THE WESTERN STORY!
D1071 'Western Renown' parked behind Taunton Station with a unidentified Class 31 (Photo: Brian Aston)
With regard to Brian Aston's picture of D1071, I remember the story in late 1976 / early 1977 and recollect that the photographer Graham Scott-Lowe had his photo taken in front of it by the Evening Post or Western Daily Press just before the farewell tour on 26/2/1977. Adrian Curtis's indispensable book "Cast of Thousands" shows D1071 as on the 19.20 Penzance-Paddington 1A35 on 6/12/76 - she was declared failed at Taunton with a "B" end cardan shaft adrift at 01.20 on 7/12/76. Driver H.M.Jones (Taunton) iconolater the A end at 16.36pm as she was withdrawn at noon that day (in situ in Platform 1 I guess !) with 1,232,000 miles on the clock. I recall that she stayed there for a while.........long enough for us to hope in ignorance that she might be destined for the WSR, and I believe that Hymek 7017 may have arrived there for that very purpose shortly afterwards. (Information: Michael Jones)
The added significance of this email is that the late driver H.M Jones (Horace Mervyn Jones) also had a son called David, who I'm pleased to say is a regular photographer and Railway Enthusiast in the Taunton area. A Small world indeed. Many of Dave's photo's will also be appearing on the site in time! Thank you Michael for your email.
The photo of D1071 withdrawn at Taunton i remember well as it was my machine, it was left running for several weeks after being withdrawn as Class 52's had their pre heaters removed and could therefore not be started from cold. It's mentioned it might have been waiting for D7017 to arrive, in fact D7017 was already at Minehead, it arrived from Old oak Common on 01.08.75 towed down by a Class 25 and stayed at Taunton for around 6 months before moving to the WSR. (Stephen Awford)
D7017 is seen at Taunton on the 09-08-75 having been towed down from Old Oak Common on the 1st. Also located behind the Hymek is either 'Victor' or 'Vulcan' which also ended up on the WSR. (Photo: Chris Perkins)
Also seen at Taunton in 1971 is GWR Prairie Tank No.5572 which had been saved for preservation. The loco was later moved to the West Somerset Railway and is now based at the Didcot Railway Centre. (Photo: Garry Stroud)
TAUNTON TROOP TRAINS
The tanks were loaded on what used to be the old cement works (Now Housing) with the empty wagons tripped up from Fairwater Yard by Taunton based Class 08953. Once loaded they were then shunted back to Fairwater Yard where it rejoined other wagons, and then 47218 was used to move the train from Taunton to the north.
(Photo: Neil Higson)
(Photo: Neil Higson)
This was the view at the cement works, almost certainly something which wouldn't be possible to do today, one because there are no rails, and two because of the heightened state of security UK is under these days. Many thanks to Neil Higson for forwarding these photo's he took on the day. Can anyone else recall any information?
The Last Steam Departures to Yeovil
Mike Pollard from Taunton is trying to put together a record of all the loco's that worked the Yeovil Branch on it's last day of operation on 13/6/64!
Departures from Taunton:
Departures from Yeovil Pen Mill:
Pip Davey: I and my friends managed to travel on both last trains in each direction by changing at Athelney and getting Nigel Hunkin's Dad to fetch us from Yeovil.. We sang ourselves hoarse singing the words in the subject line to 'Last Train to San Fernando'
John Newberry: I came back from Taunton to Yeovil on the last but one service on the final day of working. There were people gathered at each station along the route who were curious I suppose because railway closures were very new then and I think that no-one could really take it all in. I know that I was thinking about the locomotive on the front and the fact that there would probably be no work for it on the next Monday and scrapping would be imminent. My one abiding recollection is that at every station there were people in B.R. uniform with very solemn faces, Their world was going to change dramatically after many years and it was beginning to sink in.
