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LINKS

This page provides links to other organisations (local, national and international) with an interest in disused railways. Some are interested in only a single local route, but others are involved in the re-use of old railways on a huge scale. Click on the logo to access the site you want.

National Sites

Sustrans (the name stands for 'sustainable transport') is a national path-building charity which, since 1995, has been developing the National Cycle Network. Much of the NCN is based on former railways.
In 2009, Sustrans launched an excellent online mapping service. The zoomable maps appear to be based on the Ordnance Survey, but show all cycle routes (including those based on old railways) very clearly.
In broad terms, Railway Paths Limited is the body which ended up owning that part of British Rail Property Board's estate which could not be sold. Looked at another way, it is the least known part of the railway privatisation process! The company is a registered charity which exists to create multi-use trails on old railways suitable for cycling, walking, horseriding and wheel-chair use.
Subterranea Britannica is mainly concerned with 'underground Britain' - tunnels, old mine workings and the hundreds of secret places that often lay beneath our feet. However, it has also produced this first rate on-line guide to disused railway stations in the UK.
Nothing on the TV – again? This fascinating website, edited by Graeme Bickerdike, will keep railway buffs, transport historians and industrial archaeologists entertained for hours. 'Forgotten Relics of an Enterprising Age' does exactly what its name implies, i.e. celebrates many of this country's forgotten railway engineering features which somehow managed to escape the 'industrial vandalism' of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The site is updated regularly, and includes many excellent photographs of lost stations, signal boxes, tunnels, viaducts, etc. throughout the UK.
The Network Rail Virtual Archive will delight anyone interested in the history of the nation's railways – it lets you print off the original drawings for Bristol Temple Meads, London Paddington, plus various bridges and viaducts. It also contains histories of past railway companies, which comprise a short synopsis followed by a list of key dates, and a list of useful links to other sites that specialise in railway history and records. The website has clearly been designed with expansion in mind, so we hope that it will just get better and better.
Lyle Barwick has travelled much of England, Wales and Scotland in pursuit of lost railways, and in the process has built up an interesting and substantial photographic collection on flickr. There are some nicely composed shots here, featuring many major engineering works such as viaducts, bridges and tunnels, plus a number of favourite routes such as the S&D and the Waverley line.
If you are looking for information about railway history in the UK, you could find this free archive site – established in 2005 – to be very useful. To quote from the its introduction, the archive contains 'acts of Parliament, accident reports, publicity material, financial and economic reports, strategy documents, technical documents, white papers and more.'
Matthew Bromley on RailUKForums has been 'putting together a site depicting historical railways of the UK and Ireland. I've been working on the maps for many years, and have now decided to try and create a Google Maps based site to display them. The site is now up and running, and I'd really appreciate some feedback on, firstly, whether it works, but more importantly if this is something that would be useful to the rail enthusiast community and also if there are any mistakes or omissions.' We think that the rail enthusiast community will welcome this resource as a very worthwhile addition to the research tools available.

BritishRailways.tv is a website 'dedicated to British train videos'. Much of the material is modern, but there's an interesting archive section which includes a mixture of archive film and more recent documentaries, including BBC West's 1988 documentary on the The Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway. The site's index includes a list of bygone railway companies, which is another way of tracking down historic content. At the time of writing (January 2015), the site contained over 6,000 railway videos. It is very popular so, at certain times of the day, the response times can be a bit slow.

