North Dorset Railway

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An engine at Shillingstone Station in 2010 Shillingstone railway station, Dorset, England-26Dec2010.jpg
An engine at Shillingstone Station in 2010

North Dorset Railway (previously known as the Shillingstone Station Project, the North Dorset Railway Trust and the Shillingstone Railway Project) is a heritage railway based at Shillingstone railway station on the former Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. [1]


The project's present aim is to restore the current leased length of one quarter of a mile of 1,200 feet (370 m) single track mainline with a passing loop between the platforms. Double track has been laid through the station using 95 bullhead rail extending to the current northern and southern boundaries. A siding to serve the loading dock will soon be completed. A planning application was submitted in December 2020 to extend a single track north over Lamb House Bridge to Bere Marsh, with the ultimate aim to provide a rail link to Sturminster Newton, working in harmony with the North Dorset Trailway. The signal box, down platform shelter, permanent way huts, signals and pole route have been rebuilt. The NDRT rebuilt the 400 foot down platform wall and replaced and repaired the platform edge slabs. The North Dorset Trailway has been rerouted to run alongside the 395-foot (120 m) 'down' platform on a new embankment.

There is a small museum on site. The Station Gardens are also a prominent feature for the 28,000 visitors that come annually. The NDR membership continues to grow and in 2020 exceeded 500.


The main station building currently houses a cafe and shop with recently upgraded toilet facilities which include a designated accessible toilet and baby changing facilities. The registered museum displays some of the artifacts donated over the years. The Signal box has been rebuilt and fitted with one signal. The south end of the up platform has been rebuilt and the picnic area above landscaped with a colourful garden - an outdoor 'O' scale model railway was built there but was removed in 2019. A new siding was laid to accommodate the catering carriage at present outside the main station platform which serves as additional café accommodation and is available for hire for private functions. The down platform waiting shelter has been rebuilt in its original position and serves as storage.



Main building at Shillingstone Station being refurbished in Southern Railway colours, October 2007 Shillingstone station October 2007.jpg
Main building at Shillingstone Station being refurbished in Southern Railway colours, October 2007

In 2009, 210 feet (64 m) of the up main track through the station was laid and ballasted using 110a and 113a flat bottom rail and wooden sleepers. The Ruston & Hornsby diesel shunter was moved from the isolated goods dock. This was the first standard gauge loco on the Somerset & Dorset mainline south of the Mendips and north of Blandford, since the demolition train departed in July 1967, exactly 42 years before.[ citation needed ]

Progress in 2010 included acquiring a tracked Priestman Mustang excavator, finishing construction of the up platform wall, regrading of the cattle dock track bed and preparations for track-laying, and the connection of the station to the mains drainage system.[ citation needed ]

In early 2020, a secret scheme to sell land donated for the rebuilding of the line, was discovered and called out on social media by members fearing this would prevent extending the line towards Sturminster. Trustees wanted to sell the land to one of their friends, a fellow trustee. Ever since, the Trustees have continued to defend this sale and the adverse publicity has caused untold disrepute. Under relentless pressure from members, the NDR submitted in December 2020 a planning application for the extension, this was approved in April 2021 with permission to extend the line 400 m north of the station. Work on this extension has been painfully slow with many false excuses for delay. Trees were felled and bushes cleared on the section of the embankment between the station and Lamb House Bridge. In accordance with the planning permission granted by Dorset Council, a temporary diversion was created allowing the public to use the Trailway whilst a new Trailway was constructed along the eastern side of the embankment so that the trackbed for the Northern extension could be restored along the western side of the embankment. The Trailway diversion was completed during the Summer of 2022 and officially opened in August by Simon Hoare, MP. Throughout the summer of 2022 work continued reconstructing the embankment to the north of Lamb House Bridge. This had been excavated after the closure of the line to allow the construction of a tennis court. In October 2022 work started excavating spoil that had been dumped on the embankment during the construction of the industrial estate and transferring it over the bridge to complete the reconstruction of the embankment.[ citation needed ]


After the closure of Shillingstone railway station on 7 March 1966, and a few years post closure, the Dorset County Council purchased the trackbed for a proposed Shillingstone by-pass.

Various furniture manufacturing companies were sited in the former station yard, and over 1970s, industrial buildings were constructed, some of them making partial use of the station building.

By December 2002, the by-pass plan had been shelved and the station was derelict.

Dorset County Council decided to dispose of the redundant station, and, after protracted negotiations, lasting from 1998 to 2005, the North Dorset Railway Trust took signed a lease for the former station site.

The Trust's plan is to reopen the station as a tourist attraction, and restore the site to as it looked in the 1950s and 60s.

Restoration work commenced in 2006, and over the years, the main building was repaired, a replica signal box with a correct Stevens frame [2] and tablet machines, was constructed by volunteers. The Porter's office was reconstructed, and the Parcels office restored. Track-work within the station was completed by the summer of 2020.

Rolling stock



Former Exhibits

See also

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  1. /index.html Archived 14 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Lever Frames – the Signal Box".
  3. "Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 Diesel Loco "Ashdown"" (PDF). North Dorset Railway. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2022.

Coordinates: 50°54′15″N2°15′03″W / 50.9042°N 2.2507°W / 50.9042; -2.2507