- Bristol and North Somerset Railway
Bristol and North Somerset RailwayLegend MR (Bristol and Gloucester Railway to Gloucester) Bristol Harbour GWR (Great Western Main Line to London) Bristol Temple Meads (Interchange) St Philips Marsh (TMD) River Avon GWR (Bristol and Exeter Railway to Exeter) Brislington Whitchurch Halt Pensford Pensford Viaduct (over River Chew) Clutton Camerton branch Hallatrow (Interchange) Farrington Gurney Halt Paulton Halt Radford and Timsbury Halt Camerton Dunkerton Colliery Halt Dunkerton Combe Hay Halt Midsomer Norton and Welton Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway Radstock West Midford Halt (not connected to S&D station) Monkton Combe Halt Wessex Main Line (to Bath Spa) Limpley Stoke (Interchange) Mells Road Westbury Wessex Main Line (to Southampton) Whatley Quarry Heart of Wessex Line (to Westbury) Frome (Interchange) Heart of Wessex Line (to Weymouth)
The Bristol and North Somerset Railway was a railway line in the West of England that connected Bristol with towns in the Somerset coalfield. The line ran almost due south from Bristol and was 16 miles long.
The main railway
The line was opened in 1873 between Bristol and Radstock, where it joined with an earlier freight only line from Frome to Radstock that had been built in 1854 as part of the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway. Through services between Bristol and Frome began two years later, in 1875, at which point the line was formally taken into ownership by the Great Western Railway, which had absorbed the WS&WR in 1850.
The Camerton branch
In 1882, a branch line from Hallatrow was built to Camerton; in 1910, this line was further extended eastwards along the route of the former Somerset Coal Canal to join up with the line from Bath to Bradford-on-Avon railway station line at Limpley Stoke.
The Camerton branch was mainly used for coal - in particular, the colliery at Camerton. The original line from Hallatrow to Camerton closed in 1932, with Camerton becoming the western terminus - having also been the eastern terminus and a through station.(Another example of this is Uckfield, Sussex). .
The principal traffic on the railway was coal from the Somerset coalfield, though the villages nearer Bristol generated some commuter traffic. Passenger services were never frequent: in 1910, there were eight trains a day at most (on Thursdays and Saturdays) and not all of those ran through to or from Frome.
Traffic on the Camerton line from Hallatrow to Limpley Stoke was even lighter: passenger services started in 1910 and were suspended for the First World War in 1915; they resumed in 1923 (though Midford Halt never reopened) but were withdrawn entirely in 1925. Freight services on the branch line ceased in 1951. The line achieved some fame after closure by its use in the film The Titfield Thunderbolt, but the track was taken up in 1958.
The Bristol and North Somerset main line did not last much longer. From the point where the line turned northwards towards Bristol, only three miles out of Radstock, it ran virtually parallel to the main A37 road, which made it vulnerable to competition from road transport. Passenger services were withdrawn in November 1959 and freight traffic ended in July 1968, when the Radstock to Bristol section closed completely. The Radstock to Frome portion remained in occasional use until July 1988 for traffic to the Marcroft wagon works on the outskirts of Radstock, and part of this section remains in situ today (although derelict and heavily overgrown). The southernmost section from Frome to Hapsford Quarry Junction remains in use for limestone traffic from Whatley Quarry
The original stations were in most cases built to a standard but distinctive design by the architect William Clarke, featuring large canopies and three tall chimneys. Clarke designed stations on other "minor" Great Western satellite railways.
The B&NSR was one of the railways carried on the Midford viaducts (see photograph above). This was an unusual 'bridge over a bridge' construction where the B&NSR traversed a river valley on a viaduct which passed under the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway which crossed the same valley on an almost perpendicular course on a taller viaduct.
The biggest civil engineering project on the line was the Pensford Viaduct over the River Chew. The viaduct is 995 feet long, reaches a maximum height of 95 feet to rail level and consists of sixteen arches and is now a Grade II listed structure.
The plan at Clutton was to rebuild the 1873 William Clarke station, signal box, shelter and environs and to have a mile and a half steam railway on the Bristol and North Somerset mainline up to King Lane summit and down the 1 in 60 to Chelwood Roundabout park and ride for embarking passengers. Passengers would change at Clutton, look round the restored station, museum, shop and buffet car in the lower yard goods dock then change from pannier and 2 mark 1's in the old upper level passenger station, to an industrial 0-6-0 tank and brake vans at a new non-original halt on the lower goods yard, for a ride up the parallel mile long Fry's Bottom branch which diverged on the split level retaining wall at King Lane, off into Fry's Bottom Colliery where a deep pit mining museum was planned using the last 500 foot open shaft in the Somerset coalfield. This railway could have eventually extended south back to Hallatrow station and north under the intact Chelwood bridge + roundabout overfill, to Pensford and Bromley Colliery sidings halt. The project ran from July 2004 to December 2007 when it folded due to council property board and highways problems.
- ^ Great Western Society - History of Radstock North Signal Box GWS website; Retrieved 2009-01-28
- ^ Rebuilding Clutton station
- Bradshaw's Railway Guide. April 1910 edition. (Reprinted by David & Charles, 1968)
- Oakley, Mike (2002). Somerset Railway Stations. Dovecote Press.
Railway lines in the South West Primary Secondary LocalAtlantic Coast Line · Avocet Line · Bristol to Taunton Line · Cornish Main Line · Cotswold Line · Gloucester to Newport Line · Golden Valley Line · Heart of Wessex Line · Henbury Loop · Looe Valley Line · Lostwithiel to Fowey · Maritime Line · Portishead Branch · Riviera Line · Severn Beach Line · St Ives Bay Line · Tamar Valley Line · Tarka Line · Wessex Main Line Heritage
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