The Bridgwater Railway through Bawdrip.

The Bridgwater Railway opened for business on 21st July 1890 and ran from Bridgwater Station (re named Bridgwater North in Sept 1949) over the Bristol Road and the GWR railway via bridges, across Horsey Lane, under the A39 road bridge near Bradney turning, through Bawdrip, and Cossington, to Edington Junction near Burtle, a total distance of 7miles, 15 chains, platform to platform, where it connected to the Glastonbury to Burnham railway. There was one station on the line at Cossington. In 1892 there were 9 ‘up’ and 9 ‘down’ trains each day, and this was reduced to 7 ‘up’ and 8 ‘down’ by 1903. In 1923 Bawdrip Halt, was built, a concrete platform long enough for 4 carriages, and a year later a shelter with seats was added. The first Bill submitted by the town of Bridgwater to Parliament in April 1866 was rejected. Some years and several Bills later, a Bill of August 1882 was successful, and eventually through the years 1888 to 1890 the line was built by the Bridgwater Railway Company. The operating company was to be the LSWR Company, but the railway was initially leased and run for 3 years by the S&DJR, the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway. The new line offered a route through Edington and Glastonbury to Evercreech Junction where the S&DJR then went north to Bath or south almost to Bournemouth. From Bath the Midland Railway went to Birmingham and the North.  From Bournemouth the London & South West Railway went to Southampton then London Waterloo. The Bournemouth to Burnham connection was also seen as a Channel to Channel service for the S&DJR. After 64 years of service the Bridgwater Railway Line was finally closed in October 1954. Dismantling of the line began in Oct 1955.


                                          Authors photo Sept 2016: Difficult to imagine that this bridge was completed by August 1888. Still looks in pretty good condition for its age!


This Page was last Revised: 07 Jan 2019.


This website is not often updated anymore; but the two books listed below contain the latest information.

 The Bridgwater Railway Through Bawdrip’. Compared to this web page this book has much more detail and the very latest information and photos.

 Finding the Bridgwater Railway’, is a guide book taking you to all the places on the line where something can still be seen. This covers the whole line from Bridgwater North to Edington Junction.

Both these books get updated with whatever new information or photos have been discovered, and this is then incorporated into the next print run of each book. So.. unlike most books where the information is fixed for the life of the book print run, often 750 to 1000 copies, these books are printed in small quantities, 6 to 12, and each subsequent print run therefore contains the latest information and photos.



There are also two Facebook pages that regularly carry new information and discoveries regarding this railway:


If you have any old photos or stories that you could contribute to this page please write to me at [email protected]  Thank you.




Preface. Some introductory comments and photos.

The Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. S&DJR

Important Steps for the Bridgwater Railway.

For and Against.

The Land before the Line, Pre 1888.

Purchase of the Land.

Construction of the line.

Inspection of the line. Monday 7th July 1890.

Opening Ceremony. Thursday 17th July 1890.

The Line opens for Business. Monday 21st July 1890

Operation of the line.

Closure. October 1955.

Minutes of the S&DJR, including Accidents & Prosecutions.

Personal recollections of the railway


Sources consulted.

Contact the Author.





                                                                                 Aerial view of the village of Bawdrip looking in an easterly direction.

                                                            The road bridge, No 306, is at the left of the picture and Bawdrip halt is just left of centre.

                                                      C1927, probably taken by Air Chief Marshall Sir Walter Merton, whilst stationed in Somerset. 1920s.





  In Autumn 2014 I was sorting through an envelope containing house deeds and other documents and came across a hand traced Tithe map with the route of the railway across it, and copies of three Indentures or land conveyance documents as we would now call them. One was of particular importance as it appeared to show the sale of part of Church farm orchard to the Bridgwater Railway, a parcel of land where the bridge and railway track would be located. The document was difficult to read and understand but I felt that it held vital clues to what had gone on in the village at the time when the railway was being planned. It wetted my appetite and I wanted to know more!


I already had a copy of the book ‘The Bridgwater Railway’ by JD Harrison, the definitive book about our railway, but a lot of it had never quite made sense to me. Although filled with a wealth of information it never covered issues like the purchase of the land and the actual building of the line. Many other books also had small sections or just a few sentences and pictures about the Bridgwater Railway, but no great amount of detail. Some of these also contained a number of ‘repeated factual anomaly’s’,  instances where incorrect information had obviously been copied by subsequent authors instead of looking at primary records to get the true facts of the matter. So a number of questions were posed and these will gradually be investigated.


  On Thursday 17th July 1890 the Mayor, members of the Corporation and other important townsfolk welcomed a train bringing directors and dignitaries with an Opening Ceremony held on the platform of the new station at around 1pm. It was an atrocious rainy day by all accounts. The rain started at 9am and continued all day. After, the welcome addresses and replies were done there was a banquet at the Town Hall, and also 200 navies were given a dinner by the contractors in a tent at the rear of the ‘Cross Rifles’. At 5pm, the Mayor and many of his guests were conveyed to the new station to travel on a special train organized by Mr Peace. This travelled to Glastonbury and after a short stop made the return journey.


  On Monday 21st July 1890 the Company officially opened the line for business. About 150 persons took tickets for the first scheduled train to Edington Junction and back.




       View of Bridgwater Station with covered platform where the Opening Ceremony was held in pouring rain on Thurs 17th July 1890.

                                                               Photo by John J Smith, ©  The Bluebell Railway Museum. 4th August 1952


The start of the line was at the Bridgwater Station located ‘in a garden’ to the West of the A38 Bristol Road, now occupied by a Sainsburys supermarket car park



So where was Bridgwater S&D Station actually located within Sainsbury’s car park?



The three pictures above show

1) Left: The station building as it was with the line in place, then

2) Middle: The station building standing on its own after the line was removed, then

3) Right: A recent photo shows the scene today with the houses of Bristol road just beyond the red car.

The most recent picture shows, to the left of the red car, a house and a shed type building with 4 black windows which is part of the Bridgwater Funeral Services building.

This same building also appears at the right of the middle picture.


This allows us to work out that the old station building was just in front of the black car where the green hedge next to the path now sits.



Edington Junction, near Burtle, was the end or the start of the line depending on how you viewed it. It was originally called Edington Road Station on the Glastonbury to Highbridge Somerset Central line built in 1854. From July 1890 the railway branched off here to head to Bridgwater, a distance of just over 7 miles, and it became Edington Junction.



                              Edington Junction. A train to Bridgwater (58072  0-4-4T) waiting near the covered station platform.

                                                               Photo by John J Smith, © The Bluebell Railway Museum. 4th August 1952



The Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR)


Before going any further this is probably a good point at which to explain what the S&DJR was and how it came into existence, a fascinating story in itself.


The Somerset Central Railway (SC) can probably trace its origins back to a meeting at Hodges Railway Hotel, Bridgwater, on 1st December 1851 when discussions were held regarding the construction of a railway line from Highbridge to Glastonbury. That railway eventually opened on 17th August 1854.


The Dorset Central Railway similarly, came about as a result of meetings at Blandford and Poole in 1854 which eventually resulted in the opening of its line from Wimborne to Blandford on 1st Nov 1860.


The Somerset Central and the Dorset Central amalgamated to become the Somerset and Dorset Railway on 1st September 1862. The first meeting of the new board of directors took place at the Virginia Ash Hotel in Henstridge near Templecombe on Oct 4th 1862. This was a coaching stop at the historic intersection of the turnpike roads from London to Exeter, and from Bristol to Poole. The new train system would soon replace these ancient coaching routes.


An Act of 13th July 1876 allowed the creation of the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway which involved the Midland and London & South West Railway ‘jointly’ taking over the S & D Railway by leasing it for £43,056 in the first year, rising to £57,408 in the fourth year. In 1877 the headquarters were moved from Glastonbury to 14 Green Park Buildings Bath. New stock was to be made at Derby, heavy repairs at Bristol, and ordinary repairs to be undertaken at Highbridge.


Important Steps for the Bridgwater Railway.


One of the first steps in constructing the line was for a surveyor to map out the route of the line and work out where cuttings, banking, bridges, stations and other things would be required. The Company engineer would then have to determine the construction aspects of the line. Plans would then be deposited with the local council and Parliament. A Bill would be submitted to the House of Commons then the House of Lords and if successful would become an act of Parliament.


First Bill 1866:

Preparations would have been done sometime prior to or early in 1865 when the campaign for a railway was to commence with the First Bill sent to Parliament. The route of the railway submitted for the first Bill in April 1866 was somewhat different to the actual line built in 1888/90. The Bridgwater Mercury carried a report on 14th Feb 1866 of an ‘Important Public Meeting’ about The New Railway Scheme. They quoted Mr Browne…… He begged to move that it is for the advantage of the town of Bridgwater that the Bill now pending in Parliament for making a narrow gauge railway from the town of Bridgwater through the villages of Bawdrip, Cossington, Chilton Super Polden, Edington, Catcott and Shapwick.

  On Aprill 11th 1866 the Bill went before the House of Commons Committee but it was rejected in favour of a competing Bill by the Bristol & Exeter Railway (B&ER). At that meeting Mr Gregory, was mentioned as the engineer to the proposed Bridgwater Line. (In fact Charles Hutton Gregory, and F.C. Slessor are mentioned as the engineers for the 30 November 1865, ENROLMENT REGISTRATION AND DEPOSIT. PUBLIC UNDERTAKINGS. PLANS OF SCHEMES, notice of application for Act. Mentioned in Somerset Quarter Sessions.)


Second Bill 1875:

For the next campaign and submission to Parliament, 9 years later, on 15th March 1875, Mr William Eve was believed to have been the Bridgwater Railway Company surveyor. (He is listed as the land valuer, 15 years later, in the 17th July 1890 opening ceremony Mercury report). The Company engineer was believed to be a Mr R J Ward.

This Second Bill was put forward and on 17th March the Commons Committee approved it. The Bill however did not reach the House of Lords due it was thought at the time to a lack of funds to pursue it. Some years later it transpired that the solicitor Mr Toogood might have been bribed by the B&ER to drop the Bill!


