Gloucester Midland Lines Part 2 : South - Eastgate to Stroud & Nailsworth (British Railway History in Colour Volume 4A)
In 1845. the Midland Railway, formed only a year earlier, outflanked and outbid the Great Western Railway for the purchase of the Birmingham & Gloucester and Bristol & Gloucester railways, who themselves had just agreed to amalgamate as the Birmingham & Bristol Railway. As a result, the railway map of Gloucestershire was to have a Midland red spine, with an important and busy main line running through the county from Ashchurch in the north to Yate in the south and with numerous branches breaking off from it. It also served to turn Gloucester in to one of the country's great railway centres of the steam age, where the Midland had a separate station, goods yards, dock system and locomotive shed.
Having covered the Midland lines in the north of the county in Volume 3 of this series, Volume 4 was intended to cover the lines south from Gloucester Eastgate but, again, the sheer quantity of material has necessitated splitting the book in two as Volumes 4A and 4B. However, they are being published together, with the pages in 4B being numbered on from 4A, as they essentially tell the story of the Bristol & Gloucester Railway and the branches that grew from it.
Volume 4A begins at Gloucester Eastgate station, which is covered in some detail along with the iconic Barton Street Junction signal box at the south end. We then visit Gloucester Docks via the High Orchard Branch, before travelling round the Tuffley Loop with its many level crossings to Tuffley Junction. Here we make a short detour along the Hempsted or New Docks Branch, before returning to the main line to travel to Stonehouse, passing the busy Standish Junction on the way. At Stonehouse we head off east for an extended and extensively illustrated tour of the Nailsworth & Stroud Branch. The pictures range from circa 1959 to 1975, illustrating the end of the steam age, the dawn of the diesel age and the start of the BR blue years in colour, whilst also showing the huge amount of railway infrastructure that has now gone, much of it within this period. Of the lines depicted within, only the main line between Tuffley and Stonehouse still remains and none of the stations.
Volume 4B resumes back on the main line at Stonehouse and follows it all the way to Westerleigh West Junction, where it joins the ex-GWR 'Badminton Line'. On the way, detailed and extensive visits are made to the Dursley Branch, the Sharpness Branch - including the docks and its railway system and Cooper's Metals scrapyard - and finally to the Thornbury Branch. And all in colour!
Hardback, 208 pages, colour photographs
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