Village Trail . . .

 This 'trail' is an attempt to describe some of the features in West Moors - based on a journey from south to north along Station Road, then a diversion down Pinehurst Road. There are some snippets of history buried in the script which show that there's more to the village than might be supposed! If any part of this text (or its images) is unclear, please contact me via email.

 Until the middle of the 19th century what we now call Station Road was a parish maintained trackway, dry and dusty in a hot summer, muddy & rutted in wet weather, frosted or snow covered in a bitter winter. It was used to connect the various farms in this rather out-of-the-way corner of the old West Parley parish with the Ringwood - Wimborne turnpike. Even with the arrival of a railway in 1847 little changed. It needed the opening of a railway station in 1867 to encourage better maintenance of the track - and for it to gain a name! The station has long disappeared but the name remains and (as the B3072) now forms the 'spine' of the community and acts as a through route to Verwood.

 STATION ROAD: from the Uddens to The Petwyn . . . .


Bridge over the Uddens  The southern boundary of the civil parish of West Moors closely follows the alignment of Uddens Water (since 2015 the boundary was moved slightly to the south and it now runs, in part, along the A31), crossed here by a relatively modern bridge; the waterway takes its name from the former Uddens House & Estate lying to the west, through which this tributary of the Moors River flows.
 The name 'Uddens' (sometime 'Udding' or 'Uddyng') is thought to be of Saxon origin, possibly a 'personal' association such as .. "Udda's place". Large tracts of land in the local area were owned by the family resident on the Estate. The Uddens is joined about 250 metres west of the bridge by Mannington Brook, flowing out of the north and the whole eventually drains via the Moors River into the Dorset Stour, thence to the English Channel via Christchurch harbour.
 The 'Riverside Walk' follows the Uddens and Mannington waters, which can be joined here (just over the bridge).
 In spring 2015, the roadway was widened just to the north of the Uddens to allow this pedestrian 'island' crossing to be installed. This now makes it much safer to cross the road between the Woolslope recreation area (to the right in this image) and the Riverside Walk / Pennington's Copse area (to the left, behind the wooden fence). Care should still be exercised though as, despite the 30 mph limit - traffic tends to race along rather smartly!  Pedestrian Crossing near the Uddens 
 A couple of years before, in 2013, in concert with the work undertaken to lay 'all-weather' paths on the old Woolslope farmland, the footways forming part of Riverside Walk were also upgraded. As the vegetation grows back, this walk has become a very attractive feature. This view is of the newly prepared pathway as it runs off Station Road near the bridge in the images above.  Woolslope Farm pathway 
Riverside Walk on Woolslope Farm
 A few years on ( 2019 ) and this autumnal view of the path heading off into the Woolslope recreational area neatly demonstrates the pleasant walk available within a short distance of the centre of West Moors village: the information boards are dotted about the area and carry much useful information.
 There is more on local walks later in this note. [ See the 'Nature Trail' elsewhere on this site for more on these walks: this link opens in the same browser window.] 
 A little way north of the Uddens, Station Road bends sharply to the left, with a 'restricted byway' cutting straight ahead; this latter is part of a network of older pathways that was used to access the former common land.
 Woolslope Farm, one of half-a-dozen farms in the area now lost to development, used to stand off to the east of the road. It was one of the oldest and largest of our original farms - its fields extended across much of the land between Pinehurst Road and the line of the Uddens.
 The area still carries the name of the farm, but despite developers alluding to the wool trade, the name has been misinterpreted. 'Woolslope' is a relatively recent transformation from "Woolslap", and before that from "Wylla-slæp", which is thought to be from Old English, meaning boggy area (slæp) associated with a spring or stream (Wyll or Wylla): nothing to do with sheep!
 It is hoped to turn the remaining fields bordering the northern bank of the Uddens into a community 'open space' in the years to come. By the end of 2013, 'all-weather' footpaths had been laid out together with associated bridges & gates. See the appropriate section later for more details. There is also an enhanced section dealing with the Woolslope amenity in the 'Nature Trail' linked at the end of this note.

 The village War Memorial used to stand at the junction of Station Road with Pinehurst and Moorside roads - from its initial erection in 1920 until traffic became too heavy to safely hold the annual Remembrance Services. It was re-located to the current site in 1971 at the end of the Petwyn, which is a little further up Station Road. The Petwyn takes its name from one of several families who, in the 17th century, were allotted tracts of rough heathland for low-level agricultural use.

 View of the village war memorial
Petwyn seating area with memorial plaques  This particular area was saved from potential housing development relatively recently (2006) and now provides a pleasant 'green space' on the approach to the village centre. Here is the re-located War Memorial and also a stone marking the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession. At Christmas, the village tree is placed alongside the War Memorial. The entire site is managed on behalf of the village by the parish council.

