Southern Named Trains
"The Royal Wessex"

Royal Wessex roof-board

photograph by Michael Blackbourn

The name "Royal Wessex" was inaugurated by the Southern Region of British Railways on 3rd May 1951 to mark that year's Festival of Britain, but the origins of the train itself were 40 years earlier when the LSWR began its first non-stop services from Waterloo to Bournemouth. In 1911 the Bournemouh non-stop express left Waterloo at 4:10 pm and arrived at Bournemouth Central at 6:10 pm, a journey time of exactly two hours for the 108½ miles. The train did not, however, have any coaches for Bournemouth West but continued on from Central station to Poole, Wareham, Dorchester and Weymouth with through coaches for Swanage detached at Wareham. The return journey time from Bournemouth Central to Waterloo was a couple of minutes longer at two hours and two minutes. This all came to an end with the outbreak of WWI

During Southern Railway days non-stop running was resumed with four trains per day, the 10:30 am and 4:30 pm down and 8:40 am and 5:15 pm departures all timed at 2 hours. The latter service became known as the "Bournemouth Limited". However, the growing importance of Southampton required more trains to call there which resulted in the non-stop runs to Bournemouth being reduced to just the 4:30 pm down and 5:15 pm up, although by 1936 the down train had been accelerated to 1 hr 56 mins until it all came to a halt with the outbreak of WWII.

The "Royal Wessex" leaving Waterloo Station hauled by Diesel Electric Locomotive Nº10000 on 30th July 1953.

BR(S) publicity photograph/Graham Muspratt collection

Royal Wessex
The train was re-instated, though no longer non-stop, without a name in October 1945 with one working in each direction. Then, as mentioned above, in May 1951 it was given the name "Royal Wessex" in honour of that year's Festival of Britain. Departing Waterloo at 4:35 pm its first call was Winchester followed by others at Southampton Central and Brockenhurst with arrival at Bournemouth Central not until 6:55 pm - a far cry from the sub two hour timings of the pre-war "Bournemouth Limited".
Royal Wessex The down "Royal Wessex" at Weybridge behind West Country class locomotive 34007 Wadebridge on 23rd July 1955. Not one of the better-known named trains, the non-Pullman "Royal Wessex" was normally hauled by a Merchant Navy class locomotive.

photograph by Graham T V Stacey courtesy
Wadebridge (34007) Locomotive Ltd

35021 New Zealand Line passing Parkstone with the "Royal Wessex".

photograph by Michael Blackbourn

Royal Wessex
1957 saw the two hour schedule re-introduced and by 1960 the "Royal Wessex" was the heaviest regular working on the Bournemouth line, with thirteen coaches. With this weight of train, plus a stop at Southampton, the schedule was actually a lot more difficult than the pre-war non-stop 1 hr 56 mins. The "Royal Wessex" was formed of the latest MkI coaches, originally in Crimson Lake and Cream but later painted in Southern Region Coach Green with BR roundels (the only Southern train so equipped) and ran with three parts, the first detached at Bournemouth, the second at Wareham for Swanage and the third going through to Weymouth. Normal motive power was supplied by the Merchant Navy class locomotives, but it was frequently the case, as in the photograph above, that a light pacific had to be rostered for the duty, one which it could perform almost as well as its big sisters.
Royal Wessex The "Royal Wessex" departing from Waterloo behind 35029 Ellerman Lines during 1956. The Merchant Navy class locomotive pictured here was the normal motive power for this train.

photograph by Mike Morant

As mentioned above, the train ran Mondays to Saturdays with the stock being spare at Bournemouth West on Sundays. Vehicles were initially in Crimson Lake and Cream but did not have set numbers allocated. The train consisted of three portions formed of the initial tranche of BR Standard Mk 1 stock. These were:
  Bournemouth West
The workings for the stock, as at 10th September 1951, were (departure times only):
  Bournemouth West
Clapham Yard
Bournemouth West
8.20 a.m.
11.8 a.m.
3.53 p.m.
4.35 p.m.
"Royal Wessex" timing winter 1959/60
Monday to Saturday only pm pm
Waterloo dep: 4:35
Clapham Junc pass: 4:42
Hampton Court Junc pass: 4:53
Woking Junc pass: 5:03
Worting Junc pass: 5:29
Winchester Junc pass: 5:44½
Winchester arr: 5:47½
Winchester dep: 5:49
Eastleigh pass: 5:58
Northam Junc pass: 6:04
Southampton Central arr: 6:07
Southampton Central dep: 6:12
Brockenhurst arr: 6:31
Brockenhurst dep: 6:34
Lymington Junc pass: 6:36½
Bournemouth Central arr: 6:55
Bournemouth Central dep: 6:59
   Bournemouth Central dep:  7:05
   Bournemouth West arr:  7:13
Poole arr: 7:09
Poole dep: 7:11
Wareham arr: 7:21
Wareham dep: 7:24
   Wareham dep:  7:30
   Swanage arr:  7:52
Wool arr: 7:32
Wool dep: 7:33
Dorchester arr: 7:46
Dorchester dep: 7:49
Weymouth arr: 7:59

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This page was last updated 23 September 2009

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