Chris Young: Having lived at Langport, Yeovil and Taunton whilst the branch was open I made sure to travel along the line for the last time on the last day. I was intrigued by Mike Pollards worthy attempt to put together a list of all the locos working that day. Unfortunately I can only personally confirm by sight the 14.10,16.25 and 20.20 trains from Taunton being 4593,31802 and 4593 and the 16.00 and 19.50 from Yeovil Pen Mill being 4593 and 4131, all of which agree with Mike's records. However from perusal of published photographs which may or may not have been correctly captioned I am able to offer below a full list which only differs from Mike's list with regard to the 7.05 and 11.21 from Yeovil Pen Mill being 31802 and 82001 and not 82001 and 31802. A question that then arises is what happened to 31802 at Taunton from 8.14 to 16.25. Did 31802 just go on shed at Taunton or did 31802 work on with the 11.15 Taunton to Barnstaple returning with the 14.24 Barnstaple Junction to Taunton due in at 16.14 ready to continue with the 16.25 departure? That's another story though it would be nice to know! Back to the plot my suggested list is as follows:
Departures from Taunton: 06.45 82040, 09.45 82001, 12.58 82040, 14.10 4593, 16.25 31802, 17.55 4131, 20.20 4593
Departures from Yeovil Pen Mill: 07.05 31802, 09.56 82040, 11.21 82001, 12.37 4593, 16.00 4593, 17.45 82040, 19.50 4131
THE GOYLES REMEMBERED!
It's amazing how peoples memory works! After posting this photo taken by Jeff Treece along with a description saying the ID of the two Class 31's above was unknown, but confirming the date as 28-10-89. We had the following information set to me by Paul Webber from Dawlish.31462 at that time had been freshly painted in departmental grey. It had also had a modification that was carried out to some of the 31s, in that two of the sets of cooling louvre's were replaced by a single set of full depth vertically slatted louvre's, as can be seen in your picture. At that time it was not carrying the single high intensity headlamp. It had also been fitted with a surround to the roof radiator fan, as can be seen in your photograph. 31462 did not have an armoured drivers windscreen panel, none can be seen in either shot. Both locos were running with No.2 end leading. 31464 was running with refurbished bodywork, but finished in corporate blue. The formation of stock was typical for that train, with a TSO ( I think!) at each end, sandwiching a rake of inter-city liveried stock. Finally, the weather on that day was general 9/10 10/10 cloud cover!
I want to cast doubt on the date shown! My records show that I traveled on 31462+464 Bristol - Taunton 26-8-89 on 0918 Manchester - Paignton. Looking at the picture I think its 31464 second loco as it was in rail blue with larger than normal numbers and its probably 462 on the front as this was an allover grey loco. (Darren Harris)
Images of the past
Many thanks must go to Alex Loveday for providing the following links, further archival images of Taunton Station and Taunton in general can be found at the following links on the
Photos above by Steve Awford
Does anyone remember the full colour scheme of the Taunton Cider wagons which were used in the plant at Norton Fitzwarren. Ben Ando is trying to trace a colour image which details the livery applied to the side of the wagons used in the rail operation.
Garry Stone has been able to provide this image of a Taunton Cider 'Cargowagon' stabled in Fairwater Yard taken on 15th March 1987. (Photo: Gary Stone)
This image shows 08840 shunting a Taunton Cider Cargowaggon into a speedlink service at Taunton East Yard during October 1984. (Photo: Pip Davey)
Why not Email Taunton Trains and let us know!
Creech St Michael Halt
Creeech St Michael Halt in 1965 (Photo: Bernard Mills)
The Village of Creech St Michael is divided in two by the Taunton & Bridgwater Canal , and the Railway which runs between Taunton to Bristol/London. The railway seems an insignificant part to the village but Creech once had its very own station called Creech Halt. The railway first opened in July 1842 with Taunton being the terminus of the Bristol & Exeter Railway. It wasn't until 1844 that a further extension saw Taunton connected with Exeter . In 1860 a further branch line was constructed from Chard, this joined the Taunton – Bristol mainline at Creech Junction adjacent to the Paper Mill. (The remains of the Chard Branch can still be seen today when exiting the village towards Ruishton).
