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British Railways The First 25 Years, Volume 14: The Somerset & Dorset
Lightmoor Press

British Railways The First 25 Years, Volume 14: The Somerset & Dorset

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This is the fourteenth in a series of books depicting the first 25 years of British Railways, and the first to concentrate on a single line. It covers the Somerset & Dorset, a line which captured the imagination of enthusiasts out of all proportion to its size and importance, and achieved cult status. Most attention was on the 26¼ miles between Bath and Evercreech Junction. In contrast, the line south of Templecombe to Bournemouth was very much a poor relation with enthusiasts. Except for summer Saturdays when through holiday trains ran, the Somerset & Dorset was essentially a secondary line with a reasonable amount of goods and coal traffic on the northern section. We hope to have struck a reasonable balance between the two aspects of this rather Jekyll and Hyde line. Our journey begins at Bournemouth West, joining the L&SWR main line at Branksome, passing through Poole and heading north to Broadstone Junction where the Somerset & Dorset’s own metals commenced, and then on to Blandford Forum before reaching Templecombe where the Somerset & Dorset crossed the L&SWR main line to the west country. Trains calling there used a platform in the L&SWR station, requiring some unusual shunting manoeuvres that kept enthusiasts entertained right up until closure. After visiting the engine shed, we leave Templecombe and continue northwards to Evercreech Junction, leaving the main line to travel along the branch to Highbridge and Burnham-on-Sea and the line to Wells. We resume the journey north from Evercreech Junction over the steep climb to Masbury and finally reach Bath after a journey of 71½ miles, passing over the GWR London – Bristol line before arriving at Green Park station. There we also visit the Somerset & Dorset’s principal engine shed. For the first half of the 20th century Midland Railway designs provided the bulk of the motive power with ‘2P’ 4-4-0s, 0-4-4Ts, ‘3F’ and ‘4F’ 0-6-0s, ‘3F’ 0-6-0Ts the mainstays together with the Somerset & Dorset’s own iconic ‘7F’ 2-8-0s. After 1930 LM&SR versions of the Midland Railway types arrived together with a handful of Stanier Class ‘5’ 4-6-0s. In the early 1950s came Ivatt Class ‘2’ 2-6-2Ts and for a short time, SR Bulleid Pacifics, before the first of several classes of BR Standards arrived, culminating in the use of ‘9F’ 2-10-0s in the summers of 1960-62; GWR ‘2251’ 0-6-0s and pannier tanks appeared after the Western Region takeover in 1958. After through services ended in 1962 Standard Class ‘4’ 2-6-4Ts and Ivatt 2-6-2Ts saw out the final years until closure in March 1966.

 Hardback, 224 pages, black & white photographs

ISBN: 9781915069382

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Updated: 2 April 2024