The railway arrived in Rowlands Castle in 1859 and was electrified (with a third rail) in 1937, from London Waterloo to Portsmouth via Havant. The Rowlands Castle Station, situated between Petersfield and Havant Stations, was one of the stimuli for Rowlands Castle to develop into a residential village. It is currently regarded as being in the Portsmouth travel-to-work catchment.
While an alternative site for a station was once considered for the older hamlet of Finchdean, it is probable that the current site took preference partly because of the proximity and access to Stansted House and estate. The railway and its sidings benefitted the local brickworks and facilitated export of bricks to London and along the coast.
The sidings were also important during World war II as they allowed assembly of troops and their equipment including tanks, in preparation for the Normandy landings to retake France, the beginning of the end for the War. The troops were scattered under the nearby forests of Stansted Estate. The sidings have long been removed, to be replaced by a builder’s yard with Carraway as one of its users.
Adjacent to the station are flint laced railway arches. The origins and evolution of the railway line will be described more fully in due course.
The Rowlands Castle railway station comprises two platforms serving two tracks, once with modest sidings which are no longer in railway use. The standard service is hourly to both Portsmouth and London Waterloo. The building itself has a ticket office and waiting rooms, together with office accommodation of some six rooms (once in staff residential use). The main building dates from 1859. It was designed by Sir W Tate and is Grade II listed. See the Historic England website.
The station building is a virtually unaltered structure consisting of brick walls of stretcher bond, some rendering, some stucco features; plinth, 1st floor band, arched and flat-arched openings. There is a low-pitched slate roof, hipped at each side. It has a symmetrical west (and east) elevation, with a two-storeyed gabled centre, of two windows, and single-storeyed wings at each side of one window (the south side with a later added window). The narrow upper openings are now filled, as well as those of the wings, there are narrow sashes on each side of the central entrance, which has double doors beneath a fanlight.
Examples of trains used on the Waterloo to Portsmouth line from the late 19th century to the 1980s are shown in Ralph Cousins’ booklet about the Railway in Rowlands Castle.
T9 No. 337
12 car 4-COR
Editorial: Click to scroll through all the images and enlarge them. March 2021. The formation codes are explained in the Class Description image.
21st Century Trains
South Western Railway are the current (2021) franchise company operating trains on the Waterloo to Portsmouth line. They use a mixture of rolling stock.
Class 444 Desiro stock is made up of five carriage sets assembled into either five or ten carriage trains. SWR have 45 Class 444 sets. They are primarily used as fast trains from Waterloo to Portsmouth, Poole and Weymouth.
Class 450 Desiro stock is made up of four carriage sets assembled into four, eight or twelve carriage trains. SWR have 127 Class 450 sets. They are used from Waterloo to Portsmouth, Southampton, Basingstoke and further west to the New Forest and Poole.
Between 2004 and 2006 Sperry Rail International, the world leader in rail infrastructure testing, had an engineering development office in the village adjacent to Hall’s garage. Read the article about Sperry Rail on the Businesses in the Past page.
The Waterloo to Portsmouth line is rarely visited by excursion trains, however, on 14th February 2015 a LNER Thompson Class B1, Mayflower 61306, heading The Cathedrals Express Excursion, roared through the station to the delight of villagers crowded onto the platforms to record the event.
Editorial: The RCHC iconic and well researched Model Railway depicts in detail, particularly the rolling stock, how the London-Portsmouth Railway appeared during World War II, at the time of preparations for the Normandy Landings, .