Third Bill 1881:

The Bridgwater Mercury of 28th March 1888 records the fact that a Third Bill was submitted to Parliament in 1881 but then subsequently withdrawn.


Fourth Bill 1882: 

The Fourth bill, put forward to Parliament, was approved by the Act of 18th August 1882. The Engineers were Wells-Owen & Elwes. The engineer was Richard Gervase Elwes in partnership with David Wells-Owen. So the Bridgwater Railway Company finally achieved their goal of obtaining their act of Parliament to build the line.

Several companies came forward with quotes and plans for construction of the line but none was settled upon.


Fifth Bill 1886: 

By 1886, with still not much happening, a Fifth Bill was put to the House of Lords asking for an extension to the time limit for completion, Richard Arthur Read, one time General Manager of the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway (SDJR) and now a director of the Bridgwater Railway Co, had stated that the cost to build the railway was £74,000, with the cost of purchasing the land put at £17,000.


The Bridgwater Railway Co with chairman HHP Bouverie (Henry Hales Playdell) and RA Read eventually secured the money required for construction of the line by the sale to a Mr Young of £60,000 of preference shares, £29,390 balance of the unissued ordinary stock and £45,000 debenture stock.


Eventually on 13th March 1888 the Bridgwater Railway Company secured a contract with John Morris, John Turton Woolley and Alexander Young for construction of the line.


Sixth Bill 1888:

Finally a sixth Act of 10th August 1888 allowed for the issue of £60,000 of the authorised capital (of the 1882 Act) in the form of revised rate of 4 ½ % preference stock.



For and Against.

In 1865 when the campaign for a line was again getting underway, quite understandably not everyone was in favour of the idea. Even those broadly in favour of the idea had reservations about some aspects of the line. Also the fact that the original plan was for the route of the railway to go through Bawdrip, Cossington, Chilton Super Polden, Edington, Catcott and Shapwick, meant that at that time there would have been many more objectors.


On 28th Feb 1866 The Bridgwater Mercury in an article headed ‘The New Railway Schemes’, reported that

… The petitions against the narrow gauge line are three. The first is from William Vale*, owner of lands on the line of the intended railway, who contends that it is not required, and that if it is, a better route might be chosen, which would inflict less injury on him. The Rev WJ Allen* presents a precisely similar petition, under like circumstances. The other is by the Bristol and Exeter Railway Company…….


*William Vale, according to the British History Online page for Chilton Polden, was in 1878 a local benefactor of the poor in the village.

The Rev WJ Allen held various lands in and around Bawdrip.


  In February 1875 the Bridgwater Mercury carried a report about a meeting of the Town Council where they invited Mr Toogood, the solicitor, and Mr Bell, the engineer for the Bridgwater Railway Company, to discuss some aspects of the line, in particular the bridge over the Bristol Road, which it seems was originally envisaged with the road going over the railway, which was not at all popular with the townsfolk. The council insisted that the plan was changed and it was agreed that the railway would pass over the road instead of the former.


  Then on 17th  March 1875 the Bridgwater Mercury contained a report of the Railway Bill being put before a Select Committee of the House of Commons, on Monday at noon in No5 committee room. ………. The Clerk stated that the petitioners against the Bill were The Bristol and Exeter Railway Company, the Rev WJ Allen, and Mr EG Broderip (Mr Broderip lived in the Manor House at Cossington)  ……..

……. Mr Broderip complained that the railway would run through a mile and four furlongs of his property, passing within a few yards of his Manor House gardens and sevens chains of his own residence……. The petitioner also stated that the railway would pass through a site on which it was his intention to have erected a new residence, which he would be prevented from doing if the bill passed.



OS 1900 map shows how the railway cut across Cossington Park and was just a short distance from

the Manor House where Mr Broderip lived.


The next petitioner, the Rev Mr Allen, was not a resident landowner, and what he principally complained of was that his farms and fields would be severed and injured……….. (The Rev Allen had also been a complainant involved in the Bill of April 1866)

The Rev John Warren, vicar of Bawdrip was one of many however, that were in favour of the Bill.

From the same report…….Rev John Warren, and also a landowner, said the proposed line would pass through his parish (which was about three and a half miles from Bridgwater) and that it would afford very considerable accommodation to himself and his parishioners. ……….. Bridgwater was his market town and he and his neighbours had occasion to go there weekly, their goods being brought home by carriers….. Bawdrip had 450 inhabitants and Cossington about 200……………




The Land before the line, Pre 1888:


Looking at old Tithe maps and the Pre Railway c.1884-87 OS map shown below, the village, particularly around the area where the railway bridge was built, looked quite different prior to the railway being constructed.




                                                                     Ordnance Survey 1:10560 County Series 1st edition (c.1884-87) Sheet 50 Subsheet 08


Coming down the hill of Bawdrip Lane, and just after passing New Road on the right, you would have turned left keeping the wall of Uplands Estate on your left until you arrived at the junction of East Side Lane with Church Road just below Court Farm. Some of this wall, where the road used to go, still survives, and has been partially rebuilt in the rear of the garden of 5 Church Road.



  British Rail Map with original road layout highlighted against the route of the railway.


There was also the option to turn right after passing the New Road turning, and follow the road past farm buildings on the right, and on down past Church Farm towards what was then called Little Wall Lane on the right. The longtime unused bare area, on the north side of the bridge next to the farm buildings presumably has the remains of the old road that headed south underneath it, hence the reason why it has been left bare like that, so does that piece of land still belong to the Highways Dept?


Little Wall Lane used to run uninterrupted past Greenfield Cottage and all the way along through fields to come out opposite the Knowle Inn on the main road. The shortened piece of this road/ track, cut off by the railway, is now known as Greenfield Lane.  Before the railway bridge there was no road going straight ahead.


That piece of land, across the road from the Court Farm outbuildings, where the halt was eventually built in 1923, shows an empty space on the old maps. In fact at the time the Bridgwater Railway Co bought the land there in about 1888 it was referred to as a garden by the then owner Joseph Alfred Bradney Esq. The Parliamentary plan list from 1882 shows PP42 was listed with the occupiers being William Varmen Sen’, William Carter Slocombe and Mary Lane. Perhaps it was an allotment garden?


It’s interesting to note on the map just how many orchards there were in the village, three of which(A,B, & D below) would be cut across by the route of the coming railway.



                                                                                                 (Photo: Air Marketing International Ltd. Ref C619. Date c1972)


Orchard A bordered the south side of New Road. Orchard B was the infamous Shaw’s Orchard to the north of Greenfield Lane. Looking at the pre railway OS map above it is quite clear that the southern edge of orchard A formed the northern edge of Orchard B. Orchard C was a small orchard to the west of Court Farm bordering the hill out to Eastside Lane.

Orchard D, belonging to Church farm, originally extended north to the edge of the road that curved around behind the bungalow in the photo above.

There was also another orchard to the east of orchard ‘C’ that was cut by the railway. This was where the footpath left East Side Lane just before Kings farm and headed north across the fields along the edge of this orchard.


And in the stitched map below you can count at least 11 orchards from New road in the west(left) to Brook Lane off East Side Lane to the east (right)



        Ordnance Survey 1:10560 County Series 1st edition (c.1884-87).   Sheet 50 Subsheet 08 and Sheet 51 Subsheet 05 joined together to produce a continuous east/west map


The River Cary or King’s Sedgemoor Drain as it is now known, was upgraded in 1972, as part of a £1.4 million scheme to construct a flood relief channel for the River Parrett. This involved widening the river from 26.5 to 55 feet to increase flow volume. Before the railway was built the river must have been much narrower and may have been known as the Eighteen Feet Rhyne. Inspection of the pre railway OS map shows a considerable number of footbridges over the river serving the local footpaths. There is a clue to the narrow width in the Bridgwater Mercury report of 18th April 1888, titled, Somerset Drainage Commissioners: The New Railway. The Engineer Mr Combes, presented a further report with reference to the above. He stated that the proposed arch over the South Drain was very much too small, and he had notified this fact to the company’s engineers. The proposal of the Company was that it should be 15ft and he had suggested 17ft, either in one or two openings. Rather strange then that the eventual span was 27ft 8ins, 39ft 9ins on the skew,  as detailed below in ‘Description of the line’.







Purchase of the Land


There were many small areas of land that the Railway Company had to purchase before any work could start. In Nov/Dec 1881, as part of the Fourth Bill (1882) to build the railway, the Company compiled a detailed plan or map showing where the railway would pass across various plots of land. So we might have a field identified by a Tithe Number, and then that part of the field required by the Railway would be identified with a PP or Parliamentary Number.


                                      Part of Bridgwater Railway Plan Sheet No2 submitted for the 1882 Fourth application to build the line shows the area around Bawdrip (Bawdripp?).

                                                             All the numbers shown on the map are usually prefixed with PP in any of the text mentioned below.


Accompanying the 1882 Plan was a comprehensive list showing who owned, leased and occupied each plot of land. This was signed off on the last page by the ‘Lords of the Manor’. They were listed as Rev William Jefferys Allen, Joseph Alfred Bradney Esquire, Benjamin Cuff Greenhill Esquire. (The last name of Benjamin Cuff Greenhill Esquire was endorsed with the hand written comments ‘representatives of the late’).


The map and accompanying list identified land and properties along the length of the line that were on or near to the planned route. It is an interesting record of who the owner was, who was leasing the land, and also who was occupying the land or buildings at that time. Not all properties given a PP No were actually the subject of any land conveyance.

The survey was probably carried out in 1880/81 as the list and maps were first presented in November 1881 in the Wells office of the Clerk of the Peace for Somerset. In December they were presented to the House of Commons as part of the Fourth bill, put forward to Parliament, which was subsequently approved by the Act of 18th August 1882.


In Bawdrip the following properties/dwellings were listed:


PP17. Farmhouse, storehouse, yard, garden and buildings. The owner was Reverend William Samuel King, the occupier was Albert John Pain. Kings Farm.

PP22. Farmhouse, buildings and orchard. The owner was the Trustees under the will of the late Joseph Barker, the occupier was James Dawbin. A dwelling between Kings farm and Barkers Farm.

