News 2010

Above: The neat little station at Fort Brockhurst on the former LSWR branch from Fareham to Gosport was up for sale in June 2009, which explains why the ground floor windows had all been boarded up. Until the final freight-only years under BR, the branch was double track throughout; this is the up platform, with the down one out of view on the left. There was a third platform which started behind the station house and despatched trains to Lee-on-Solent until New Year’s Eve, 1930. It survives beneath the trees as one of the few tangible reminders that that there ever was a railway to this little-known seaside destination. In the near future, a ‘rapid transit’ bus route will take over much of this former branch. 6th June 2009. (Jeff Vinter)

December 2010. Luxulyan to Ponts Mill, Cornwall. English Heritage has awarded funding for a survey of Treffry Viaduct on Treffry’s Tramway to be undertaken, as a result of which the structure will close for two weeks from 4 January 2011 for this to be carried out. Cornwall Council and Cornwall Heritage Trust own the landmark, but leakage and tree roots are causing damage which threatens its long term future. The viaduct is 89 ft high and 650 ft long, with each of its 10 arches having a span of 40 ft. It last carried traffic in the 1930s, but has been used for many years as a footpath. Click here for a sketch map of the area; if anyone can advise who owns this map, please let us know via our Contact page so that we can deal appropriately with any copyright issues. (Chris Sawle and Ralph Rawlinson)

December 2010. Edington Junction to Bridgwater, Somerset. Having been closed for several years due to a local landowner withdrawing permission for his land to be crossed, the short railway path between Cossington and Bawdrip has now been re-opened thanks to the generosity of a (presumably different) local landowner. The trail runs for just under a mile from the former level crossing at ST 354406 to ST 345398, just east of the site of Bawdrip Halt. Enthusiasts of the Somerset & Dorset Railway will recognise this as part of that company’s former Bridgwater branch. This section now forms part of The West Country Way, NCN3, The Stop Line Way and NCN33, the latter now being open between Burnham on Sea and Chard, thus adding 17 miles to the existing cycle route route. (Sustrans Ltd)

November 2010. Workington, Cumbria. Twelve months ago, the Cumbrian floods washed away or damaged four of the five cycle, road and rail bridges over the River Derwent in Workington. It has now been announced that the cycle bridge, which utilised the piers of the bridge built by the former Cleator & Workington Junction Railway for its line from Cleator Moor Junction to Workington (Siddick Junction), will be replaced by a new bowstring structure. For further details and a photograph, click here to read the article published by the local newspaper, The News & Star. (Ralph Rawlinson)

November 2010. Radstock to Frome, Somerset. Further to our report in May (see here) about plans to extend Collier’s Way (NCN24) from Great Elm to Frome, representatives from Frome’s Missing Link, Frome Town Council and Mendip District Council have now met to decide how to progress the project, starting with an investigation of the land ownership issues. In addition, Rupert Crosbee from Sustrans has had an informal meeting with Network Rail to gain an understanding of NR’s views about the cycle trail being routed alongside part of the single track freight line from Whatley Quarry to Frome North Junction. just east of the town’s historic railway station. (It is one of very few to retain its overall Brunelian roof.) (Jeff Vinter)

November 2010. Kemp Town Tunnel, Brighton, East Sussex. Moves are afoot to arrange some walks next year through Kemp Town Tunnel on the short branch from Brighton to Kemp Town. The walks will form part of the 2011 Brighton Festival, provided that the negotiations are successful. If this is the case, then we hope to publish details on this site some time next year. (Ralph Rawlinson)

Above: On Sunday 7th November, the crowd of walkers, cyclists and horse riders waiting for the opening of the new Hodmoor bridge (S&DJR no. 185) near Stourpaine on the Somerset & Dorset Railway, now the North Dorset Trailway, stretched back almost to the infilled road-over-rail bridge at Gains Cross. As can be seen, the occasion was blessed with bright, sunny weather. (Jeff Vinter)

November 2010. Sturminster Newton to Stourpaine, Dorset. Further to our report last month, the new Hodmoor Bridge over the River Stour on the S&DR north of Stourpaine was opened officially on Sunday 7th November. Hundreds of well-wishers gathered at Shillingstone Recreation Ground at 11:30 a.m. for a two mile walk to the bridge, where at 12 noon there was an official opening ceremony including the traditional cutting of the ribbon. (Jeff Vinter)

November 2010. Broadford Pier to Kilchrist Quarries, Skye. The Heritage Trail Project and Broadford Environmental Group are installing a new span on the original abutments of the railway bridge at Broadford in order to create a 2½ mile ‘heritage footpath’ along the trackbed of a 3 ft. gauge line built in 1904 by the Skye Marble Company. This will enable Broadford Pier to be linked with the original quarries, the remains of which occupy a lonely spot half way up a mountain. The project, backed by a sizeable consortium of community and local government interests, will restore a section of track on the pier and install an information board. (Jeff Vinter)

