Wootton Bassett railway stations

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Wootton Bassett
Wootton Bassett Junction railway station (site of).jpg
View west towards the junction for South Wales and Bristol
PlaceWootton Bassett
AreaCounty of Wiltshire
Coordinates51°32′05″N 1°54′05″W / 51.5346°N 1.9015°W / 51.5346; -1.9015Coordinates: 51°32′05″N 1°54′05″W / 51.5346°N 1.9015°W / 51.5346; -1.9015
Original companyGreat Western Railway
1840First station opened
1841Station opened in town
1903Junction opened
1965Station closed
Disused railway stations in the United Kingdom
Closed railway stations in Britain

There have been three Great Western Railway (GWR) stations serving the town of Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire, England. The first was Wootton Bassett Road (1840–1841) which was some distance from the town, this was replaced by Wootton Bassett railway station (1841–1903) which was then rebuilt as Wootton Bassett Junction (1903–1965) to coincide with a new route to south Wales.


Wootton Bassett Road[edit]

Sometimes referred to as 'Hay Lane' because of its location, the first station nevertheless appeared in timetables as 'Wootton Bassett Road'. It was a temporary terminus of the 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge Great Western Main Line which was being built in stages from London Paddington station to Bristol. The railway was extended from Faringdon Road to Hay Lane on 17 December 1840. This was about 4 miles (6.4 km) by road east of Wootton Bassett.[1][2]

Basic locomotive facilities were provided here, and road coaches carried passengers to Bath, where they could join another GWR train for the remainder of the journey to Bristol. The railway was opened from here to Chippenham on 31 May 1841 but the temporary station remained in use until 30 June 1841 and the locomotive facilities until sometime the following year.[1]

Preceding station Historical railways Following station
Swindon   Great Western Railway   Chippenham

Wootton Bassett[edit]

The permanent station was opened on 30 July 1841, about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) west of Hay Lane. This was the same day that the railway was completed through the Box Tunnel so that trains could finally run the whole way from London to Bristol. The railway was double track with a platform on each side of the line and a small stone building on each. The main offices were on the north side of the line but a goods shed was provided on the south side at the London end of the platform.[3] In 1850, an excursion train collided with a horsebox that had escaped from a siding at the station. Following this accident, the Great Western Railway provided trap points and scotch blocks at all sidings that exited onto running lines.[4]

In 1873 a signal box was opened at the west end of the Bristol-bound platform to control trains through the station; until then signals had been worked independently but they were now all able to be interlocked to prevent conflicting moves. A footbridge was provided from 1880 to allow passengers to cross the tracks, but a road bridge was also available at the east end of the station.[3] June 1874 saw a third rail laid along each track to give a mixed gauge which allowed 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge trains to operate through the station, although broad gauge services to Cornwall continued to operate until May 1892.[5]

In 1896 an Act of Parliament was passed to allow the GWR to construct a new Bristol and South Wales Direct Railway, which would shorten the distance from London to south Wales by about 10 miles (16 km). It was to commence from a junction a little west of Wootton Bassett station and run to Patchway north of Bristol, from where trains could continue through the Severn Tunnel.[5]

Wootton Bassett Junction[edit]

A new station opened on 1 July 1903 to coincide with the opening of the new line, which completed the present day South Wales Main Line. New platforms with brick-built buildings were provided. The main offices and goods yard were in nearly the same places as before. There were now two signal boxes, Wootton Bassett West and Wootton Bassett East, which were brought into use in November 1901 and July 1903 respectively.[3]

By the 1930s Wootton Bassett had become a railhead for railway goods traffic to the surrounding district, with the GWR basing a country lorry service here, and a new warehouse was provided to support this. In 1931 a private siding was opened to allow milk trains to service the creamery operated by United Dairies.[3]

The Great Western Railway was nationalised to become the Western Region of British Railways on 1 January 1948. 19 May 1964 saw the withdrawal of general goods traffic. On 4 January 1965 local passenger services between Swindon and Chippenham were withdrawn, and so Wootton Bassett Junction was closed to passengers also. Coal trains continued to serve the goods yard until 4 October 1965.[3]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On 7 March 2015, a charter train failed to stop at a signal on the approach to Wootton Bassett Jn, eventually coming to a halt foul of the junction. The train that the signal was protecting had already passed through the junction. Following the incident, the train's operator, West Coast Railway Company, was banned from the British railway network by Network Rail for two months.


The station buildings have been demolished but the main approach road on the north side of the line is still clearly visible. A loop line allows up trains (those towards London) from the South Wales Direct line to be moved aside while faster trains overtake them; there is no connection to this loop from the Bristol line.[6]

The approach road on the south side gives access to a Foster Yeoman stone distribution depot. The limestone arrives by train from the Mendip Hills in Somerset and a siding serves the depot, alongside a single-ended siding that lies alongside the main line. The connection for these sidings only link with the line to Chippenham,[6] so the stone trains first pass through the station and continue to Swindon, where the locomotive runs around to the back of the train and brings it back to Wootton Bassett where it propels it into the siding to discharge its load.

Both routes are signalled to allow bi-directional running on each line, although trains keep to left-hand running under normal circumstances. A pair of crossovers between the Bristol lines at Wootton Bassett allows trains to be changed between the left and right hand lines if required.[6]

Preceding station Historical railways Following station
Line and station open
  Great Western Railway
Great Western Main Line
Line open, station closed
  Great Western Railway
South Wales Main Line
Line open, station closed

Future plans[edit]

In February 2011, Wiltshire County Council and Wessex Chamber of Commerce jointly commissioned Network Rail to evaluate construction of a new station at Royal Wootton Bassett, west of Swindon, to serve the Interface Business Park. The station would be built on the site of the previous station which closed in 1965.[7]


  1. ^ a b MacDermot, E T (1927). History of the Great Western Railway. 1 (1833–1863) (1 ed.). London: Great Western Railway.
  2. ^ Historic England. "Wootton Bassett Road Station (1334090)". PastScape. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e Oakley, Mike (2004). Wiltshire Railway Stations. Wimbourne: The Dovecote Press. pp. 150–153. ISBN 1-904349-33-1.
  4. ^ Hall, Stanley (1990). The Railway Detectives. London: Ian Allan. p. 25. ISBN 0 7110 1929 0.
  5. ^ a b MacDermot, E T (1931). History of the Great Western Railway. 2 (1863–1921) (1 ed.). London: Great Western Railway.
  6. ^ a b c Jacobs, Gerald (2005). Railway Track Diagrams Book 3: Western. Bradford-on-Avon: Trackmaps. ISBN 0-9549866-1-X.
  7. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 664, p.24