Bristol and Gloucester Railway

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Bristol and Gloucester Railway
MR(Birmingham and Gloucester Railway to Birmingham)
SWR(Gloucester to Newport Line to Newport)
Gloucester
UK-Motorway-M5.svg
Haresfield(1854-1965)
GWR(Golden Valley Line to Swindon)
Stonehouse (Bristol Road)(Closed 1965)
MR(Stonehouse and Nailsworth Railway to Nailsworth/Stroud)
Stroudwater Navigation
Frocester(Closed 1961)
Cam and Dursley(Opened 1994)
Coaley Junction(1856-1965)
MR(Dursley and Midland Junction Railway to Dursley)
UK-Motorway-M5.svg
Berkeley Road(Closed 1965)
MR(Sharpness Branch Line to Sharpness)
UK-Motorway-M5.svg
Charfield(Closed 1965)
Wickwar(Closed 1965)
Wickwar tunnel
MR(Yate to Thornbury Branch Line to Thornbury)
YateClosed 1965, reopened 1989)
Coalpit Heath Sidings
GWR(South Wales Main Line to London Paddington)
Ram Hill Colliery
Westerleigh Goods Depot
UK-Motorway-M4.svg
MR(Mangotsfield and Bath Branch Line to Bath)
Mangotsfield(1845-1966)
Staple Hill(1888-1966)
Staple Hill Tunnel
Bristol Parkway
GWR(South Wales Main Line to Swansea)
Goods line(To Avonmouth docks)
Filton Abbey Wood
GWR & MR(Clifton Extension Railway to Avonmouth)
Fishponds(1866-1966)
Avonside Locomotive Works
River Frome
UK-Motorway-M32.svg
Stapleton Road
Kingswood Junction
Lawrence Hill
Waste Depot
Goods Depots
Bristol St Philips(Terminus. 1870-1953)
Bristol Harbour
River Avon(To Bath)
GWR Temple Meads Goods Depot
Bristol Temple Meads
Bridge over Victoria Street
Tunnel under St Mary Redcliffe churchyard
Great Western Main Line to London
Bristol Harbour Railway
St Philips Marsh(TMD)
River Avon(To the sea)
GWR(Bristol and North Somerset Railway)
GWR(Bristol and Exeter Railway to Taunton and Exeter)

The Bristol and Gloucester Railway opened in 1844 between Bristol and Gloucester, meeting the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway. It is now part of the main line from the North-East of England through Derby and Birmingham to the South-West.

History[edit]

In the early nineteenth century, Bristol was an important port. In 1824 a meeting was held at the White Lion Inn in Bristol to discuss the idea of a railway to be known as the Bristol, Northern and Western Railway. This was the period around the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825, when many ambitious schemes were being floated, between London and Bristol and Birmingham and also the East Midlands.

Although there was a great deal of initial enthusiasm, there were technical difficulties and a financial crisis, and the plans were never carried through. Towards the end of the decade the country was in an economic recession, but two horse-drawn tramways were built, between 1832 and 1835, the Avon and Gloucestershire and the Bristol and Gloucestershire. These were locally known as The Coalpit Heath Dramway, serving among others, the Ram Hill Colliery.

In spite of the problems, interest remained high. Through the 1830s lines were in active construction, not only the Birmingham and Gloucester, but others from Birmingham through the Midlands to Yorkshire. A railway would give access to the coal and minerals - and the manufactured riches - of the North, and provide an export outlet for Birmingham through the port of Bristol.

Sketchmap of Bristol and Gloucester as originally built with associated railways

In 1839 the Bristol and Gloucester Railway Bill was passed by Parliament. At Gloucester it formed a junction with the broad gauge Cheltenham and Great Western Union Railway running into the town on mixed gauge tracks. The Bristol and Gloucester Railway had itself been built as broad gauge, but was narrowed to standard gauge and the rolling stock sold to Thomas Brassey for use on the North Devon Railway.

In 1844 the Bristol and Gloucester merged with Birmingham and Gloucester Railway to form the short-lived Birmingham and Bristol Railway, becoming a pawn in railway politics between the Midland Railway and the Great Western Railway. In 1877 the joint Great Western and Midland Clifton Extension Railway in Bristol gave access to Avonmouth Docks, providing the docks with a route to the midlands.

The line remains part of one of the UK's important routes. The Midland Railway later became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in the rationalisation of 1923. The LMS, along with the rest of the UK's mainline railways, became part of British Railways when it was nationalised in 1948 by the Labour government. Today it carries a frequent service of long-distance intercity trains from the Scotland & the Northeast or Manchester Piccadilly to Bristol and beyond (mainly Plymouth & Penzance) and local stopping services between Worcester, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester & Westbury/Weymouth via Bristol.

Down coal train south of Haresfield in 1962

However the section between Yate and Bristol through Mangotsfield is closed. It was due to close on 3 January 1970, but in fact closed a week early after a landslip blocked the line at Staple Hill. Traffic now diverts at Westerleigh Junction and passes through Bristol Parkway and Filton (as shown on diagram).

