The Corkscrew was ready for the first inspection journey at the beginning of June in 1847. The problems of the planning and construction phases were behind the railway and it was operational.
But even then, more problems had to be solved.
The Corkscrew opening had to be re-organised as a result of further problems with the Southampton tunnel on 30 May. Trains started from the temporary station at Blechynden. As a result of no connection through the tunnel to the mainline to London, this station was the Southampton terminus for the time being. The London and South Western transported their locomotives there by road, through the streets of Southampton.
By end of July, the Southampton tunnel was repaired and the whole line was running five passenger trains a day and also some freight.
For the next 40 years the Corkscrew operated as a mostly local and useful but rural railway backwater until Bournemouth experienced its exponential growth.
The Inspection Journey
The first journey of the Corkscrew Railway was undertaken on 1 June 1847. However, the original plans were changed because of the tunnel collapse near Southampton.
Nevertheless, the train set off from Southampton pulled by an engine named Reindeer. Passengers on the first Inspection Journey included many of the principals and investors involved with the development of Corkscrew. Frequent stops were made on this first journey to celebrate with well wishers en route. And an overnight stop was made at Wimborne. The reason was a celebration dinner at the “heart” of the Corkscrew. The journey from Southampton to Dorchester took over a day to complete!
The return journey the next day was a little quicker at 3 hours. One section of a mile near Dorchester was completed in just 68 seconds.
There was an unfortunate accident on the return journey at Hamworthy. The front and rear sections of the train were sent in different directions by the newly appointed pointsman. Carriages were derailed but no injuries occurred. It took only 15 minutes to get the carriages back on the rails.
This became a bit of a repeating theme with Corkscrew. Newly trained railway workers took some time to become familiar with their work.