Shillingstone Station opened in 1863 lit by oil lamps and closed just over a century later, still without gas or electricity. Built by the Dorset Central Railway, it became part of the Somerset and Dorset Junction Railway which provided a through route from Bath to Bournemouth. From 1910 The Pines Express gave holidaymakers from Manchester and the North direct access to the South Coast. Unusually for a small country station Shillingstone boasted a canopy, giving shelter to King Edward VII when alighting to visit his friends the Ismays at Iwerne Minster.
In February 1915 war poet Rupert Brooke marched with colleagues of the Hood Naval Battalion from Blandford Camp to entrain for Avonmouth and Gallipoli. It was easier to load the Battalion’s mules at Shillingstone rather than at Blandford. Brooke, well known for such lines as: Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea? died from septicaemia following an infected mosquito bite off Greece.
In 1966 Dr Beeching’s axe fell on the Somerset and Dorset line. The track was lifted in 1967; since 2005 volunteers of the North Dorset Railway Trust have been working to restore the station and some of the track. Jack Bath, Curator, and fellow Trustee David Caddy will tell the story of The Station They Never Closed (officially) at 2.30pm on Tuesday 05 March. This illustrated talk is free to members of The Shaftesbury & District Historical Society while non-members may pay £3 at the door.