October 2010. Merthyr and Cefn Glas Tunnels, Mid Glamorgan. Back in March, The Western Mail reported that Dafydd Trystan Davies, a director of Sustrans and former chief executive of Plaid Cymru, had called for old railway tunnels in South Wales to be refurbished and re-opened to link communities. He called specifically for Merthyr and Cefn Glas Tunnels to be re-opened to link the Cynon Valley and Merthyr Tydfil areas, claiming that they could prove a ‘great attraction’ once proper lighting and safety measures had been installed. Mr Davies has now asked the transport authorities to do a feasibility study into restoring the tunnels, which were on the lines between Llwydcoed and Merthyr, and Cwmbach and Quaker’s Yard, respectively. (Ralph Rawlinson)

October 2010. Draycote to Rugby, Warwickshire. NCN41 currently uses a short section of the former Leamington Spa to Rugby line between Birdingbury Bridge and Draycote. Sustrans are extending this on from Draycote to Bilton Lane on the western edge of Rugby to add a further 5 miles to the railway-based part of the route. (Ralph Rawlinson)

October 2010. Leominster to Worcester, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The mayor of Bromyard has proposed that the whole of this route be converted into a cycle trail, and councillors agreed that Herefordshire Council should be asked to include a scheme in future development plans. The intermediate stations at Rowden Mill and Fencote (between Leominster and Bromyard) have been beautifully restored by enthusiastic owners who host occasional open days, but much of the trackbed is heavily overgrown with some sections having been ploughed out. Extensive negotiations with landowners will be necessary before such a scheme can succeed. (Ralph Rawlinson)

Above: Something that many railway enthusiasts and many Dorset locals thought they would never see – the replacement of the long demolished Hodmoor bridge on the Somerset & Dorset Railway that crossed the River Stour just west of Stourpaine. This club contributed just under £2,750 to this project, £2,500 being voted at the 2008 AGM and the remainder being raised from S&D-based events run by Jeff Vinter from the club’s Southern Area. If past practice is anything to go by, the funding will have been augmented by ‘matched giving’, which is what the North Dorset Trailway usually arranges for such large capital projects. This is yet another astounding achievement on this much-loved and greatly lamented railway route. For further details, see the story below. (Graham Rains)

October 2010. Sturminster Newton to Stourpaine, Dorset. Regular visitors to this site will recognise this route as part of the former Somerset & Dorset Railway which, by dint of hard work, the North Dorset Trailway is gradually converting into a long distance railway walk and cycle trail. A major drawback to the initial plans for this section was the absence of two major bridges over the River Stour – one at Fiddleford and the other just west of Stourpaine (at grid reference ST 851099). The bridge at Fiddleford was replaced in October 2006, but this month it was the turn of the one at Stourpaine. The official opening of the bridge, and the next section of the Trailway, is scheduled for Sunday 7th November at 12 noon, when Angus Campbell (from the Trailway, presumably) and the two chairmen of Stourpaine and Shillingstone parish councils will perform the opening ceremony. (North Dorset Trailway)

October 2010. Ryde Pier Head to Ryde Esplanade. Over the last ten years, members of the Southern Area of this club have, at some time, walked all the accessible lengths of disused line on the Isle of Wight, including (thanks to painstaking negotiation by John Elson, John Hague and Roger Mayo) all those sections which are privately owned. However, one route that has been conspicuously noticeable by its absence is the Ryde Pier Tramway, which finally closed in 1969. Now, because of repairs which are needed to the pier promenade (which gives vehicle and pedestrian access to the pier head) and which will entail its closure until March 2011, decking has been laid on the full length of the former tramway route so that it can be used as a diversion route by pedestrians. This will give members a unique opportunity to add the Pier Tramway to their list of former island lines walked. (Ron Strutt)

September 2010. Walking the Disused Railways of Kent. This is a new title by David Bathurst, published by SB Books of Seaford. As with David’s previous venture, Walking the Disused Railways of Sussex, this book gives a brief history of each line together with detailed instructions for tracing its remains. The book is well illustrated with clear sketch maps and a number of black and white prints, which are beautifully reproduced. However, it disregards the fact that the vast majority of disused railway land in Kent is now privately owned, and so concerns arise as to how landowners will feel about finding published instructions for trespass on their property. From this point of view, it is perhaps fortunate that some old Kentish lines are now so far gone that the only practical means of exploration is from public footpaths, lanes and roads. The book will save any intending walk leader a huge amount of time in terms of identifying what remains and devising a route that connects those remains; but such a person will still face the considerable task of identifying all of the landowners and securing their permission for a visit. Walking the Disused Railways of Kent, 136pp, SB Publications, 2010, ISBN 978-1-85770-356-6, £8.99. Website: (Jeff Vinter)

Above: Breamore station, Hampshire, on a glorious Sunday morning in September. The site looks a whole lot happier than it did when last photographed by one of our members in August 2003 (click here), since at that time it looked as if demolition was a distinct possibility. For many years, and certainly in 2003, the last stationmaster and his wife lived in one of the railway cottages opposite. Apart from the restoration of the station, it is good also to see the adjoining trackbed coming back into use – see the stories below and under July. (Alan Clarke)

