Looking down upon the faded beauties of the once-called “Royal Property” – Vauxhall Gardens, and over the mill pond, on to an embankment from which we can catch, if the haze and smoke permit, the lofty campanile of the Houses of Parliament.
The main branches of this railway communicate with the suburbs of London, and are mostly celebrated for their picturesque beauty, viz.:– Richmond, Windsor, Kew, and the valley of the Thames, Hampton Court, Kingston, Claremont, Guildford, &c.; also with Portsmouth, Winchester, Southampton, Salisbury, Isle of Wight, and Weymouth, via Dorchester.
Of all the many alluring rambles held forth to the tourist who wishes to avail himself of the speedy communication by rail with some of the most picturesque scenery in England, there is no line that possesses more intrinsic advantages, or which intersects in its various routes so many places of glorious memory as the South Western, from the metropolis to the south-western coast of Hampshire and Devonshire,
The Metropolitan terminus of the South Western is at Waterloo Road. Omnibuses convey passengers to and from all parts of town. The terminus is a spacious building, admirably adapted for the different railway offices and the various departments connected with the Company. The gentle pace at which the trains first move afford time for observing the extensive engine houses and workshops at Nine Elms. The line passes over viaducts or arches through a part of the densely populated parish of Lambeth, over the tops of houses, past the grounds of Lambeth Palace, in a line with which is Lambeth Church, and across the river may be seen the splendid towers of the new Houses of Parliament.
London to Clapham
As the Richmond and Windsor Railway is the first branch of the South Western, we will commence our description with that.
London to Richmond and Staines
We next find ourselves bounded on each side by spacious market gardens, and we see Battersea new town and the park on the one hand, and Battersea Rise, the region of Clapham, on the other. In Battersea church the great statesman, Bolingbroke, lies buried. At this point, the Richmond, Staines, and Windsor line diverges to the right, while the main line turns oft towards the left to Wimbledon.
Clapham to Kingston
Soon after rejoining the Main Line at Clapham Common, a branch to the left leads to the Crystal Palace, via Balham, Streatham, and Norwood.
Wimbledon Park, the seat of the Earl Spencer, is seen to the right.
The adjacent country now begins to assume a very pleasant and diversified appearance, and the patches of woodland scenery that break forth in bold relief against the distant horizon furnish an agreeable foretaste of the picturesque views yet to come. Passing beneath a few arches which connect the roads leading from various adjacent villages, we reach the station at
Wimbledon was formerly celebrated in the annals of duelling, a practice which has now been discountenanced and condemned by that general spirit of good feeling and sense which now happily pervades all classes of the community.
Merton. – Distance from the Wimbledon station, ¾ mile. Telegraph station at Wimbledon, ¾ mile. Hotel – White Hart. The pretty village of Merton, where Lord Nelson lived, is a favourite resort of excursionists.
Croydon and Wimbledon Branch
This branch is intended subsequently to unite with the London and Portsmouth Direct, at Godalming, via Epsom. – At present it is opened to Leatherhead, about half-way. The stations en route from Wimbledon are Old Malden,
Ewell, the church of which has some curious monuments,
Ashtead. – Ashtead Park, the seat of Colonel Howard.
This place is situated on the river Mole, here crossed by a bridge of fourteen arches. The church was built about the year 1346, in the form of a cross, but has since been restored.
Emerging from the excavation, we proceed onwards over an embankment, which affords one continued series of delightful views across a country which art has contributed in the highest degree to adorn, at the extremity of which a cursory glimpse of the old square tower of Kingston church is obtained.
Coombe and Malden. – The line now passes beneath two bridges, and we reach the station at
Surbiton, within a mile north of which is the modern town of
Within a mile to the north of which is the modern town of Kingston.
About two miles from Surbiton the line turns off to the
Hampton Court Branch
Surbiton to Hampton Court
Thames Ditton is well-known among anglers; fine barbel, roach, perch, dace, and chub, with some times jack and trout, may be caught.
Surbiton to Weybridge
This is the nearest station for Esher and Claremont; the former, once a place of some importance, is now little better than an inconsiderable village.
From the Ditton station we cross Walton Heath, and reach the station at
The Walton station is a short distance from Hersham, one mile to the left, and the same distance from Walton to the right.
Emerging from the Walton cutting we gain a somewhat lofty embankment, affording some picturesque views, through which the translucent Wey meanders like a glistening thread.
The scenery in this neighbourhood is beautiful, and St George’s Hill commands a delightful view of Windsor, Richmond, and Chertsey.
A little distance beyond Weybridge station a short line branches off to Addlestone and Chertsey.
Chertsey is as old as the days of the ancient Britons, and probably was one of their principal places.
Weybridge to Woking
From the hill before Weybridge to Woking, a distance of six miles, there is a gradual descent After crossing the bridge which spans the Basingstoke Canal, here intersected by the canal from Guildford, and passing several villages, we pass over the Woking embankment, whence a succession of picturesque views will delight the traveller. Ottershaw Park affords a pleasing specimen of English forest scenery. The fine effect of these majestic trees, with nothing behind them but the sunny splendour of a summer morning, or the rich glow of an evening sky, realises all that Claude has embodied in his pictures.
On both sides of the line Woking Common is seen to extend for miles, only broken by the windings of the Basingstoke Canal.
Woking to Godalming and Portsmouth
Woking to Basingstoke
From Woking the line shortly crosses the road by a viaduct of one arch, and then enters the Goldworthy Hill excavation, on emerging from which it proceeds over the Frimley embankment, about four miles in length, whence an almost unbounded view of the surrounding country bursts upon the sight.
