A visit to a family friend this afternoon at Bitton near Keynsham took us past the entrance to the Avon Valley Railway preservation site so, naturally, it made perfect sense to stop for twenty or so minutes and have a quick look at what was going on. Bitton station lies on the former Bath Green Park-Mangotsfield-Yate (or Bristol Temple Meads via Fishponds) section of the former Midland Railway route from Derby to Bath, which of course until 1966 fed the lamented Somerset & Dorset line that ran southwards out of the city towards Shepton Mallet and Bournemouth. Just running in was D5518 (31101) with four maroon Mk 1 carriages complete with working steam-heating ready to form the 1445 departure to Oldland Common and back to Bitton before then heading south to Avon Riverside and returning again to Bitton. The loco was immaculate and reminded me of years gone by when such a sight was common on Bristol-Weymouth off-season local stopping trains. In the yard beyond the station were diesels 07010 08202 31130 and DMU cars SC52006 and SC52025 along with an assortment of industrials, small steam locos, carriages and wagons. SC52025 was actually a 'cop', never having been seen by me in BR service! A return visit is definitely planned for March 2017 when diesel services recommence after the winter 'Santa' season and winter break. There is a wide footpath adjacent to the line for it's entire length which continues in one direction to central Bristol and the other to the outskirts of Bath while Keynsham is the nearest mainline station approx 1.5 miles away. Bitton station has all the usual visitor facilities one would expect (cafe, souvenir shop, displays etc) and the staff we met during our brief stay were very friendly and approachable.
Guy Vincent Frome, Somerset