Creech St Michael Halt in 1965 (Photo: Bernard Mills)
Creech St Michael Halt was opened on the 13th of August 1928 by the Great Western Railway. It cost £628 to construct and lasted until the 5th October 1964 when rationalization of the railway network was in full swing. The station was situated just north of Creech Jn so was only served by trains working to Yeovil and Bristol , services to and from Chard would diverge before reaching the halt. The former site of the station can no longer be seen, but if you were to look over the main road bridge in the village towards Taunton this would have been the former Creech Halt site, opposite Laburnum Terrace.
Creech St Michael in June 2007. Only the railway cottages remain to be seen somewhat obscured by the rampant undergrowth (Photo: Brian Garrett) Today the nearest mainline Railway Station is Taunton , where services connect villagers to London , Wales , Scotland , Midlands , and Devon / Cornwall . Two train passenger operating companies First Great Western and Cross Country Trains operate services through Creech St Michael to and from Taunton.
Fairwater Yard Shunter
The BR Class 97/6 0-6-0 Diesel Shunting locomotive were purpose built for departmental work in the UK by Ruston & Honrsby. The fleet of five unique locomotives were allocated numbers PWM650 - PWM654 and outshoped in BR Green, but were renumbered to the 97xxx series between 1979 & 1981 and repainted into Departmental Yellow.The image above shows a very tatty PWM652 taken from a passing train, in Fairwater Yard on the 7th August 1974. (Photo: Colin J Marsden)
Photographed from a passing train, 97952 is seen in Fairwater Yard shunting a rake of YGH 'Sealion' wagons some time in 1985. (Photo: Nigel Curtis)
PWM652 makes an appearance at Taunton Station on the 11th May 1986 shunting wagons from Fairwater Yard to Taunton East Yard. Images such as this were rare to capture as the PWM often lived in Fairwater Yard and rarley ventured out onto the mainline. (Photo: Russell Elliot)
This image was taken on the 12th August 1985 and shows the variety of wagons within Faiwrwater Yard. Its amazing to think that Fairwater Yard has survived for so many years, and has been bought back to life by Network Rail to house their HOBC and TRT sets for South West track renewals. (Photo: Russell Elliot)
On seeing this photo on Taunton Trains we received an Email with regards to the above locomotive from Richard Cross:
My father Jack Cross was a driver of this engine back in the 1960's, it was based in the concrete yard just outside Taunton Station, past the GWRSA Social Club premises, it was used to shunt wagons with concrete sections made in the yard. I very occasionally went with him and rode as passenger, I was about 10 years old. It was great having your dad as an engine driver, albeit a shunter.
Andrew Blackmore was able to confrim that between 1969 and 1972, Taunton had 3 Class 08 locos, 4018, 4122 and 4123 (green livery) he only ever recall's seeing 4123 in the Engineer's shed next to the former steam depot. He can also remember 4018 blocking the footpath while working in and out of the concrete works. At some point in the early 70's PWM652 must have gone off to Swindon Works, because I can remember seeing it marshalled behind a Class 52 Western, waiting to leave the signals at Taunton East Goods.
Does anyone else have memories of shunting locomotives which frequented the Taunton Area, if so please get in contact with us, Email Taunton Trains
The Burlsecombe Tramway was situated on the Devon side of Whiteball Tunnel. It linked the mainline with Westleigh Quarry. It's route can still be traced today. This image was taken in 1965 when the line was shut and track was lifted by British Rail as part of the Beeching Cuts. The Exeter - Taunton mainline can be seen in the background along with Burlescombe Church. (Photo: Bernard Mills)
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Does anyone else have memories of shunting locomotives which frequented the Taunton Area, if so please get in contact with us, Email Taunton Trains
Cornwall Railway Society
The Cornwall Railway Society carry a quite extensive set of articles about all the Taunton branch lines and the mainline. Their pages in relation to Taunton can be found here: CORNWALL RAILWAY SOCIETY
Memories of Thornfalcon
In the mid-1960s there were odd occasions when I passed over the road-bridge by the old station at Thornfalcon (or Thorne as the GWR eventually renamed it) after the cessation of passenger services. My over-riding recollection was that the station yard was littered with waste-paper! However a recent chance enquiry from another internet user has yielded some interesting information from that period.
