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GWRSwindon

What if the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway became a successful company?

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The Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway was envisioned as a cross-country line linking the Midlands with Southampton, using a shorter route than the one that ran through Reading. It became one of the battlefields in the war between the Great Western and London & South Western Railways. The DN&S lacked the funds to operate their line, so the GWR provided rolling stock and crews. The GWR was glad to do this, as the DN&S provided an avenue directly into the heart of the LSWR's territory. The DN&S used the last of its funds to reach Winchester, though they had plans to reach Southampton and had been authorized to do so. The LSWR was determined to keep the GWR out of Southampton, and reached a deal with the railway that LSWR trains would carry trains the rest of the way to Southampton. The DN&S never became the cross-country link it was intended to become, though it did carry a great deal of traffic during the World Wars.

 

However, what if the DN&S had managed to become an important link, owning its own locomotives and rolling stock? I doubt it would be a particularly strong company, more like the Hull & Barnsley or Midland & Great Northern Joint Railway, but I do think it could do better. 

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I have often dreamt of a might-have-been layout that showed a proper GWR terminus at Southampton, based on such a scenario. Your idea of independent DN&SR stock is even more interesting though!

 

I suppose something along the lines of an MSWJR arrangement would have been the most realistic, but I do like the idea of totally independent stock. From a modelling perspective, the upcoming Hattons generic 4-and 6-wheelers would be an obvious approach, with a repaint.

 

Incidentally I recently came across this 1886 Flickr photo which I believe is from the unfinished section:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/46236325601

 

 

 

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The DN&SR route did see a lot of use during the second world war, and also saw extra traffic (passenger and freight) after the Somerset and Dorset closed. Seeing how busy the A34 gets nowadays with lorries between Southampton and the Midlands, perhaps it should not have closed. It would have provided a shorter route for the container trains that currently clog up Basingstoke and Reading.

 

 

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Why not have the LNWR gaining running powers from Oxford to Didcot, and purchasing the DNS?

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14 hours ago, Mikkel said:

I have often dreamt of a might-have-been layout that showed a proper GWR terminus at Southampton, based on such a scenario. Your idea of independent DN&SR stock is even more interesting though!

 

I suppose something along the lines of an MSWJR arrangement would have been the most realistic, but I do like the idea of totally independent stock. From a modelling perspective, the upcoming Hattons generic 4-and 6-wheelers would be an obvious approach, with a repaint.

 

Incidentally I recently came across this 1886 Flickr photo which I believe is from the unfinished section:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/46236325601

 

 

 

I like the idea of a black livery for locomotives, similar to the Hull & Barnsley or the North British. Any proper pre-grouping railway needs 0-6-0s, and I expect the fast Southampto boat trains will require some speed - 4-4-0s should do nicely. Historically the GWR used clapped-out designs to work the line, but this scenario supposes the line had more traffic.

Edited by GWRSwindon
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1 hour ago, GWRSwindon said:

Any proper pre-grouping railway needs 0-6-0s,

Presumably this makes the GNoSR (barring a handful of suburban tank locos) improper? ;)

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Running powers for the GCR? I haven't looked in my DN&SR books for a while, but if I remember correctly there were one or two through GCR coaches on the actual DN&SR line.

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7 hours ago, GWRSwindon said:

Not improper, just Scottish.

No, just odd! Better watch what I say, as I'm heading up into GNOSR territory tomorrow to help with Dunallander at the Aberdeen show this weekend. 

 

Jim 

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21 hours ago, Ian Morgan said:

The DN&SR route did see a lot of use during the second world war, and also saw extra traffic (passenger and freight) after the Somerset and Dorset closed. Seeing how busy the A34 gets nowadays with lorries between Southampton and the Midlands, perhaps it should not have closed. It would have provided a shorter route for the container trains that currently clog up Basingstoke and Reading.

 

 

 

Finding paths for long container trains across the four tracks of the GW main line at Didcot would be an interesting exercise !

The new grade-separated junctions at Reading should have eliminated. or at least reduced, the issues there.

 

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4 hours ago, Mikkel said:

Running powers for the GCR? I haven't looked in my DN&SR books for a while, but if I remember correctly there were one or two through GCR coaches on the actual DN&SR line.