September 2010. Breamore, Hampshire. This country station on the former LSWR branch line from Salisbury to West Moors can now, evidently, be rented as a holiday cottage, as our correspondent discovered on the morning of Sunday 12th September 2010 when he cycled along the newly-opened 1.3 miles of tracked that now leads north from the station. The stinging nettles are the worst obstacle, so members need to get out there and trample them down! The route is full of interest as there were many culverts and farm crossings; it is also due to be extended southwards within the next year. (Alan Clarke)

September 2010. Maiden Newton to Bridport, Dorset. We have just received news that the first short section of this attractive branch line, from Maiden Newton station to Chilfrome Lane, Tollerford, has just been widened and re-surfaced. The Sustrans ranger who is working on this project has supplied a progress report (click here), which contains further details about the project as a whole. (Peter Henshaw)

August 2010. Stenkrith (nr. Kirkby Stephen) to Hartley, Cumbria. The Northern Viaduct Trust has constructed a new car park at Stenkrith, which is attracting a lot of visitors to this short section of the former Stainmore route, which includes the Trust’s restored viaducts at Podgill and Merrygill. The Trust is also repairing the Stenkrith overbridge at the south end of the route, thanks to a grant from the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty authorities. Less pleasing is news that the Trust’s third viaduct in the area, Smardale Gill, suffered badly during the harsh winter. A number of stones have fallen, and it will be costly to replace them. (Tony Jervis)

Above: The ‘up’ platform at Histon station on the former branch line from Cambridge to St. Ives, now converted into a guided busway – which still isn’t open, despite several deadlines having passed (see reports further down this page, especially here). The former railway station is just visible in the centre distance – look for the building with the grey wall and grey slate roof. Our correspondent joked that it must be time for the weed-killing bus to pay a visit! August 2010. (Alan Moore)

August 2010. Newport to Mallaranny, County Mayo. News has just arrived that, from November 2009, work was under way on converting this 12 mile section of the Midland Great Western Railway’s remote branch line from Westport to Achill into a railway path for walkers and cyclists. Despite the name of the line’s destination implying transport to Achill, the railway never actually crossed Achill Sound to reach Achill Island proper. (Ralph Rawlinson)

August 2010. Utterby to Louth, Lincolnshire. This 4 mile section of the former GNR line from Grimsby to Louth is now owned by the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, which has erected signs along the route to permit walking on a permissive basis until such time as it relays the track. Anyone taking advantage of this should be aware that, during summer, some ‘jungle-bashing’ is necessary in the middle section near Fotherby. (Phil Earnshaw)

August 2010. Pontrhydyfen to Cymmer via Cynonville, South Glamorgan. This railway path – part of the former Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway – is closed, probably until late 2011, between Pontrhydyfen and Cynonville because the trackbed was built on a high embankment which the River Afan has undermined. Until repairs are complete, an alternative route between Pontrhydyfen and Cymmer is available on the opposite, i.e. north, side of the Afan Valley along the trackbed of the former South Wales Mineral Railway. (Ralph Rawlinson)

July 2010. Conisbrough to Harlington, South Yorkshire. This section of the Trans Pennine Trail (NCN62) uses 3 miles of the former Dearne Valley Railway but used to deviate around the massive Conisbrough Viaduct at the south eastern end. Now, Sustrans has laid a tarmac path across the viaduct, which comprises a central girder section with 14 arches to the north and 7 to the south. We presume that connection is made with the A630 at the south eastern end; confirmation from any member(s) living locally would be appreciated – please use the e-mail link on our Contact page. (Jeff Vinter)

July 2010. Oldham to Ashton-Under-Lyne, Greater Manchester. This line had been identified as a route for Sustrans’ Connect2 project, but the local authority has baulked at the cost of reinstating a viaduct at Park Bridge , which crossed the valley of the River Medlock but was demolished in the 1970s. The railway was built originally by the Oldham, Ashton & Guide Bridge Joint Railway, a joint venture of the GCR and LNWR. Currently, 2 miles of the trackbed are in use, as part of NCN66, from south of Park Bridge (SD 939022) to just north of Ashton-Under-Lyne station (SJ 938999). In February this year, councillor Mark Alcock said that Oldham Council hoped to complete the route along the former railway, without the bridge, by 2012. In the meantime, it was proceeding with work to create better off-road walking and cycling links to Rochdale. (Liam Standing)

July 2010. South Charford to Breamore, Hampshire. Thanks to the efforts of Hampshire County Council, this 1¼ mile section of the former LSWR line from Salisbury (Alderbury Junction) to West Moors is now a permissive walk. The New Forest National Park Authority provided funding for the construction of a new bridge, while vegetation was cleared by volunteers from the Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society and Breamore Parish Council. HCC hopes to extend the path southwards to Burgate Cross, on the A338 north of Fordingbridge, in 2011. The south end of the trail passes through Breamore station. (Lionel and Zita Pilbeam)

July 2010. Wheathampstead Station, Hertfordshire. It had been assumed for years that nothing remained of Wheathampstead station, which is (or was) situated on Hertfordshire’s Ayot Greenway. However, this year volunteers have located the remains and are re-constructing the platform from authentic materials, and turning both it and the adjoining trackbed into a wildlife and picnic area in time for the 150th anniversary of its opening in September. The project is on schedule, although the volunteers have had difficulty in sourcing authentic bricks, paving, etc. (Ralph Rawlinson)

