The Southampton and Dorchester Railway was an English railway company formed to join Southampton in Hampshire with Dorchester in Dorset, with hopes of forming part of a route from London to Exeter. It received Parliamentary authority in 1845 and opened in 1847.
Southampton and Dorchester Railway
Its route across the New Forest was determined by the requirements of the Commissioners of the Forest, and west of Brockenhurst it ran via Ringwood; at that time Bournemouth was not considered an important settlement; Poole was served by a branch to Lower Hamworthy, across a toll bridge from the town.
In the late 19th century, a shorter route via Christchurch and Bournemouth was built, and the former main line between Lymington Junction and Hamworthy Junction was reduced to the status of a local branch line, finally closing in the 1960s. However the end sections, from Southampton to Lymington Junction and from Hamworthy Junction to Dorchester, remain operational and form part of the important South West Main Line.