Stop 9: The Railway Arches-Information

This bridge carrying the railway line from Waterloo to Portsmouth arrived in Rowlands Castle in 1859. The line was electrified with a third rail in 1937. The building of the railway was one of the stimuli that led to Rowland’s Castle developing into a large residential village.

It is currently regarded as being in the Portsmouth travel-to-work catchment and is also used for commuter travel to London. As an alternative site for a station, it was once considered for the older hamlet of Finchdean, then more developed than Rowlands Castle. It is probable that the current site took precedence partly because of the proximity and access to Stansted House and Estate. The railway and its siding also benefited the local brickworks and facilitated the transport of coal to fuel the kiln and exports of bricks to London and along the coast.

The railway caused the destruction of much of the Motte of the old Motte and Bailey Castle, the White Hart Pub, which was rebuilt as the Castle, and it also destroyed a good part of the village green which had previously gone some distance up Woodberry Lane. The owners of Stansted considered the arches so ugly that they moved the main entrance to the Estate from this location to where it now stands.

There were probably strong emotions among the villagers at this time about the impact of the railway but there is no doubt that the coming of the railway changed Rowlands Castle dramatically. It provided a boost for some industries like the brickworks and it also became a place that people visited from Portsmouth and elsewhere. This provided business for the local inns and began the village’s role as a place for commuters and the gentrification of the village along Bulls Hill that became Bowes Hill and Dirty Lane that became Links Lane.

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 sidings have long been removed and replaced by a builder’s yard.

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