Pre S&D, in 1854, the Somerset Central Railway (worked by the Bristol & Exeter), provided six trains a day each way between Highbridge and Glastonbury, with just two services each way on Sundays.
The twelve mile journey usually took around thirty five minutes.
The service was run with a single engine and set of coaches.

By 1861, still worked by the Bristol & Exeter, the line had been extended through to Burnham and Wells,
Between Highbridge and Wells there were now seven trains a day each way, still with two on Sundays. Only two of these in each direction stopped at Bason Bridge and Ashcott, others missed Edington Road. The 6 a.m. from Wells stopped only at Glastonbury, and ran the seventeen and a half miles to Highbridge in thirty five minutes. Other trains took from thirty eight to sixty minutes, and with four path crossings at Glastonbury, at least two sets of stock was now required to run this route.

The Burnham extension was regarded as a separate branch by the Bristol & Exeter, which worked the trains in connection with its own main line trains rather than providing a through service over the Somerset Central.
In 1858 there were nine daily departures from Burnham, but only six arrivals, with two or three Sunday trains.
In 1861 there were eleven trains in each direction, but only one or two on Sundays. This service level was maintained by the Somerset & Dorset when it started its 'narrow‑gauge' service.

Meanwhile, the L&SWR had been running a service over the Dorset Central between Wimborne and Blandford, with five trains a day each way, and two on Sundays, taking thirty to thirty five minutes for the ten mile journey with two intermediate stops, and terminating at the temporary station at Blandford St Mary.
This was a shuttle service which rather surprisingly started and finished at Blandford, the engine presumably working light to and from Wimborne each morning and evening.

On the 3rd of February 1862 the Somerset Central, having its broad gauge track converted to 'third rail' to allow mixed gauge running, began to work its own 'narrow gauge' trains between Burnham and Wells and also to Templecombe since opening its extension to Cole linking up with the 'narrow guage' Dorset Central, just prior to the merger of the two companies forming the Somerset & Dorset Railway.


EARLY S&D SERVICES (1863-1873)

In 1863 there were five trains each way Monday to Saturday, with two running on Sundays between Templecombe and Highbridge or Burnham.
The first train out and the last in at Templecombe using the lower station, as did the Sunday trains. The others ran via the lower station to the upper L&SWR station.
There were also five through trains a day between Wells and Highbridge/Burnham.

The best time for the thirty five miles from Burnham to Templecombe was 1hour 42mins, this involved a wait at Highbridge and reversal to reach Templecombe Upper, although most trains took about two hours with ten intermediate stops.

There were also two broad gauge Bristol & Exeter trains, the daily passenger train from Bristol to Wells via Highbridge and a daily goods train.
The Bristol & Exeter working timetables show that the goods train originally worked down to Wells, and then back to Glastonbury, and then continued on to Evercreech, but after February 1864 it ceased working to Evercreech.
In 1864 - 1865 it left Bristol at 10.30 p.m. and ran over the Somerset & Dorset in the early hours of the morning, it later started leaving Bristol later at 3.30 a.m.

The opening of the link between Templecombe and Blandford in August 1863 enabled the Somerset & Dorset to operate its  intended 'Channel to Channel' service. There were four through trains a day each way between Burnham and Hamworthy station at Poole, with two on Sundays.
The best time from Poole to Highbridge was 3hours and 15mins,  and from Burnham to Poole, 3hours and 50mins. Most trains took around four hours for the seventy mile journey, reversing at Wimborne, but only calling at Templecombe Lower from which the  L&SWR provided a shuttle service to the upper station. This shuttle ran until 1867, after then, almost all through trains used the upper station only, at first by means of the old Dorset Central spur, but after 1870 by means of the new spur between the No. 1 and No. 2 junctions.


In the summer of 1864 a fifth train was added, there was a non‑stop run from Highbridge to Glastonbury in twenty minutes, and one of the Sunday trains reached Poole in 3hours and 20mins. from Burnham.

There were a number of local trains running between Burnham and Highbridge, three each way between Burnham and Wells, six each way on the Wells branch itself, and four between Templecombe or Blandford and Wimborne.


By 1874 the service had deteriorated. Sunday trains had  disappeared, and there were generally fewer trains on most routes. The three through trains between Highbridge/Burnham and Hamworthy now ran to the new Poole station, and the best times on this route were now 2hours and 50mins. on the down leg of the journey and 3hours and 15mins. on the up.

Still In preparation...


This was one of the most famous of all services to run over the Somerset & Dorset line. The name is supposed to have been derived from the many Pine trees surrounding the Bournemouth area.

It was a daily Manchester to Bournemouth West express service started on the 1st of October 1910, in response to the GWR / LSWR Birkenhead to Bournemouth via Oxford service, being run jointly by the London & North Western and the Midland Railways.
Because of its success, from the 26th of September 1927 the train took the title of 'The Pines Express', and unlike other through express trains, ran all year round.
In later years it also included portions from Liverpool and Sheffield, the latter running as a separate train during summer weekends.

During the second world war the title was dropped. However on the 23rd of May 1949 'The Pines' was back again, this time under the control of the newly nationalised London Midland, Western and Southern Regions of British Railways.

The Pines Express at Binegar on the last day of operation
The Pines Express at Binegar on the last day of operation over the S&D in 1962

On Saturday the 8th of September 1962 the last up and down workings of 'The Pines Express' were hauled over the S&D by BR 2-10-0 No.92220 'Evening Star', it was turned out in immaculate condition, and all along the line people watched the sad passing of this famous train. On the up journey the loading of the train was 426 tons - a record for an unassisted climb over the Mendip Hills.
From the following Monday 'The Pines' was diverted over to the Southampton, Basingstoke, Reading and Oxford route, thus never running over S&D tracks again.
From the 4th of October 1965 the trains route was extended down to Poole, but end of the line for this great train finally came on the 4th of March 1967.

This section is still under construction


Copyright © Kevin Clapcott
Most recent revision Friday August 10, 2007