PP27. Farmhouse, buildings and gardens. The owner was the Trustees under the will of the late Joseph Barker, the occupier was James Dawbin. Barkers Farm.

PP29. House, yard and buildings. The owner was Joseph Alfred Bradney. The property was leased to William Carter Slocombe, and was occupied by William Varmen Sen’, and Mary Lane. Hillside Farm, Eastside Lane. (known as Combe Cottage after 1961).

PP30. Farmhouse and buildings, yards and bartons. The owner was the Reverend William Jefferys Allen and was occupied by John Blower and Zebedee Bacon. Court Farm.

PP33. Cottage, garden and orchard. The owner was the Reverend William Jefferys Allen and was occupied by John Blower, Zebedee Bacon and Charles Clist. A dwelling on Church road (east side) between Court farm and the Rectory.

PP44 House, offices, workshop and garden. The owner was John Hamlin and was occupied by William Gilbert. Possibly 12A The Old Brick Cottage, Church Path.

PP45 House, offices and gardens. The owner was Susannah Giles and was occupied by Joseph Porter. Possibly No. 10. The Cottage, Church Path.

PP46 House, outbuildings, orchard, garden, roadway, paddock and pond. The owner was John Whitehead and Charlotte Dianna Joan his wife and was occupied by William Way. Church Farm.

PP47 House, homestead, orchard, garden, and pond. The owner was Edward Collings and was occupied by Edward Collings, William Staple Ashill, Joseph Dawbin. Probably No. 1 Church Road and The Grange, (copyhold no. 27), Tithe 180.

PP50 Cottage, outbuildings, garden and premises. The owner was the Reverend William Jefferys Allen and was occupied by Richard Stone. Probably Bay Cottage, Greenfield Lane Estate No. 35 Tithe No. 182

PP51 House and shed. The owner was Henry Hellier and was occupied by Henry Hellier. Probably Greenfield Cottage (on older maps referred to as Greenfield House), Tithe 183

PP55 House, garden and premises. The owner was the Reverend William Jefferys Allen and was occupied by Emanuel Brake. No 1 New Road, The Old Farmhouse, opposite Brice Cottage.

PP83 Cottage, yard and garden. The owner was Francis Sibley and was occupied by John Letherbee. No 47 Bath Road on A39, just north of Bradney turning.

A Mr Sibly (Sibley) was also mentioned as the owner of this house in a Bridgwater Mercury report about the line on 28th March 1888.




Land Conveyance Documents. ( Indentures)

Described below are just 3 Land Conveyance Docs { see Notes {1} below} that show some of the land on the map above being sold to the Bridgwater Railway Company:


Conveyance 1 , dated 27th March 1888 where Joseph Alfred Bradney Esq(of Talycoed Court* in the county of Monmouth)  agrees to sell 5 small portions of land for £220 to the Bridgwater Railway, PP5 (ParliamentaryPlan), Tithe No 82, 3Perch- Brook; PP18,T104, 1Rod 11P; PP42, T124, 1R 7P- Garden,  PP70,T312, 3.8P-Little Marsh; PP87,T375, 2R-Causeway.



PP5, a very small part of Tithe 82 was the piece of land containing the little brook that still comes down out of the left hand bank making a waterfall in winter just before the line passes under No 305 bridge carrying the A39 road.

PP18 was a strip of land across Tithe 104, where the footpath from East Side Lane went up across the field and over where the line would be. It is now the area where the Sustrans track goes up over the hill from East Side Lane onto the old track bed.

PP42, part of Tithe 124 was actually a triangular piece of land being used as a garden, which would eventually become the site of the village hall.

PP70 was a strip of land across Tithe 312, which was the second but last field reached before the line crossed the KSD.

PP87. Tithe No 375, 2Rods, Causeway. This was a piece of land situated just to the west of the A39 and a few hundred metres north of Bradney turning, where the railway would pass under a road bridge.


This document also contains information regarding another transaction on the property and the person involved;

Plot No42, Tithe 124 the garden plot where the hall was eventually built. The vendor mentioned was a Mr Reginald Tomkins conveyance ‘fee simple’?

Also, the preamble of this Indenture mentions that the Reverend Joseph Christopher Bradney of Clifton in the city and County of Bristol Clerk in Holy orders after giving and bequeathing to his wife ……


The Parliamentary plan list from 1882 lists PP5, PP18, PP70 &PP87 with owner Joseph Alfred Bradney and occupier as William Carter Slocombe.

PP42 was listed with the occupiers being William Varmen Sen’, William Carter Slocombe and Mary Lane.


For a full transcript of this indenture go to

This transcript was kindly undertaken by Susan Greaves.


‘*Talycoed Court is a small late-19th-century park and terraced garden built by Sir Joseph Bradney.


Conveyance 2, dated 18th Oct 1888, refers to PP46, part of Church farm’s orchard on the north side of the farm, sold by Albert Whitehead & Frederick Sherwood, Trustees of Mr & Mrs John Whitehead to the Bridgwater Railway Co for £160. The map shows that this orchard originally bordered the walled road that ran to the left after dropping down over Bawdrip Lane, and on either side was bordered by Church road as was then, one side of which led to Little Wall Lane the other side to the church and school.


View looking south, farm building at top

 Uplands Estate at bottom left.


PP46 was a part of Tithe No 147 (Church Farm) and this would become more or less where bridge No 306 would be located in the center of the village.


This document also contains considerable information regarding earlier transactions on the property and the persons involved;

1: 4th & 5th May 1829. Lease Appointment & Conveyance mentioning James Parsons, Jeffery Allen, John Fry, and Charles Fry.

2: 6th May 1832. An Indenture mentioning William King, Charles Fry, Jane King.

3: 21st May 1860. An Indenture mentioning William King, Abraham King, Charlotte Diana Joan King

4: 19th June 1860. An Indenture mentioning Charlotte Diana Joan King, John Whitehead, William King, Albert Whitehead.

5: 16th Sept 1871. An Indenture mentioning John Whitehead, Charlotte Diana Joan his wife, William King, Albert Whitehead.


The document infers that John Whitehead was to marry Charlotte Diana Joan King soon after 16th Sept 1871 and states that Charlotte Whitehead, his wife, died on 22nd Dec 1881 and was buried at Sanville Aston ?  (Difficult to read this location. Need to investigate further)


The Parliamentary plan list from 1882 lists PP46 with owners identified as John Whitehead and Charlotte Diana Joan his wife. The occupier of the property at that time was William Way.


Conveyance 3, dated 18th July 1891 from the Rev JM Warren (then rector of the church) ‘a portion of the Large House’ in the Parish of Bawdrip to the Bridgwater Railway Co for the sum of£117. The land involved consisted of 3 parts, PP13 Tithe No 99- ‘Five Acres’- 1R 29P, Severed part- 13P, PP37 Part of 153-‘Orchard Garden & Plantation’-1R 9P.






PP13 appears to be a triangular piece of land within Tithe 99, a field not far from bridge 305 over the A39.

The severed part of just 13 perch was possibly the triangular piece of land marked by dotted line, now used by cars to drive up into the hall car park. No PP or Tithe given. Need to investigate this further.

PP37 a small part of Tithe 153, the plot of land on which Bawdrip House sat, was a strip of the bank running along the left side of the road from just before the Church road/East Side junction, up the hill of East Side Lane then up along the left hand side of the track as far as field Tithe 108.


This document also contains information regarding a later transaction on the property and the persons involved;

14th Jan 1896: A conveyance between Henry William Palmer and the Bridgwater Railway concerning the piece of land coloured pink and No13, refers to a conveyance and ‘fee simple’?

This seems a bit of a mystery, a 2nd conveyance for the same piece of land No13 earlier sold by Rev Warren to Bridgwater Railway in 1891? Further research required here too!


The Parliamentary plan list from 1882 lists PP13 with owner Reverend John Warren and occupier as James Pople.











Construction of the line.

This is a large section, because there are so many previously unanswered questions:


In this section:

Who constructed the line?

When and where did construction begin?

Construction Timeline:

Where did the stone and bricks for the bridge and reinforcing wall near the halt come from?

Where did the material from the cuttings through the Polden Hills go?

Where did all the workers live during the building of the line?

Did the rails come from the South Wales iron works, and if so how were they transported here?



The definitive book ‘The Bridgwater Railway’ by JD Harrison, an excellent reference source for many details about the line, unfortunately has only one reference on page 25 about the actual building of the line, a photo of a Mr Buxton and his family where he is referred to as the ‘Contractor for the Bridgwater Railway’. This, said Mr Harrison, was the only reference to any person involved in the construction of the line that he had come across.


Similarly, other railway books that refer to the Bridgwater Railway have next to nothing to say about the building of the line.


Fortunately ‘there is’ a wealth of information contained in old copies of the Bridgwater Mercury, and minutes of the S&DJR, and some information from these sources is mentioned at various points below.


Who constructed the line?

In the Bridgwater Mercury report of the inquest of an accident on 30th August 1888 at Bawdrip, the Railway Contractors were described as Messrs Cutbill Son and de Lango (Lungo see Notes {2}). A Mr P O H Reed attended the inquest on their behalf. A Mr Smith was described as their engineer. Mr Reed mentioned that Messrs Cutbill Son and de Lango were represented by Mr Buxton, one of the firm. So the aforementioned Mr Buxton is referred to here again as a representative of the firm.


In an earlier report in the Bridgwater Mercury on Wed 28th March 1888 the following information is given ‘The Engineers for the Bridgwater Railway are Messrs Wells-Owen and Elwes, and the resident engineer (from the same firm) is to be Mr Clarke. The contractors are Messrs Cutbill, Sons and Company of London and Mr William Buckstone, a partner of the firm, will personally superintend the work. The contractor’s resident engineer is Mr Blomfield Smith.’



When and where did construction begin?

