Evercreech to Burnham Branch
The line is 'up' to Burnham
From its divergence at Evercreech Junction North, the single track swung away to the west and descended steeply through wooded country past Pylle, where the original crossing loop was later removed. From West Pennard onwards the course was virtually level, as the line followed the plain between the Poldens and the Mendip Hills. Glastonbury station, was approached for the last mile or so from the east by the separate single tracks of the Wells and Evercreech branches running side by side. Glastonbury had two through platforms, one of which had an outer face for the Wells trains. There was also a short bay, leading towards Highbridge, on the up side.
The line then passed through Ashcott and then Shapwick station, Shapwick being a block post. At these stations (and also Bason Bridge), a fair volume of peat traffic was dealt with, the peat fields extending alongside the line for some miles.
Immediately after a level crossing, Edington Junction station was then reached (originally named ‘Edington Road’). This was first built with a single platform, but later when the short branch to Bridgwater was built, a passing loop and second platform was constructed, with the southern face of the original platform being used for the branch.
After leaving Edington the short single line branch to Bridgwater diverged to the west. Bason Bridge station was reached in 3 miles and 39 chains. There was also a milk depot.
This section of line was, and indeed still is, very picturesque and, with its flat meadows, numerous water courses, and rows of poplar and willow trees.
Highbridge, being the original terminus and the location of the S&D workshops, was a relatively large station. Of the four platforms, two were of the terminal type and, together with the original Somerset Central station offices, form the old part of the station. Adjacent to the office building was erected the First World War Memorial, unveiled in 1922 in honour of the S&D Locomotive, Carriage, and Wagon Workshops staff. The other two platforms were of the through type and date from the extension to Burnham in 1858. These platforms at the Burnham end being protected by trap sidings and lead into a single track which immediately crossed the G.W.R. line on the level at an angle of about 45 degrees (The Great Western station adjoined that of the S&D.- See plan on Highbridge Page). Beyond the level crossing, on the Burnham side of it, the two railways were linked by a trailing connection off the G.W.R. down line, giving access not only from G.W.R. to S&D and vice versa, but also into the G.W.R. goods yard.
After crossing the G.W.R. line the branch passed the sidings at Highbridge Wharf and just before reaching Burnham some more sidings (private) on the southern side of the line. The line carried on through the station to a short jetty to meet the ferry to South Wales. This operated until 1888.
From Evercreech Junction to Burnham the line was worked on the electric tablet system, with the exception of the crossing of the Great Western main line on the level at Highbridge.
The West signal box at Highbridge worked with Highbridge Locomotive Box (S&D) , this was 266 yds. east, on double line block and with Highbridge 'B' (103 yds. west) on single line block, no staff being used in the latter case but a special bell-code being employed. Highbridge 'B' also controlled a level crossing and the entrance to the S&D goods yard.
307 yards. beyond 'B' box, in the Burnham direction, was 'C' box, which controlled the junction of the Highbridge Wharf and Burnham lines. The section between 'B' and 'C' boxes was also worked as single line block, without staff, but from 'C' box on to Burnham the train staff and ticket system was used. Movements over the level crossing were controlled by the Highbridge West (G.W.R.) signal box, adjacent to the crossing, which operates the S&D Highbridge up starting and down home signals, as well as the special back-shunt signal from G.W.R. down line to S&D, this signal was situated on the G.W.R. down platform.
At one time there was a third S&D box, Highbridge 'A', which controlled the level crossing in conjunction with the G.W.R. box. This 'A' box was at the north-west end of Highbridge S&D station, and was later turned into a staff room.
Copyright © Kevin Clapcott
Most recent revision Friday August 10, 2007