Bath Railway Society

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BATH RAILWAY SOCIETY

President: Pete Waterman OBE DL

      Chairman:-John Froud,     155 Bath Rd, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1SS     

          Tel: (01225) 869112           www.bathrailwaysociety.co.uk                                    bathrailwaysociety@gmail.com


MARCH NEWSLETTER 2020

Dear Member,


Amyas Crump certainly gave us an evening of nostalgia at our February meeting when he presented ‘Peter Gray’s - West Country’, a selection of photographs taken in the 1950 & 1960’s featuring mostly BR Western Region steam in Devon and Cornwall on branch lines (most long gone) and main line. As Amyas mentioned, it was amazing how far Peter Gray would travel in day to get his pictures. It just shows how popular Peter’s photographs are as the meeting attracted fourteen visitors!


Many of our coastal Towns and Cities have a pier, and in many cases these date back to Victorian times, a subject in its own right. However at our next meeting on Thursday March 5 guest speaker Nick Kelly will be telling us all about the Railways and Tramways that were provided on piers, many of which of course still exist today. As usual doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start for what should be a most interesting talk.


Just a reminder, if you have a mobile phone, would you please switch it off or have it set on silent mode during the meetings as it can be a distraction to our speaker and annoyance to other members.


We welcome David Robey from Warminster who joined the Society at the February meeting.


If you want to hear how ‘Brunel’s Railway Changed Bath and the City’ by the coming of the railways, then don't miss a talk at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square on Monday March 9  @ 7.30pm. Bath historian Dr Andrew Swift will help celebrate one of England’s great hero’s - Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He'll explain the impact this Victorian engineer's new steam-driven transport system had on the city. Tickets are available from the Bath Box Office www.bathboxoffice.org.uk priced at £7.00 for Visitors. Members/Students at £4.00 (£1.00 Booking Fee)


The Avon Valley Railway are staging a ‘Mixed Traffic Gala’ on Saturday March 21 featuring guest locomotive Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST 1385 ‘Rosyth No 1’ from the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway plus home fleet locomotives Sentinal 0-4-0VB 7492, Andrew Barclay 0-4-0DM WD 70043 ‘Grumpy’ and BR Class 08 – 08202. The gala is being held to raise funds for the restoration of the AVR’s Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn 0-6-0T 7151. See website for further details.


A proposal to re-open the line between Kemble and Cirencester in Gloucestershire as a Community Railway is to have a feasibility study carried out after Cotswold District Council stepped in to provide the final £13,000 needed for the £53,000 study to go ahead. The original bay platform at Kemble still exists with a short section of track connected to the main line, and parts of the old route and formation still remain, although breached in several places. The former GWR Town station at Cirencester is now a car park and Waitrose supermarket. The plan is for some form of single track light rail system and it is hoped that the idea could unlock Government funding from a £500m pot designed to reopen lines that have closed. Originally there were two stations at Cirencester these being Town, which closed from April 6 1964, and Watermoor on the Midland and South Western Junction Railway which closed to passenger traffic from September 11, 1961. Watermoor did continue to be served for freight traffic from Swindon for a short period after passenger closure, but that site is now completely redeveloped.


GWR has advised that there will be alterations to train services due to track renewals taking place on Sunday March 8. Services running between London Paddington and Bristol or South Wales as well as Gloucester and Bristol Parkway will be affected. The track works may also affect other operators so if you are travelling by rail on this date you are advised to check your journey beforehand.


Class 26 – D5343, will not now be visiting Midsomer Norton in March as it has been failed at its home base of the Gloucester & Warwickshire Railway. It was due to feature in the S & DHRT’s Diesel Gala on March 7 & 8. The trust has also acquired two 16 ton mineral wagons from the Swanage Railway for a demonstration coal train and welcomes donations for transport and restoration costs.

