and tourism