TAUNTON - HISTORY:


Taunton Station first opened in July 1842, as the terminus of the Bristol & Exeter Railway from Bridgwater, a further extension of the line took place in 1844. This linked Taunton to Exeter. Subsequent extension work over the next 30 years saw Taunton linked up with, Bristol, Yeovil, Minehead, Chard and Barnstaple. By 1895 Taunton Station had bay platforms to help the station cope with the smaller branch line trains which would call at the station more often during the day, and to prevent them from blocking the main line.

Taunton's first loco shed was a small two road temporary building which was built at the Bridgwater end of the station.  In 1842 it was taken down and moved to the Exeter end of the station. This lasted until 1896 when it was taken down and replaced with a huge brick building with a total of 28 tracks radiating from it, which were filled with steam loco's waiting for their duties, and making use of the avoiding line crossing Station Road away from the main line around the rear of the station. 

This image was taken on the 18th May 1892 at Taunton and shows Broad Gauge Locomotive "Rover" Class 4-2-2 "Dragon". This was the last down Cornishman.

Photo: Source & Original Photographer unknown.

 

A 'Tornado' Class broad gauge locomotive is pictured at Dulverton in 1853. The Class were a powerhouse of their time, thought to be capable of reaching speeds of up to 80mph.

(Photo: National Railway Museum Science -Society Picture Library)

 

This commemorative plaque is located on the Downside Platform adjacent to the entrance.

It commemorates the first passenger train from the Bristol to Exeter Railway which arrived at Taunton on the 1st July 1842.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Taunton around this time gained it's own allocation of loco's and was given it's own shed number of 83B. By 1930 Taunton was still growing, and it was then the quadrupling of tracks were required and installed between Cogload Jn through the station and out to Norton Fitzwarren. Platform lengths were now in excess of 1200ft on the through platforms.

The Island platforms were mostly used for the long distance (Cross Country) services with the outer platforms used for stopping trains to and from the South West.  The outer platforms also housing refreshment rooms, toilets and book stalls for the passengers to enjoy while stopping at the station, or changing trains. Steam Locomotives were the normal form of traction at the time, and the station was never quiet. Passing Express services, pick up freights, and local passenger trains would keep young boys in knee high socks and school shorts happy for hours!

By 1963 Taunton had its own designated Freight Concentration Depot, but the advances made with Lorries and the building of better roads and motorways had taken its toll on freight going by rail, with customers finding they had a cheaper alternative. By 1965 the station avoiding line was closed. The Depot followed with it's closure in 1972. Lines lay redundant for many years prior to their removal during the late 1980's when Taunton's track scheme was drastically reduced. The 1960's hit Taunton hard, with the Beeching era well upon the county town; Taunton lost its vital links to Yeovil, Chard, Minehead and Barnstaple. Passenger numbers inevitably fell with the eventual decline, came yet more closures. This time the two centre platforms and most of the bays were taken out of use around 1967.

 

However it wasn't all doom an gloom, passenger trains were still very much in abundance with a wide range of loco's which would be seen during the freight decline.  A typical summer Saturday in 1975 can bee seen below (With thanks to Chris Perkins):