July 2010. Alnmouth to Alnwick, Northumberland. Earlier this month, Northumberland County Council issued planning permission for the re-building of this 3 mile ex-NER branch line. This includes consent for a cycle trail to be constructed alongside the restored railway. Click here for further details published by the BBC. In years gone by, trains could reverse at Alnwick on to the long rural branch line to Coldstream (Graham Lambert)

July 2010. Dunford Bridge to Penistone and Wortley, South Yorkshire. The once industrial South Yorkshire area has lost much of its industry and many of the accompanying railways, but the local authorities have made a superb job of re-using what has been lost. The latest rail trail to come to our attention, albeit belatedly, is this 10½ mile route which uses part of the old trans-Pennine Woodhead route between Dunford Bridge and Penistone (part of NCN62, the Trans Pennine Trail), before turning south to follow the GCR’s old Sheffield Victoria line as far as Finkle Street, near Wortley (part of NCN6). The trail cannot follow the trackbed south of Finkle Street because the line is still in situ and used to convey steel traffic from Stocksbridge. (Jeff Vinter)

July 2010. Aberdeen to Ballater, Grampian. On 10 March this year, a missing bridge over West Cults Road in West Cults (south west of Aberdeen) was replaced by a new £170,000 footbridge to carry the Deeside Way. Before the bridge was installed, on average more than 500 pedestrians and 200 cyclists per day were using the route, and Aberdeen City Council hopes that these numbers will increase now that this road crossing has been made so much safer. (Ralph Rawlinson)

July 2010. Chapeltown to Ecclesfield, South Yorkshire. Sustrans has confirmed that work will start soon on this extension to NCN67, the Chapeltown Greenway, which will extend this off-road route by an extra 2 miles. The greenway utilises parts of the old Great Central line from Dovecliffe to Tinsley. (Ralph Rawlinson)

July 2010. West Ashfield Station, London. Never heard of West Ashfield? It is London Transport’s strangest station – read all about it by clicking the link here. Many thanks to ‘Roger’s Radar’ for finding this fascinating account. (Roger Cleaver)

June 2010. Sandford and Banwell Station, Somerset. This former station on the old Cheddar Valley line has now been restored and was opened recently by Prince Richard of Gloucester. Formerly the Sandford Stone Centre, the old railway site has been re-developed as an attractive retirement village with pride of place given to the restored station, which is now a railway museum. The large goods shed to the south of the station has also been restored and now accommodates a spacious restaurant. A group called the Sandford Station Railway Heritage Centre Group has been set up to run the museum, which is housed in the old ticket office building. The group describes the station, a Grade II listed building constructed by the Bristol & Exeter Railway, as ‘an architectural gem and one of the best examples of its kind to be found’. (Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society)

May 2010. Trieste (Italy) to Porec (Croatia). A 123 kilometre narrow gauge railway known as the ‘Parenzana’ or TPC (Trieste-Parenzo-Canfanaro) used to link these two towns. Opened in 1902, the line finally closed on 31 August 1935, unable to compete with cheaper road transport. With financial help from the European Union, the route is now being turned into a long distance cycle trail, details of which can be viewed by clicking the link here. Mr. Sascha Cosic, Sales Manager of the project, has contacted the club and is keen to see if he can arrange something of interest for our members. If this is of interest, please get in touch with Sascha’s organisation using the contact form here. (Sascha Cosic)

May 2010. Radstock to Frome, Somerset. Frome Town Council is thinking of extending Collier’s Way (NCN24) from Great Elm to Frome. At the moment, the existing railway path leads users from Radstock to a temporary road-based link into Frome, which – not surprisingly – is little used. (Alan Clarke) Update: This project has now been taken on by a local community group; click here.

May 2010. Eccles to Leigh, Greater Manchester. After being put on hold for five years, Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) has again resurrected plans for a guided busway that will link Manchester city centre with Leigh. The eastern half of the route will be along the East Lancashire Road but, in the area of Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council, it will utilise the Ellenbrook-Tyldesley section of the former Manchester-Wigan line and the whole of the Tyldesley-Leigh line, both ex-LNWR. After all the adverse publicity over guided busway projects elsewhere (i.e. escalating costs, severe delays and operational problems), it seems beyond belief that any local authority would still be pursuing such a course. What is worse is that this proposal threatens two existing and popular railway paths. In the Salford City Council area, Eccles-Ellenbrook is already a cycle trail (part of NCN55), as is Tyldesley-Leigh in the Wigan MBC area, while most of the remainder is also a well used path. Sustrans has plans to extend NCN55 westwards from Ellenbrook, through Tyldesley to Wigan – plans that will be adversely affected, at the very least, if this guided busway project goes ahead. (Ralph Rawlinson) Webmaster’s Note: So far, the most problem-beset and unpopular guided busway project has been that from Cambridge to St. Ives – see here, here and here.