It appears that there was a company called Rowland Stagg Ltd, based in Tonbridge, which was in the business of preserving cow hides and sheepskins which they collected from local farms and abattoirs. In the early 1960s they opened a branch near Taunton, possibly initially at Creech St Michael before then moving to the goods yard at Thorne station, and my correspondent was sent there as an assistant manager for a few months during the 1963/64 winter.
There were three buildings at the back of the yard next to the road and Rowland Stagg used the middle building (which he described as a white, unusually shaped building ), in which they salted and stored the hides and skins. They used the former signal-box by the station platform as their office and mess-room. When required an empty rail van would be left in the sidings, to be loaded with the hides and skins and taken away to Tonbridge. It is not known when they ceased to use that site.
My correspondent recalls that the building at the south end was rented by another business, but he can not recall for what purpose. The building at the north end housed the bales of scrap paper, but he never saw anyone ever go there. Out of curiosity sometimes he looked through some of the piles of paper, which apparently contained hundreds of parchment documents, many with elegant calligraphy and hand-written script, some dated from the nineteenth century. I wonder what they were and what ‘history' may have lurked within them?
Recently a cople of questions have been raised by readers of Taunton Trains, so we thought we would ask other readers if they can help with these queries:
Arron Birchall: I am wondering whether or not you can help me find find some information, I am trying to find out when steam locomotives 2219 & 2235 of the 2251 Class were transferred to Taunton steam shed (83B). 2219 was from Machynlleth shed & 2235 from Shrewsbury shed. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Dave Stutt: Can anyone remember seeing shunter PWM654 working on the MOD premises at Norton Fitzwarren (Now the Taunton Trading Estate) in the 1950's / 1960's?
Steve Cox: Does anyone have photographs of the mid seventy passenger train derailment on the down line at the west end of the station to put on the website? I seem to remember some photographs printed in the Somerset Gazette and the Bristol Evening post.
Kevin Daniel: For many years now I have been trying to establish a record of HST operation on the WR from 1976 up to the beginning of 1979, detailing fleet formations, train working, diagramming, vehicle and set allocations, delivery and overhaul dates, etc. Understandably, few people bothered to record observations of HSTs in the early years and it is perhaps only in the last 10 years that rail enthusiasts have begun to perceive them more favourably. Consequently, information is hard to come by. In particular, details of sets employed on delivery runs, crew training and commissioning in the spring and summer of 1976 are rare. Furthermore in 1976 we didn’t have the internet and the likes of Taunton Trains to keep us informed.
David Stapleton: I am building a model railway layout based on Thornfalcon station on the Taunton-Chard branch line and was wondering if any of your members might be able to help me with some research about the station. It would be good to make contact with someone in the Taunton/Thornfalcon area to compare notes with and hopefully help with my research.
Harry Harper: I came across your site whilst looking for information on the history of locomotive 40057.
David Philips: In the 1950s and 60s I was a fireman at Yeovil Town shed and on
occasions would work on trains on the line from Yeovil to Taunton. The
last passenger trains ran on 13 June 1964 I wasnt on the route that
day as I was working on a Yeovil to Salisbury service, but about the
week after the closure of the branch line I was booked to work with my
Simon Rose: I have been looking for a photograph of a steam locomotive on the old GWR Taunton to Chard branch line, specifically on the 5 arch bridge over the River Tone just past Creech St Michael paper mill by Creech Junction. I have scoured the Internet for a photo at this location but have not been able to find one. I'm hoping someone may know of a book, magazine or one of your members that has a photo of this location and could possibly point me in the right direction,