 In the spring of 2016, the parish council erected a flagpole on the Petwyn, adjacent to the central seating area.
 This was first used on the 21st April of that year, when the Union flag was hoisted to honour the 90th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

Flagpole Petwyn 2016
Memorial on the Petwyn
 In October 2019, another memorial stone was added to The Petwyn - at the opposite end to the older War Memorial, near the turning for Queens Close. It is intended to be a secular focus of respect for all those who have served the community and country in whatever way - not just those who fell in the two World Wars. The stone was erected through a donation from the family of a local resident, Phillip Eccleston.




 Close-by the junction of Station Road with Park Way and Pennington Road (Tesco Express & Elephant & Castle public house either side) a stream used to cross the road - rising in the heathland to the north-east of the village and flowing away into Pennington Copse, joining Mannington Brook on the south-western periphery of the parish. It is now largely culverted, but if you know where to look, you can see it crossing Moorlands Road, close to the junction with Arnold Road - a link with a more rustic past.

 Junction Station Rd and Park Wayle_Tesco

 It is at this point along Station Road that West Moors can claim a tentative link with a global entertainment phenomenon. In the early 1970s, two young girls would periodically stay with their grandparents, Ernie and Kathleen Rowling who ran 'Glenwood Stores', the grocery that used to stand on the site of the modern-day Tesco Express. The two girls were allowed to play 'shops' with the stock after hours. The elder of the two, Joanne, failing to have another 'given' name, used her much-loved grandmother's initial, K, when her publishers wanted to promote her first novel: as "JK Rowling" she is of course the world-renowned author of the Harry Potter saga.

 Just a short way along Park Way (beyond Tesco Express) is the Parish Council office. This office opened in 2011, replacing temporary accommodation to the rear of the village library. A wide range of community information can be obtained from the office. Follow this link for opening times and more detail.

 Parish Office in 2013
Station Road Shops  Returning to Station Road and here is the central "cluster" of shops and other services - including the post office ( within the Spar shop ), two doctors' surgeries, the village chemist (down Farm Road), Estate AgentsBrewer & Brewer and Dixon Kelley ), a fish & ship shop, other 'take-away' establishments, cafes, a butcher, hairdressers / salons, charity shops etc. In 2015, a Community Defibrillator was installed by the Co-op ( now Spar - changed hands December 2019 ), paid for by the local Lions Club - and supervised by the parish council. 
 On either side of the corner of Station Road with Moorlands Road stands the village Library [ image at the head of this page ] & the United Reformed Church. This latter (St. Martin's) is the most 'central' of our four churches - a place of worship having been on this site since 1903 - though the building that now occupies the spot dates from the 1970s.  URC 2013 frontage
 Following Farm Road as it descends gently to the Mannington Brook, roughly half-way along is one of several access points to Pennington Copse and carrying on along its full length, you'll eventually come to another of the access points for the Riverside Walk.
Old Crossing Lodge Station Rd  Back on Station Road, and continuing north, opposite Mary Lane (an access point for the Castleman Trailway), is one of the oldest buildings in West Moors: the original railway crossing lodge opened in 1847. Although modified, the core of the building can be plainly seen and is one of our few remaining links with the old railway.
 Opposite the crossing lodge is Castleman Court, but until the 1970s this was the site of the old junction railway station. The station building was originally opened in August 1867 (a year after the junction itself) and closed to passenger traffic in May 1964. Though passenger traffic ceased then (general goods ceasing a year later), rail operations to the MOD fuel depot were to continue until 1974 - after which the remaining railway line was lifted and the Station Road level crossing was removed.
Railway Information Board near Castleman Court
 The residential development that stands at this spot is named after Charles Castleman, an influential local solicitor & estate manager whose family had offices in Ringwood & Wimborne. Castleman was an important figure in the project to bring the first main-line railway to Dorset in the 1840s, and for a short while was Chairman of the L & SWR. In 2018 an information board outlining the history of the railway that ran across this point was erected alongside the bus shelter, on land donated by the company that owns / manages Castleman Court.

 Next to the crossing lodge (noted above) is the Tap and Railway pub / restaurant, formerly the Railway Hotel, built originally at the turn of the 19th / 20th centuries as the village entered upon one of its periodic growth spurts. It has been enlarged since then and is a very popular family-friendly facility close to the centre of the village.