The Bridgwater Railway Company finally secured a contract on 13th March 1888 with John Morris, J T Woolley and A Young for construction of the line. An article in the Bridgwater Mercury on Wed 28th March 1888  states that the terminus of the railway in Bridgwater, where the station will be provided, will be in a field adjoining the Bristol Road, belonging to Mr A Peace, ex Mayor and now one of the directors of the railway. It also mentions the remaining part of the route. So we should presume from the way that the article is written (ie ‘will be’) that no work had yet commenced by that date.


We now know, from a snippet of information in the full page coverage by the Mercury of the opening of the line in 1890 that ‘The first sod of the railway was cut by Alderman A Peace, JP, one of the directors (the other directors being Henry P Bouverie and Mr Robert A Read), on the 24th April 1888, on which occasion he was presented with a silver trowel.’

Where this first sod was cut is as yet unknown although it was probably in the area of Bridgwater Station one might think!


The original report of the cutting of the first sod was in the Mercury on 25th April 1888 ‘The Bridgwater Railway. Turning the first sod’. The report states ‘For some time past a good deal of preliminary work has been carried on by the contractors at various points throughout the route of the proposed railway, and yesterday (Tuesday) the first sod was turned by Alderman A Peace’.

This implied that some preliminary work had been going on for some time. The report however, does not say where the first sod was cut.


We know that the road Bridge in Bawdrip had been completed by August 1888, and the cutting from the Halt towards Cossington was being worked on in August 1888.

This is known from comments made in a report by the Bridgwater Mercury on September 5th 1888 on the inquest of George Chilwell, a married man aged 36 or 37 from Burrowbridge who died in an accident when constructing the cutting ‘just beyond the recently constructed bridge over the roadway at Bawdrip. The inquest was held at the Knowle Inn.


There don’t appear to be any more progress reports until on 31st July 1889 the Bridgwater Mercury reported ‘A Mishap on the Bridgwater Railway’.

We now know from this article that the river bridge was built around Feb/March of 1889.

It read ‘Nearly six months ago the contractors bridged over the river Cary, as it was originally called, or the Sedgemoor Main Drain as it is now known and since then engines and wagons have every day safely passed over it to and fro conveying stone, ballast and other material for use on other parts of the line. On Thursday morning last, Mr Bromfield Smith (Blomfield?), the contractors’ resident engineer, perceived indications of a slight settlement of the stone abutment on the Bawdrip side of the bridge over the river Cary. Men were set to work but on Friday morning he also saw unmistakable signs of the wall on the other side being undermined and warned off the men working there just before large blocks of masonry suddenly sank four or five feet down into the water. Pile driving will be required to rectify the matter, and a temporary bridge will probably be built alongside’.


The Mercury report on 23rd Oct 1889: Half Yearly General Meeting of Shareholders, stated that about three quarters of the total earthworks of the line had been completed. Of the drains and bridges all have been completed with the exception of two bridges. All the station buildings and level crossing lodges, with the exception of the passenger accommodation at Edington, some internal work, and one level crossing lodge are complete, about 3 ¼ miles had been laid and bottom ballasted, leaving 7 ¼ miles  still to be executed.


From all the reports of work done or being carried out we can put together an approximate timeline of events:


Construction Timeline:

13th March 1888  Contract secured for construction of the line.

24th April 1888     First sod cut by Alderman A Peace.

    August 1888     Road Bridge in Bawdrip had been completed.

                               Cutting to the east of Bawdrip was being worked on.

Feb/Mar 1889     Bridge over the river Cary completed.

31st July 1889       Footings of the bridge over the river Cary sink into the water.

23rd Oct 1889       Three quarters of the earthworks completed, 2 bridges to build, 3 ¼ miles of track had been laid.

7th July 1890         The line was inspected by Col Rich, who ‘reported on it very favourably’.

21st July 1890       Scheduled train service begins.


Where did the stone and bricks for the bridge and reinforcing wall near the halt come from?

A description of the line can be found in a report in the Bridgwater Mercury of July 1890 titled ‘Official Inspection of the Bridgwater Railway’. It mentions the problems encountered

forming the cuttings through the distorted lias formations.


Interestingly, close observation of the south side banking of the cutting a few hundred metres before reaching bridge 305 (A39 near Woolavington corner) reveals a layer of blue  lias stone, several feet deep, of a similar colour to that used on the bridge and wall. This can only be glimpsed in the winter months when the vegetation has died away.


In the same Mercury report of July 1890, under the heading ‘The Bridgwater Station’ it is stated that ‘The stones bridges, for the most part, were built with material obtained from the cuttings’.

So, there must have been stone cutting facilities nearby, where the stone being removed from the cuttings could be shaped for use in building the bridges and walls.

We also know that there was stone quarrying, served by a railway siding to Boards Quarry, to the east of Cossington Station. This facility was processing the Polden blue lias limestone.


A note about Blue lias stone:

Blue lias dates back to the early Jurassic period, and is between 195-205 million years old. It is made from layers of compressed shale and limestone, and is renowned for its ammonite fossils.  The blue-grey colour occurs as a result of its high iron content, enclosed for the most part in pyrite crystals. Blue Lias is a prevalent feature of the cliffs around Lyme Regis and Charmouth, on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, where it exists in layers of limestone interspersed with softer clay. It is also present in Somerset, particularly around the Polden Hills and Glastonbury. Commonly used in areas local to its source, blue lias can be seen in the neighbouring towns of Glastonbury, Somerton, Street and Ilchester. It features some brown banding which weathers to a pale yellow/grey.  Blue lias stone is best suited to building, paving and landscaping and internal flooring.


Bawdrip village, Knowle, and Ford shelter below the 30-m. contour on marls between alluvium and the Blue Lias of the Polden ridge.





                                                                            Authors photo: Some fossils found in local blue lias stone.



In the book ‘Maritime Activities of the Somerset & Dorset Railway’ by Chris Handley, on page 98, he says that ‘The branch line, including the wharf extension, had been built by Messrs. Catbull, Son and de Lungo of London who had used local suppliers for bricks, cement and lime whilst the timber for the wharf was provided by Messrs. Bland & Co of Highbridge. (It should be pointed out here that the book is in error referring to the name of the contractor as ‘Catbull’, the correct name was Cutbill, Son and de Lungo). In fact looking at the layout of the extension of the line to the wharf on the river Parrett, there is a short siding leading off to the back of the riverside cement works and brickyard of Barham Brothers, so it would have been most economical to load bricks and other materials direct into wagons for shipment to various locations along the line being constructed. On old maps this is the ‘Cement Lime Brick & Tile Works’ almost opposite the entrance to the docks. Barham Brothers also had its own wharf connected to the GWR Docks branch railway.


Barham Brothers riverside wharf with the Docks entrance at left. The S&DJR wharf was around the bend in the river beyond the Barham buildings.

                                                                                           Old postcard from Authors collection.


In the same Mercury report of July 1890 previously mentioned, again under the heading ‘The Bridgwater Station’ it is stated that ‘The iron work of the bridges has been supplied by the well know engineering firm of Messrs Head, Wrightson & Co of Stockton on Tees, the bricks by Messrs H J & C Major, and Messrs Colthurst  Symons & Co of Bridgwater, the lime & cement by Messrs Barham Bros of Bridgwater, and Messrs Board & Co Dunball, the timber for the wharves etc by Bland & Co, Highbridge,’.



Where did the material from the cuttings through the Polden Hills go?

We know from the Mercury Report of 5th Sept 1888, that laborers were using a ‘dobbin cart’ to load up with dirt removed in the cutting. Not one picture taken during the construction of the line has ever been published so we have to improvise by looking at pictures of carts being used during the construction of other lines. Some of those carts pictured were on rails allowing for easy transportation of the dirt to other areas. Was the same system used on the Bridgwater Railway. Did the phrase ‘dobbin cart’ refer to the use of a horse to pull the cart?


                     Unknown watercolour c1841 shows a broad gauge mainline cutting under construction.

                                                  Note the horse drawn wagons (dobbins?)

From the previous chapter we know that lias stone was removed from the cuttings and used for bridges and walls. This must have been a particularly difficult task removing the stone layers with minimal damage so they could be cut into building blocks sizes.


Where did all the workers live during the building of the line?

Many of the workers are thought to have been local men. In a Bridgwater Mercury report of 31st July 1889, the contractors reported ‘ Satisfactory progress was being made with three fourths of the work completed but difficulty was experienced during the haymaking season in retaining the services of as many men as the contractors were desirous of keeping employed’.


It is now known that over 500 men worked on the line. Mr Cutbill of the Contractors Cutbill Son & De Lungo, in his address at the opening ceremony on Thursday 17 July 1890, in paying a compliment to Mr Buxton said ‘One fact he thought reflected great credit on Mr Buxton and on their town and district, that whilst they had had as many as 500 men at a time working on the line, he had not heard one single complaint from the townspeople or the police as to their behaviour’.


Did the rails come from the South Wales iron works, and if so how were they transported here?

The book ‘Maritime Activities of the Somerset & Dorset Railway’ discusses the transportation of rails from South Wales to Highbridge wharf in some detail mentioning how difficult the long rails were to deal with at 45ft in length(as standardized by the LSWR in 1880). Wrought iron rails of 15 to 20ft length had been superseded by the longer 45ft rolled steel rails, with the major producer being Dowlais of Merthyr Tydfil. Shipment came from Cardiff, Penarth or Newport to Highbridge wharf where the rails were offloaded from boat holds onto ‘bogie bolster wagons’ using steam cranes. Pages 70, 71 & 91, in that book, show photos of a typical situation loading rails onto such wagons.


Probable ships transporting rails around the time of the construction of the railway were the Julia, the Leopard, and the Alpha. The Alpha, for example, was lengthened several times to accommodate the ever lengthening rails being produced.


The Julia was an 80ft long by 68 ton wooden single deck ketch built in 1863. Bought by the SDJR in 1863 it mainly sailed between Newport and Highbridge.


The Leopard was a 91ft by 67 ton iron screw steam coaster built in 1861. Bought in 1874 by RA Read it mostly transported coal to Highbridge.


