Avon Valley Railway

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Avon Valley Railway
Bristol bath path railway station.jpg
Bitton railway station and yards from a level crossing with the Bristol & Bath Railway Path
Locale Gloucestershire
Commercial operations
Name Mangotsfield and Bath Branch Line
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved operations
Length 3 miles (4.8 km)
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Commercial history
Closed 1966
Preservation history
1977 Reopened
1991 Oldand Common Re-opens, Line Extended
2004 Avon Riverside Opens to the Public, Line Extended
Headquarters Bitton

The Avon Valley Railway (AVR) is a three-mile-long heritage railway based at Bitton station in South Gloucestershire, England, not far from Bristol and is run by a local group: The Avon Valley Railway Company Ltd. The railway follows the Avon Valley south-east from Oldland Common, through Bitton and alongside the River Avon towards Kelston and Bath. The railway shares its route with the Sustrans cycleway and footpath, the Bristol & Bath Railway Path.


Exposition of AVR Edmondson tickets from 1979—1986

The railway is part of the otherwise-dismantled Midland Railway Mangotsfield and Bath Branch Line, which was closed during the late 1960s as a result of the Beeching cuts and due mainly to the Great Western Railway being just a few miles to the south, which also connected Bristol and Bath.

The railway is perhaps best known for connecting the former Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR), whose northern terminus was at Bath Green Park station, with the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). The Midland Railway lines along the Avon Valley thus opened up the S&D lines to travellers from the British industrial Midlands. This was particularly so during summer Saturdays when families flocked south to the beaches of Dorset and the English south coast. Many extra trains thus had to be added to the schedule to accommodate this increased demand. Although owned and run by the Midland Railway, many S&D locomotives were often seen working trains along this line.

After the lines were removed, from 2000 the northern section from Mangotsfield to Warmley was used to build a dual carriage development of the A4174 road, although both station sites presently still exist. The remainder of the line was passed from the British Railways Board to Sustrans, who in co-operation with the local councils developed the Bristol & Bath Railway Path. Further development of the preservation railway is wholly dependent on a usage agreement with Sustrans.

Avon Valley Railway is located in Gloucestershire
Avon Valley Railway
Avon Valley Railway shown within Gloucestershire
(grid reference ST664710)
Avon Valley Railway
To Warmley
Oldland Common
River Avon
Avon Riverside
River Avon
To Kelston


Bitton station and its yard, including some trackbed, was leased from British Railways Board by the Bristol Suburban Railway Society, a group of local volunteers intent on restoring commuter and weekend steam use to the Bristol-Mangotsfield-Bath and Mangotsfield-Yate railway routes.

Work progressed slowly over the years restoring the heavily vandalised buildings and laying track north towards Oldland Common and Warmley. Weekend steam-hauled 'brake van' train rides progressed to proper passenger servics along the ever-lengthening line in restored 1950s British Railways Mark 1 carriages.

In 1979, the Bristol Suburban Railway Society was incorporated into the Bitton Railway Co. Ltd. and the laid track reached Oldland Common in 1988. By 1992 however, the city of Bristol had expanded greatly with houses encroaching upon the former railway line and expansion north to Warmley and Mangotsfield was no longer practical. The line thus began to expand south out into the valley of the River Avon. By 2004, it had crossed the Avon and a new station was built to service the Avon Valley Country Park – a large picnic and recreation site – along with a river wharf to provide visitors with connections to river barges and river boat trips.

Building of a new buffet and toilets facility at Bitton station began in 2007 to replace the current buffet and toilets and to increase space for the railway's gift shop.[1]

Work continues to extend the railway south-east towards Kelston, Weston and a proposed "Bath Riverside" railway station in Bath[citation needed].

Heritage railway[edit]

As a tourist attraction, the Avon Valley Railway now handles 80,000 visitors per year.

The AVR provides round trip steam train travel from Bitton Station north to Oldland Common then south to Avon Riverside station. The line is open to travellers on most weekends.

Motive power[edit]

Steam locomotives[edit]

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. 4015 "Karel" TKh49 0-6-0T Undergoing overhaul at The Flour Mill, Lydney Polish State Railways Green TKh 4015 (8361390031).jpg
No. 5521 "L150" GWR 4575 Class Operational London Transport Lined Red
No. 15 "Earl David" Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST Operational WPR Lined Brown Barclay 2183 (5676316319).jpg
No. 44123 LMS Fowler 4F 0-6-0 Currently being restored from Barry scrapyard condition. N/A Woodhams scrapyard at Barry. - geograph.org.uk - 293168.jpg
No. 7151 RSH 0-6-0T Stored, awaiting overhaul Black RSH 7151, Hunslet 1837.JPG
N/A LSWR T1 class 0-4-4T Planned new-build locomotive based around an original T1 boiler. N/A
No. 2018 "Littleton No.5" Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST Stored in yard. Dark Blue Manning Wardle 2018 (5624966830).jpg
No. 1798 "Edwin Hulse" Avonside 0-6-0ST Undergoing restoration N/A
No. 7492 Sentinel Waggon Works 4wd Undergoing restoration N/A

Diesel locomotives/DMUs[edit]

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. 446 "Kingswood" Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. 0-4-0 shunter Operational Green Barclay No.446 (8355327908).jpg
No. 610 "General Lord Robertson" Sentinel 0-8-0 shunter, ex-Army Undergoing restoration Blue
WD No. 70043 "Grumpy" Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 Shunter Operational Black Wd-040dm-grumpy-goods-bitton-2013.jpg
MOD No. 429 "River Annan" a.k.a. "Salty" Ruston and Hornsby LSSH 0-6-0DH shunter Operational Red Ruston & Hornsby No.466618 (8355332116).jpg
07010 (aka D2994) British Rail Class 07 Awaiting repairs BR Blue Hugh llewelyn D2944 (5573361111).jpg
No. 31130 "Calder Hall Power Station" British Rail Class 31 Awaiting repairs Coal sector grey BR-Class-31-No-31-130-Calder Hall Power Station-Side.jpg
No. 31101 British Rail Class 31 Awaiting fitting of steam heat boiler BR Blue 31101 - Battlefield Line (9638770254).jpg
Unit 52006 + 52025 British Rail Class 107 Operational BR Green Hugh llewelyn SC 52025 (5573667155).jpg


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°26′13″N 2°29′05″W / 51.43699°N 2.48477°W / 51.43699; -2.48477