 Tap And Railway Pub Restaurant
Cluster Shops near Riverside Rd  Beyond the "Tap" is another, smaller shopping area complementing the larger retail centre just to the south. There is a charity shop, a pet food/supplies shop, & a second-hand book store on one side of the road and opposite is 'Centenary Place', a new complex built in 2011/2012 - standing of the site of an earlier post office & hardware stores - another charity shop & an upholstery outlet (as of early winter 2018) can be found here.
 Slightly to the north of these shops and on the opposite side of Station Road, is the turning for Ashurst Road: about half-way down this road the local Guides, Brownies etc., have their purpose-built hall. Opposite this turning is that for Riverside Road - and tucked away just a little way down on the right is a thatched house - which was one of the 19th century farm-houses that have survived to the present day as a private house.


 Leaving these behind, the old vicarage - an imposing building in late Victorian 'ecclesiastical' style - is on the right (when travelling north) and although now surrounded by later properties, the link with the school and church, all built roughly at the same time, is plain to see. Incidentally, opposite the old vicarage is the 'staggered' re-entry point for the Castleman Trailway, clearly signed.


 Old Vicarage, West Moors
 Nearby St. Mary's school is now a 'first' (& nursery) school but originally it was the sole source of education for local children from a wide area - retaining this role until well into the second-half of the twentieth century. It was - and still is - closely associated with St. Mary's parish church on the other side of The Avenue, which was built in the late 1890s and consecrated in 1908. There is a small churchyard attached, within which are the graves of the Fryer family, who were once large land-holders in West Moors. [ Image of the church is at the head of this page. ]
 The roads hereabout - Ashurst, Woodside, Denewood, Highfield and The Avenue represent the 'heart' of the original village that developed to the north of the railway in late Victorian / early Edwardian times, within a short walk of the junction station. 
 On the opposite side of Station Road (to the church & school) is the Memorial Hall, opened in 1929, with West Moors Memorial Social Club alongside. The Memorial Hall building [ see image at the head of this page ] was funded by subscription in memory of those who did not return after the Great War. As the 'village' hall, it is run by an independent Hall Council made up of regular users and village representatives. The land on which the Hall is built used to belong to the aforesaid Fryer family, being donated by Brig. Gen. Frederic Blashford Fryer.
 Behind the Hall are a skatepark, the bowls club and other facilities, and a little way away is Fryer Field, with the Pavilion alongside. A variety of sports is played here and the Pavilion houses a Youth Club and also hosts meetings of the Parish Council.
 On the edge of Fryer Field is a children's play facility - with pedestrian access off Station Road, opposite the parish church. This is something of a 'hidden gem' in the community as it lies out of sight of the casual visitor passing along the road, but also means that it is a quiet, relaxing area to bring young children (under 12 years old), with the bonus of having the vast expanse of the playing field adjacent for youngsters to let off steam! The play area was completely refurbished in 2017.
 Refurbished Play Area Fryer Field

 STATION ROAD: north of the village . . . .


 Continuing north out of the village and the aspect becomes somewhat greener. On the left is Gulliver's Farm once owned by the Wessex smuggler Isaac Gulliver (1745-1822), though only the barn (late 18th century) is original - the farmhouse was destroyed by fire and re-built. The barn houses a Farm Shop/Cafe [opened  early October 2015] - which is a useful addition to the facilities in the community. An extension to enhance the catering side of the concern was opened in 2018 - the view here is May Holiday Monday.
Gullivers Farm Shop and Cafe 
  After being a separate agricultural unit for over two centuries, Gulliver's farm is now part of the wider Sturts Community Trust, [ web site being updated in 2020 - may not be accurate in all respects ] with a combined total of around 90 acres to its credit - helping adults with learning difficulties develop through practical work in an agricultural setting: Sturts Farm itself is a little further on beyond the bend, and is the heart of a full-time sustainable / organic farming operation. In addition to the Farm Shop (above) they also operate a farm produce " Market Stall " once a week near Ringwood ( as of 2020, not sure this is still running? ).
West Moors Allotments August 2019
From summer 2016, the Sturts Community have made available land & facilities so that local residents can have their own allotments. The day-to-day management of the scheme will be through the West Moors Allotment Association, and overall supervision etc., will be through the parish council; if you would like more information, contact the Parish Office. The image to the left is of the mature plots in August 2019.
 The unusual 'sharp-right/sharp-left' arrangement of the B3072 here betrays a much older arrangement. The track that became Station Road would have carried on northward near Sturt's Farm, whilst the modern 'Three Cross Road', again originally just a track, ran due south (over what it now part of the Fuel Depot) to the old Ringwood - Wimborne turnpike; this alignment was cut and abandoned when the railway was built in the mid 1840s. 
Holt Heath   Linking these, from west to east, is Newman's Lane which also gave access to Newman's Farm - which boasted perhaps the oldest farmhouse (until demolished) in this part of Dorset. Near the current replacement is the access to Holt Heath, a managed nature reserve which is based upon one of Dorset's largest remaining areas of lowland heathland.
 Just a little way along from the entrance to Sturts Farm is the 'other' crossing lodge in the village; this has been considerably enlarged / altered since it was built by the Salisbury & Dorset Junction Railway. The single-line track, opened in 1866, ran across the road in front of the cottage: trains ran north to Verwood, Fordingbridge & Salisbury and southward to West Moors Junction, Wimborne, Dorchester, Weymouth, Poole & Bournemouth.   S&DJcRly Crossing Lodge Newmans Lane

