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Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway

67S-Da.

One of the Somerset and Dorset passenger locomotives introduced by the Midland Railway. A small wheeled variant of the Standard Derby 4-4-0 of Johnson design of 1891. Nº67 was subsequently rebuilt with a large Deeley boiler. She came into LMS ownership in 1930 but was scrapped before 1932. The image was taken at Bournemouth West somewhere between 1910 and 1913 showing Nº67 resplendent in Somerset and Dorset Prussian Blue livery with the 4.05 pm semi-fast service to Bath.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Another not strictly "Southern" line, but definitely within the "Southern" scope as the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway was, from 1875, jointly leased by the LSWR and the Midland Railway, subsequently the Southern Railway and the LMS and then operated by the Southern Region of British Railways.

The line served a sparsly populated and rural area along its 71½ miles of main line from Bath to Broadstone, then over LSWR metals to Bournemouth West, with branch lines to Bridgwater, Burnham and Wells. The main line was notorious for its steep gradients, long stretches of single line and tortuous route as it crossed the Mendip Hills, so was often the scene of some serious double-heading, thereby increasing the line's operating costs. It was, no doubt, these facts that helped earn it the nick-name of "Slow and Dirty"! In contrast, the line to Burnham-on-Sea was of quite the opposite character as it headed more or less in a straight line across the Somerset Levels. The S&D's best known train was "The Pines Express" which traversed the route from Bournemouth via Bath Green Park to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield. The origins of this train go back to 1910 when the Midland, LNWR and LSWR introduced a Manchester - Bournemouth Express in direct competition with a joint GWR/LSWR Birkenhead to Bournemouth express which travelled via Oxford. The LSWR had a finger in both pies! Originally known unofficially as "The Diner" the train was officially named "The Pines Express" in 1927.

34064

Bulleid Battle of Britain locomotive Nº34064 Fighter Command at Wimborne on 30th October 1962. In the latter years the Bulleid Light Pacifics were regular performers on the S&D route as far as Bath Green Park.

photograph by Peter Richards

53808

Nº53808, one of the Robert Stephenson and Co S&D 7Fs at Evercreech Junction, 30th October 1962. Used mainly for goods traffic, they could be seen on passenger duties at busy times. (No, that's not a hole for the key below the '5'!).

photograph by Peter Richards

Motive power north of Bath was provided by the Midland company, and south by the Southern although, of course, there could be quite a lot of overlapping of territory, especially when Midland engines piloted Southern ones south of Bath. In later years the route became the stomping ground of Bulleid Pacifics, BR Standard 4s, 5s and 9Fs (from 1960, which could handle eleven coach trains unaided) though the most famous locos of the route were the S&D 7Fs. Six of these engines were built in 1914 by the Midland Railway, especially for the S&D, to a Fowler design. Then, in 1925, five more were built by Robert Stephenson and Co. They were to be found, in the main, on the southern part of the line between Bath and Bournemouth, mainly on goods trains but with the occasional passenger working.

44558

LMS 4F class 0-6-0 Nº44558 at Bath Green Park on 30th October 1962. These locos were usually used on goods traffic, but at busy times would pilot passenger trains and could sometimes be seen working in pairs on passenger trains. Midland locos working south of Bath were supposed to return there the same day.

photograph by Peter Richards

After nationalisation the line was handed to the Southern Region, though the Midland Region provided the majority of the motive power. From 1958 the line was placed under the control of the Western Region (which had already been commercially responsible for a large part of the route since 1950) and this is when it all started to go downhill. In 1962 the announcement was made that all through services would be routed away from the S&D, leaving the line as little more than a local route with the through traffic going via Oxford. Moreover, with their hands now also on the North Cornwall goods traffic, the Western Region diverted that away from the S&D too. It is, perhaps, apt that the last up Pines Express over the S&D route was worked by the last steam locomotive built by BR, Class 9F 92220 Evening Star.

