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]

Seaside resorts became fashionable during the early years of the reign of Queen Victoria. When the Bristol and Exeter Railway (B&ER) opened its main line (at first to Bridgwater) in 1841, a station was provided at "Clevedon Road", about 4 miles (6.4 km) distant. In the 1845 the B&ER obtained the necessary Parliamentary sanction to open a branch line to the town.[3] The line was opened on 28 July 1847;.[3]

Starting from Clevedon Road station, which was renamed Yatton at the same time, it was 3 miles 45 chains (5.7 km) long. Branch trains had a bay platform on the upside with an over-all roof. The line was built to the 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge but converted to the standard 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) gauge over the weekend 27 to 29 September 1879.[3][4]

Train services[edit]

The branch was mostly operated as a shuttle from Yatton, although there were a few direct trains from Bristol Temple Meads. 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.

Steam railmotors, auto-trains and diesel railcars were used on the line at different times.[4] In its final years, the branch was operated by diesel multiple units or 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.

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.

Clevedon had a signal box until the end of 1916, but from 1 January 1917 the branch was operated "under one engine in steam" arrangements. A ground frame was provided to operate the points in the goods yard at Clevedon which was locked or released by key on the train staff. On 22 April 1964 the goods service was discontinued and the goods sidings and ground frame abolished.

Closure[edit]

Traffic declined as road usage increased in the years following the Second World War and general goods traffic ceased to be handled from 10 June 1963.[clarification needed] 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]

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]