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Published by membersonly, 2018-04-19 01:32:03


9th April 2016

Supplement to e-BLN 1254 BLN Pictorial 9 April 2016

Following a brief sojourn in Slovakia, your Sub-Ed has returned refreshed, and you will no doubt be relieved to hear that he has no intention of inflicting his
Slovakian holiday snaps on you. Yet. On the contrary, your Treasurer has been raking through his files from the 1970s and 1980s and has come up with a
fine collection of images from the Bristol area, from a time when diesel-hydraulics were still roaming the Western Region and quite a few interesting freight
branches still remained. Once again you can get to the picture by clicking on the number to the left of the captions, and return to the captions by clicking
near the bottom left of the picture. You can also get to the sketch map from any picture by clicking in the bottom right hand corner. On the last page but
one there is a sketch map of the Bristol area showing most of the photo locations; the final page contains a numbered key to the plethora of junctions and
other features in this complex area. Our thanks are due to Ian Mortimer for sharing the images with us, and for his diligent recording - your Sub-Ed is
extremely lax in such matters and one of his retirement tasks is to catalogue the 8,862 digital images in his 'Railways/Europe' folder. Then there are the
negatives and the slides ... but all of that is, as the saying goes, another story. Welcome to Bristol.

4. In August 1970 a NBL type 2 diesel-hydraulic runs alongside the River Avon towards Ashton Junction on its way back from Wapping Wharf. Seen 46
years later from a viewpoint close by ( little remains of the buildings which lined Cumberland Road in 1970,
with houses replacing Taylor & Low Bros. and the Imperial Saw Mills, and the two large warehouses beyond and to the right of the loco removed. The
smaller brick building beside the road is still there, now part of the Baltic Water Leisure Centre. So also is the very large building in the top left corner
of the picture, now occupied by Safestore, a self-storage company. The train is a little under half way between locations 20 and 21 on the map.

5. In September 1979 a Hudswell Clarke loco, belonging to Western Fuels, shunts coal wagons at Wapping Wharf (location 20 on the map). Once again a
contemporary view is rather different ( though the railway remains in place, now the home of the Bristol Harbour Railway
(unofficial site at

6. As part of the Great Western 150 celebrations in 1985 (we wonder what 2035 may bring...) a number of steam specials ran from Ashton Junction (21
on the map) to Wapping Wharf. An immaculate Ivatt 'Mickey Mouse' 2-6-0 46443, today a Severn Valley Railway resident, is seen with one of the
trains at Wapping Wharf. This particular loco was built at Crewe although a very tenuous GWR connection could have been claimed as class members
46503-46527 were built at Swindon.

7. The BLS 'Usk and Severn Rambler' toured lines in and around Bristol and South-East Wales, including Severn Beach, Uskmouth, Tidenham Quarry,
Sudbrook and Tytherington. The last 'branch' to be visited was to Barrow Road Refuse Transfer Station (RTS) on the remaining stub of the original MR

route into Bristol, retained in BR days as the Avonside Wharf branch (CG beyond Barrow Road RTS in October 1990). Following closure of the
Midland line from Kingswood Jn, a short spur was O 1 February 1970 to provide access from the GWR line just north of Lawrence Hill station. The
photo shows the tour train at the site of the former Barrow Road MPD, just north of Barrow Road RTS itself. This last portion of the Midland line was
CG 1 April 2011. The area has been completely redeveloped in recent years and most of the area of this photo is now occupied by a bingo hall. The
photo location on the map is just before the Midland line splits into three (Lawrence Hill Jn), to the west of the GWR Lawrence Hill station. From
north to south, the three Midland lines are the former line to Bristol St Philip's, O 2 May 1870, CP 21 September 1953, CG 1 April 1967, the Avonside
Wharf line and the connection to the GW which gave access to the joint station at Temple Meads.

8. Some years before the Usk & Severn Rambler, in September 1979, Avonside Wharf was still open for cement traffic at the Blue Circle depot, and a
nearby scrapyard. The picture shows cement wagons being shunted by a BR class 03 at Avonside Wharf (location 14 on the map). This area has
since been redeveloped as Temple Quay, though much of the branch can be walked as part of the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.

9. This rather grimy 'Western' was seen in April 1975 hauling a short class 8 freight, not quite the lowest of the low but not much of a job for a 2,700
hp 90mph passenger loco, south from Patchway on the South Wales main line towards Filton Junction (location 6 on the map). From the headcode,
the train was heading for somewhere on the (then) Southern Region. The line to the left is the curve to Filton West Jn and the Avonmouth line.

10. With the 'Westerns' nearing withdrawal and the HST still a couple of years away, the class 47s were in charge of most Western Region express
services in July 1975. This example is seen approaching a distinctly unmodernised Pilning station on a South Wales-London train. The line to Severn
Beach diverged just east of Pilning station, passing the station on the right of this picture; the line converging from behind the Down platform, on the
left of the picture, is the Down loop, which rejoins the main line 55ch beyond the station.