TIME HEADCODE FROM TO LOCO
06:00 1V58 NEWCASTLE PAIGNTON -
06:08 1V55 HULL PAIGNTON -
06:16 4v46 BRADFORD PLYMOUTH 46012
06:26 5B80 CARDIFF NEWTON ABBOT -
07:00 5E94 BRISTOL TAUNTON -
07:06 2B51 TAUNTON BRISTOL -
07:33 1B78 BRISTOL PLYMOUTH -
07:55 1E94 TAUNTON NEWCASTLE -
08:05 5A06 PLYMOUTH OLD OAK COMMON -
08:13 1M88 PLYMOUTH LIVERPOOL -
08:23 2B06 BRISTOL TAUNTON -
08:30 1V54 STIRLING NEWTON ABBOT 47026
08:40 4V10 GLASGOW EXETER GOODS!
08:50 1B81 BRISTOL PENZANCE -
08:54 1A35 PLYMOUTH PADDINGTON -
09:01 1A42 TAUNTON PADDINGTON -
09:12 1S27 PLYMOUTH EDINBURGH 46033
09:25 1A39 PAIGNTON PADDINGTON D1055
09:29 1B88 WORCESTER PENZANCE 47246
09:38 1B91 OXFORD PAIGNTON 47254
09:51 1B03 PADDINGTON PENZANCE D1028
09:57 1B08 WORCESTER PAIGNTON 47262
10:05 1E30 PLYMOUTH LEEDS 45036
10:11 1B11 CARDIFF PENZANCE D1037
10:12 1V57 EDINBURGH PLYMOUTH 46011
10:15 1A45 PENZANCE PADDINGTON D1013
10:17 1B05 PADDINGTON PAIGNTON 47498
10:27 1B99 PADDINGTON BARNSTAPLE 31259
10:28 1E20 PAIGNTON NEWCASTLE 47248
10:39 1V59 BIRMINGHAM PAIGNTON 46025
10:41 1M00 PAIGNTON NOTTINGHAM 45102
10:46 1B15 PADDINGTON PAIGNTON 50019
10:56 1M90 PAIGNTON LIVERPOOL 47138
11:01 1V34 KENSINGTON ST AUSTELL D1047
11:08 1V62 DERBY PAIGNTON 45007
11:14 1M25 PAIGNTON DERBY 46009
11:18 1V63 WOLVERHAMPTON PENZANCE 47227
11:21 1A55 PAIGNTON  PADDINGTON 50032
11:26 1B18 SWANSEA PAIGNTON D1022
11:29 1M89 PAIGNTON MANCHESTER 47226
11:41 1B25 PADDINGTON PENZANCE D1058
11:47 1A59 PLYMOUTH PADDINGTON D1069
11:51 2B22 BRISTOL TAUNTON DMU
11:57 1E60 PAIGNTON LEEDS 45053
12:01 1B15 PADDINGTON NEWQUAY 47101
12:06 1M85 PENZANCE LIVERPOOL 47058
12:09 1V69 BIRMINGHAM PAIGNTON D1040
12:15 1E37 PAIGNTON BRADFORD 46012
12:22 1V70 DERBY PENZANCE 45051
12:24 2B31 TAUNTON BRISTOL DMU
12:24 1A69 PENZANCE PADDINGTON D1056
12:31 1B33 PADDINGTON PAIGNTON 47032
12:34 1A75 PAIGNTON PADDINGTON 47119
12:40 1V71 BRADFORD PENZANCE 45018
12:43 1M95 NEWQUAY MANCHESTER 47343
12:50 1A79 PENZANCE PADDINGTON 47076
12:55 1B35 PADDINGTON PAIGNTON 50044
13:02 2B30 WESTON SUPER MARE TAUNTON DMU
13:07 1M93 PAIGNTON MANCHESTER 47189
13:07 1B39 PADDINGTON PENZANCE D1033
13:14 1M22 PENZANCE MANCHESTER 45003
13:15 1V74 LEICESTER PAIGNTON 45028
13:23 1A05 PAIGNTON PADDINGTON 50009
13:32 1M39 PENZANCE WOLVERHAMPTON 46038
13:36 1B45 PADDINGTON PENZANCE 47080
13:38 1V75 SHEFFIELD PAIGNTON 47110
13:43 1M23 PAIGNTON NOTTINGHAM 46032
13:48 1V76 LIVERPOOL PENZANCE D1011
13:51 1E22 NEWQUAY NEWCASTLE 45016
13:56 1V77 NOTTINGHAM PAIGNTON 45143
14:03 1M28 PAIGNTON BIRMINGHAM 47262
14:04 1V42 LIVERPOOL PAIGNTON 47333
14:09 1A15 NEWQUAY PADDINGTON D1025
14:18 1V48 MANCHESTER PENZANCE 47230
14:18 1E21 PENZANCE BRADFORD D1052
14:29 1A19 PENZANCE PADDINGTON D1070
14:32 1B53 PADDINGTON PAIGNTON D1065
14:35 1V82 MANCHESTER PENZANCE 47495
14:49 1A34 PAIGNTON OXFORD 47254
14:51 1B55 PADDINGTON PAIGNTON 50046
14:58 1V83 BIRMINGHAM NEWQUAY 45141
14:58 1M96 PENZANCE MANCHESTER 47221
15:18 1C74 PAIGNTON SWANSEA D1022
15:26 1A39 PAIGNTON PADDINGTON 47498
15:30 1Z37 PLYMOUTH BRISTOL 46011
15:31 1V85 MANCHESTER PAIGNTON 45030
15:40 1M49 ST AUSTELL CREWE 45064
15:41 1B65 PADDINGTON PENZANCE 47088
15:50 1V86 BRADFORD PAIGNTON 45056
15:55 1M54 NEWQUAY NOTTINGHAM 47474
16:00 1V87 NEWCASTLE PAIGNTON 46024
16:08 1A45 PENZANCE PADDINGTON D1059
16:12 4B10 BRISTOL PLYMOUTH MAIL
16:29 1A99 BARNSTAPLE PADDINGTON 31259
16:35 1M36 PAIGNTON BIRMINGHAM 46025

Taunton had a mixed fortune over the years, it became a leading railway 'hub' with it's own allocation of steam (and later diesel) locomotives. From an abundance of freight came closure and removal of once vital arteries which delivered and distributed goods to and from Taunton.

During the 1970's/80's little money was invested in the station upkeep, and under British Railway the station fell into a poorly maintained run down building, a complete contrast to it's former status on the railway map. Although many don't agree with Railway Privatisation implemented by the Conservatives, it has been very good news for investment in rolling stock and stations all over the country!

Taunton under privatisaiton and investment is looking fantastic again, clean, tidy, painted, plenty of facilities, new waiting shelters (Although nothing like the ones which used to span the center platforms!), and new information screens. Although Taunton isn't the bustling railway centre it was all those years ago, it has just about enough traffic to maintain a small community of Rail Enthusiasts which can often be seen on and around the station premesis

The late 1990's into 2000 have bought all manner of trains, operators and workings through Taunton's platforms. The railways never cease to amaze with the amount of diverse workings it can produce. No matter how bad the economic climate the railways have an uncanny ability to make the most from every situation. The recent change in Government thinking regarding Carbon Footprints is already having an affect on the amount of rail freight and passenger workings occur through Taunton. The recent investment in Fairwater Yard has made Taunton a very busy freight centre, it even has an allocation of Taunton based drivers again!

What does the future hold? Who knows.....we are always amazed at the variety of workings which pass Taunton each year, so why not have a look around the website and see for yourself just how interesting Taunton's Railway system has been over the years!!