Martin J. Duff.
Many thanks to you Dennis.
Thanks very much for the recent ‘local’ North Somerset area historical reports for the Clevedon and Portishead branch lines. Its always nice to see pictures and read information for the area specially if not known and new.
I’ve included the two views (hope submission method OK?) which may be of interest to your readership and can be added to your area summaries.
CLEVEDON (SECOND IMAGE)
This is Station Road, Clevedon on 2nd January 2019. During 2018 the local Council had given permission for several walls in the town area to be brightened up with murals, this one ‘round the corner’ from the former Great Western Railway (GWR) and Weston, Clevedon, Portishead Railway (WC&P) stations (closed in October 1966 and May 1940 respectively) turned out to be quite effective and a reminder as the WC&P railway crossed close to the Town Centre (and near this location) in a similar shop front type setting which included W.H. Smiths which in 2023 still remains open and trading from the same location!
PORTISHEAD (FIRST IMAGE)
Regarding the last passenger trains to Portishead, yes September 1964 is right for ‘normal’ service trains, but 1985 would be correct for the ‘real’ rail passenger finales over this line from Bristol (part reopened for freight to the previous non-rail connected Royal Portbury Dock in December 2001) and now set to reopen again for passengers sometime in the future.
The GWR 150 year of 1985 saw the line returned to operating standards, with popular steam and some DMU trips running to celebrate the event, the final steam trips operating in September of that year. However during October 1985, two almost forgotten ‘heritage’ traction rail-tours included the line as part of their itinerary; SEG/RCTS ‘Somerset & Avon DEMU Tour’ on 12th unusually using Hastings DEMU set 1017 throughout from Watford Junction also visited Taunton, Severn Beach, Tytherington, Sharpness and Gloucester during the day and 14 days later, what turned out to be the final passenger trip along the line, the Monmouthshire Railway Society (MRS) ‘Sharpness Shunter’ (formed DMU sets L418 + L579) which started at Cardiff Central and covered Llanwern Steel Works reception sidings, Bishton Fly-over, Sudbrook, Caerwent, Gloucester Dock (Llanthony Yard) and Sharpness branches and the Avonmouth and St. Phillips Marsh loops as well as Portishead. From memory, I think both tours originally were to cover the Wapping Wharf freight-only branch from Ashton Junction in Bristol, but this had been ruled out due to Saturday overtime costs relating to the staffing of several open crossing along this line, Portishead actually being offered as an alternative!
Having travelled on the MRS train, I took this view from W51319 (L579) stationary at Portishead waiting to retrace its steps back to Bristol and would like to state that when the train departed I was still in this area of the coach and would like to suggest I could be one , if not the last person to leave Portishead on a railway passenger train to date!
Richard Giles, Clevedon, North Somerset
Please find attached the summer newsletter providing you with an update on what has been happening at Shillingstone over the last few months.
Coming up over the August Bank Holiday we have the 160th Anniversary since the station was opened. The Station will be open over the 3 days from the 26-28th August, and we hope many of you will be able to visit us over the weekend to join the celebrations. I have attached the poster for the event which we would appreciate if you could share far and wide.
Over the last few weeks, we have had the unfortunate but long planned for news that the Landlord of the Perkins buildings we have been using for many years has decided to sell off some of the buildings and carpark. He has kindly allowed us to retain use of 2 of the buildings but the car park will be going to the new owners. The volunteers have been busy moving and consolidating our extensive stores and equipment and we expect to be able to fit more snuggly into the retained buildings. If you do visit us from later in the year, please follow any parking signs as we will have more limited parking close to the station and want to remain friendly with our neighbours.
As the amount of work at the station increases, we need more volunteers both at the station and increasingly we have gaps for people working away from the station. Our café is very short of staff through the summer. We have the two wooden coaches from the S&DRT that we would like to start restoring along with the brake van along and the current stock and site maintenance. We need a Health and Safety Officer, Medical Officer, Press Officer, Marketing and Social Media, Platform editors, First Aid, IT, Museum researchers and as we start to lay the track towards Bere Marsh some additional hands are always useful.
Please contact Jon or myself if you would like to volunteer and we can talk you through the process.
The station and café are open every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday except xmas and we look forward to seeing many of you throughout the year.
Many thanks for your support
Trustees of the NDR
Gavin – Secretary