It seems that the wharf at the terminus in Andover was opened in 1794 and remained open until 18th September 1859 when the canal was closed pending the it’s reconstruction as a railway. This opened as a single track line on 6th March 1865. The line was converted to double track between 1883 and 1885.
Whilst the railway south of Romsey remains very much in use, north of Kimbridge Junction to Andover the line was closed on 7th September 1964. As much of the railway was built on the course of the canal, very little remains of the waterway along this northern section.
Andover Wharf covered an area south of Bridge Street between the Station Hotel and Sainsbury’s, parts of the Borden Gates and Asda car parks and the intervening roundabout. Most of this latter covers the site of the terminal basin. The town’s gas works were established on the south side of the wharf when Andover gained gas street lighting in 1838. The gas works occupied much of the area of the Asda car park.
Opened in March 1865, Andover Town station and its goods yard were built on the site of the canal wharf obliterating the latter entirely. To reach the main line to Salisbury, the railway crossed Bridge Street by means of a level crossing right next to the Station Hotel and along what is now the northbound carriageway of Western Avenue. Today, all signs of the railway in the wharf area have in turn disappeared.
The Station Hotel in Bridge Street remains - it did not belong to either the canal or the railway. It was originally called the Eight Bells when it opened in 1790 adjacent to the wharf whilst the canal was under construction.
Andover Wharf to Rooksbury Mill
Although a public footpath follows the line of the canal/railway from Andover to Upper Clatford only a few traces of the waterway can be seen. When the canal was converted to the railway, a public footpath was constructed on the south side the railway as a replacement for the canal towing path between the wharf and Upper Clatford. The footpath now used by the public runs along the line of the canal/railway itself.
The line of the canal/railway and the modern path is crossed by Redbridge Drive which gives access to some modern housing lying between the canal/railway and the River Anton. A little south of here the remnants of the replaced towing path lie between the modern path and the gardens of houses in Sainsbury Close.
Rooksbury Mill lies on the south-east side of the former canal. Although the present mill building dates from the late 16th or early 17th century, it may be one of the eleven mills that, according to the Domesday Book, existed in Andover in 1089. Flour milling ceased at the site in the early 20th century.
The first bridge south of the wharf carried the access road to the mill over the canal. When the railway was built, the bridge was demolished and replaced by a level crossing. This bridge features in what is said to be the only known contemporary picture of any part the canal.
Rooksbury Mill to Upper Clatford
About 85 yards (75m) south of the mill entrance, the line of the canal diverges to the east of the course of the railway to skirt the lower slopes of Balksbury Hill whilst the railway navvies dug a slight cutting to maintain a straighter line. The line of the canal is hardly discernible and is much overgrown by woodland.
The A303 Andover Bypass, which opened in 1969, crosses the lines of both the canal and railway. The subway under the dual carriageway for the modern path is a few yards east of the line of the railway. The course of the canal passes under the line of the bypass about 40 yards (35m) east of the subway.The course of the canal rejoins the line of the railway just north of the railway crossing of the Pillhill Brook. This culvert replaced the structure that carried the canal over the stream.
Some 250 yards (230m) south of the brook, we arrive at the site of Pill Hill Lock which was the first in the descent to the sea. Immediately before the lock, on the offside, there was a triangular widening for about 80 yards (70m) along the canal and almost 30 yards (27m) wide at its southern end which was about where the front of the two eastern modern bungalows is situated. This was the private wharf for the Waterloo Iron Works established by Robert Tasker in about 1815 at a site (since demolished) approximately ⅔ mile (1 km) west of the waterway. When the railway was built along the canal, the wharf was replaced by a siding. This remained private until 1933 when it became available for public use until the end of 1945. The railway was dismantled in 1968.
Since the demise of the railway, the bridge that carried Water Lane over it has also been demolished and the road realigned. This railway bridge was on the site of an earlier bridge carrying the road over the canal a few yards south of Pill Hill Lock. The lane turned sharply at the east end of the bridges, the site of which is now on the grass verge to the south of today’s realigned lane.
Upper Clatford to Goodworth Clatford
From Water Lane, the canal (and the later railway) ran south towards Goodworth Clatford. There is no footpath beside this length to the south of Water Lane. Whilst some parts of the trackbed have been incorporated into the grounds of adjacent properties, much of the line is overgrown. King’s Lock NG Ref: SU356436. WGS84: 51° 11′ 25″ N, 1° 29′ 31″ W. was about 350 yards (320m) south of Pill Hill Lock but, like most of the canal’s locks north of Kimbridge, it was demolished when the railway was built. South of the lock, Church Lane crosses the railway and a side-stream of the River Anton by a many-arched, slightly skewed bridge built by the railway company. This replaced the earlier and much smaller canal bridge which was just to the south, crossing the waterway at right angles.
