The Salisbury & Dorset Junction Railway was built to consolidate the LSWR’s domination of Hampshire and south Dorset, and to keep the GWR away from Bournemouth. It also gaveSalisbury businessmen a more direct route to Poole and Weymouth. Almost half of the 18½-mile route was in Dorset, with less than five miles apiece in Wiltshire and Hampshire. Passing through three counties, it traversed contrasting landscapes and served a wide if thinly populated agricultural area.
The water meadows between Downton and Fordingbridge produced cattle, milk and watercress. South-west of Fordingbridge, the clay soil had given rise to brick and tile manufacture centuries before the coming of the railway, enabling these industries to expand and distribute their wares over a much wider area. Year-round passenger traffic on the line was at best erratic, but the line provided a useful diversionary and holiday route.
In the circumstances, it is not surprising that the line became a victim of the Beeching axe in 1964, but since then the population of the towns it served has grown considerably. If it had remained open, the line would now be very useful, particularly for travel to Salisbury and the Bournemouth-Poole conurbation.