The first passenger train from London to Southampton passed through Micheldever Station on the 11th May 1840 and was captured in this atmospheric watercolour by local artist Richard Baigent.
Despite the painting’s unfinished nature it captures the importance of the occasion showing a crowd of spectators, bunting hanging above the station and a Union Flag flying above the station building. This would have been a momentous event and one can only speculate as to the effect the billowing steam and the sound of the pistons had on the spectators.
The event was probably of even greater significance to the London and Southampton Railway Company as the opening had been delayed. The section to Basingstoke was completed on the 10th June 1839 and the Winchester to Southampton section at the same time but the section between Basingstoke to Winchester was delayed leaving a gap in the journey! This delay was caused by the line having to be diverted from the route originally planned.
Richard Baigent was born in Portsmouth in 1799 and was apprenticed to the artist Richard Livesay, drawing master to the children of George III. When Livesay moved to Winchester in about 1820 Richard moved with him. In 1824 Richard was appointed drawing master at Winchester College, a position he held for nearly 50 years whilst also specialising as a freelance landscape artist. Baigent died in 1881.
Micheldever Station was originally known as Andover Road Station.
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