Gloucester Midland Lines Part 3 : South - Stonehouse to Westerleigh & Branches (British Railway History in Colour Volume 4B)
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 48. 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 4B begins 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', passing the long closed stations at Frocester, Coaley, Berkeley Road, Charfield and Wickwar on the way, as well as the original station at Yate which has since re-opened but as a completely new build. On the way stops are made for detailed and extensively illustrated visits 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. 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. Today, the main line still remains but none of the original stations, along with freight only branches to Sharpness, to serve the nuclear loading facility at Berkeley (here shown in its early days), and to Tytherington Quarry on the Thornbury Branch.
Volume 4A begins at Gloucester Eastgate station and travels to Stonehouse via the Tuffley Loop, whilst visits are made to Gloucester Docks on the High Orchard Branch and the Hempsted or New Docks Branch, and to the Nailsworth & Stroud Branch from Stonehouse. And all in colour!
Hardback, 272 pages, colour photographs
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Updated: 1 June 2020