Skip to main content

Sandbanks Transporter Bridge


Branksome & Swanage Light Railway was a proposal to build a 13 miles line from the County Gates through Branksome Park to Canford Cliffs. From there it would travel to Sandbanks and then to the entrance to Poole Harbour. This would be crossed by a transporter bridge so that the line could make its way onto Swanage.

Promoters of the Scheme argued that it would open up the health giving opportunities of the Isle of Purbeck to Bournemouth & Poole residents as well as making Swanage less isolated. A representative of the promoters was reported as saying that they wanted a pretty route because they ‘did not want to flood Branksome Park with rif-raf!’

A suspended gondola would carry the tram cars across the water at a height of 90 metres so as not to interfere with shipping. There are similar transporter bridges built in both Newport and Middlesbrough. The intended drive system would have used electric motors under the gondola to draw the platform across the harbour mouth by grabbing a tethered chain – in a way not dissimilar to a chain link ferry.

The company planned to raise £266,000 to finance the project to include £30,000 to build the transporter bridge. Annual revenue of £36,000 was projected to yield an £18,100 net profit. Electricity would be provided by the Bournemouth Electricity Supply Company. The service would run for 18 hours every day and cover 700,000 miles every year. Fares would be set at one old penny per mile together with four old pennies (about 2p) to cross the bridge.

Unfortunately for the promoters, the Scheme met widespread opposition to include Bournemouth & Poole Corporations, the Poole Harbour Commissioners, Branksome Park Estate, London & South Western Railway, the Bankes Estate and Wareham & Purbeck Rural District Council. Poole Council had met in December 1905 and had concluded that the proposed Branksome & Swanage Light Railway Scheme offered absolutely no benefit to the town. They feared the potential interference with shipping into and out of Poole and did not want the developers to acquire land that could in future be used for better purposes.

With such overwhelming local opposition, the Light Railway Commissioners felt , whose role was to evaluate the proposal, they had to reject it so the bridge was never built.

However, one can but speculate how different Sandbanks and the Isle of Purbeck would be today if the Branksome & Swanage Light Railway transporter bridge had been built.

(Sources: 1906 copies of Western Gazette & Bournemouth Graphic.)


Popular posts from this blog

True Lovers Knot - a Tragic Tale

True Lovers Knot public house describes itself as a traditional  inn set in a picturesque Dorset valley in Tarrant Keynston. Yet, this historical hostelry is said to have gained its name from a particularly tragic tale and still to be haunted by a distressed former publican. This publican’s son met and fell in love with the daughter of the local squire. Because the young lad was not from the gentry they decided to keep their relationship secret from her father. Unfortunately, a stable hand saw the two young lovers together and told her father. Set firmly against this friendship the squire made plans to send his daughter away from the district. Not able to face up to life without her boyfriend, the young girl decided to commit suicide and hanged herself from a tree in the village. So upset was the publican’s son of hearing of his girlfriend’s death he too hanged himself from the same tree. The Tarrant Keynston publican had, himself lost his wife at child birth and now losing his son b

Tarrant Rushton's Nuclear Secret

Tarrant Rushton was a large RAF base used for glider operations during World War II. It was then taken over by Flight Refuelling for the conversion of aircraft for the development of aircraft in-flight refuelling. However, between 1958 & 1965, the Tarrant Rushton airfield had a much more secretive and less publicised role. This was in support of the nation’s nuclear bomber deterrent, as Tarrant Rushton airfield became a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) dispersal unit.   During 1958, contractors Costain reinforced the main runway and carried out other work to ensure the giant bomber aircraft could be accommodated. At times just a few miles from Blandford, there would have been up to four RAF Vickers Valiant bombers at Tarrant Rushton ready to become airborne in minutes charged with nuclear weapons. The bombers were from 148 Squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk. As there was no suitable accommodation at the airfield, an old US Air Force Hospital building at Martin was used. At the time, the

Chimney Sweep Tragedy

Crown Hotel, Blandford is reckoned to be one of Dorset’s oldest hostelries. Yet its most tragic day, during a long history, must surely be when a young chimney sweep lost his life. The chimney sweep, who was just a child, suffocated and was burnt to death in a Crown Hotel chimney which had been alight a little while before. ‘His cries were dreadful and no-one could give assistance. Part of the chimney was taken down before he was got out.’ (Salisbury & Winchester Gazette 27th March 1780) The lad had gone up one chimney and attempting to go down another had become stuck. At the time children were used to climb up chimneys to clean out soot deposits. With hands and knees, they would shimmy up narrow dark flue spaces packed thick with soot and debris. After the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford it was realised that it was important to sweep chimneys regularly while many rebuilt houses had narrower ones. Smaller chimneys and complicated flues were a potential death trap for children. The sw