11. Some might call it irony, others a flexible response to changes in demand. Either way, Network Rail are currently engaged in re-quadrupling this very
stretch of line, between Dr Day's Junction and Filton Abbeywood, which was reduced to double track in 1984. In June 1975 a pair of class 37s heads
north through Narroways Hill Junction with a coal train. The curve in the right foreground goes to the former Ashley Hill Jn on the Clifton Extension
Railway, carrying passenger services to Avonmouth and Severn Beach. Beyond the curve, in the centre right of the picture, to the right of the main
line and at a lower level, can be seen the headshunt and sidings of Stapleton Road Coal Depot.

12. A Severn Beach-bound 'bubble car' approaches the site of Ashley Hill Jn (location 10 on the map) on a very cold day in March 1979. Ashley Hill was
the start of the joint (GWR/MR) section of the Clifton Extension Railway, which provided the Midland with access to the docks at Avonmouth. The
1m 52ch link to Kingswood on the MR's Mangotsfield-Bristol main line can be seen climbing away on the left of the picture. The Clifton Extension O 1
October 1874, then on to Sneyd Park Jn near Avonmouth OG 1877 and OP to Avonmouth 1 September 1885. The Ashley Hill Jn-Kingswood Jn section
C 14 June 1965.

13. In the early 1970s, excursions ran regularly from South Wales to Clifton Down, for Bristol Zoo (in reference to which, they were known locally as

Monkey Specials). In May 1974 a Western is seen passing Henbury with a return working from Clifton Down. The lengthy route via the (then) new
Patchway Chord, opened in 1971, enabled the trains to avoid reversing at Temple Meads.

14. Many older members will remember being endlessly told how to spell this location. All together ... K-E-Y-N- ... yes, it's Keynsham and this great
shot shows class 25 7657 heading off the Fry's factory branch in 1970. Opened with the Somerdale factory in 1935, this short branch was CG 27
July 1980. Some 31 years later the factory itself followed suit, on 31 March 2011, when production was moved to Poland following the takeover of
Cadbury's by Kraft Foods. The factory area is being redeveloped for housing but a trace of the line, which diverged just east of the station, can still
be seen today opposite the car park entrance (

15. On 25 October 1976 the Oxford University Railway Society's Bristol Area Branch Line Tour from Reading visited Portishead as its first branch on a
route which took in Tytherington, Sharpness and Gloucester Docks before returning to Reading via Birmingham. The tour is seen here at
Portishead (BR) station. The original GWR station was on the line curving away to the right, which ran north-eastwards parallel to the dock. The
history is quite complex for a simple branch line. Originally O 18 April 1867, the line was extended to the pier in 1870 with an additional station,
Portishead Pier. This CP at some point before 1904 by which time it was listed as a goods station under the name of Portishead Dock. The
extension of Portishead Power Station led to the closure from 4 January 1954 of the GWR station and the opening on the same date of the BR
station, visited by the railtour. This in turn was CP 7 September 1964 as one of the 'Beeching' cuts. The branch was CG in 1981 but not
dismantled, and in 1985, GWR 150 specials ran to Portishead. During 2000 and 2001 the branch was rebuilt to a point just north of Pill, whence a
short branch was constructed to the Royal Portbury Dock at the mouth of the Avon. Official ROG was 21 December 1981. The Portishead saga was
not yet finished, however. After a long campaign, reopening is in prospect as part of the MetroWest programme ( to
improve local services in the area, with a new station some 600 metres from the town centre (but handy for Waitrose and Sainsbury's!). The usual
slippage of such plans has occurred, with ROP now estimated at late 2019 - and in the present climate it seems by no means a done deal. Watch
this space!

16. Avonmouth Dock Junction, between Shirehampton and Avonmouth, was the access to the eastern end of the private dock railway system. The
level crossing here, opened in 1905 and known until 1911 as Crown Brickyard Level Crossing, was controlled by the Midland Railway signal box
until 1988, with the gates being replaced by lifting barriers in 1972. This photo from August 1979 shows a class 31, possibly 31108, heading
towards Avonmouth with a freight.

17. We finish with one of the more unusual signs noted on the national railway system. This one, captured at Sea Mills on the Clifton Extension in
1970, displays a real concern for members of the public, preferring them to take their chances with passing trains rather than getting soaked, or
worse, in the subway! As the Down platform at Sea Mills was removed in 1970, it's assumed that this 'useful' facility was removed with it.

1 Pilning Jn Key to Bristol Area Locations

2 Holesmouth Jn 17 ( north) Dr Day's Jn
3 Patchway Jn (west) Bristol East Jn
4 Filton West Jn (east) Feeder Bridge Jn
5 Filton Jn
6 Stoke Gifford Jn 18 (west) North Somerset Jn
7 Avonmouth Dock Jn (east) St. Anne's Park Jn
8 Mangotsfield North Jn (south) North Somerset Jn
9 Mangotsfield West Jn
10 Mangotsfield South Jn 19 North Somerset Jn (both junctions shared the name)
11 Ashley Hill Jn 20 Canons' Marsh
12 Narroways Hill Jn 21 Wapping Wharf
13 Kingswood Jn 22 Bristol West Jn
14 Bristol St. Philip's 23 Ashton Jn
15 Avonside Wharf 24 West Loop North Jn
16 Lawrence Hill Jn 25 Parson Street Jn (originally Portishead Jn)
26 West Depot Jn

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