1922 Bradshaw shows only one train (dep Soton 07.35) with through coaches in that direction, presumably as a link from the Le Havre ferry. They were for Scarborough, Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen St).

So almost certainly via the GC route (Banbury/Woodford Halse) but NER stock perhaps more likely than GCR???

Something of a marathon journey as the train was still all stations to Didcot, taking 2.5 hours just for that part of the journey. Much quicker to go via London but that would be difficult if with a lot of luggage.

Of course, if the DN&S had been built as a double-track mainline, more fast traffic could have used it. A perfectly reasonable "Rule 1" basis for a layout.

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Imagine "Bletchleyesque" flyovers at Didcot and Newbury with connections to the mainline and the DN&SR becomes a perfect freight only route from Southampton to virtually everywhere in the country.

An interesting what if scenario?

 

Mike.

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A layout depicting this line in the 1900s could be interesting: Saints and Stars on the GWR, Drummond Paddleboats and Greyhounds on the LSWR, boat trains and fast goods on the DN&SR...

 

Of course, if you ever have a reason to get a Paddleboat, get it.

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On 23/10/2019 at 23:26, GWRSwindon said:

Not improper, just Scottish.

 

The 4-4-0 was an unusual choice for a pre-Grouping railway's 'utility engine' but look on the bright side. 

Modelling the loco stud is relatively easy with no need for various wheel arrangements!

 

I have already converted one Union Mills to a class O and have three or four others still to do for my own N gauge layout.

They are by no means scale models, as I am well aware, but they do give a flavour of a remote and little known prototype.

 

Ian T

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On 24/10/2019 at 10:47, Enterprisingwestern said:

 

Imagine "Bletchleyesque" flyovers at Didcot and Newbury with connections to the mainline and the DN&SR becomes a perfect freight only route from Southampton to virtually everywhere in the country.

An interesting what if scenario?

 

Mike.

 

Such a flyover at Didcot would be clearly visible from Gravitas Towers here in Didcot, which I’d like but which would probably be appalling to the rest of the inhabitants of the town...

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When looking up the timetable in the 1922 Bradshaw, I came across another interesting working, a through coach from Paddington - Southampton detached at Newbury. I must get around to looking up the timetable and see if it was a slip.

It explains a rather curious short siding at the west end of the Down Platform. It would have been needed to park the through coach while waiting for the DNS train to pick it up.

Like the train to Scarborough etc., it does not seem to have a return working which is rather odd. Perhaps that went via Reading?

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In extension of Joseph's posts, here is a lengthy quote from T.B. Sands "The Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway" p.35-36 (Oakwood Press, not the Karau et al volume by the same title). Sorry it's so long, but it shows the routing: 

 

"More enterprising was the introduction on 1 July 1897 of a through train between Southampton and Paddington, leaving Southampton Terminus at 9.8 a.m., Winchester, 9.40 a.m., due at Paddington at 11.45 a.m. The return train left Paddington at 5.45 pm., arriving at Winchester at 7.48 p.m. and Southampton at 8.20 p.m.  An additional service was provided in July 1901 from coaches slipped at Newbury off the morning express to Weymouth which, in 1905, left Paddington at 9.40 a.m., slipped at Newbury at 10.50 a.m., the coaches going forward at 10.56 a.m. to reach Chester, stopping only at Whitchurch, at 11.38 a.m., due Southampton at 12.10 p.m.—a time of 2½ hours for the 91 3/4 miles. The train was allowed 19 minutes for the 12½ miles from Whitchurch to Winchester, an average start to stop of 39½ m.p.h. and the fastest booked speed on the D.N. & S. These trains were withdrawn during the 1914-18 War and were never restored; the G.W.R. had always maintained that they did not pay, but were induced to keep them on if only as a piece of window dressing. In 1922 and 1923 the 5.55 pm. from Paddington carried a through coach for Southampton detached at Newbury.