 The MOD fuel depot has its origins in a small ammunition and fuel storage area on the former St. Leonard's Common that was established in 1938/39, in the opening phase of the Second World War. This was greatly enlarged by US forces to support the Normandy invasion forces, both in training and operation, 1943/44. After the War, and a brief spell as a Prisoner-of-War camp, it developed to become a pivotal depot in the British armed forces fuel/lubricant supply system - and now hosts the Dorset Fire & Rescue's training facility. 

 Finally, a little further on the road north towards Three Cross, there is a small industrial estate, amongst which you will find useful motor servicing enterprises.   



 Until the very end of the 19th century, the trackway that became Pinehurst Road skirted the southern edge of St. Leonard's Common - heading down to the Ringwood road, part of the old turnpike network. Apart from a farm workers' cottage, isolated dwellings of those harvesting the Common and the tents and vans of the travelling families scattered across the moorland, there was little else.   

 In the first couple of decades of the twentieth century, sturdy villas were built at the village end and along Avon Road. Until the nineteen-twenties there was nothing east of where Beechwood Road is now. In the years up to the Second World War, development occurred towards the Ringwood Road (as motoring became a popular mode of transport), but halted for wartime - then renewed in the 1950s.

 Old Villas Pinehurst Road early 20th century
  However, major development had to wait until the heathland (to the north) and farmland (to the south) was released for building from the mid-1960s onwards; the area is now well established with two schools, a useful shopping area and good access to the Plantation. 
 Travelling from the 'village' end of the road, not far up the way on the right-hand side, is one of West Moors' places of worship, St Anthony's Catholic Church; and further down the road on the right-hand side, just beyond one of the entry points for Woolslope Road, is Pinehurst Community Church. Both of these are vibrant centres for both worship and other functions.
St. Anthony of Padua RC church
Pinehurst Community Church
St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church
Pinehurst Community Church
 If you had been in the vicinity of Pinehurst Church before 2000, you would have found another church, opposite the turning to Woolslope Road (the one that leads to Pinehurst Park). This was St. John's - a wooden structure, erected in 1925 to serve what was at the time a sparsely populated spot. Despite a loyal congregation for this Anglican place of worship,  unfortunately the cost of repairs to bring it up to a standard whereby insurance was affordable ruled out a future for the building. The chapel was last used in 1999 (see the History files elsewhere on this site for an image), and demolished in 2000: this smart bungalow now occupies the site.
Bungalow on site of former St. Johns
 Two local schools are situated on roads which run roughly parallel to, and not far away from, Pinehurst Road: Oakhurst Community School is the 'younger' of the two 'first' (& nursery) schools serving the village [the other being St. Mary's on Station Road - see earlier]. Oakhurst School is on Shaftesbury Road (named after a one-time major land-owner in east Dorset) and is found not far from its junction with Oakhurst Road.
Oakhurst Play Area    The school has been open on this site since 1971 to serve the newly developed residential areas spreading across the old St. Leonard's heathland. Alongside the school is a children's play area [see image] which, along with that on Fryer Field (see earlier), is managed by the parish council. It was completely refurbished in summer 2015.
 A little further away, on Heathfield Way (which links Elmhurst and Heathfield Roads) is West Moors Middle School opened in 1977. This takes children aged 9 to 13, not only from West Moors but also from the surrounding smaller communities. Alongside the school is the West Moors Children's Centre, run in partnership with the County Council. The Centre is in a converted house which helps youngsters feel 'at home'.
 The local Scout group has its headquarters ( " The Hideaway " ) off Hardy Road, which runs off Shaftesbury Road & Hardy Close at the western end, and off Elmhurst Road at the eastern end.
 Leading off Pinehurst Road (just before you reach the shops) is Priory Road, and here is the local cemetery, established in 1932, which has recently been enlarged; it is a quiet spot for remembrance of loved ones no longer with us. The Cemetery is managed by the parish council - the image below / left shows the original gateway which was taken down in 2020 as it was becoming unsafe.
Cemetery Gate Priory Road
Cemetery West Moors
 Incidentally, whilst down this end of the village, with Priory Road and Abbey Road 'fanning-out' from Pinehurst Road it is pertinent to emphasise that the names might imply that there was a large monastic establishment in the immediate vicinity. Not true: the nearest religious 'house' in antiquity was a small wayside chapel for travellers that lay well to the south of this area - on land that now forms part of St. Leonard's Farm. The nearest significant Priory was Stapehill - a couple of miles away - now defunct. I suspect the builders and local authority got together and chose names (in the 1930s) to allude to this latter place. But before the bungalows - there was nothing but Dorset heathland!
Pinehurst Shops  And right at the 'bottom' (i.e., the end furthest from the village) of Pinehurst Road there is a small but busy parade of local shops, with a bakery / snack-bar, good convenience store, pet food suppliers, hairdressers, take-away and similar. There is off-street parking and one of the parish council's noticeboards is also located here.
 At the very end is the A31, Ringwood Road, with the only filling-station (with its small store) within the parish bounds. Over the road (reached by an underpass if you are walking) is St. Leonard's Farm - with its camping / caravan facility and attached park home complex.