The Alpha was a 74ft by 93 ton (as modified in 1884/5) iron screw steam coaster built in 1877. The SDJR bought the vessel in 1879. After alterations she resumed work in summer 1887 but in July 1888 it was sold to a Spanish Company. Interestingly S&DJR committee meeting minutes of Oct 27th 1892 refer to an accident on 13th Oct 1892 when an employee loading rails into the hold of the SS Alpha had a toe crushed. He was loading rails into the boat so was the S&DJR selling off surplus rails?


Apparently the longer 45ft rails weighed 95lbs per yard so by calculation each rail weighed 1425lbs or .7 of a ton (2000 lbs to a ton)


So what would the onward logistics of the movement of the rails be? It would appear most likely that once loaded onto bolster wagons they would have left Highbridge wharf then gone onto the Glastonbury line to Edington Junction and then directed to the appropriate points along the Bridgwater Railway that was under construction. A steam crane might have had to be used to offload them again at their destination or perhaps manpower alone was sufficient bearing in mind that bolster wagons were quite low to the ground.


 One would assume then that the laying of rails commenced at Edington and worked gradually west to completion at Bridgwater North station. This is supported by the fact that Bawdrip bridge and the Bawdrip/Cossington cutting were being worked in Aug1888, and the river crossing bridge wasn’t completed until Feb/March 1889. Also the bridge numbering and the mileposts along the line increased in number moving away from Edington towards Bridgwater. The 4 mile post was just east of Bawdrip Halt, and the 5 mile post was just before reaching the bridge under the A39 near Bradney. Bawdrip bridge was No 306 and the bridge over the river was No 307, then the one under the A39 was No 308.


There is however the possibility that some of these boats may have come up the river Parrett and discharged their load of rails at the S&DJR 400ft long wharf that was just north of Barhams brick yard, and almost opposite the entrance to the docks. This was connected by a large 180 degree loop to a siding that came off the line near the S&DJR station. If this were the case laying of rails therefore could also have progressed east from the station at Bridgwater.







Inspection of the line. Monday 7th July 1890.

The Bridgwater Mercury recorded the following in its Wed 9th July edition….

The inspection took place on Monday afternoon(7th July) when Colonel Rich RE, one of the inspecting officers of the Board of Trade, was accompanied on his official visit of inspection by Mr Robert A Read and Mr Alfred Peace two of the directors of the new railway, Mr ER Read, secretary of the Bridgwater Railway Company, Mr Wells Owen and Mr Elwes the engineers, Mr Cutbill and Mr Buxton, (of the firm Cutbill Son & De Lungo), the contractors, Mr RA Dykes, traffic superintendent, Mr Colson, engineer, and Mr Whittaker, locomotive superintendent respectively of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, Mr Cockburn, superintendent of the signalling and telegraph department of the London and South Western Railway Company, Mr O’Donnell, representing Messrs Dutton & Co Ltd, contractors for the signalling,and Mr Walters, telegraph department.


……. Luncheon was first partaken of in the new Goods Shed at Edington, having been provided by the contractors, and supplied by Mr Tripp, of the Royal Clarence Hotel, Bridgwater.

The party started from Edington Junction about half past two o’clock, the train consisting of two of the heaviest engines of the Somerset & Dorset railway, weighing 110 tons, a saloon carriage, and a break van…………

….shortly after five o’clock he (Col Rich) expressed his satisfaction therewith, and intimated that he should report favourably to the Board of Trade……..




Opening Ceremony : Thursday 17th  July 1890


A Bridgwater Mercury report on Wed 23rd July 1890, entitled ‘Opening of the Bridgwater Railway’, contained extensive information about the background of the line, the line itself, and of course the opening ceremony. Here is some of the transposed text:


The opening ceremony was held on Thursday 17th July 1890. The day was ushered in with a very cloudy sky and shortly after nine o clock rain began to fall heavily and continued to do so without intermission throughout the whole day.

In response to the Mayor’s invitation a large number of townspeople assembled at the Town hall at one o clock to accompany himself and the members of the Corporation to the new railway station to welcome the directors and railway officials on their arrival, but owing to the continuous and heavy downpour of rain the order of procession that had been arranged could not be observed. The town crier and mace bearers preceded the front carriages which contained the Mayor and members of the Corporation……

Notwithstanding the pelting rain a large number of persons had assembled in the vicinity of the new railway station (….) to witness the arrival of the first train ……


Presentation of Addresses to the Directors (at the Station).

The train conveying the railway Directors and Officials (several of whom had come direct from Waterloo) reached Bridgwater precisely when it was timed to do so. ……….

A space in the centre of the platform having been cleared for the purpose of making the presentation of addresses of welcome that had that morning been unanimously adopted by the Corporation.

The Mayor welcomed the directors and other gentlemen who had come by train. (The Mayor was Alderman F C Foster).

The town clerk read two addresses.

Mr Henry Hales Playdell Bouverie, Chairman of the Bridgwater Railway Company, accepted the address presented to the directors of that body.

Col the Hon H W Campbell, one of the directors of the London and South Western Railway Company, received the address presented to the Board.


                                                    View of the Station platform where the opening ceremony took place.

                                                    Photo by John J Smith, © The Bluebell Railway Museum. 4th August 1952



Luncheon at the Town Hall.

Immediately after the presentation of addresses, the numerous carriages in waiting were requisitioned for the conveyance of the visitors and others to the Town Hall again headed by the mace bearers, and on this occasion, also by the band of the BA Christys whose members have experienced great discomfort from the continued downpour of rain.

The luncheon, provided solely at the expense of the mayor (who presided, and whose invitations numbered about 250) was served up very creditably by Mr C Taylor, confectioner, of High Street. Also on Thursday afternoon about 200 of the navies were given a dinner by the contractors in a tent at the rear of the ‘Cross Rifles’.



                                                          Bridgwater Town Hall to the north (left) side of the High Street, c1911.

                                                                            An old postcard view, authors collection.


Later in the day after all the speeches and dinners at the town hall were completed, at around 5pm, the Mayor and many of his guests were conveyed to the new station to travel on a special train organized by Mr Peace, one of the Directors of the railway. This travelled to Glastonbury and after a short stop made the return journey stopping also at Cossington station on the way back to Bridgwater.



The Line opens for Business: Monday 21st July 1890


The line was opened for regular traffic on Monday morning 21st July 1890, when about 150 persons took tickets for the Edington Junction and back and there was a regular rush to obtain the first tickets. Most of the passengers returned to Bridgwater by the 08-45 train.



The book ‘The Bridgwater Railway’ by JD Harrison, incorrectly implies on page 27 that the opening day and ceremonies were on 21st July 1890. In fact as you can see from the transcripts of the Mercury report above, the opening ceremony was on Thursday 17th July, a day of atrocious weather, and then the line was opened for ‘regular traffic’ on Monday 21st July! 

Another book, ‘The Branch Lines of Somerset’ by Colin G Maggs makes the same mistake.

A minor point perhaps, but one worth mentioning in order to clarify the facts.




Operation of the line.


From the opening of the line in July 1890 until the building of the halt in 1923 Bawdrip was not a recognized stop on the line.

Early timetables from that period show that Cossington was the only stop on the line between Bridgwater and Edington.

After the halt was constructed in 1923 Bawdrip then featured on the timetable.


Single line Control systems.

To avoid any chance of two trains being on the line at the same time, some sort of control system had to be implemented and approved by Col Rich during his inspection.


Which operating system was used?

At the moment it is not clear which of the systems described in the following text was used and during which periods in time. Further investigation required on this.


1:  From

Electric Train Tablet working was used on the S&DJR Bridgwater Line, specifically Tyer's No 3 ETT, configuration ‘A’. The first S&DJR installation to use the newer Tyer's No 3 pattern of ETT instrument was the branch from Edington Junction to Bridgwater. This line was being worked from the outset as a single block section EDINGTON JUNCTION - BRIDGWATER.


2:  From a Bridgwater Mercury report on Wed 9th July 1890….

… it may be interesting to mention that the line, as a single one, will be worked by Dyerman’s patent electric tablets, which are a great improvement upon the staff system hitherto generally used on single lines. The specialty of this system is that by a beautiful and ingenious mechanism no fresh tablet permitting an engine to travel along the line can be issued until the previous tablet has been delivered at the other end, and the signalman there has electrically unlocked the instrument at the starting end.


3: According to the book ‘The Bridgwater Railway’ by JD Harrison, on page 42, , there is a picture of the new Edington Junction signal box, taken by William Buck of Dutton & Co, ‘the picture from his unpublished memoirs’. It is said to show the Tyers No6 tablet instrument.


4: On page 69, of the same book, it says that in the early years of the 20th century Alfred Whittakers single line tablet system was experimented with, in this case a round tablet with a hole in it. The tablet would be issued to a train crew at the start of a journey and be given up at Edington or Bridgwater to enable another train to travel over the section. Despite being tried out on the Bridgwater Branch, Whittakers apparatus was only used in service on the Bath-Bournemouth section.


5. On page 27, of the same book, it is stated that 3 days prior to Col Richs’ inspection of the line on Monday 7th July 1890, Henry Bouverie and EB Read, chairman and secretary respectively, signed an undertaking that the railway would be operated by Tyers Electric Staff Tablet System.

This is further confirmed by the Joint Committee minutes of July 30th 1890, minute No 3872, that on 8th July 1890 ‘The Bridgwater Railway hereby undertake that their line shall be entirely worked by Tyers’ Electric Train Staff Tablet System, and no tickets made use of…….. 


Single line Control systems 2

Recently(19/09/16) Chris Osment of the West Country Railway Archives (  [email protected] ) offered some help explaining the conundrum posed above, Which operating system was used? 


He explained as follows:

The entire single line from Edington Junction to Bridgwater was operated as a single 'block section', in which only one train was allowed at any one time. This section was controlled by the Electric Train Tablet (ETT) system, which had been patented in 1878 by Edward Tyer (a British manufacturer of signalling instruments). 

