Clevedon Branch Line

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The bridge where Lampley Road passes over the path of the branch line in Kingston Bridge.
Site of Clevedon station, 1987

The Clevedon branch line was a 3.5 miles (5.6 km) branch railway line that ran from Yatton railway station on the Bristol to Taunton Line to Clevedon in North Somerset, England, with no intermediate stops.

It was opened on 28 July 1847 by the Bristol and Exeter Railway.[1] Initially it was built as broad gauge but was converted to standard gauge in 1879.[2]

History[edit]

In the first years of the reign of Queen Victoria, seaside resorts became fashionable, and when the Bristol and Exeter Railway opened its main line (at first to Bridgwater) in 1841, a station was provided at Clevedon Road. This was the location now known as Yatton station.

The importance of the town was such that a branch line was needed, and in the 1845 session, the B&ER obtained the necessary Parliamentary sanction.[3]

The line was opened on 28 July 1847;[3] it was 3 miles 45 chains (5.7 km) long and was of the broad gauge. Clevedon Road station was renamed Yatton on the opening day of the branch. Branch trains had a bay platform on the upside with an over-all roof.

The line was converted from broad gauge to standard gauge during the weekend 27 to 29 September 1879.[3][4]

Train services[edit]

Mostly the branch was operated as a shuttle from Yatton, although there were a few direct trains from Bristol. Between 1924 and 1936 a business service from Bristol at 5.15 p.m. consisted of a coach slipped at Yatton, which was then taken to Clevedon on a local train.

"Sandwich" auto-trains and GWR railcars were used on the line at different times.[4]

Particularly in its final years, the branch was operated by diesel multiple units, and sometimes by a single-car diesel railcar. Even in its declining years, the service was fairly frequent: the British Railways Western Region timetable for 1964–1965 shows 24 trains in each direction, with a few more on Saturdays and during the summer, though no Sunday service.

From 1 January 1917 Clevedon signal box was abolished, and the branch was operated under one engine in steam arrangements; a ground frame was provided to operate the yard, being released by key on the train staff.

On 22 April 1964 the goods service was discontinued and the goods sidings and ground frame abolished.

Clevedon station[edit]

Clevedon station was situated at what is now Queen's Square shopping precinct, built in the 1980s. Originally a wooden structure, it was rebuilt in 1890 in typical Great Western style, much like the nearby stations of Yatton and Weston-super-Mare. It was demolished in 1968.[5] A set of points are preserved and mounted upright as a reminder of the square's history.

Closure[edit]

In the decades following the second world war, traffic declined as road usage increased, and general goods traffic ceased to be handled from 10 June 1963. The passenger station was unstaffed from this time, and was referred to in timetables as "Clevedon Halt". Passenger services ceased on 3 October 1966 and the track was lifted soon after.[6]

The site today[edit]

All the track bed in Clevedon has long since been built on as the town has expanded. The last original bits of track, around Kingston Seymour, were lifted in the late 1980s. Housing developments in the 1990s are built on some of the track bed in Yatton.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Maggs, Colin G (1987). The Clevedon Branch. Didcot: Wild Swan Publications. pp. 1–2. ISBN 0-906867-52-5. 
  2. ^ M V Searle, Lost Lines: An Anthology of Britain's Lost Railways, New Cavendish Books, page 103
  3. ^ a b c E T MacDermot, History of the Great Western Railway, volume II, published by the Great Western Railway, London, 1932
  4. ^ a b Derek Phillips, Steaming Through the Cheddar Valley, Oxford Publishing Co., Hersham, 2001, ISBN 0 86093 551 5
  5. ^ Mike Oakley. Somerset Railway Stations (2002 ed.). Dovecote Press. p. 41. 
  6. ^ Maggs, pages 65–66

See also[edit]