May 2010. Maiden Newton to Bridport, Dorset. Following a visit to West Dorset on May Day, the Webmaster is pleased to report that a further section of the former Bridport branch can now be walked, from Loders to just west of Powerstock station. The grid references are SY 497941 to SY 522954, a distance of 2 miles. Powerstock station remains just across the lane at the latter point but is privately owned – please respect the owners’ privacy. (Jeff Vinter)

Above: Fledborough Viaduct, seen here looking north, crosses the River Trent in Nottinghamshire and is one of the largest in the country – this photograph shows just over half of the structure. It is situated on the former Great Central line from Pyewipe Junction, west of Lincoln, to Clipstone Junction, where separate branches diverged to Mansfield and Warsop. This photograph was taken in 2006, before the viaduct was converted into part of a cycle trail; see the story below for further details. (Bob Prigg)

April 2010. High Marnham to Pyewipe Junction, Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire. The substantial Fledborough Viaduct has a secure future now that it has been converted into part of a cycle trail. The whole of the former GCR trackbed between High Marnham and Pyewipe Junction (just west of Lincoln) is now a 9 mile cycleway, with the designations being NCN647 for High Marnham to Harby, and NCN64 for Harby to Pyewipe Junction. The viaduct is a giant amongst viaducts, comprising 9 million bricks, 59 arches and four central spans over the River Trent. The official opening (or, strictly, re-opening) is scheduled for 5 June 2010. (Ralph Rawlinson)

April 2010. Caernarfon to Bryncir, Gwynedd. Gwynedd Council’s Environment Service and Tidy Towns scheme have secured a Tidy Towns grant to block off a redundant railway tunnel on the Lôn Eifion cycle trail near Caernarfon. Evidently, the tunnel had been the scene of some anti-social behaviour and its closure is expected to stop that, while creating a safe haven for lesser horseshoe bats. Mark Balaam, the council’s senior countryside warden, said that Gwynedd is one of the most important areas for lesser horseshoe bats in Europe. While closure of the tunnel is a loss for explorers of old railways, it is understandable if the tunnel was being used inappropriately. If any member can provide details of the problem, please get in touch using the e-mail link on our Contact page. (Martin Briscoe and ‘Malcolm 13751’)

April 2010. Callander to Doune, Stirling. During a holiday in the Highlands, the proprietor of Mounter Bikes in Ancaster Square, Callander (with excellent bikes for hire – tel. 01877 331052) advised that Sustrans and the local authority have concluded negotiations to create a new 8 mile railway path on the trackbed of the former Caledonian Railway between Callander and Doune. The date for completion is not yet known, but this will put Callander in the middle of a 17 mile railway path linking Doune with Strathyre. A 9 mile railway-based trail between Callander and Strathyre is already open and part of the Rob Roy Way. (Jeff Vinter)

April 2010. Ballachulish to Connel, Highland and Argyll. As reported in January 2009, this former Caledonian Railway branch line of ca. 28 miles is being converted into a long distance cycle trail. The section from Ballachulish to Ballachulish Ferry is due to be completed in May, while the section from Ballachulish Ferry to Kentallen is already open (click here for details). Further south, two substantial sections of the line have now been converted between Appin and Barcaldine. They can be accessed near the entrances to Appin House and Barcaldine Sea Life Centre respectively, both on the west side of the A828. The new sections are not joined together yet, but progress is impressive and represents at least 5 miles of new railway path. En route, the old station at Creagan has been superbly restored by the owners of a local holiday park. This is definitely a route to watch. (Jeff Vinter)

April 2010. Radstock to Midsomer Norton, Somerset. NCN48 already connects Radstock with Midsomer Norton along the former GWR line, but work has now started on a second link using the former Somerset & Dorset ‘high level’ line. The route, named the ‘Five Arches Greenway’, will link the current ‘Norton-Radstock Greenway’, which skirts the northern part of the town, to Midsomer Norton town centre; the map here (from Bath & North East Somerset Council) shows the new route in its context. Members who have been familiar with this area since the demise of the Somerset coal mining industry in the late 1970s will be pleased to note that all four routes shown on the map leading out of Radstock are based on old railways – two on the former GWR and two on the former S&D lines through the town. The S&D line to Midsomer Norton is the last of the four to receive attention, and certainly needed it. Although acquired by the old Avon County Council as a railway path, by 2008 the south end was an impassable tangle of vegetation. (Ralph Rawlinson and Jeff Vinter)

April 2010. Launceston to Wadebridge, Cornwall. One story that escaped our notice last summer concerned the LSWR’s former North Cornwall line. The August 2009 edition of ‘Heritage Railway’ published an article about Cornwall Council’s plans to link the Tarka and Camel Trails, re-using as much as possible of the old North Cornwall line. Click here for full details. (Jeff Vinter)

Above: ‘It’s news, Jim, but not as we know it.’ This corner of the Webmaster’s study is where it all happens and, as you can see, now proudly displays an authentic railway sign. Or is it? This purchase was made at Minehead station during the West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala in March, and it confused the heck out of a lot of railway enthusiasts! ‘Where’s that then? Must be a station in Ireland with a name like.’ Well, yes. Ireland does have some fine names for its towns and villages, Ballybunion amongst them. However, Buggleskelly never existed – except in the imagination of the writer Frank Launder, who wrote the story on which the 1937 film ‘Oh Mr Porter’ was based. In the film, Cliddesden (on the Basingstoke & Alton Railway) masqueraded as Buggleskelly, and perhaps – just perhaps – this sign will make it there for a photograph or two when members Graham Lambert and John Everest lead a walk over surviving parts of the trackbed on 17th April this year. (Jeff Vinter)

