History of the Portland Railway and the Rodwell Trail

Railway Station

Weymouth to Portland Railway, Construction and growth

  • 30th June 1862, Weymouth & Portland Railway Company obtained its Act of Parliament to construct a mixed gauge line between Weymouth and Portland to be worked jointly by the London & South Western Railway and the Great Western Railway.
  • 5th May 1864, first trial train run over completed line.
  • 9th October 1865, line between Weymouth station and Portland Victoria Square opened for goods traffic.
  • 16th October 1865, line opened for passenger traffic.
  • 1st June 1870, Rodwell station opened, the only intermediate station on the line.
  • January 1872, severe landslide to line near Sandsfoot Castle.
  • 18th June 1874, last broad gauge train ran before the line was converted to standard gauge.
  • 1878, Weymouth & Portland Railway connected to railway into Breakwater works, later the later Dockyard.
  • 1890, signal box erected at Littlefield Crossing.
  • 1891, Whiteheads Torpedo factory constructed at Wyke Regis and siding provided.
  • December 1892, signal box provided at Rodwell station.
  • January 1894, platform extended at Rodwell station.
  • 1st September 1902, line between Portland, Victoria Square and Easton opened for passenger traffic.
  • 1902, original wooden viaduct over the Fleet replaced by steel structure.
  • September 1907, work commenced on replacement of original wooden viaduct over Backwater at Weymouth.
  • 1908, Rodwell station improved with provision of passing loop, new up platform and new signal box.
  • January 1909, severe landslide near Sandsfoot Castle.
  • 7th February 1909, New steel viaduct over Backwater at Weymouth completed.
  • April 1909, station provided at Weymouth end of new Backwater viaduct, named Melcombe Regis to avoid branch trains having to occupy the main Weymouth station.
  • 1st July 1909, new halts opened at Westham (Littlefield Crossing, Abbotsbury Road) and at Wyke Regis, near to Whiteheads factory.
  • 1st August 1932, Sandsfoot Castle Halt opened.
  • 11th June 1940, Portland signal box destroyed in air raid.
  • 15th April 1941, main station building at Rodwell destroyed by bomb.
  • July 1946, platform at Westham Halt reconstructed.
  • September 1946, platform at Wyke Regis Halt reconstructed.
  • 1st January 1948, Railway under control of the newly formed British Railways.

Weymouth to Portland Railway Decline and closure

  • 2nd March 1952, last day of regular passenger service over the Portland branch.
  • 1st March 1954, Rodwell signal box closed.
  • 29th April 1959, last Royal Train to run over the branch.
  • 26th September 1963, landslide to line near Sandsfoot Castle Halt.
  • 27th March 1965, last three special passenger trains run over the branch to commemorate the closure.
  • 9th April 1965, last goods train runs over the branch (complete closure).

1966-2011 From Rail to Trail

  • August 1966, track removed between Easton and Dockyard Junction.
  • 1970, Track removed between Portland and Weymouth station.
  • December 1971, viaduct over the Fleet at Ferrybridge demolished.
  • November 1974, trackbed between Ferrybridge and Weymouth station sold to Weymouth & Portland Council.
  • November 1974, work commenced on demolition of viaduct over Radipole Lake at Weymouth.
  • 1980, plans discussed for proposed miniature railway between Westham Halt and Ferrybridge.
  • January 1987, demolition of arch over Newstead Road commenced.
  • Late 1980s, onwards During this period the old railway line grew in popularity with local residents as an informal walkway between Abbotsbury Road and Ferrybridge. For many years its future was uncertain, however, due to a Dorset County Council proposal that the line should be used as a highway between Weymouth and Portland.
  • 1997, A proposal for a cycleway and footway along the former railway line was included in the Weymouth & Portland Local Plan. After being subject to full public and statutory consultation, the Plan was formally adopted by the Borough Council and work to develop the trail commenced.
  • 1997-1999, Funding was sought by Weymouth & Portland Environment Partnership to construct a walkway and cycleway. The partners included Weymouth & Portland Borough Council, Dorset County Council and West Weymouth Conservation Society working with South West of England Regional Development Agency.
  • Work commenced in 1999 and a cycle/walkway was constructed with a tarmac surface and access points to existing roads.

2000 The Rodwell Trail opens

  • April 2000 The Rodwell Trail was officially opened.
  • June 2000 The Weymouth & Portland Environmental Partnership was awarded a Civic Society Special Award 2000 for the creation of the Rodwell Trail.
  • 2003-2004 First meetings of friends of Rodwell Trail were held and groups of willing volunteers undertook overgrown vegetation clearance and litter picking. Weymouth & Portland Borough Council and West Weymouth Conservation Society funded the purchase and installation of litter and dog bins.
  • 3 October 2005 Inaugural Meeting of the ‘Friends of Rodwell Trail’.