The liaison with the Great Central Railway bore fruit in 1901 when through coaches between Southampton and Leicester appeared on two D.N. & S. trains in each direction. This seems to have been an experiment.  The real need was for a service connecting at Southampton with cross channel steamers as was established with the introduction on 1 July 1903 of a through restaurant car train leaving Southampton Docks at 7.5 a.m. for Newcastle-on-Tyne, where it was due at 5.23 pm. Restaurant car and the through coaches, provided by the G.C.R., went forward from Southampton Terminus attached to the 7.30 a.m. train, due at Didcot at 9.45 a.m. after omitting a few inter-mediate stops.  In the opposite direction the coaches and restaurant car came south from Didcot on an all-stations late evening train due at Southampton soon after 10.30 p.m. The service was suspended at the end of 1916 and not restored until the autumn of 1921, when it was altered to run northbound only over the D.N. & S.; in the other direction it was re-routed via Reading (West) and Basingstoke. In 1922 the restaurant car ceased to work south of Oxford, but apart from these alterations the service was maintained throughout the year until the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939; it was even extended to Glasgow (Queen Street), and on summer Saturdays carried through coaches to Scarborough."

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From what I can tell, Paul Karau, Mike Parsons, and Kevin Robertson wrote a history of the DN&SR, with Robertson later writing another, larger book on the line. Is the Karau/Parsons/Robertson book worth buying if one already has the Robertson book? 

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24 minutes ago, GWRSwindon said:

From what I can tell, Paul Karau, Mike Parsons, and Kevin Robertson wrote a history of the DN&SR, with Robertson later writing another, larger book on the line. Is the Karau/Parsons/Robertson book worth buying if one already has the Robertson book? 

 

It certainly is. In addition there is a supplement to the wild Swan book. The Robertson book covers new ground on the opening and also the later years of the line but the actually enhance each other rather than the Noodle Publications book replacing the Wild Swan. In addition, the Wild Swan book has station arrangements and drawings of some building. The DNS is my favourite line and if you have an interest I would recommend both volumes, the supplement and also a few smaller books by Kevin Robertson.

 

Craig Warton

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12 minutes ago, Craigw said:

 

It certainly is. In addition there is a supplement to the wild Swan book. The Robertson book covers new ground on the opening and also the later years of the line but the actually enhance each other rather than the Noodle Publications book replacing the Wild Swan. In addition, the Wild Swan book has station arrangements and drawings of some building. The DNS is my favourite line and if you have an interest I would recommend both volumes, the supplement and also a few smaller books by Kevin Robertson.

 

Craig Warton

Thanks, the Wild Swan book has received a second edition, but I don't believe the supplement did.

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37 minutes ago, GWRSwindon said:

Thanks, the Wild Swan book has received a second edition, but I don't believe the supplement did.

 The supplement was never reprinted, it is certainly worth getting. It contains photos not in other books.

 

Regards,

 

Craig

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Here's a few questions for you all:

 

What do you think would be better for a DN&SR livery?

- Black, in a similar style to the Hull & Barnsley/Midland & Great Western

- Chocolate brown, from the "Great Northern & Southern Railway" (I always have liked that livery)

 

About how many wagons and coaches would an independent DN&SR have? I'd guess something similar to the number the M&SWJR.

 

@Craigw@Mikkel

Edited by GWRSwindon
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This would still be a junction

 

(Winchester Jn site - the single spur to the DN&S left approx where the substation building is - the underbridge for the main DN&S is just behind me and the single line to Alton would have been on the extreme RHS of the photo).

DSC09995.JPG.30a7e3ffecc61b9b91e69b7d72278d38.JPG

Edited by Southernman46
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On 23/10/2019 at 06:38, Regularity said:

Why not have the LNWR gaining running powers from Oxford to Didcot, and purchasing the DNS?

This is quite interesting; a healthy and independent DN&SR could be all too tempting for the LNWR to build south to Didcot, thereby offering services from the Midlands to Southampton. Of course, the GWR would likely do everything in their power to stop this from happening.

 

I'm still having trouble deciding between black or brown for the DN&SR...

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5 hours ago, GWRSwindon said:

This is quite interesting; a healthy and independent DN&SR could be all too tempting for the LNWR to build south to Didcot, thereby offering services from the Midlands to Southampton. Of course, the GWR would likely do everything in their power to stop this from happening.

 

I'm still having trouble deciding between black or brown for the DN&SR...

 

Perhaps the LNWR would have extended their route south from Oxford via Abingdon and Wantage to join the DN&SR somewhere south of Didcot, thus placing those two towns on a main line instead of the branches they ended up with ?

 

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