Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: August 15, 2018
Webpage updated: August 15, 2018

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Although the London and South Western Railway Company's Stonehouse Pool Branch had been opened many years, terminating at the Devonport New Quays, as they were originally called, it was towards the end of 1903 that the Company announced that they were intending to compete with the Great Western Railway Company for American ocean liner traffic at Plymouth.  This was officially confirmed on Saturday March 5th 1904, when they also announced that the first vessel, the "Saint Louis", of the American Line, would make her first call on Saturday April 9th 1904.

On the site of a small station erected by the Stonehouse Pool Improvement Company in the 1880s, the LSWRC built an ocean quay station capable of providing every facility, comfort, and convenience.  The platform adjoining the tender berth was 350 feet in length and adjoining it were two large waiting rooms, both 80 feet in length.  The smaller one was 20 feet in width while the larger was 30 feet in width, and had a refreshment bar operated by Messrs Spiers and Pond Limited, of London.  The buildings also contained lavatories, inquiry offices, ticket offices and telegraph offices.  Papered with 'paper of an elegant design' and 'admirably furnished with upholstered lounges, chairs, tables, etc.,' the floors were covered with cork carpet.  On the walls were views of the interesting places served by the London and South Western Railway Company.  Heating was provided by five American stoves and the lighting by incandescent gas burners.

The words "London and South Western Railway Ocean Quay Station" were painted on the exterior, clearly visible from the approaching tender bringing the passengers ashore.  On the roof of the Custom's baggage examination hall was a flagstaff from which the company flag of the ship being dealt with at that moment would be flown.  The Hall was reached from the waiting rooms by a short covered way and was large, spacious and well equipped.  The examination tables were specially made and measured 2 feet 6 inches wide and 1 foot 7 inches in height.  In one corner of the Hall was a Custom's bonded warehouse and an office for the Custom's officials on duty.

Outside, a long jib steam crane was provided to lift the specially constructed steel luggage crates off the tender and on to the quayside, from where they could be wheeled in to the Custom's Hall.  There was sufficient land upon which to erect further buildings, including a large hotel and offices for shipping companies.

The Company had constructed a special corridor train of the most modern type, complete with a kitchen car, to transport the passengers to London Waterloo Station, after reversing at Devonport for Stonehouse Station.

A twin-screw steam tender, the "Victoria", was to be transferred from Southampton Docks.

The inaugural Ocean Special ran on Saturday April 9th 1904.

As from July 1st 1907 the LSWR took over the property of the Stonehouse Pool Improvement Company and immediately extended the island platform so that it could take two trains at the same time.  In 1908 they introduced luxurious sleeping cars on the service as part of a drive for quality and comfort rather than speed.  But they were not popular and in 1910 they were sold to the Great Western Railway.