Friday, 6 January 2012

The Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway crosses the Blewbury Downs

A ticket to Compton
The Didcot Newbury and Southampton Railway line emerged from the cutting after almost two miles to proceed on to the open downs at Churn Station. Beyond Churn, the line began a gentle descent over the Blewbury Downs at gradients varying between 1:264 and 1:1375. After two miles the line reached the station of Compton.

This station was conveniently located between the church and the pub that served the village. It was also the largest access point to the DNS between Didcot and Newbury. There was not only a loop, but also sidings and an engine shed. This was the main station for what was to become an important business on this northern section of the line: horseboxes. The downs made ideal country for the keeping and training of race horses. Indeed, the area around Churn is still criss-crossed by extensive gallops and practice race courses. Racehorses were brought down to Compton to be loaded into horseboxes for transportation to racecourses around the country.

At Compton the line picked up the headwaters of the River Pang, and followed the banks of the babbling chalk stream down along a gradient of some 1:178 to the village of Hampstead Norreys where another station was constructed. There the line left the stream to begin a 2 mile climb at 1:106 to cross the top of the Newbury Downs just north of the village of Hermitage. The line levelled out to 1:330 for a short distance here where a station was built. The presence of the Brains Brickworks at Hermitage provided so much goods traffic that special sidings were built from the station to the works.

From Hermitage, the line then began a 4 mile descent, mostly at 1:106 but in places 1:244 to reach the valley of the Kennet. The line joined the GWR mainline just east of Newbury.

from  LOST RAILWAYS OF BERKSHIRE by Rupert Matthews

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