with Mike Morant
The S & D Rly
The ‘Slow and Dirty’, the ‘Swift and Delightful’ or in the end the ‘Sabotaged and Defeated’
50 years ago by the date and day it was Saturday 5th March 1966 when the last public trains ran on the Somerset and Dorset Railway, a sad day indeed. That day was the day that I first became an enthusiast. Prior to that I was mildly interested in railways but television coverage of the line screened by Sir John Betjeman a couple of days before the final closure caused me to prise myself out of my seat and make an effort for that very last day. I lived at Calne in those days. Parking at Chippenham, for the Calne branch had already closed, I took the train to Bath Spa and walked to Green Park in time for the 08.15 to Templecombe. I bought a ticket to Bournemouth though the service was so sparse that I never got there. At the outset my camera failed with the excitement! I met and travelled with young Barry Lucas PRC – his tape recorder had failed.
We left on time and 8F 48760I with three green coaches clanked along the level to Bath Junction and then got stuck into the bank up to Devonshire tunnel. Once through the Devonshire and Coombe Down tunnels we called at all stations, places I had never heard of. Never before had I experienced such interest and excitement. There seemed to be people with cameras everywhere, up trees, even somebody wearing waders standing in a stream to get ‘that shot’.
Arrival at Templecombe was at 09.53, my train onwards to the south was at 12.30. It was, luckily, a pleasant day. I tried to join a party of school children being taken to look around the shed but was told to ‘buzz off’. However nobody seemed to mind wherever else we went so we joined others spread along the embankment of the connecting line to the station which overlooked the shed.
I got to Broadstones at 13.51, where I decided to turn back. I have memories of watching the shadow of the smoke dancing along the fields beside the train, sadly I thought, ‘never again’. Back at Templecombe another wait ensued – the temporary timetable was designed to discourage travellers.
Travelling on to Cole I de-trained and waited for the following service on to Evercreech. During this time I walked the line northwards to the overbridge crossing the WR main line. On arrival at Evercreech another wait of just over half an hour ensued before boarding the last ever service train to Highbridge. This journey was on board a packed train and was mostly in darkness. On board the locomotive were not only the crew but many others – drivers wives possibly. From Highbridge it was a journey back to Chippenham via Bristol an unforgettable day. Keith Jenkin
In addition to the following pictures you can visit our three S & D sections by means of a click :-
Bath to Evercreech, Evercreech to Bournemouth, Burnham to Evercreech and finally the Bridgwater and Wells branches
Firemans Tales - you'll find some of these by Ian Bunnett at the end of the Bath to Evercreech section
92238 Bath Green Park - Bournemouth Central
34097 Bournemouth Central - Eastleigh Works (1)
34097 Eastleigh Works (1) - Basingstoke - Oxford
6967 Oxford - Birmingham Snow Hill