Cheers, Julian Stephens. Many thanks Julian.
an inside story -
Driver Tim Comer
I started my footplate career as a secondman at Westbury in 1973, and at that time the Bridport branch work was shared between Westbury and Weymouth traincrew depots. I'm not sure of the exact times but I remember Westbury men worked two afternoon turns from Westbury station. The first was a down Weymouth service ( loco plus 3 or 4 coaches) which we worked as far as Maiden Newton and then relieved by the branch crew who then carried on to Weymouth. We then worked the branch bubble car for a return trip to Bridport and then swapped over with another Westbury crew at Maiden Newton with a following down service to Weymouth where we took our break. On our return up working (loco & 3 or 4 coaches) we carried a lot of mail, some from the Channel Islands. At Dorchester West we were timetabled something like a ten minute stop to load more mail, this was just long enough for the second man to leg it down to the chip shop to collect the fish & chips which would be shared at Maiden Newton with the second Westbury crew on the branch whilst waiting for a down Weymouth to clear the single line. The second crew then worked the remaining branch service and on returning to Maiden Newton worked the bubble car empty stock home to Westbury depot, this was often a spirited run but we were required to stop to pick up the single green painted hurricane oil lamps( the only illumination) at Thornford and Chetnole holts. These had been strategically placed earlier by the guard when working the down service and unless they had been moved they could be scooped up by the guard or secondman without stopping! They were then handed over with the staff to the signalman at Castle Cary. After putting the bubble car to bed, and if you had the right mate, you could just about catch last orders in the railway club. From memory, working the branch was a leisurely affair and stops would be made to drop locals off at foot crossings etc if requested. Bridport station was the only station I worked to that was totally lit with gas lights. I also seem to recall that once or twice the crossing gates were "modified" by the branch train. David Shepherd, the wildlife artist, sadly wrote in his autobiography " A Brush With Steam" that he had considered buying the branch from BR but he received little support.
Driver Tim Comer
A real life story a real gem - lots of interesting facts - many thanks to you Tim