Tyer patented a number of different patterns of ETT instrument over a period of years, and at least three different types were used by the S&DJR. Tyer's No 3 pattern was installed on the Bridgwater line when it opened, and this was the first use of the No 3 type by the S&DJR. Although the S&DJR subsequently replaced most of their No 3 instruments by the later No 6 type, the Bridgwater branch retained No 3 instruments until closure and it was the last No 3 section on the S&DJR.  More information about S&DJR single-line control systems can be found at .

At each end of the section there was an ETT instrument (kept in the signal-box), which contained a number of 'tablets'. These were discs (usually metal, but sometimes compressed fibre) and inscribed with the names of the places between which they applied (ie Edington Junction – Bridgwater). No train was allowed to enter the single-line section unless the driver was in possession of the correct tablet. The pair of instruments for the section were connected together by electric wires (usually carried on telegraph poles alongside the track) and interlocked so that, once a tablet had been removed from one instrument, no more tablets could be removed from either instrument until the first tablet had been inserted into the instrument at the other end of the section. The tablets on the Bridgwater branch were configuration 'A' (with a round hole in the centre and a semi-circular notch in the edge), but sadly none of those tablets are known to have survived.


Although the use of Tyer's No 3 instruments is confirmed by surviving records, it should be noted that some sources do give conflicting information:-


1. The Bridgwater Mercury reported on Wed 9th July 1890 that “….it may be interesting to mention that the line, as a single one, will be worked by Dyerman’s patent electric tablets, which are a great improvement upon the staff system hitherto generally used on single lines.....”. No such system is known and it is suspected that 'Dyer' is simply a

journalist's corruption of 'Tyer'.


2. On page 42 of the book ‘The Bridgwater Railway’ by JD Harrison there is a picture of the inside of the new Edington Junction signal box, taken by William Buck of Dutton & Co, ‘the picture from his unpublished memoirs’. The caption refers to 'Tyers No 6 tablet instrument', but that is impossible as the No 6 design was not introduced until 1892, two years after the photograph was taken. As the No 3 and No 6 types were externally identical, this would appear to be a simple case of mis-identification by the author.


3. Joint Committee minute No 3872 of July 30th 1890 records that on 8th July 1890 Henry Bouverie and EB Read, chairman and secretary respectively, signed an undertaking sent to the Board of Trade that ‘The Bridgwater Railway hereby undertake that their line shall be entirely worked by Tyers’ Electric Train Staff Tablet System, and no tickets made use of……'.  Tyer did not produce any system known as 'Electric Train Staff Tablet', and indeed the Electric Train Staff and the Electric Train Tablet were two completely different systems, so it is considered that the wording of the undertaking probably reflects a misunderstanding in the drafting of the letter.


In 1905 Alfred Whitaker, the S&DJR locomotive superintendent, patented a system for the automatic transfer of tablets between the train engine and a lineside apparatus. A trial of this system took place on the Bridgwater branch, presumably because of its proximity to the S&DJR locomotive works at Highbridge. The Whitaker apparatus was removed from the branch after the successful completion of the trial and it was only used in service on the S&DJR 'main line' between Bath Junction and Broadstone.


The drawing and information below of the Tyers No3 also courtesy of Chris Osment.








Edington Junction 0                      7 ¼

Cossington             3                      4 ¼

Bawdrip Halt          4 ¼                 3

Bridgwater              7 ¼                 0





Burnham to Edington Junction  6 ¾ , Edington Junction  to Glastonbury 6 3/4 ,  Glastonbury to Wells 5 ½

Edington Junction to Evercreech Junction (North) 17 ¼,

Evercreech Junction to Bath 26 ¼  

Evercreech Junction to Bournemouth 45


Journey times.

Bawdrip Halt to Bridgwater took 6-8 minutes, a distance of 3 miles.

Bawdrip Halt to Cossington Station was a 4 to 5 min trip. The distance was only 1mile 2 furlongs but the journey time depended on which way you were travelling because the line ran uphill at 1 in 72 towards Cossington.

Bawdrip Halt to Edington Junction took around 11-13 minutes for a distance of 4 miles 2 furlongs, with a stop at Cossington. This included the incline of 1 in 72 up to Cossington on the top of the Poldens, then the decline of 1 in 72 down to Edington Junction.


In 1892 there were 9 ‘up’ and 9 ‘down’ trains each day. This was reduced to 7 ‘up’ and 8 ‘down’ by 1903. In 1892 the first train left Bridgwater at 7-10am, and the last train, consisting of goods and empty carriages, left Bridgwater at 9-40pm. By 1903 the first train left Bridgwater at 6-50am and the last train left Edington at 10-02pm.




Sunday School Outings.

There are a few stories around about Sunday School trips involving travelling to Burnham on Sea via the railway, a distance of 14 miles from Bridgwater via the S&DJR ( 11 miles from Bawdrip).

For Bawdrip or Cossington outings the trip would be quite straight forward, take a train to Edington Junction, then wait for the next train coming from Glastonbury to complete the journey to Burnham. Bawdrip Halt to Edington Junction took around 11-13 minutes.


For the many Sunday Schools in Bridgwater you would have thought that they would have travelled by the GWR railway to Highbridge, and then caught a Glastonbury train to Burnham on the S&DJR railway. Reading several accounts on Facebook (May 2015) it appears that this was not necessarily the case. There is an account of one man who travelled on the Bridgwater railway to Edington, then waited hours for an ongoing train to take them to Burnham. Apparently at some of the Sunday Schools and chapels in Bridgwater they had an attendance stipulation; attend ten times to qualify for an outing to the seaside. Some children attended at several places to get more than one trip a year! Monmouth Street Methodists, the King Street Methodists, The Baptists, the Mariners' Chapel, and Fore Street Congregational Church apparently all operated such systems.

  However, there appears that the alternative was a ‘special’ train hired to take passengers to Burnham without changing at Edington. In the book the Bridgwater Railway by JD Harrison, in Chapter 12 Will Locke describes a Sunday School outing to Burnham in 1923. They awaited an 8 coach train at Bridgwater for 150 children & parents. I'm guessing then for a 'special' such as that, when it arrived at Edington it was possible to run out onto the Glastonbury line and head down to Burnham?


Other outings and journeys.

A journey to Bath from Bridgwater would be a total distance of 7 ¼ + 17 ¼ + 26 ¼ = 50 ¾ miles. (Deduct 3 miles for the trip from Bawdrip)

A journey to Bournemouth from Bridgwater would be a total distance of 7 ¼ + 17 ¼ + 45 = 69 ½ miles. (Deduct 3 miles for the trip from Bawdrip)


There are pictures on page 83, in the book the Bridgwater Railway by JD Harrison, of an 11 coach train at Bridgwater North Station waiting to carry members of the Bridgwater Allotments Association to Blackpool. They probably went through Edington, Glastonbury, then Evercreech to Bath (50 ¾ miles), in order to make the rest of the journey on the Midland line that ran north to Birmingham from there.






The line closed for passengers in December 1952.

Freight continued to run along the line until October 1954.

Dismantling of the line began in Oct 1955.

This was a period of time where various trains and freight carriages might have been seen on the line, having been involved in taking up the rails and wooden sleepers.

The Planet demolition train was seen on the line just west of Edington Burtle on 29th Aug 1956 (The Branch Lines of Somerset’ by Colin G Maggs shows a photo)

The same vehicle was photographed at Bawdrip, crossing the bridge, probably around the same time.

The author of this web page has a distant memory of seeing something similar on the line, as a child while travelling along East Side Lane around that time.

As the fifties passed the line gradually became overgrown, but not in all area.

During the sixties it was still possible to walk most of the way from the Halt to the A39 road bridge near Cossington.

The short stretch from the gated crossing near the halt, to the bridge in the village, became a very overgrown area.






Minutes of the S&DJR

The S&DRT (Railway Trust) Museum at Washford holds a comprehensive set of minutes of various committee meetings.



The earliest minutes seen by this author were from the Somerset and Dorset Railway Company No2 minute book of the Board of Directors meetings. These minutes were from

June 6th 1866, and were hand written, signed off by George Warry the chairman.  Other board members were Sir Edward Baker Baker, Mr George Reed, Mr HD Seymour MP, Mr Joseph Rigby, and Mr  James Clark. Mr W Toogood attended the Board. This meeting was held at 16 Parliament Street, London.



Meetings of the Joint Committee, ‘The Midland and London and South Western Railway Companies’ Somerset and Dorset Railway, were recorded from the Sept 30th 1875  at an unspecified location. The next meeting on Nov 17th 1875 was held at St Pancras Station. Meetings were held monthly and were neatly typed up. These were meetings of the Joint Committee, although the Joint Line was not officially authorized until 13th July 1876

Sept 30th 1875 . Minute No 1 recorded the fact that ‘An inspection of the entire length of the Somerset and Dorset Railway was made.’

Sept 30th 1875 . Minute No27 recorded that the ‘Company’ had 25 engines, 19 tenders, 12 First Class carriages, 16 second class, 15 third class, 19 composites, 30 brake vans, 12 horse boxes, 10 carriage trucks, 40 covered goods wagons, 495 coal wagons, 65 cattle trucks, 60 timber trucks, 100 rail trucks and 1 travelling crane.


At the meeting of Aug 4th 1876 the minutes were for the first time recorded as those of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Line, meeting on that occasion at St Pancras Station.

Aug 4th 1876 . Minute 247  Reported that the Royal Assent was given to ‘The Somerset and Dorset Railway Leasing Act’ on 13th July 1876.



By July 1890 meetings of The South Western and Midland Railway Companies’ Somerset and Dorset Joint Line Committee’, were mostly being held at 28 Great George Street, Westminster, or at St Pancras Station, every quarter. There were generally at least two members from each of the London & South Western Company and the Midland Company, and usually 4 ‘officers’ from the Joint line. The LSW and Midland members provided the chairman at alternate meetings.

For example, at the April 23rd 1890 meeting the LSW representatives were Mr Scotter(In the chair), and Mr Hartnell. The Midland reps were Mr Noble and Mr Johnson. The Joint Line officers were Mr Dykes, Mr Whitaker, Mr Colson, and Mr Leaker.


It is interesting to note that the title is the ‘Joint Line’ and not the ‘Joint Railway’. Perhaps we nearly got the S&DJL instead of the S&DJR.


