The London and Southampton Railway was authorised by an act of Parliament in
July 1834 and by 1847 there was a branch line passing through West Grimstead
from Bishopstoke (Eastleigh) to Salisbury. Initially it only carried goods but
within the year carried passengers as well. It can hardly be imagined the
effect that the coming of the railways to a small village in Wiltshire must have
had. As often happens in modern times with something new and life
changing, many must have objected to and feared the future after the coming of
the trains. Certainly during the construction of the lines it must have
The 'Navvies' as the workers were called, came from all over the
These were hard working strong men. Some brought their families but many were on
their own and they needed to be
kept fed and 'watered'. This must have helped many local residents such as
bakers, butchers, farriers and blacksmiths. But reports in the
local paper shows that the police were constantly having to deal with
disturbances caused by navvies getting drunk and disorderly.
As time went on I am sure that any objections to the railways
must have been replaced by the realisation of the benefits that it brought.
For farmers and other producers it meant that their milk and other products
could be quickly transported to the towns with the journeys by horse and carts
much reduced in time and effort. The trains took people to the coast and
cities and changed families lives. From living within a narrow social structure
of local village life villagers became connected to the wider world.
West Grimstead has never had it's own station but it is only a
short distance to West Dean where the station is still in use. Nowadays
is unmanned and the building has been sold to private owners. But not so long ago
the Railway men who manned the ticket office and the signal box were there and
lived in the cottages situated along the lane
by the side of the station.
Over the years most types of LSWR and SR locomotives must have
worked over the route through West Grimstead. In the November 1859 timetable up
to eight passenger trains ran past Grimstead in each direction on weekdays and
three on Sundays. Diesel trains started to run the line in 1957 and steam
locomotives finally disappeared in July 1967 but due to the various railway
preservation societies we still see them on the line passing through the village
several times a year.