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Steaming Through the Cheddar Valley: Recollections of the East Somerset and Cheddar Valley Branch Lines Including the Wrington Vale Line

Steaming Through the Cheddar Valley: Recollections of the East Somerset and Cheddar Valley Branch Lines Including the Wrington Vale Line

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The railway lines serving the Cheddar Valley in Somerset and the East Somerset branch lines were built over a number of years by several different companies. The Frome to Yeovil section of the Wiltshire. Somerset & Weymouth Railway opened in 1856 and the East Somerset Railway branch line from Witham to a temporary terminus at Shepton Mallet opened in 1858. The section between the cathedral city of Wells and Yatton was opened in stages and at one time the small city had three separate stations, each owned by a different railway company and each with its own staff and engine sheds. The first connection to Wells was the extension of the Somerset Central Railway line from Highbridge to Glastonbury, built in 1859. The East Somerset Railway branch was extended from Shepton Mallet to Wells in 1862 and the Bristol & Exeter Railway. having advanced from Yatton to Cheddar in 1869, reached Wells in 1870.

Local trade and industry was often the incentive for building these lines in the shadow of the Mendip hills. Limestone from the quarries was carried for roadmaking schemes throughout the country, the section between Wells and Yatton became known as the 'Strawberry Line' after the strawberries which were loaded daily when in season and delivered by train to destinations tar and wide and the famous Cheddar cheese was transported to the rest of the country. Excursion traffic to Weston-super-Mare on the coast was also brisk in the early years. up to World War 2. and many passengers used the section between Wells and Yatton to travel from towns and villages in the area to Bristol for work or shopping.

However, declining railway use led to the inevitable closures. Passenger traffic was withdrawn from the Wrington Vale Light Railway in 1931, although freight survived until after the war, the branch from Wells and Glastonbury closed in 1951 and passenger services between Yatton and Witham ceased in 1963. Although stone traffic continues to flow by rail from the giant Foster Yeoman quarry at Merehead and passengers can travel two miles behind steam power on the preserved East Somerset Railway, the remaining network of Cheddar Valley lines has disappeared.

In Steaming through the Cheddar Valley Derek Phillips recounts the history and operation of the various lines that served the Cheddar Valley, providing the readers with a comprehensive selection of photo-graphs and line drawings. many previously unpublished. These, combined with the recollections of many of those who used to work the lines prior to closure. bring to life the nature of rural railway operation in the age of steam. All those interested in the history of the railways in the West Country will find this book provides a fascinating picture of a vanished era.

Hardback with dust jacket, 216 pages, black & white illustrations, maps/track plans

Condition: Good/Very Good with a little shelf wear to dust jacket at rear

ISBN: 9780860935513

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Updated: 1 July 2021