March 2010. Malmesbury to Dauntsey, Wiltshire. Towards the end of last month, The Wilts & Gloucester Standard reported that a project to build a cycle track along the 6½ mile former Malmesbury branch has been revived. Recent housing development at Cowbridge has prompted renewed interest in a scheme first mooted in 2003 with a £25,000 contribution by the Minton Group to Sustrans, as part of the legal agreement attached to planning permission for the housing. If agreement is reached with the landowners, a full feasibility study will be carried out, but a huge amount of investment will be needed because all four river bridges along the route have been demolished. Sustrans and Malmesbury and the Villages Community Area Partnership are investigating the track, particularly the shorter section between Malmesbury and Cowbridge. Malmesbury Area Pathwatch is also involved. Spokesman Ted Palmer commented: ‘It is still only a proposal. It is not yet a plan. Obviously we cannot progress without negotiations with landowners on the way through.’ (Ralph Rawlinson)

March 2010. Heathfield, East Sussex. In 2006, following an alleged assault on a walker early in 2005, the local district and parish councils closed Heathfield Tunnel and then failed to agree over its reopening, which depended upon the installation of lockable gates. Subsequently, the gates were fitted and it would appear that they are now permanently locked during the winter. Recently, a member of Ralph Rawlinson’s ‘Bygone Lines’ group who lives locally contacted the ranger, who told him that this year the gates will be open for the summer, which is deemed to start around the end of March, probably the 25th, and will stay open until 1st November this year. (Ralph Rawlinson)

March 2010. Carlisle, Cumbria. Cycle Carlisle (a campaign group for cycling in Carlisle) has drawn up a petition to ask both Carlisle City and Cumbria County Council to purchase and restore the Waverley Viaduct to secure its future as a walking route and open it up to cycling for the first time. The viaduct last saw trains run over it in early 1969, and has been used as an unofficial crossing of the River Eden ever since. The structure is grade 2 listed, and is perhaps worthy of being restored for architectural and heritage value alone, in addition to which the bridge would also provide the most convenient crossing of the Eden to link north and west Carlisle. Note that the online petition associated with this report has now been closed. (Toby Harling, Cycle Carlisle)

March 2010. Bath to Midford, Somerset. Further to our report last month (see below), work has now begun on clearing the northern entrance into Devonshire tunnel for the Two Tunnels Greenway, which will link Bath with Midford. Sustrans says the cyclepath should be in use by 2011. Click here to read the full report from the BBC News website. (Ralph Rawlinson)

February 2010. Whitstable, Kent. There is good news for anyone wishing to walk or cycle the Crab & Winkle line in Kent, based loosely on the former Canterbury & Whitstable Railway. Kent County Council has granted full planning permission for Sustrans to complete a virtually traffic-free route through Whitstable, which will re-use sections of the C&WR long rendered inaccessible by the removal of former bridges and the construction of new roads. Sustrans in turn will lodge a planning application for new bridges spanning Old Bridge Road, the Network Rail line to Margate, and Teynham Road. Full details are available via the link here. Readers should note that relatively little of the Crab & Winkle currently follows the old railway, although moving more of the route on to the old trackbed remains a long-term objective. Difficulties arise because the line closed to passengers in 1931 and to freight in 1952. Consequently, the trackbed has had over half a century in which to get re-absorbed back into local farmland. (Ralph Rawlinson and Jeff Vinter)

February 2010. Bath to Midford, Somerset. The Bath Chronicle of Wednesday 17 February 2010 has just reported that Bath & North East Somerset Council is about to sign the paperwork for the start of the Two Tunnels Greenway route. This will re-use the trackbed of the former Somerset & Dorset Railway between Lower Bristol Road, just west of Bath Green Park station (now restored), and Midford. At Midford, where the village’s substantial viaduct has been restored already, an end-on connection will be made with the existing railway path that leads on to just short of Wellow. Between Wellow and Shoscombe Vale, most of the trackbed has been ploughed out and a diversion must be followed via minor lanes, but the tracked can be rejoined at Shocombe Vale and followed right through to Radstock, once a centre for coal mining in Somerset. (Ralph Rawlinson and Jeff Vinter)

February 2010. Cheddar to Wells, Somerset. David Mitchell, the Cycling Officer for Somerset, has informed the Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society that all the paperwork for creating an extension of the Yatton-Cheddar trail on to Wells is now prepared and ‘ready to go’. On 19th January, he briefed local councillors prior to a meeting when this new multi-use path was due to be submitted so that the consultation period could begin. (Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society)