Regional Sites
The Northumberland Railway Walks Society (NRWS) organises walks throughout the north, taking in not just Northumberland, but also Scotland, Tyne & Wear, County Durham, Cumbria, Yorkshire, etc. A number of the club's walks offer one-off access to old railways which are now privately owned. Some walks are open to members only, but an on-line membership form is included (follow the link to 'Programme of Events'). If you like Northumberland, you may also enjoy Isaac's Tea Trail, a 36 mile circular route which links together sites associated with the life of Isaac Holden, a local tea seller and fund raiser for good causes who used the Haltwhistle-Alston and Newcastle-Carlisle railways to extend his work beyond the Alston/Allendale lead-mining area where he was born.
This website – 'The History Files' – is provided by KA Digital Services, a company which specialises in 'digital software services'. The railway walks section is a spin-off from the BBC television series featuring Julia Bradbury but, as yet, is in its infancy, since it features only London, the South East and the South West. However, the site will be worth watching if all the promised features are delivered.
This site, re-launched in 2014, describes a project which aims to convert the old railway line from Clevedon to Shepton Mallet into a network of safe paths for both walkers and cyclists, and families and residents to enjoy. The spine of the network is not actually one old line but two (Clevedon to Yatton and Yatton to Witham Friary), or more accurately three if you dig back into the history books. We commend this project to readers: it will be one of the longest railway paths in the UK, second only to the North Dorset Trailway which is slowly recovering the trackbed of the old Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway between Templecombe and Poole. Do have a look at this site and consider becoming a member..
This site has been developed by Ron Strutt, who has kindly supplied a number of the photographs used on our own site. While the emphasis is mainly on cycling, there is a useful section on 'Cycling old railways', which covers a number of railway-based walking and cycling routes in the south and south west of the country.
Nick Leverton loves 'the romance of old railway viaducts, bridges and tunnels', and presents here some striking photographs of forgotten Victorian railway engineering. Have a look at his pictures of St. Pancras Chambers. Some of the restored ceilings look like something out of the Arabian Nights – utterly extraordinary, and all the moreso since they were built by a railway company.
'Rail Around Birmingham and the West Midlands' is a labour of love by Andy Doherty, who has clearly spent a huge amount of time developing this site. His long term ambition is to visit and document every railway station – disused or operational – within the region. Members of this club will probably be drawn to the 'Quick Start' menu of abandoned stations, but there is plenty else to enjoy here, including Andy's collection of railway postcards and tram photos. His research tips are pretty handy for anyone trying to trace a long-lost station.
'The Dorset Trailway Network' is arguably the most exciting railway path project in the country at the moment. It is supported and financed by a consortium of Dorset local authorities (Dorset County, East Dorset District and North Dorset District Council) who seek to convert the former Somerset & Dorset Railway from Stalbridge to Poole into a multi-use trail. The economic benefits for this part of rural Dorset will be great, and already completed parts of the route are attracting ca. 80,000 users per year. Committee members are fully aware of the work of the Two Tunnels Project which is developing the same line south of Bath, and the potential for creating a multi-use trail from Bath to the south coast …
The West Somerset Mineral Line Association exists to 'inform people about the history of the West Somerset Mineral Railway (WSMR) and its associated mines and communities'. This standard gauge freight line once linked Gupworthy in the Brendon Hills with Roadwater, Washford and Watchet. Railway ramblers will be interested in the monthly walks, which provide an opportunity to see the old railway and its environs in all seasons and weathers. The companion site for the West Somerset Mineral Railway is an excellent source of contemporary and archive photographs and drawings, including graphic re-constructions of many of the railway's principle buildings and features.
It will come as no surprise that the Northern Viaduct Trust works to preserve and, where possible, re-use the many disused railway viaducts which feature in the region's landscape. These people are amazing. They began as a small pressure group trying to stop their local viaduct on the Stainmore line from being demolished, but have gone on to acquire some of the trackbed and three superb viaducts ... and if that issn't enough, they've also built a footbridge to replace one of the railway bridges which was removed after closure! On top of all this, they also played an advisory role in the restoration of Lambley Viaduct on the Alston branch.
International Sites
The Great Southern Trail in the Republic of Ireland is something rather different. It's based on the former railway line from Tralee to Limerick and is still owned by Coras Iompair Eireann (CIE), Ireland's public transport company, which has made it available to a local group that is working hard to convert the whole 53 miles into a long distance rail trail. The group deserves support to complete this worthwhile community project, which crosses the beautiful south west of this unspoilt country.
This is a site for anyone interested in exploring old railways in the United States. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is something else in the world of railway rambling – at the time of writing, its site covers 1,359 separate rail trails, the longest of which is the American Discovery Trail at 6,356 miles. If you are interested in walking or cycling old railways in other countries, follow the link to 'Trails Around the World'. There is even a downloadable 'International Trails Directory'. By the way, the RTC has over 100,000 members, so who says that old railways are a minority interest?
There are now railway paths all over Australia, and Railtrails Australia provides a one-stop guide to where they are. As might be expected in such a large country, some of the trails are very long, such as the Munda-Biddi Trail from Mundaring to Collie in Western Australia, which weighs in at about 220 miles. Click on 'Trail Descriptions' for a series of maps which will help you to find your way around the site.
New Zealand does not have a central agency or website which promotes all of its rail trails, but it too has recognised the recreational potential of old railways. Protective legislation kept the country's rail system intact longer than elsewhere, but the repeal of these laws in 1983 led to the closure of many rural lines. The Otago Central Rail Trail was the country's first railway conversion, thanks to its purchase in 1993 by the Department of Conservation in Otago, which opened it in 2000. The trail is situated on the south island and runs from Clyde to Middlemarch, a distance of just over 100 miles. Choose 'About the Rail Trail' and then 'Take a Slide Tour of the Rail Trail' for a good selection of photographs. This trail was recently voted the 16th most popular of 101 'must do' activities for New Zealanders.
This German site is the work of Dr. Achim Bartoschek, who explains: '"Bahntrassen" are railway tracks (in use or after dismantling of the rails). With a walkable trail on it, it is a "Bahntrassenweg" and when you are allowed to cycle on it, it's a "Bahntrassenradweg". "Bahntrassenradeln" means cycling on rail-trails.' Dr. Bartoschek's site is comprehensive, with links to similar sites throughout Europe, including Railway Ramblers in the UK. For those who are not fluent in German, try out the 'Fotografien' link (Photographs). If you want to translate the site, use this link and scroll to the bottom of the page where you can enter the web address. Be warned that the results can be quite comical – not a reflection on Dr. Bartoschek's German, of course, but rather the deficiencies of computer programs which claim to translate anything at the click of a button!

