Best Regards, Chris Harvey, Bodmin Many thanks Chris
I found Colin Burges' article on his Castle Cary-Westbury bike ride very interesting and learned a few things in the process, (See Features Mid May to Dec 2017) For example the purpose of the large underground 'bunker' close to the former Sheephouse Farm near Bruton. I have often wondered what it was for, and had no idea that Bruton used to suffer bad flooding. Bath, Bradford-on-Avon, Melksham, Chippenham and Trowbridge also had the same annual problem until the River Avon was improved and widened/straightened in the late 1960s.
Sheephouse Farm (now known as 'Gladen') has featured here before but I return to it with a winter shot taken some time ago from the rear of a passing train. Just imagine it is 1850 or thereabouts and you live in the 18th century farmhouse, situated alone next to a quiet country byway with panoramic views southwards across the upper Brue valley. Two men on horseback appear one morning and knock on the door. They say that the Great Western Railway Company is to build a new line from Frome to Yeovil and Weymouth and they have been employed by the company's engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, to survey the best route that this is to take. After taking measurements etc. they depart and life returns to normal. By 1855 though things have changed forever. The surveyors discovered that the only way to take the line from Brewham down towards Bruton was by a twisting, winding, steeply descending route along the northern side of the steep valley. Navvies cut the pathway for the broad gauge track right behind the farmhouse, taking away its garden and having to shore up the foundations with a sturdy stone retaining wall that remains to this day. From day one of railway operations locomotives puffed clouds of smoke and steam just a few feet from the ground floor windows and back door as they fought against the steep ruling gradients of between 1 in 98 and 1 in 81 towards the summit. An ideal place to live though if you are a rail enthusiast! If those 19th century occupants could return now they would no doubt be looking forward to the arrival of the new Hitachi class 801 'Flying Cucumbers' as they are almost silent at speed with fantastic acceleration to boot.
Like Colin, I feel that this could be the last summer of 'traditional' railway operations in the west of England as the new order comes in. Good news for passengers I'm sure but I'll be taking less of an interest in day to day operations and likely turning to other activities once the wires go up and the Bi-Modes take over most long distance services.
Guy Vincent Very many thanks Guy for such an interesting tale.
Guy Vincent. Many thanks Guy.
On Friday, 67027 and 67023 covering the NMT diagram on 1Q18 from Reading Triangle to Paignton via Penzance pass St Austell in dismal weather but it eventually stopped raining for 5Z45 19:13 Plymouth to Penzance Slopers Sidings ECS move which no one has posted a photo of yet i believe.
Kind regards. Jamie Many thanks Jamie, much appreciated