February 2010. Shillingstone to Stourpaine, Dorset. The North Dorset Trailway has now secured funding (including a grant from Railway Ramblers) to build a further section of the Trailway which will include a new bridge over the River Stour between Gains Cross and Stourpaine. The estimated cost of the bridge is £300,000, so this represents a major investment – but one which makes it much more likely that, in time, the route may be extended by negotiation into Blandford Forum along the old railway alignment. (Graham Stanley, North Dorset Ranger Service)

January 2010. Percy Main to Byker, Tyneside. Virtually all of the NER branch along the north bank of the River Tyne is now a railway path. From Percy Main to Wallsend, the route is fragmentary although what remains has been conveniently linked. However, from Wallsend (NZ 305663) to Byker (NZ 267645), the route offers four miles of continuous trackbed walking or cycling. We realise that this route has probably existed for several years, but it is the first time that it has come to our attention – thanks to the Webmaster investigating Ralph Rawlinson’s report below. (Jeff Vinter)

January 2010. South Gosforth to Wallsend, Tyneside. A two mile section of waggonway on North Tyneside was re-opened as a cycle trail in October last year. The waggonway, known variously as the Coxlodge Waggonway, the Kenton & Coxlodge Waggonway and the Gosforth & Kenton Waggonway, was opened in 1808 and connected pits in the South Gosforth area with coal staiths on the River Tyne at Wallsend. The new route is 3 metres wide and has been fully lit, signposted and landscaped; it runs from NZ 256682 to NZ 279673. (Ralph Rawlinson and Jeff Vinter)

January 2010. Strathblane to Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire. In October 2009, Sustrans and East Dunbartonshire Council finished a £130,000 six year programme to upgrade the 7½ mile Strathkelvin Railway Path, formerly part of the NBR’s line from Gartness to Lenzie. The opening of the section from Strathblane to Lennoxtown completed a process of upgrading the path in its entirety from Strathblane to Kirkintilloch, connecting Kirkintilloch to the West Highland Way. (Ralph Rawlinson)

January 2010. Harrogate (Pannal Junction) to Northallerton, North Yorshire. The former NER line from Bilton to Ripley was earmarked in Sustrans’ Connect2 proposals for a cycle route, and on 14 December 2009 North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Council agreed to complete a Bridleway Creation Order and construct the route. However, there remains considerable concern about the level of possible compensation payments to landowners. (Ralph Rawlinson)

January 2010. Belmont Junction to Aykley Junction, County Durham. Re-opening Belmont Viaduct to the north of Durham as part of a cycleway was another of Sustrans’ Connect2 schemes, but it has been revealed that the cost of restoring this spectacular listed structure has rocketed from £800,000 to £1.785m, leading Durham Council officials to reconsider whether they should back the project. (Ralph Rawlinson)

January 2010. Woodhall to Horncastle, Lincolnshire. Most of the trackbed of this former branch line has been converted into the Spa Trail. In October 2009, it was reported that £226,000 is to be spent on re-surfacing the trail and providing car parks at each end. (Ralph Rawlinson)

Left: On a crisp afternoon in late January, members of the local community walked from Toller Porcorum (plain ‘Toller’ in railway parlance) to Powerstock Common and back along the trackbed of the former Maiden Newton to Bridport railway in West Dorset. The whole of this former GWR branch is set to become a railway path, with Sustrans providing the management and engineering input. 30 January 2010. (Jeff Vinter)
January 2010. Maiden Newton to Bridport, Dorset. On Saturday 30 January, a party was held to celebrate the opening of the Toller to Powerstock Common section of the railway path being developed along this former GWR branch line. The project is being led by Sustrans Ltd., the Bristol-based path-building charity. Currently, the path is open for walkers only, with the above photograph making it obvious why. The trail diverts to the north of the trackbed just before Toller to avoid a privately owned section; fortunately, a supportive local farmer and West Dorset District Council own the adjoining land, so the route here parallels the old railway. The party was attended by over 100 supporters with a raffle raising over £4,500 for the project; all the prizes, including a superb £2,000 road bike, were donated by local businesses. (Ralph Rawlinson and Jeff Vinter)

January 2010. Cambridge to St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. The guided busway along this 15½ mile former railway line (known locally as the misguided busway) is still not operational, despite having been scheduled to open in April and then November 2009. The parallel cycle trail is not fully complete either, especially at the Cambridge end where the surface is loose chippings – ‘quite hard work for a regular commute’, in the words of one recent user. The latest news is that the county council is in dispute with the contractors and nothing is resolved, so they may end up in court. (Ralph Rawlinson)

January 2010. Pontllanfraith to Nine Mile Point, Gwent. This line has been converted into a cycle trail, the Sirhowy Valley Railpath, and forms the eastern part of the 353 mile Celtic Trail (NCN47). However, in August 2008 it was blocked by a landslip between Ynysddu and Cwmfelinfach. Now, after 18 months out of commission, Caerphilly Council hope to begin work on clearing the route in the spring. A £315,000 grant from Sustrans will help to finance the work. Full details, as published by the South Wales Argus, can be viewed by clicking the link here. (Ralph Rawlinson)

January 2010. Tavistock to Bere Alston, Devon. John Skinner (a local resident whose grandfather was station master at Bere Alston for 21 years) has contacted us to advise that, contrary to the suggestion in our September 2009 report, there is definitely going to be a cycle trail and footpath along this route, to run parallel with the proposed reinstated railway line which will be single track. In fact, Richard Burningham, who is the Devon and Cornwall rail partnership officer dealing with this issue, has said that the trail will happen regardless of whether the railway is reinstated or not. The net result is that residents of Tavistock will soon have two cycle trails running south from the town – this one, and Drake’s Trail on the old GWR route to Yelverton and Plymouth. John adds: ‘The line should never have closed at all, of course, but at least it seems as if things are moving to an extent to put right the follies of the past.’ The railway could re-open as early as 2013-14, although the big issue will be the political will to see the project through. (John Skinner).