July 30th 1890 Minute 3872. Bridgwater Railway. It was reported that the Bridgwater Railway, which the Committee have agreed to work for a period of three years, on the same terms as the line was to be worked by the London & South Western Company, was opened for traffic on the 21st instant…... Also that on 8th July 1890 ‘The Bridgwater Railway hereby undertake that their line shall be entirely worked by Tyers’ Electric Train Staff Tablet System, and no tickets made use of…….. 

July 30th 1890 Minute 3881. Accidents. On 15th May the rear wheels of a milk van were derailed by the crossing gates blowing against it at Edington Junction.


Oct 22nd  1890 . Minute 3907. Proposed extension of siding at Bridgwater.

The question of extending one of the sidings in the Bridgwater yard was discussed, and the engineer was requested to prepare a plan and estimate of the cost for consideration at the next meeting.


Jan23rd 1891. Minute 3926. Bridgwater Railway Works. The Engineer reported that the whole of the necessary works which were not carried out when the Committee took over the Bridgwater line have been completed, with the exception of the following, viz :- (a) A road at the goods station, Bridgwater, between the shed and the road leading to Church Street. Estimated cost £65. (b) A goods office at the Bridgwater goods station. Estimated cost £80. (c) A stable at the Bridgwater goods station. Estimated cost £26. (d) New scullery, &c, for stationmaster’s house, Bridgwater. Estimated cost £50. (e) Coal shed for stationmaster’s house, Cossington. (f) Additional bedroom accommodation for four gatemen’s cottages  at level crossings on the line. Estimated cost £166. ………..

Jan 23rd 1891. Minute 3927. Maintenance of telegraphs, Bridgwater Railway. Read letter from the secretary of the Bridgwater Railway Company. ……..

Jan 23rd 1891. Minute 3937. Town office at Bridgwater. It was reported that a parcel and goods receiving office has been taken at Bridgwater at a rent of £14 per annum. Approved.

Jan 23rd 1891. Minute 3938. Collection and delivery of traffic at Bridgwater. ………


April 29th 1891. Minute 3962. Bridgwater Railway. Mr Andrews reported that the engineer for the Bridgwater Railway Company has offered to sell to the Committee the working plans and sections of the railway, and tracings of the bridges, stations, and structures, and recommended that they be purchased. Agreed that it be left to Mr Andrews  to buy them on such terms as he considered reasonable, not exceeding £25.


July 1st  1891. Minute 3988. Bridgwater Railway Works. Referring to minute 3926……….

Oct 27th 1891. Minute 4006(d). Notes of Directors tour of Inspection July 8th re Minute 3926

Oct 27th 1891. Minute 4014. Purchase of materials from Messrs Cutbill Son & De Lungo.


Jan 26th 1892. Minute 4035. Bridgwater Railway rating.

Jan 26th 1892. Minute 4047. Mr Warry’s application.

Apr 28th 1892. Minute 4071. Edington Junction. Proposed cattle pens.

Apr 28th 1892. Minute 4088. Accidents. James Hooper at Bridgwater on 15th Feb.

Jul 26th 1892. Minute 4109. Bridgwater. Proposed extension of loading dock.

Jul 26th 1892. Minute 4114. Town office. Bridgwater.

Jul 26th 1892. Minute 4122. Accidents. Porter Squires Bridgwater on 1st June.


Jul 18th 1893. Minute 4226. Notes of Directors Tour of Inspection. (e) tarpaving of the Island Platform at Edington Junction.

Jul 18th 1893. Minute 4227. Mr Peace’s advertising boards.

Jul 18th 1893. Minute 4228. Smith & Sons advertising boards at station on the Bridgwater Railway.

Jul 18th 1893. Minute 4229. Re positioning of truck weighing machine.

Oct 26th 1893. Minute 4247. Mr Peace’s advertising boards removed.

Oct 26th 1893. Minute 4249. Mr Peace’s agency discussed.

Oct 26th 1893. Minute 4254. Sidings for Messrs Board & Co at Cossington and Bridgwater.


Jan26th 1894. Minute 4269. Mr Peace’s carting agency, Bridgwater.

Jan26th 1894. Minute 4271. Sidings for Messrs Board & Co at Cossington and Bridgwater.

Jan26th 1894. Minute 4277. Water supply to Cossington station.

April 24th 1894. Minute 4296. Mr Peace’s carting agency, Bridgwater.

April 24th 1894. Minute 4298. Sidings for Messrs Board & Co at Cossington and Bridgwater.

July 24th 1894. Minute 4228. Bridgwater. Lease of land to Mr Stark.

Oct 30th 1894 Minute 4361. Subscription to Bridgwater Infirmary Funds.

Oct 30th 1894 Minute 4371. Tenancies on Bridgwater Railway.


Apr 23rd 1895. Minute 4429. Suggested construction of ship canal, Bridgwater.

Apr 23rd 1895. Minute 4431. Repairs to fence, Bridgwater. (Between Great Western Company and the Joint Committee)

Jul 30th 1895. Minute 4447. Directors tour of Inspection: Edington Junction Station, provision of water closet accommodation for ladies, and a small urinal on the down platform.

Jul 30th 1895. Minute 4454. Edington Junction. Urinal and ladies waiting room.

Oct 22nd 1895. Minute 4486. Cossington. Siding for cattle traffic.


April 28th 1896. Minute 4545. Delivery of new Engines. No’s 62-66 delivered to Joint Committee at Bath, during Feb & March.

Oct 30th 1896. Minute 4607. Salary of Station Master, Bridgwater. (Was paid £150/ year, application by station master Hawkins rejected.)


April 22nd 1897. Minute 4682. Queens Diamond Jubilee celebration.

July 20th 1897. Minute 4706. Appropriation of expenditure on Bridgwater Railway.

Oct 22nd 1897. Minute 4730. Cossington. Siding for Messrs Board & Company


Jan 25th 1898. Minute 4757. Cossington. Siding for Messrs Board & Company. (The scheme was approved)

Jan 25th 1898. Minute 4774. Working Bridgwater Railway. (Arrangement expires on June 30th next)

Apr 20th 1898. Minute 4801. Working Bridgwater Railway.

Apr 20th 1898. Minute 4803. Cartage arrangements at Bridgwater.

July 26th 1898. Minute 4829. Working Bridgwater Railway.

July 26th 1898. Minute 4837. Bridgwater. Extension of engine shed and additional siding.

Oct 18th 1898. Minute 4857. Extension of engine shed and additional siding. . Bridgwater. (Agreed to recommend)


Apr 24th 1899 Minute 4928. Suggested Light Railway between Bridgwater, Othery, Street etc

Apr 24th 1899 Minute 4935. Bridgwater. Provision of additional crane and sidings.

July 24th 1899 Minute 4952. Suggested Light Railway between Bridgwater, Othery, Street etc. The Committee and GW company see no reason to encourage this line.

July 24th 1899 Minute 4978. Telephone communication at Bridgwater. Bridgwater placed on the National Telephone exchange,

Oct 31st 1899 Minute 4993. Suggested Light Railway between Bridgwater, Othery, Street etc.  The Light Railway Commissioners have rejected the scheme.

Oct 31st 1899 Minute 5002. Suggested Railway, Bridgwater to Watchet and Exeter.



Jan 29th 1923:

South Western and Midland Railway Companies, Somerset and Dorset Joint Line,  ‘Minutes of meeting of Officers’ Conference’  at St Pancras on Jan 29th 1923

Representatives attended from the Southern Railway Company(2), London Midland and Scottish Railway Company(2), and Joint Line Officers(4)

Jan 29th 1923. Minute 7468. It was agreed to recommend that the Committee subscribe £5 5s 0d to the funds of the Bridgwater Hospital for the current year.


April 24th 1923:

Now referred to as the Southern London Midland and Scottish Railway Companies, Somerset and Dorset Joint Line. ‘Minutes of meeting of Officers’ Conference’ at St Pancras. Representatives attended from the Southern Company (3), London Midland and Scottish Co(2), Joint Officers(4)

April 24th 1923. Minute 7501. Provision of Halt at Bawdrip. Submitted - A petition from the residents of Bawdrip, asking that a halt may be provided between Bridgwater and Cossington for the convenience mainly of residents visiting Bridgwater…………..



The railways could be a dangerous place to work and be around. There were numerous accidents with some fatalities, and these were always recorded in Joint Committee Meeting Minutes. Many incidents occurred each year across the S&DJR railway network.

On the Bridgwater Branch Line the following occurred:


July 30th 1890 Minute 3881. Accidents. On 15th May the rear wheels of a milk van were derailed by the crossing gates blowing against it at Edington Junction. (This was probably on the Glastonbury/Highbridge line going through Edington Junction but I thought it was worth a mention)


Apr 28th 1892. Minute 4088. Accidents. That on 15th Feb, during shunting operations at Bridgwater , platelayer James Hooper fell from a wagon on which he was standing and severely sprained his back.


Jul 26th 1892. Minute 4122. Accidents. On the 1st June Porter Squires, Bridgwater, when assisting in the release of a beast, which had got fast in attempting to jump the fence of the cattle pen, had his hand severely crushed between the bars.


Jan 29th 1895. Minute 4405. Accidents. On the 15th Jan two men named William Giblett and George Norris sustained slight injuries by being struck by an engine when trespassing on the line near Edington Junction.


Oct 22nd 1895. Minute 4499. Accidents. On the 27th Sept, as horse driver Warren, of Bridgwater, was endeavoring to prevent a barrel, which was rolling from his dray, falling to the ground,  he overbalanced and fell on to his left shoulder fracturing one of the bones.


July 29th 1896. Minute 4585. Accidents. It was reported that the crossing gates at Horsey lane level crossing were run through by a passenger train on 9th May, the gatekeeper having failed to properly close them across the roadway.

July 29th 1896. Minute 4585. Accidents. That on the 5th June a carter named Whatton sustained injuries during a shunting operation on Bridgwater Wharf and died on 13th June.