53808

Another view of Nº53808 at Evercreech Junction on 30th October 1962. When working a passenger duty the maximum load for these locos was a very reasonable ten coaches, only one fewer than the considerably more powerful 9Fs!

photograph by Peter Richards

In the not uncommon manner of these things, the Western Region took a census of passenger traffic during the school holidays, when that traffic was considerably less! These events, coupled with the rundown of the Somerset coalfields, the need for expensive double-heading and the extra manpower required led to the inevitable, and the line closed throughout in 1966. The line did have a small stay of execution when the bus operator who had applied to run the replacement bus service changed his mind and withdrew his application. This reprieve, however, only lasted a couple of months.

34064

Bulleid Battle of Britain locomotive Nº34064 Fighter Pilot at Wimborne on 30th October 1962. As can be seen f.rom the headboard, this was a LCGB railtour and 34064 had worked the train from Waterloo as far as here.

photograph by Peter Richards

53808

Nº53808 at Shillingstone. The Robert Stephenson locos were originally fitted with 5 ft 3 in diameter boilers, but these were subsequently replaced with the same 4 ft 9 in diameter boiler as fitted to the Midland built locos.

photograph by Peter Richards

53808

Another view of Nº53808 showing the very distinctive raised footplate that these locos had over their two outside cylinders. Note that the cylinders are set at an angle.

photograph by Peter Richards

44558

Nº44558 having the headboard fitted at Bath Green Park prior to starting her part of the railtour, to Temple Meads. When working individually on a passenger service south of Bath these locomotives were restricted to seven coaches.

photograph by Peter Richards

The workings of the BR Standard Class 9F have already been mentioned, but these weren't the only Standards to be found on S&D metals. Regular classes were:
5MT 4-6-0s, BR's successor to the LMS "Black Five" (which could also to be seen on the S&D). Allowed to haul up to eight coaches, some were based at Bath whilst others came from north or south.
4MT 4-6-0s which in the last few years replaced the ex-LMS 2P 4-4-0s on both local services and pilot duties and were allowed up to seven coaches.
4MT 2-6-0s which worked local services over the route from Bournemouth. One of these would be stabled overnight at Bath to work the 6:48am Bath Green Park - Bournemouth service. These were also restricted to seven coaches.
2MT 2-6-2Ts which were used for light passenger work and services to Bristol.
Additionally, BR Standard 4P/4F 2-6-4Ts and BR-built Ivatt 2P/2Fs could sometimes be seen, especially in the final years.

80035

One of the Southern Region's Brighton-built 4P/4F 2-6-4Ts Nº80035 photographed in the fading light at Sturminster Newton. The train was a short working from Templecombe which terminated here on 1st March 1966.

photograph by Ray Soper

76014

A very atmospheric shot in the fading light at Sturminster Newton. Standard class 4 2-6-4T Nº80035, having arrived shortly before on the short working from Templecombe, has run round its train. Meanwhile standard class 4 2-6-0 Nº76014 has arrived from Bournemeouth on its way to Templecombe.

photograph by Ray Soper

41307

One of the LMS Ivatt designed 2P/2F 2-6-2Ts built for the Southern Region, Nº41307 at Templecombe "Upper", the Ivatt having hauled an up service from the S&D line into the "Upper" station.

photograph by Ray Soper

The strange pattern of working at Templecombe probably deserves a page all to itself! To summarize: the S&D line passed underneath the L&SWR's just to the east of the latter's station, and had a single platform squeezed in between the railway bridge and a road bridge over the former which gave access to the platform. This, of course, was not at all convenient for passengers wishing to change from one line to the other so a rather complicated interchange method was devised. A down train from the Bath direction would make it's way via Templecombe Nº2 junction, over a spur and into the L&SWR station, arriving at the north face of the up platform. To regain its route, this train would then have another engine attached to the rear which would then take the train back down to the S&D line and uncouple, allowing the train to continue its journey via the lower platform, under the L&SWR line and on towards Broadstone. For an up service, the train would pass under the L&SWR line, pass the lower platform and come to a stand beyond Templecombe Nº2 junction where a second engine would be attached to haul the train over the spur and into the upper station. This second engine would now be detached, allowing the train to continue its journey back down to the S&D line and on towards Bath.

