& Stert Junction
also a Royal Visit
1) A panoramic view of the old GWR footbridge that still spans the site of the former station at Patney & Chirton. Woodland Road bridge is visible in the background. The single track Devizes line ran parallel to the up main line from just beyond the platform end as far as MP 81.111, Stert Junction (or more accurately, divergence, see below).
2) 'Thames Turbo' 165117 in First Great Western's 'Dynamic Lines' Blue livery speeds westwards under the bridge at 1440 hrs on Wednesday April 3rd 2013 working a special 1K38 1330 Reading - Westbury. This was due to major engineering works taking place at Reading during the large-scale remodelling of the station and its approaches. A couple of Mr Howells' concrete drain covers can be seen to the right of the up line!
3) Looking west where the original route towards Devizes started to curve northwards away to the right of the new Stert Valley route, (MP 81.111 visible on right). The Devizes line ran adjacent on a steadily rising embankment for approximately half a mile before disappearing at Lydeway, a location known locally as 'The Clock Inn' and now the site of a mobile home-type retirement park. The line crossed the A342 Devizes-Andover road on a long-demolished bridge and approx. 500 yards south of this the A342 crosses the main line by way of a 3 arch bridge (photo 3, looking west). In the mid 1930s this structure suffered from major subsidence and was partly infilled during repairs. It has been proposed that a Parkway station be built near here to serve the Devizes area although works have yet to start...
4 and 5) Looking east at MP 81.111, the approximate site of Stert Junction and east again at MP82 showing the start of the rising grade that was until 1966 the single track BHE line to Devizes and beyond to Holt Junction.
6) Photo image of a late period token covering the entire Patney - Holt Junction single line section. This would have been used following the closure of Devizes signal box on 4th July 1965. It appears that Devizes has simply been ground off and Holt stamped in its place.
The milepost references are: Woodlands Road bridge 80m79ch; Patney Footbridge 81m09ch; Stert Junction, (former divergence of the BHE & SWY lines) 81m60ch; A342 Clock Bridge 82m64ch.
Footnote. On the evening of June 2nd 1966 the Royal Train (1X01) was stabled on the northern end of the Devizes branch between the closed Holt Junction station and a river bridge over the Avon near Whaddon. Two ex-works class 52s were used, D1010 Western Campaigner and D1041, Western Prince. D1010 brought the train onto the branch from Frome where the Royal party had boarded following visits to Duchy estate properties in Somerset. D1041 arrived light from Bristol Bath Road minutes after the train had stabled and once it had attached to the rear D1010 departed 'light engine' for Westbury via Devizes, Patney & Chirton (rev) and Lavington. D1041 remained with the train, departing at 0855 the followig day for Castle Cary (for the Bath and West show). D1010 reportedly returned to Holt via Patney and Devizes so was either attached to the rear of the train before departure or followed it light. Both locos happily survive in preservation, D1010 at the West Somerset Railway and D1041 at the East Lancashire Railway. Ivo Peters photographed the train at Hawkeridge near Westbury but the rear is not visible.
Photo 7 Royal train on Devizes branch near Holt Jcn 3.6.1966 (photographer believed to be the late John Sawtell).
According to the 'Royal Train List' Royal Journeys 1966, File G5/66 held by the NRM York the complete itinerary was: 02.06.66 Paddington - Yeovil and 03.06.66 Frome to Windsor & Eton Central. Stock used was 3209, 77, 806, 495, 2013, 2901, 499, 798, 799, 5155. As Windsor & Eton Central is a dead-end station I would suggest the latter train was top and tailed by the 'Westerns'
Hopefully of interest!
Best Regards, Chris Harvey.