The combined course of the canal and railway continues in a generally south-easterly direction. About a third of a mile (0.5km) south of Church Lane, this course, much of it overgrown, runs alongside the road to Goodworth Clatford until the north end of that village.
The first pair of semi-detached bungalows on the left as the village is entered occupies the site of Welche’s Lock NG Ref: SU360426. WGS84: 51° 10′ 54″ N, 1° 29′ 09″ W.. They also sit across what was the railway track at the north end of the platforms of Clatford Station. The first station since Andover Town extended from here to the level crossing over the lane leading to the deep ford across the River Anton. The main station buildings lay across the entrance to the current car park. The railway tracks (and the former canal) ran through what is now the small water pumping station. The former level crossing had replaced the original canal bridge.
In 2010, some villagers cleared some of the area between the station and the river and this is now known as Riverside Rest. The remains of the base of the signal box and other remnants of the past can be seen there.
Goodworth Clatford - Westover
South of the site of Clatford Station, parts of the line of the canal/railway have been incorporated into adjacent gardens. The Riverside Walk site is an area located on the north side of Church Lane, just behind the Royal Oak pub. The lower path in this area follows the route for about 60 yards (55m). The railway bridge in Church Lane has been replaced by an embankment. On the south side of the lane, a further 100 yards (90m) of former canal/railway lying next to the main River Anton and the Sheepwash stream can be explored. South of this, the line crosses the grounds of the Village Club and the Tennis Club courts although no trace of either transport mode can be identified. Further south, the course has been largely incorporated into adjacent properties until the village is left behind.
On leaving the village south along Longstock Road, the line of the former canal/railway returns to run close to the road and then follows near Westover Farm Road. The next lock on the descent to Stockbridge was Westover Lock. The exact position of this lock is uncertain, but from old maps and the latest LIDAR height data from the Environment Agency (which gives heights to a resolution of better than 1 metre), it would seem that the lock Approximate position NG Ref: SU363411. WGS84: 51° 10′ 07″ N, 1° 28′ 53″ W. was about 250 or 300 yards (230-275m) north of Westover Farmhouse. It has to be remembered that construction of the railway would have included “smoothing off” the vertical step in the canal at each lock.
Westover - Fullerton
Westover Farm Road continues south-eastwards past Westover Farmhouse moving away slightly from the line of the railway until the road ends at the last house. At this point the course of the canal / railway is about 60 yards (55m) to the north-east. From here a public path gradually approaching then joining the canal / railway after some 180 yards (170m).
Over the next 250 yards (230m), the level course of the canal and the original railway gradually part company from the line of the later double track which gently climbs on the approach to a cutting. At a gate across the newer railway, the public footpath diverges from the railway, climbing the slope of a hill called Trent Hill on the 1810 Ordnance Survey One Inch map but not named on later maps.
For slightly more than the next mile (1.6km), the course of the canal is on private land. About 250 yards beyond the gate, the course of the canal swings eastwards away from the alignment of the single and double track railways. The canal ran around the foot of Trent Hill paralleling the River Anton and a carrier stream just yards away, but not entering either, and turning south to rejoin the railway after about 750 yards (690m). The “dry” course of the canal is still discernible today.
Hardimans Lock was the next after Westover Lock but again the exact location is uncertain although some say that there are remains Approximate position NG Ref: SU372405. WGS84: 51° 09′ 46″ N, 1° 28′ 08″ W..
When the single track railway was constructed in the early 1860s, a curving route in a cutting through the flank of the hill (and south-west of the waterway) was dug to avoid having as tight a bend as the canal had. At its greatest, the distance between the canal and the railway route is about 120 yards (110m). It seems that the cutting was built wide enough the allow the line to be doubled. However, when the railway line was in fact doubled about 20 years later, a new cutting was built up to 40 yards (35m) further south-west again, apparently to further increase the radius of the curve.
After the point where the line of the canal rejoins the railway, the single track railway of the 1860s was built on the infilled canal as far as Fullerton Station. However, when the railway was doubled, a new course on a up to 35 yards (32m) to the north-east was adopted to ease the bend as the route swings to the south-east. The modern Golden Pond fishing lake NG Ref: SU376396. WGS84: 51° 09′ 18″ N, 1° 27′ 49″ W. was constructed on the strip of land between the two courses of the railway. As the canal / railway approaches Fullerton station, the route crosses the River Anton on a railway bridge which was built on the site of the earlier canal aqueduct.
Less than 50 yards (45m) from the river crossing is a two arched bridge carrying the A3057 road from Andover to Stockbridge. Between these two features, the canal route is joined by a permissive bridleway from the right allowing horse riders and walkers to pass under the dangerous main road. Almost immediately after the bridge the path turns left to join the public path on the station approach road.