The eye ranges over one vast landscape of hills and valleys thickly wooded, and presenting a coup d’oeil of surpassing beauty, above which may be seen the Surrey hills stretching away for miles, and bounding one of nature’s panoramas which defy description. Crossing a small streamlet, called Blackwater Brook, we leave the county of Surrey for Hampshire, and passing beneath a road, we reach Farnborough Station.
At this station the Farnborough cutting ends, and we proceed along an embankment which again reveals some pleasing rural scenery, but the country between here and Winchfield does not demand any lengthened description. This is the nearest station for the Camp at Aldershott.
Passing Fleetpond, we soon arrive at
Leaving the station we enter a deep excavation, and soon after a short tunnel; a lofty embankment follows, which presents us with a series of delightful prospects, amongst which the Odiham hills and their singular clump of trees on the summit figure conspicuously on the left.
Prior to entering on the Hook Common excavation we pass beneath Odiham bridge, which leads to the seat of the late and present Duke of Wellington, Strathfieldsaye, situated about six miles off to the right.
The Heriot hills, crested by lofty firs, soon burst into view, and not long after we pass the interesting ruins of Old Basing, which was, in the Saxon era, a place of considerable note, and the scene of contests during the civil wars. The viaduct the line now passes over affords a good view of the old town, and a short distance beyond we reach
Basingstoke is a straggling, ill-built town, situated on the left in the valley. It is, nevertheless, a place of great antiquity, and appears in Domesday Book as a “market town.”
Basingstoke to Salisbury, Yeovil, and Exeter
Basingstoke to Bishopstoke
Micheldever station. – The line now passes through a country bearing the true Hampshire characteristics of forest scenery, until we reach
Old capital of the British Belgoe, county town of Hampshire, a bishop’s see, and parliamentary borough; stands among round chalk hills, sloping down to the Itchen.
After leaving the station at Winchester the line proceeds through the Barracks Hill excavation, above which are the Barracks, erected on the site of an old palace, where Henry III was born.
The village of Twyford, where Pope was educated at the school of the Rev. Mr. Wyeham, is in the vicinity; thence passing Otterbourne, another straggling village to the right, we reach the station of
The little village that gives name to the station is most pleasantly situated, but contains no object worthy of remark.
This station is the junction point with the branch line to Salisbury, and also the point of union between the Gosport and Southampton trains, the line to the former diverging slightly to the left.
Chandlers Ford station.
Romsey owes its foundation to a monastic establishment. Edward here founded a Benedictine abbey on a very extensive scale and appointed his daughter abbess.
Salisbury is a parliamentary borough and a bishop’s see, in Wiltshire, 96 miles from London, on the rich green pastures of the Avon.
Bishopstoke to Gosport & Portsmouth
Bishopstoke to Southampton
The line traverses a country skirted in each direction by thick woody undulations. On passing Portswood, near to which are the remains of St. Dennis’s Priory, and approaching the town, however, the scenery becomes somewhat less interesting.
A line of railway, about three miles long, extends along the eastern shores of the Southampton Water to Netley Abbey, a place of universal attraction to Southampton visitors. We cross the Itchen, near to which has been erected a noble Military College, and pass by the stations of Portswood, Bitterne Road, and Woolston, to
Remains of the church, chapter-house, refectory, &c., exist, all picturesquely wound with ivy or overshadowed with ash and other trees.
The station, which is close to the quay, and has a commanding position on the banks of the Southampton Water, is admirably adapted for the convenience of passengers.
A fine excursion may be taken from Southhampton to the Channel Islands, a distance of 104 miles; and, as the communication is frequent, and the passage to Guernsey averages about eight hours only, we would introduce a brief sketch of these islands before proceeding to the Isle of Wight. The fares run about 18s and 12s.
Southampton to Dorchester and Weymouth
This line of railway passes through a country of picturesque character and antiquarian interest. It branches off from the South Western Railway at the upper end of the town of Southampton, and passes through a tunnel under the old road to London. The tunnel is nearly 531 yards in length, and is cut through a soil of gravel and clay. The railway then passes on viâ the stations of Redbridge, Totton (for Eling), and Lyndhurst Road, (none of which require special notice), to
This station is most exquisitely situated amidst the charming scenery of the New Forest.
Turning to the left from Brockenhurst, a run of about twenty minutes brings us to the parliamentary borough of
A town prettily situated on the right bank of the river Lymington. Its maritime operations are chiefly confined to the Isle of Wight, with which it has frequent communication.
South Western Main Line continued
On the borders of the New Forest.
Forms the junction of a short line, about seven miles in length. It passes the station of Herne, near to which is Heron Court, the seat of the Earl of Malmesbury. It is in the Elizabethan style of architecture, and has some choice pictures.
The railway continues its course along the Avon to
Christchurch is a town containing some beautiful relics of the past in the ruins of its ancient collegiate church and priory, which are well worthy of notice.
The line now passes from the county of Hants into Dorsetshire.
The town is about half a mile from the station. The Minster, or Collegiate Church, 180 feet long, is a most interesting relic of antiquity, said to have been erected between the years 705 and 723.
Wimborne to Blandford
Population, 3,857, engaged principally in the manufacture of buttons, and agriculture.
The line proceeds from Wimborne over the wooden viaduct across the river Stour, and the next station we reach is Poole Junction, to which town a branch rail of 1¾ mile runs.
A Dorsetshire borough and port, on the South-Western Railway, 122 miles from London, by a small branch out of the main line.
The town, situated on a rising ground, at the top of Poole harbour was once a Roman station and a port, now a borough, in the neighbourhood of which much potters’ and fire-stone clay is found.
A small parliamentary borough, and the capital of Dorsetshire, in a pretty part of the South Downs, at the termination of the South Western railway, 141 miles from London.
Nothing can be more striking and picturesque than the situation of this delightful watering-place.
Further along the coast is Bridport.
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