Past & Present
From Guy Vincent
As always, very pleased to contribute to the site and keep the interest going for others to enjoy. I have never been that interested in narrow gauge and mineral railways but, having read the contributions that appeared last week I was quite taken with the subject and will now enjoy looking out for more such articles.
Re Wikipedia. I have tried to get to grips with 'citations and references' to information posted there but find it impossible to work out how to do it. Likewise adding photos. I'll simply continue adding bits and pieces from time to time and hope they stay in place.
Local to us work looks to be all but complete on the platform extensions at Freshford, Trowbridge, Dilton Marsh and Warminster. This will allow 5 car turbos to be fully platformed at all bar Dilton Marsh where one complete coach will be accommodated. I was at Melksham last week and the contractors have started moving equipment into a compound close to the station ready for the extension to be built. A three-car turbo will be able to have all doors released when the job is completed. That leaves Bradford-on-Avon where the 'up' (Westbury bound) platform 2 is to be increased to take 5 cars. This is not possible at present as the platform starting signal means trains cannot use the full length.
HST's are still in use on the GW main line between Bristol and Paddington via Bath, but their use is diminishing and will continue to do so throughout the summer. There are no set patterns as to what is allocated day by day but with a 30 minute frequency it should be possible to grab a few HST shots if spending 3-4 hours in the area. The B&H via Westbury is currently 100% HST but new 802's are due to start appearing in July.
This Friday the new overhead equipment is due to be energised and commissioned from Wantage Road to just the Bristol side of Wootton Bassett Junction meaning that 82 miles of the main line will be electrified. Sad for enthusiasts and photographers but inevitable.
Finally, I've attached a grainy old photo scan I took 35 years ago this week one wet and miserable Saturday evening (11th June 1983) at Bath Spa station. It shows pride of the old GWR no 6000 King George V on a Swindon-Bristol private charter run in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the agreement to build the GWR from London to Bristol. Passengers were taken to a 'Brunel Banquet' in the old passenger train shed at Temple Meads, this was organised as part of that year's Bath Festival and sponsored by Debenhams. The train was full of people in vintage costumes and a jazz band was playing on platform 1. All along the road below the railway station and line were crowds of people watching and waving, cars were simply stopping to enjoy the sight of KGV as it pulled away. The following day I believe the loco worked a special from Bristol to Hereford. Today it's safely preserved under cover at the Steam museum in the old GWR works at Swindon.
All the best for now, Guy
Many thanks for all the very best to you.
The second photo shows 50035 about to leave a very wet St Austell with the 07.50 Bristol TM to Penzance on 31st March 1984. The car park sports an impressive array of vehicles including two VW beetles, a Renault 2CV and a wonderful Robin Reliant van at the side of the old downside station building.