41307

A view from below of the Ivatt tank waiting for the next duty assisting a train between the two routes. Note the elevated disc shunt dummy on the left of the picture.

photograph by Ray Soper

Sturminster Newton

Sturminster Newton station opened on 31st August 1863 and was halfway through the 16 mile single track section of line from Templecombe to Blandford Forum. A good amount of cattle and milk traffic from here led to ample handling facilities being provided with a cattle dock, pig pens and five sidings one of which served a milk factory. The design of the station is typical of the Dorset Central Railway. The dip in the platform was there to provide a crossing of the line as no footbridge was provided.

photograph by Keith Harwood

Evercreech Junction

Evercreech Junction station, some way south of where the branch to Bridgwater and Burnham-on-Sea left the main line, opened in 1862 as quot;Evercreech" but was re-named in 1874. Note the end of a siding between the two platform roads which was used by banking engines awaiting up trains and the Burnham-on-Sea branch train between services. Note also the very tall starting signal, built in this way to ease sighting difficulties.

photograph by Ray Soper

Radstock

Radstock station opened in 1874 as "Radstock" but was re-named "Radstock North" in 1949 to avoid confusion with the ex-GWR station, now "Radstock South". No connection ever existed between the two stations during the working life of the S&D line, but one was put in after closure in 1966 when a short spur was installed just south of the station to enable coal traffic to continue between Writhlington and Portishead. Radstock was in the middle of the Somerset coalfield so had a lot of coal traffic, though this dwindled throughout the twentieth century and ceased altogether not long after the S&D's own demise.

photograph by Ray Soper

53808

A month prior to the other photographs of Nº53808 on this page found her taking water at Evercreech Junction whilst heading an Ian Allan tour on 22nd September 1962.

photograph by Mike Morant

40601

Ex-LMS 4-4-0 2P locomotive Nº40601 is seen at Branksome shed having worked a train down the S&D. As the legend on her tender indicates, this was taken in early BR days.

photograph by Mike Morant


The Burnham-on-Sea branch

Highbridge

Collett 2251 class loco Nº3210 on Highbridge turntable, 30th October 1962. Highbridge once had busy Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Works but these closed in 1930, laying off 300 men and causing large unemployment in the small town. Looking rather derelict this was the turning point for the engine before returning to Evercreech, Highbridge being just one station before Burnham-on-Sea.

photograph by Peter Richards

Highbridge was once a very important railway centre with stations on both the Bristol to Exeter line (Highbridge West) and the S&D line (Highbridge East). Originally opened as a terminus by the Somerset Central Railway on 28th August 1854, Highbridge East could boast of having five platforms, three more than the West station. The line continued on, crossing the main line from Bristol to Exeter on the level, at an angle of some 45º and underneath a road bridge, at first just to Highbridge Wharf (which was a busy place for coal, timber, rails, dairy and agricultural products) then to Burnham. The S&D owned a fleet of its own ships the last two of which lasted until their marine interests were wound up in 1934. The wharf continued to be used by commercial shipping until 1950 and finally closed in 1964. The 1½ mile extension to Burnham ran beside the wharf line, giving the false impression of double track, and opened on 3rd May 1858.

Burnham-on-Sea

Burnham-on-Sea station, looking back towards Highbridge. The station had a lovely brick and stone train shed which was very necessary for protection from the off-shore winds blowing across the Bristol Channel!

Burnham was the end of the line for passengers, but a short spur continued on from the station, down a 1:23 slope and out onto a pier. This pier was used by shipping for a limited time and the trucks for the pier were lowered and retrieved by wire ropes. The building on the right was, until 1930, the Lifeboat station which had its own siding leading to the line to the pier, down which the Lifeboat would be launched.

photograph by Peter Richards

SR Target