This is the Spanish railway paths site, whose name literally means 'green ways'. Spain has over 1,800 kilometres (about 1,200 miles) of disused railways that can be walked and cycled. This site has changed a lot since we first discovered it: there is now a list of trails here (scroll down), and a national map here. Further details can be obtained from the FFE website here, or its English language version here. FFE is the 'Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Espagñoles', or Spanish Railways Foundation.

Bored Panda is not the sort of site that one might expect to find on a website about old railways, but think again. At the very time that the Victorians were building railways everywhere, they were admiring old ruins which they would beat up a little more if they did not look romantic enough. Nowadays, old railways are numbered amongst the ruins, and within this page are some tremendous photographs of abandoned railway infrastructure. The quality of the photography is exceptional. Look out for Michigan Central, Abkhazia station (Georgia), City Hall subway station (New York) and the subway tunnels of Kiev. As the site says, 'They say that the only permanent thing in the world is change.' Note: If the page opens displaying only one image, click on the link labelled 'See full article'.
'Gone But Not Forgotten'
When the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway was axed on 7th March 1966 as part of the Beeching closures, it wasn't just a main line that closed, but an entire rural network including its branch lines. One lucky survivor is Shillingstone station, south of Sturminster Newton in Dorset, which is now home to the Shillingstone Station Project, which aims to restore the station and its surroundings to their former glory. The local authorities in Dorset are slowly turning the S&D into the North Dorset Trailway, a long distance walk and cycle trail based – where possible – on the old railway, and a two mile section of this runs through the site.
This comprehensive site keeps alive the memory of Swindon's 'other' railway – the Midland & South Western Junction Railway, which linked Cheltenham with Andover and provided, via the LSWR's Test Valley line, a direct link from the south Midlands to Southampton. The webmaster Neil Lover has even been up in a helicopter to take aerial photographs of the line – there's dedication for you!
This is another site devoted to a single lost railway, this time the Fairford branch in Oxfordshire. Martin Loader is the webmaster here, and he has built up a fine record of the line, including historical details, maps, past and present photographs, tickets, timetables, parcel labels and even the occasional historical letter, such as one from the East Gloucestershire Railway when it was seeking to connect this rural outpost with Cheltenham.
This scholarly and well written website is the work of Peter Richards, who uses it to keep alive the memory of the remote and scenic line that ran from Halwill Junction to Padstow via Launceston and Wadebridge. It is still under development, but already includes good photographic coverage of the line since closure.
The name of this site tells you exactly what it does. It's packed with interesting material, including superbly illustrated pages on all of West Yorkshire's closed lines, plus many ancilliary articles. Dr. Beeching gets a look in (for anyone who doesn't know, he's the 1960s railway supremo who visited instant death on large parts of the UK's rail network), and there's even a gazetteer by local members of Railway Ramblers, which gives an overview of every line that the county has lost.
This site is described as 'the bewildering obsession of Mike Slocombe who has single-handedly run [it] since 1995, ably assisted by a small collection of contributing chums'. The section on railways is split roughly 50:50 between London and rural locations. Check out the link on the abandoned Pullman carriages left at Marazion in Cornwall – fascinating stuff.
Member Chris Jennings is developing a fine-looking website recording scenes on Britain's railways from the 1960s onwards. While this is a 'work in progress', the site already contains plenty of interest, especially of steam both on the national network and preserved railways. Chris favours working in black and white, which gives many of his compositions a timeless quality; you would be hard pressed to date some of his photographs without a caption to help.
If you are interested in railway history, disused stations or 'underground Britain' generally, you will find much to engage you in this excellent site by Hywel Williams – not to mention some fascinating photographs which will encourage you to keep your eyes peeled while wandering around the streets of London. Did you know that disused stations such as Down Street (famous for its role in World War 2) on the Piccadilly Line are kept in serviceable condition for use as escape routes in an emergency? It's all here.
News Groups
'Notes, history, photos, anything about closed railways in the British Isles. Anything concerning bygone branch lines and tramroads, particularly stations and structures. Tracing old railway routes and tracks, personal recollections, maps, etc. We aim to build a wide ranging photo base and information archive for all enthusiasts and those with a passing interest in railway history.' Note: In order to prevent spam, applicants must complete the Yahoo profile, i.e. brief details of their interest, full name and town where they live, although obviously in the case of club members this should not be a problem.