Andrew and Diane Jones
Yesterday I wrote about the last train to Minehead, today I am delighted to report the first passenger train to Boscarne Junction in many many months.
Best wishes Andrew and Diane
Michael L Roach
The approach to Millbay Station in September 1961
In the accompanying image we see the railway approach to Millbay Station looking just west of due north towards the magnificent spire of the Plymouth Roman Catholic Cathedral dating from 1858; the diocese covering Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. The huge embankment carried six parallel railway lines and was completely removed after the route closed to all rail traffic in 1971. The road passing under the railway is Union Street and the bridge was known as Union Street “Arch”, presumably because it was an arch bridge originally. The road at right angles to Union Street is the then new Western Approach. The corner site behind the car in the foreground is now occupied by a Wetherspoon public house. The car in the foreground is believed to be an Austin Cambridge A55 Mark 1 (built 1957-59), which had a top speed of just 77mph. Note the water tank, the 84xx/94xx pannier tank, the signal box and extreme right the carriage shed.
MLR/16 May 2021
Andrew and Diane Jones
What a turbulent time for our railways! Railways re opening after extended closure, some like the Llangothlen Railway dealt a fatal blow after many years fighting to reach Corwen and may even be forced into total closure once again. Okehampton re joining the national network. The 800 series Hitachi revisiting metal fatigue problems, reminiscent of those dark days surrounding the de havilland Comet.
When I travelled on the last train to Minehead in 1971 all those years ago, I didn’t think things could get much worse, although the events on that night bordered on the antics of the Titfield Thunderbolt.
Why last trains always had a carnival atmosphere, escaped me at the time as the booked 21.30 actually left Taunton at 21.10 strengthened to nine coaches, with a traditional cacophony of detonators which must have reminded local residents of world war 11. It sounded like someone had raided the entire signal departments supply. The guard had managed to control the passengers for a few miles, but Crowcombe station signalled the start of blasts from the DMU horns which even with warnings that he would terminate the train continued all the way to Minehead.
Railway employees contrary to popular belief are not all enthusiasts but even the most ardent guard had to give up in the end.
We were not the only revellers that night as the local round table had chartered an earlier train leaving Minehead at 20.25.
The return trip was even more eventful, our booked departure from Minehead was 22.10 but in reality by the time the brass band had played and various delaying tactics hatched on the way up enacted , the train finally departed at 22.30.
Again no one slept in Minehead that night!
By Dunster a group of railway terrorists had occupied the rear driving compartment and were busily applying the brakes at every opportunity.
However by Stogumber the band had manged to slow the journey to a crawl by insisting on playing at every station edged on by the partying passengers. It was only when we reached Crowcombe that it was realised that the band had been left at Stogumber by mistake.
So the train was reversed back to collect them.
Everyone arrived back at Taunton thankfully in one piece ending an amazing trip, which these days would have probably ended in some government enquiry.
I can remember walking home and glancing at the town clock which had just chimed 1 o’clock. If anyone tells you the last train ran to Minehead on the 2nd of January 1971, think again for we arrived back on the 3rd of January!
I have attached a last day cover and my precious last ticket.
Very best wishes to everyone and be careful.
Andrew and Diane
A bit of searching online revealed that in March 2020 a scheme to build 35 new homes on the site had been approved. The goods shed is to be converted into three residential units and apparently the platform retained in some form as both fall within the developer’s plans. The engine shed is outside the development area and will survive because it is listed.
You are urged to click on the above link and read Colin's words and see his excellent illustrations.
In December, 2019, I approached the developer, Baker Estates, to request that they donate the small corrugated iron office next to the goods shed. I promised to re-erect it at Christow. When site clearance started, I called them again. But, as far as I know, it was demolished. Maybe they'd seen what I'd written about this development.