Above: A wintry scene on the recently completed section of the Great Northern Greenway between Breadsall and the A608 bridge at the top of Brookside Road, Breadsall – one of very pictures on this website to show snow. For further details, see the story below. January 2010. (John Swan)

January 2010. Derby to Ilkeston, Derbyshire. New member John Swan has just supplied corrections to our November 2009 entry for this route, which now reads as follows.

Sustrans and Derbyshire County Council via contractors Pugh-Lewis are converting the 13 miles of Great Northern trackbed between Breadsall and Ilkeston into a cycle trail known as The Great Northern Greenway (NCN672). The current status is as follows:

  • The trackbed within the Derby conurbation has been re-developed and so the Derby-Breadsall section runs alongside local roads.
  • SK 363385–SK 381395, 1½m. The trackbed commences at The Paddock public house and curves around the south of Breadsall, passing the site of Breadsall Station at SK 369394 and continuing as far as the A608 bridge (filled in). This section was opened officially on 22 November 2009.
  • SK 381395–SK 398400, 1m. An extension from the A608 bridge to Lime Lane is scheduled to be completed this year, the latter point being where the line went under the lane via the 276 yard Morley Tunnel (buried). This section is partly an SSSI – Breadsall Railway Cutting – and the greenway will be created running parallel to this as far as Lime Lane and the tunnel.

At the moment, the route is signed only over the second section above. The Paddock is significant because this is where Breadsall Viaduct commenced until it was demolished in the early 1970s. It has been hinted that the impressive Bennerley Viaduct, to the east of Ilkeston, might one day be included in the scheme. (Ralph Rawlinson and John Swan)

Above: This now demolished bridge at Braunstone Gate, Leicester, once carried trains of the Great Central Railway on their way from London to Nottingham. It fell into disuse when the railway closed but was then converted into part of the Great Central Way. As such, it carried walkers and cyclists until the local authority closed it a few years ago for safety reasons. Now that it has gone, we presume that users of the GCW are expected to take their luck with the local traffic. We apologise that the picture is not better; it was scanned from one of the Webmaster’s books, but he has been unable to find the original colour slide. August 1989. (Jeff Vinter)

January 2010. Leicester to Whetstone, Leicestershire. Years of campaigning and protests came to nought on 9th November 2009 when work started on dismantling the bowstring bridge over New Park Street and the canalised River Soar at Braunstone Gate in Leicester. Work was delayed for 12 hours when a 39 year old woman chained herself to the top girder, but this famous bridge and local landmark has now gone. (Ralph Rawlinson)

Feature Articles


Under the heading ‘Launceston helps rebuild “Withered Arm” – for cyclists’, the August 2009 edition of ‘Heritage Railway’ published the following story.

The Launceston Steam Railway is helping to turn more of the LSWR ‘Withered Arm’ into a footpath – while extending itself by two miles.

The railway has become involved with Cornwall County Council’s initiative to link the Camel and Tarka Trails, laid on the formations of the Bodmin-Padstow and Barnstaple-Torrington lines respectively. (The latter should read Barnstaple-Torrington-Petrockstow. Webmaster)

The county council wants to use much of the old North Cornwall Railway trackbed to link up the two. Launceston Steam Railway managing director Nigel Bowman said: ‘The earthworks of the railway are too narrow at the Launceston end to accommodate the new trail, but fortunately the railway owns the historic 14th century Priory Leat which parallels the railway, and the company is co-operating fully with the council to allow the trail to use this for the first part of the route.

‘The railway has the deeds of the leat going back to the dissolution of the priory in the 1500s, which in themselves form an important historical record. Some problems arose because of erroneous Land Registration by adjoining landowners, but the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry ruled in favour of the railway, making this alternative route (which will have good views of the trains) a viable proposition.

‘We are of the opinion that this trail will be of great benefit to both Launceston and Cornwall, and we hope that all landowners will agree.

‘The proposals would also see the LSR extended for a further two miles beyond the present terminus of New Mills to the attractive village of Egloskerry, itself immortalised by the late Sir John Betjeman in his autobiographical work, Summoned by Bells.’

Note: This article is not quite correct, since on 1st April 2009, Cornwall County Council and all of the duchy’s district councils were abolished and replaced with a new unitary authority – Cornwall Council. Therefore this article should refer to Cornwall Council, and not Cornwall County Council. Webmaster.

Source: ‘Heritage Railway’, Issue No. 127, 6 August to 2 September 2009, page 33.