Locomotives[edit]

The broad gauge locomotives that operated this line carried up to four different numbers during the ten years or so that they were running. The first number (in the series 1 - 11) was given by Stothert and Slaughter who were contracted to operate the railway.[1]

Although the Midland Railway (MR) purchased these eleven locomotives from the contractors in July 1845, and absorbed the Bristol & Gloucester Railway (and the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway) on 3 August 1846, the locomotives were not given MR numbers until February 1847, when they became nos. 260–270. They were twice renumbered by adding 100 to their number in June 1852 and again in September 1853.[2][3] Eight of the locomotives (B&GR nos. 1, 3 & 7 excepted) were sold by the MR to Thomas Brassey, who had secured the contract for working the North Devon Railway from 28 July 1855. That railway was absorbed by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) on 1 January 1865; although none of the engines gained LSWR numbers, they remained in service a few more years, one of them as late as April 1877.[4]

Bristol and Gloucester 2-4-0[edit]

Tugwell
Specifications
Power type Steam
Configuration 2-4-0
Gauge 7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm)
Driver diameter 5 ft 0 in
Locomotive weight 17 tons 10 cwt
Cylinder size 15 in dia × 18 in stroke
Career
Number in class 3
Number 1–3

These were intended for goods traffic. The locomotives were built at Stothert and Slaughter's workshops in Bristol using parts supplied by Bury, Curtis, and Kennedy.[1]

  • 1 Tugwell (1844 - 1856)
Midland Railway 268 (later 368 and then 468); it was broken up in 1856.[5]
  • 2 Industry (1844 - 1856)
Midland Railway 269 (later 369 then 469). It was sold for £1000 to Thomas Brassey in May 1856 to work on the North Devon Railway, where it was named Venus, being withdrawn in August 1870.[5]
  • 3 Pilot (1844 - 1851)
Midland Railway 270. It was broken up by September 1851.[5]

Bristol and Gloucester 2-2-2[edit]

Bristol
Specifications
Power type Steam
Builder Stothert & Slaughter
Configuration 2-2-2
Gauge 7 ft 0¼ in
Leading wheel
diameter
3 ft 6 in
Driver diameter 6 ft 6 in
Trailing wheel
diameter
3 ft 6 in
Wheelbase 13 ft 11 in
Locomotive weight 18 tons
Cylinder size 15 in dia × 21 in stroke
Career
Number in class 6
Number 4–9

These locomotives were built at Stothert and Slaughter's workshops in Bristol using parts supplied by Bury, Curtis, and Kennedy.[1]

  • 4 Bristol (1844 - 1855)
Named after Bristol, the southern terminus of the line, it was sold to Thomas Brassey in 1855 to work on the North Devon Railway. It ran as Midland Railway 260 (later 360 and then 460).
  • 5 Gloucester (1844 - 1855)
Named after the northern terminus of the line, it was sold to Thomas Brassey in 1855. It ran as Midland Railway 261 (later 361 and then 461).
  • 6 Berkeley (1844 - 1856)
Named after the town of Berkeley near Charfield, it was sold to Thomas Brassey in 1856. It ran as Midland Railway 262 (later 362 and then 462).
  • 7 Wickwar (1844 - 1853)
Named after the town of Wickwar, where the railway passed through a tunnel. It ran as Midland Railway 263 (later 363) but was withdrawn in 1853 following a boiler explosion at Bristol.
  • 8 Cheltenham (1844 - 1856)
Named after the town of Cheltenham which was actually on the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway, it was sold to Thomas Brassey in 1856. It ran as Midland Railway 264 (later 364 and then 464).
  • 9 Stroud (1844 - 1855)
Named after the town of Stroud near Stonehouse (but actually on the Cheltenham and Great Western Union Railway), it was sold to Thomas Brassey in 1855. It ran as Midland Railway 265 (later 365 and then 465).

Bristol and Gloucester 0-6-0[edit]

Dreadnought
Specifications
Power type Steam
Configuration 0-6-0
Gauge 7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm)
Driver diameter 5'0"
Locomotive weight 26 tons
Cylinder size 16 in dia × 21 in stroke
Career
Number in class 2
Number 10–11

These were supplied by the Vulcan Foundry.[1]

  • 10 Dreadnought (1856 - 1863)
It was sold to Thomas Brassey in 1855. It ran as Midland Railway 267 (later 367, then 567).
  • 11 Defiance (1857 - 1867)
It was sold to Thomas Brassey in 1857 to work on the North Devon Railway. It ran as Midland Railway 266 (later 366 then 466).

Midland Railway 2-2-2[edit]

  • 66 (1848 - 1854)
  • 67 (1849 - 1854)
  • 68 (1849 - 1854)
  • 69 (1849 - 1854)

These locomotives were renumbered into the 200, 300, then the 400 series before being converted to standard gauge in 1854.

Midland Railway 0-6-0[edit]

  • 290 (1852 - 1854)
  • 291 (1852 - 1854)

These locomotives were renumbered into the 300, then the 400 series before being converted to standard gauge in 1854.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Maggs 1992, p. 97
  2. ^ Maggs 1992, pp. 97,99
  3. ^ Baxter 1982, pp. 27–28
  4. ^ Bradley 1965, pp. 129–131
  5. ^ a b c Maggs 1992, p. 100

References[edit]

  • Baxter, Bertram (1982). Baxter, David, ed. Volume 3A: Midland Railway and its constituent companies. British Locomotive Catalogue 1825-1923. Ashbourne: Moorland Publishing. 
  • Bradley, D.L. (1965). Locomotives of the L.S.W.R.: Part 1. Kenilworth: RCTS. 
  • Garnsworthy, Paul (1999). "Bristol and Gloucester Railway Stothert & Slaughter Singles". Broadsheet (Broad Gauge Society) 42: 7–17. 
  • Maggs, Colin G. (1992) [1969]. The Bristol and Gloucester Railway and the Avon and Gloucestershire Railway (Oakwood Library of Railway History) (2nd ed.). Headington: Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-435-0. OL26. 
  • Truman, P., Hunt, D., (1989). Midland Railway Portrait. Sheffield: Platform 5 Publishing.