Watchet railway station
|Original company||West Somerset Railway|
|Post-grouping||Great Western Railway|
|Operated by||West Somerset Railway|
|1976||Opened in preservation|
|Stations on heritage railways in the United Kingdom|
|A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z|
|UK Railways portal|
The station was first opened on 31 March 1862 when the West Somerset Railway was opened from Norton Junction, serving as the original terminus of the WSR. The station forecourt originally linked both station building and goods shed, hence the now unusual alignment of the station building facing towards Taunton. An engine shed located east of the station remained until 1882.
The station was built as a terminus, as part of the commercial aim of the WSR was to provide a wider and cheaper distribution route for goods from the then major port of Watchet. The harbour was served by a network of railway tracks that were reached by way of a steep incline down from the goods shed, restricting maximum shunting length to six railway wagons. The harbour was also linked to the independent West Somerset Mineral Railway, that ran to iron ore mines in the Brendon Hills south west of the town. The mineral railway tracks roughly paralleled the main line tracks as far as Washford, but were other wise unconnected.
On 16 July 1874 the line was extended westwards by the Minehead Railway Company, with an industrial railway siding provided at the same time into the Wansbrough Paper Mill. The footbridge was built to maintain the public right of way when the line was extended across the original forecourt to Minehead. A signal box was also needed to handle the traffic on the new line to Minehead, and this was situated on the embankment above the platform.
Both lines were operated by the Bristol and Exeter Railway which became a part of the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1876. The Minehead Railway was taken over by the Great Western in 1897, but the West Somerset Railway remained an independent company until 1922 when it too was absorbed by the Great Western.
GWR 1930s development
The GWR undertook many projects to increase the capacity of the line in the 1930s. Because of the position of the goods shed opposite the platform it was not possible to add a second track and platform at Watchet, so a passing loop was instead constructed at Kentford just 0.75 miles (1.21 km) west of the station. It was opened on 10 July 1933 but the signal box was generally only used during the daytime each summer.
Nationalisation in 1948 saw the GWR become the Western Region of British Railways. On 24 August 1952 the signal box at Washford was closed, and from this time the one at Kentford was permanently open until 7 May 1964 when it was also closed. Freight traffic was withdrawn on 6 July 1964 and passenger trains on 4 January 1971.
The station was reopened by the new West Somerset Railway on 28 August 1976.
The station still has a single platform and station building, located on the opposite side of the single track running line from Watchet town centre and harbour. It is connected to them by a footbridge at the west end of the station, and a pedestrian level crossing at the east end. The former goods shed on the opposite side of the track is now occupied by the Watchet Boat Museum.
|Preceding station||Heritage railways||Following station|
|Washford||West Somerset Railway||Doniford Halt|
- "WSR :: West Somerset Railway :: Watchet Station". Retrieved 2008-10-14.
- Oakley, Mike (2006). Somerset Railway Stations. Bristol: Redcliffe Press. ISBN 1-904537-54-5.
- MacDermot, E T (1931). History of the Great Western Railway. 2 (1863-1921) (1 ed.). London: Great Western Railway.
- Coleby, Ian (2006). The Minehead Branch 1848-1971. Witney: Lightmoor Press. ISBN 1-899889-20-5.
- "Timetables". West Somerset Railway. 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
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