 There are many enjoyable walks in and around West Moors, one being a riverside walk. One way to access this is to take Farm Road (opposite the Library) as far as it goes, merging left into Mannington Way then you will see a gate directly ahead of you.
Entrance to Farm Road parkland As you approach and enter through the gate there is a sign for the walk. Follow the sign. To your left there is a woodland, Pennington Copse, a local nature reserve looked after by East Dorset Countryside Management group. There is a diversity of wildlife to be found here from deer to the occasional adder and many bird species. On a clear day you may hear an eerie cry, look skyward and perhaps espy two or more buzzards soaring, or if around dusk, perhaps a Tawny owl will be the culprit!
 Another access point (which brings you into Pennington Copse) is from roughly half-way down Farm Road, off Birch Grove and yet another, as mentioned elsewhere, is via the footpaths either side of the bridge over the Uddens at the end of Station Road. In 2013, as part of the upgrade to the pathways across the Woolslope recreation area (see below), the path alongside the river here has been re-laid and made much more accessible.
 This image shows that even in winter, Riverside Walk (and other similar pathways) can be very attractive after a light fall of snow: here [March 2018] the heat retained by the gravel path has melted the snow allowing easy access. Even after a heavier fall of snow, some shelter by the trees can reduce the amount of accumulated snow along the path.  Riverside Walk in Snow


 The Castleman Trailway very roughly follows the line of the old Southampton & Dorchester Railway that used to pass through the village. Within the village itself though, the route is greatly displaced from the old railway due to building development. It is a pleasant way to enjoy a short walk, a more strenuous tramp or a long bicycle ride.           Castleman Trailway
 The site on the Dorset Council web site gives some more information and links to appropriate maps . . . follow this link . . .  Castleman Trailway.


     Plantation entrance off Moorlands Rise      The 'Plantation', dating from the 1940s, covers an area of approximately 360 acres [ circa 145 hectares ] in one large and two smaller parcels, all lying along the north-eastern 'flank' of the residential area of West Moors. It is owned and maintained by the Forestry Commission.
 Historically, this woodland has been dominated by pine, but it is intended to transform the Plantation by allowing mixed woodland to develop and to increase the open areas slightly, with a return in some places to the original heathland that would have existed prior to the 1940s plantings. The woods are already well-used by residents for recreational walking, cycling, riding etc., and it is hoped to enhance the facilities in the years to come.


 The fields bordering the northern bank of Uddens Water once belonged to Woolslope Farm but are now owned by Dorset Council (but initially by East Dorset District Council - ceased to be in 2019) on behalf of the community.
 It is hoped to turn the several fields into a fully-accessible recreation area and to this end, in 2013, a network of well-surfaced, 'all-weather' paths was laid out for all to use. Access the area from Canterbury Close & Woolslope Close (both off Woolslope Road), from alongside the bridge over the Uddens on lower Station Road (on the parish boundary) and adjacent to the A31 underpass, a little way west of the Priory Road junction.            Pathway Woolslope Farm
     Pathway Woolslope Farm      This image was taken in autumn 2013 once the work had been completed. The vegetation adjoining the paths has quickly grown, enough to 'soften' the edges and this facility has become a very attractive feature that all can use - either for recreation, or as a pleasant way to reach the shopping areas at Tricketts Cross!

 There is more on the natural world around the village - and the various community 'green' spaces in the Nature Trail
[ Text last checked / altered September 2020 ]