When the railway was first opened in March 1865, a station was provided immediately east of the main road bridge and was initially known as Fullerton Bridge. In October 1871 this changed to plain Fullerton. The line was doubled in time for the opening of a branch from Fullerton to Longparish and Hurstbourne (on the Basingstoke to Salisbury line west of Whitchurch) in June 1885. Fullerton station was moved about 150 yards south-eastwards to accommodate the junction. This new station was known as Fullerton Junction from May 1889 to July 1929 when it reverted to plain Fullerton.
The branch to Hurstbourne was closed to passengers in July 1931. Closed completely from Hurstbourne to Longparish in May 1934 and subsequently dismantled, the remaining branch to the latter place was busy during the war serving extensive RAF ammunition stores. The line was completely closed in May 1956. Closure of the “Sprat & Winkle” line came on 7 September 1964 between Kimbridge Junction (north of Romsey) and Andover Town station. The track was lifted and the junction station buildings were demolished in the autumn of 1968 and 1969. The old station house at the original station remains and has been much extended. The remains of its platforms are still present in the garden. The remains of the Junction station’s platforms can be seen in the trees and bushes that now occupy that part of the site.
Having come under the main road bridge and past the old station, the line of the canal followed a course immediately south-west of the Junction station. Fullerton Lock seems to have been located in this area somewhere between the two river crossings of the Test and Anton. It had a small rise of just over 4 feet (1.3m) which is approximately the difference in river levels at the two crossings.
Fullerton Station to Testcombe
South of Fullerton station, the canal crossed the River Test on a low aqueduct. When converted to a single track railway, it seems that the railway crossed the river in the same place although the railway track southwards was up to about 12 yards (11m) to the west of the canal to ease the curve under the Testcombe road bridge. When the line was doubled in the early 1880’s the line was further eased to the west by up to 25 yards (23m) more. The old routes of the canal and the earlier railway have been incorporated into the grounds of the houses in Coley Lane. Also Kitecombe Lock was probably between the road bridge and the Test aqueduct and little if any trace of these features is visible today.
The canal / railway route passes under the A3057 again at Testcombe Bridge. In the 18th century, Testcombe was usually referred to as Kitcombe or Kitecombe and earlier as Titcombe. Maybe Victorian sensibilities were put out by the latter form and is today called Testcombe. In fact there are now 3 bridges in close proximity. The first is the bridge over the River Test next to The Mayfly public house (formerly the Seven Stars). Then to the east come two two-arch bridges that each spanned railway lines.
The first railway bridge was built in about 1864 on the course of the canal, replacing the waterway bridge. It has two arches to accommodate a double track but only the western arch was ever used. When the line was doubled in the 1880s, a new bridge was built about 25 yards (23m) to the west so that a less sharp curve could be laid out and this involved moving about 100 yards of the easternmost channel of the River Test south of the road a few yards to the west. Somewhat surprisingly, the older railway bridge was not demolished.
Immediately north of the railway bridges, the Test Way joins the route of the dismantled railway. This long distance path runs for 44 miles (71km) from Inkpen Hill, just over the county boundary in Berkshire, to Eling at the head of Southampton Water. The Way utilises the former railway until Lower Brook, north of Romsey.
Testcombe to Leckford
The former canal / railway now runs beside or near to the A3057 all the way to Stockbridge along the east side of the Test valley and initially with the River Test just a few yards to the west. In some places where the railway eased bends in the canal line, a depression beside the railway formation can be seen amongst the trees and bushes but in many places the original line of the railway coincided with the canal.
The first accommodation bridge over the former railway is ⅔ mile (1.0km) south of Testcombe. A few yards north of the bridge, the line of the canal veers east slightly to run about a dozen yards east of and parallel to the railway. Nearly 200 yards (180m) south of the bridge, a depression in the wide “verge” on the south-east side of the Test Way marks the position of Leckford Lock.
As the canal passed the west side of Leckford village, there were a number of bridges (most of which were probably wooden lift bridges) over the waterway to enable access to the meadows between the canal and the River Test. When the original single track railway was built in the 1860s these seem to have been replaced by level crossings but when the second track was added in the 1880s some of them were replaced by overbridges but there is evidence on the ground that some level crossings were retained.
Leckford to Whiteshape Bridge
About a quarter of a mile after the second accommodation bridge, the remains of the canal can be found next to the A3057 road. Both the older single track and later double track railway adopted the same slightly straighter route up to 25 yards (23m) away from the canal.
Just north of the third accommodation bridge after Testcombe, the course of the canal crosses to the north-west side of the railway and then rejoins the course of the railway after about 270 yards (250m). From here to Whiteshape Railway Bridge all traces of the canal were obliterated by the doubling of the railway.
The next bridge is known today as Whiteshape Railway Bridge and carries a road known as “The Bunny” from the A3057 across the valley to the village of Longstock. The railway bridge replaced the earlier canal bridge and the next lock was probably on the north side of this Approximate position NG Ref: SU364366. WGS84: 51° 07′ 40″ N, 1° 28′ 50″ W.. The cartographer George Bradshaw, in 1830, gives the name of this lock as White Ship Lock. Ordnance Survey mapping before 1870 doesn’t name the bridge but after that date the name “Whiteshape” appears. Did Bradshaw mis-spell the name or is the more modern name a corruption? We’ll probably never know. A long time local resident is certain the name is “Whiteshape” because of the huge chalk cutting (now largely obscured by vegetation) on the east side of the A3057 that was used to fill in the canal when building the railway. However, was the chalk pit there before that?
Whiteshape Bridge to Stockbridge
South of Whiteshape Bridge, the canal and the original railway line ran alongside Leckford Lane (A3057) for over half a mile. This included (in railway terms) two sharpish curves and when the line was doubled a smoother, less sharp curve took the line further from the road. A ditch ran (and still runs) between the road and the site of the single track railway: this is a remnant of the canal. It appears that the original single track railway was built on a ‘widened towing path’, leaving a narrowed channel for drainage.
After about a third of a mile (0.5km) from Whiteshape Bridge, the course of the canal / railway is now used as an access to some fields to the west. After a further 300 yards (290m) the course emerges onto the A3057.
A few years after the railway had been dismantled, a new road from the east end of Stockbridge High Street was built northwards along the railway's course which included realignment of part of Leckford Lane north of the A30 road to Basingstoke. Thus, the newer railway alignment is followed by the modern road. The line of the canal and the original railway (built on the waterway) runs in the trees and bushes on the eastern side of the modern road. Leckford Lane (A3057) used to run across the field to the east joining the A30 about 150 yards (140m) east of the roundabout.
Some 200 yards (180m) south of the roundabout with the A30 to Basingstoke, the site of Stockbridge Lock NG Ref: SU360353. WGS84: 51° 06′ 57″ N, 1° 29′ 12″ W. lies on the east side of the new road but the construction of the original railway seems to have destroyed it.
South of the site of the lock, lies the site of Stockbridge Station and its associated goods yard but all traces of both the canal and railway have disappeared. The canal company had a wharf in Stockbridge NG Ref: SU358350. WGS84: 51° 06′ 50″ N, 1° 29′ 19″ W.. This was just north of the bridge carrying main road from Salisbury to Winchester over the canal and later the site of the station goods yard. When the canal was converted, the road was diverted over the railway via a long bridge just north of the old road alignment. With the closure of the railway, the site of road bridge and the station buildings is now occupied by the roundabout at the east end of the High Street.