50 Years ago this month on  March 21, 1970  the South Dorset Branch Lines Society ran the ‘7754 Special’ from Talywain Crossing (Golynos Junction) to Blaenserchan Colliery, and return,  on the National Coal Boards system and this was advertised  as the 'Last enthusiast's train' on this NCB line prior to closure. Tour participants were carried in open mineral wagons & covered fruit vans with the tour hauled by Pannier Tank, ex BR 7754, with NCB 0-6-0  Saddle Tank 2332 'Islwyn' banking on rear. Coal winding had ceased at Blaenserchan Colliery, near Pontypool, in 1969 when all coal produced from the colliery was routed through Tirpentwys Colliery and later via the drift at Abertillery New Mine. Blaenserchan finally closed in 1985 and 7754 was donated to the Museum of Wales on its withdrawal from NCB service. It was subsequently passed to the Llangollen Railway who now own it.


Also 50 years ago this month, the goods yard at Barnstaple Victoria Road station on the line to Taunton was completely closed from March 5.  In later years freight trains had only operated to/from it via Barnstaple Junction. The station had lost its passenger services in 1960.


If you are travelling up to London’s Paddington station, be aware that improvements are being made to TfL’s Bakerloo Line Underground platforms with changes to the entrances being made to the platforms. On the weekend of Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 March, Bakerloo Line trains will not be stopping at Paddington. From Monday 24 March, during peak time on weekdays, customers will only enter the Bakerloo Line by Platform 12 and exit via Paddington’s Lawn. In the off peak weekdays, the Lawn will also be used as an entrance to the line. During weekends the Lawn will be the only entrance and exit to the Bakerloo line. This will be in place until summer 2020, when further work will be carried out. More info can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk/paddington-improvements


Details about the proposed Exeter to Okehampton services are due to be announced in a GWR franchise/direct award statement, which is due in the next four weeks. As mentioned last month, sadly the Dartmoor Railway CIC is currently in administration and no trains are running, and the stations are closed to the public. Owner British American Railway Services, a subsidiary of American company Iowa Pacific Holdings, had been trying to sell the heritage railway as a going concern but this has failed.  The future of the popular station café at Okehampton and the heritage shuttle services to Meldon Viaduct on summer weekends and Bank Holidays is now unclear as is the operation of GWR’s Summer Sunday’s services from Exeter. The station at Okehampton is owned by Devon County Council.


Steam should be running to Bath Spa on Thursday March 12. Steam Dreams are operating a special from Clapham Junction via, Redhill, Dorking and Guildford (and return) using 61306.


A landslip between Salisbury and Southampton at Dean has rendered the track impassable to regular train services, and Network Rail has confirmed that the damage will take several weeks to repair. GWR services are currently terminating/starting at Salisbury with buses to/from Southampton.


On Saturday March 14, The Swindon Model Railway Club present ‘Modrail 2020’ at the Steam Museum, Swindon, with 16 layouts and five trade stands. Adult admission is £5.00 with children under 16 free when accompanied by an adult. Admission to STEAM Museum is not included and is not required to visit the exhibition. The museum will be offering a combined discounted entry to people who have visited the show. Refreshments are available and featured layouts and demonstrators are in Z, N, OO, and O gauge. On Saturday March 21and Sunday 22, The Burnham and District Model Railway Club present the ‘Sedgemoor Rail Model Railway Show’ at King Alfred School, Burnham Road, Highbridge, Somerset which is 500 yards from Highbridge & Burnham Station. There should be 17 layouts on display plus 10 trade stands. The Nailsea & District Model Railway Club are holding the ‘Nailsea Model Railway Exhibition 2020’ on March 28 & 29 at Nailsea School, Mizzymead Road, Nailsea, Bristol. There will be 15 layouts and nine trade stands.


The annual Cheltenham Race Festival will take place from March 10 to 13 inclusive and this will effect train services to the town. Additional services will be provided from London and trains will be extremely busy. The Gloucester & Warwickshire Railway will also be running private ‘corporate’ trains to their Racecourse station.


Our next meeting will be on Thursday April 2, Details will be announced in the next Newsletter. However, we look forward to seeing you for the meeting on March 5.


Please note:- All events and special trains etc are mentioned in good faith and hopefully details are correct at the time of publication of the Newsletter. Please however, do check before travelling or attending events as things can change

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