July 20th 1897. Minute 4716. Accidents. That during shunting operation at Cossington on the 28th May, lad- porter Pitman had his foot severely bruised by getting it under the wheel of a wagon which he was uncoupling.


18th Oct 1898. Minute 4870. Cossington. Horse killed on line. On the 31st August two mares and two colts broke down the Committee’s fence at the level crossing at Cossington, and strayed onto the line, the animals being shortly afterwards struck by a passenger train and killed.

18th Oct 1898. Minute 4874. Accidents. On the 16th Sept when drayman Rawlings was approaching the GW railway level crossing at Bridgwater, his horse was startled by an engine whistle and ran onto the crossing before it could be controlled. The dray and horse were dragged some distance by wagons being shunted.




Joint Committee Meeting Minutes recorded many incidents each year across the S&DJR railway network where people were prosecuted for various offences. They make very interesting reading, especially the punishments meted out.

On the Bridgwater Branch Line the following occurred:


April 27th 1893. Minute 4209. Robberies on Joint Line. The houses of a number of employees were searched under warrant, and considerable quantities of stolen goods were discovered. Six months hard labour for a driver and fireman, and twelve months hard labour for three drivers and a fireman, were the penalties imposed. (Although not clear, this was probably on the line as a whole, not just the Bridgwater branch)


Jan 23rd 1894. Minute 4284. Prosecutions. Frederick Jones was fined 10s with 18s 10d costs for travelling without a ticket from Bridgwater to Edington Junction on Oct 26th 1893.

Jan 23rd 1894. Minute 4284. Prosecutions. James Richards was fined 7s 6d for damaging land at Bridgwater owned by the Joint Committee on Dec 11th.


Oct 30th 1894. Minute 4376. Prosecutions. On Oct 25th two youths named Henry Phillips and Thomas Purcey were each sentenced by the Bridgwater bench to receive six strokes of a birch rod for having been guilty of placing stones on the metals at Bridgwater.


Jan 28th 1896. Minute 4531. Prosecutions. On 6th Jan Bridgwater Magistrates inflicted two fines of 5s each with costs on James Richards for trespassing and turning a horse to graze on the Committee’s land.


July 29th 1896. Minute 4584. Prosecutions. On the 11th May James Richards was convicted at the Bridgwater Borough Police Court of trespassing with his horse. Fined 15s and 12s costs or 14days with hard labour.

July 29th 1896. Minute 4584. Prosecutions. At the Wells Assizes on 8th June, passenger guard C Rowsell, of Bridgwater was sentenced to 12months hard labour for stealing various articles of the value of £18 6s 6d from passengers’ luggage.


27th Jan 1897. Minute 4647. Prosecutions. On 9th Nov Earnest Alves was convicted and fined 10s for trying to travel from Bridgwater to Glastonbury with a Great Western ticket.


22nd April 1897. Minute 4684. Prosecutions. That on Feb 27th James Richards was fined 20s and costs at the Bridgwater police court for trespassing on the line at that place on Feb 22nd last. 


25th Jan 1898. Minute 4818. Prosecutions. That J Richards of Bridgwater, was convicted at Bridgwater Borough Police Court on April 12th, for trespassing. Fined £1 and 12s 6d costs.


18th Oct 1898. Minute 4875. Prosecutions. That on the 12th Sept J Richards, Bridgwater, was convicted of trespassing with his horse. Fined £1 17s including costs.


26th Jan 1899. Minute 4905. Prosecutions. On the 31st Oct James Richards of Bridgwater was fined £2 12s 0d, including costs or 10 days imprisonment for trespassing on the Joint Line at Bridgwater on 25th Sept.


It would appear that during this period James Richards was a serial trespasser on the line with regular convictions and fines. One wonders why he persisted and why didn’t the magistrates confine him to prison for being a persistent infringer of the law?



The Minutes of the Bridgwater Railway Company are held at the PRO, Kew. These will require a visit to look at them in the not too distant future.




Personal recollections of the railway.


Percy Parsons

Percy’s daughter Carol Parsons saw my article in the Bridgwater Mercury in July 2015 and sent me an email (19/07/15) with contact details for her father Percy Parsons.

I subsequently visited Percy on 24/07/15 and discovered the following:

Percy, who is 93 (Sept 2015), worked for the railways for over 50 years, starting out as a junior porter at Edington Junction on 24th May 1937 until 1941. After war service he returned there as a grade 02 porter from Jan 1947 to May 1949. His next posting was at Cossington Station as Leading Porter until Dec 1952 when the line closed for passenger traffic. Further periods of service saw him at Glastonbury Station, Highbridge Station then finally Bridgwater Station until retirement in Sept 1987. After retirement Percy had a book published called ‘Lines on an S&D Branch’, all about his working life on the railway.

Percy has kindly given permission for extracts from his book and various photos to be shown on this webpage. He also continues to act as advisor on various aspects regarding the railway.





                                                 A train heading to Edington pulled by engine 58072, shows Leading Porter Percy Parsons.

                                                            Photo © HC Casserley, part of a series he took on 5th Sept 1952.


The following are snippets of information from his book:

Page 8:

Another crew whom I often encountered on the afternoon Bridgwater passenger trains were driver Sam Allen, fireman Joe Prentice with their regular guard Jack Brooks.

Inevitably I came into contact with a number of Permanent Way staff whilst walking the tracks to fulfill my duties. One of their number Ernie Guy had the distinction of being in charge of an all-female permanent way gang during the war.

Page 20:

The railway employed Signal Linesmen at this time. Tom Bass and Jack Bird were the first I met and they were succeeded by George Linham and Fred Barrett. They would be called out in all weathers to repair and test the telegraph wires.

Page 21:

My mate in the 39 lever signal box was Harry Sweetland.

Page 22:

The length of the 9-35 from Bridgwater often meant that the train had to be split before being reformed especially if there were wagons for Edington itself. The usual procedure was for the porter to go to the Bridgwater home signal to meet the train and cut off the train behind the part for Edington. The locomotive would then take the train to the run round road and, if 9 wagons or less, would leave them there and reverse back to its train. By this time the guard would have walked forward from his van to recouple the locomotive whilst the porter would open the crossing gates.

Page 23:  More to follow………


Other information provided by Percy in answer to questions put to him:


A Picture of Cossington station, from the book ‘Somerset’s Lost Railways’ by Peter Dale, showed a large pile of round wicker baskets. When asked  about these Percy investigated, talked with John Sparkes, author of ‘Gie I Burtle’, and it was thought that they might be cockle baskets made by a basket maker in Bawdrip. Bawdrip History confirms that there was a blind basket maker in Bawdrip by the name of Oliver Stone. In answer to my next question, ‘Why were they not piled up at Bawdrip Halt’, Percy remarked that they would have been sent from Cossington rather than Bawdrip Halt because there was a parcels depot at Cossington Station, nothing at Bawdrip Halt.


Percy has generously given permission for a number of photos to be displayed. These are 3 old photos of a permanent way gang consisting of Gilbert Grant (Ganger in charge), unknown person, Frank Groves, Frank Lee, and Sam Rice. Anyone related to these men? Percy said they had belonged to his wife’s grandmother. It is thought that they were taken in the early 1930’s.

  Markings on two of the three photo mounts indicate that they were taken by a W A Williams, who called himself a Photographic Artist.

Further research, by way of messages/replies on the Ancestry Somerset Board from ‘crusoe123’, reveals him listed as William A Williams on the 1901 census for Weston Super Mare aged 23, oldest son living with his parents John and Anna, and 4 siblings, in Carlton Street, with his occupation listed as ‘photographer’. In the 1911 census he is recorded as William Arthur Williams 32 years old, fishmonger, married to Alice Bristow in 1902, and living with their 3 children at 33 High Street, Glastonbury.



Phyllis Burrow

Was sitting at a Bawdrip History Group meeting when I came across a 52 page biography by Phyllis Burrow (nee Lynham) born 1919, which contains accounts of life in Bawdrip, some on or around the railway.


Page 4 describes Sunday school outings to Burnham on the train from Bawdrip via Edington.

Page 8 contains an account of a trip to Wales on the railways.

Page 16 an account of her mother travelling to Burnham on the train.

Page 19 a general account about the railway at Bawdrip.


Will enlarge on these accounts in due course.



Arthur Parsons.


Carol Paull also saw the Bridgwater Mercury article and eventually got around to writing an email to me recently (23/08/15), telling all about her grandfather Arthur Parsons, who was a ganger on the Bridgwater Railway, walking the line every day to check the condition of the rails in the 30’,40’s,and 50’s. His family lived at Woolavington corner, Bawdrip,  then just before the war, when he was promoted to be ganger in charge of the gang, they moved into the crossing keepers house at the drove in Bridgwater.


I was able to tell her that:

His namesake Percy Parsons wrote a book when he retired, and in it he lists your grandfather, Arthur Parsons, together with Henry Parsons and Wilfred Parsons, as part of the permanent way gang.

Also in the book, ‘The Bridgwater Railway’ by JD Harrison, a chapter by Will Locke, also employed by the railway, remembered ganger Arthur Parsons as well.

I don’t have a photo of Arthur but I do have several photos of one of the permanent way gangs that maintained the line (courtesy of Percy Parsons). This will give you an idea of how your grandfather might have looked in those days. (She subsequently sent me this photo of him)




                Photo of Arthur Parsons,

       by kind permission of Carol Paull.


A subsequent meeting with Carol on 04/09/15 revealed a few more interesting facts.


Her grandfather always took bread and cheese, and probably some cider, to work every day. Big doorstep size pieces of bread from a hand cut loaf as was popular in those days.


When she stayed with her grandmother in the house at the drove it was set below the level of the road and consequently quite a damp place. Also, occasionally, there were problems with rats, and her grandmother would open the kitchen window and shout across the railway line to Reg Carter in the signal box opposite for help.


Margaret Lang.

During a conversation in Jan 2016, Mrs Lang of Westhay remembered travelling on the train with her mother. They would take the train from Shapwick Road Station and get off at Bawdrip Halt where her grandmother Mrs Hector lived just down East side Lane at Hillside Farm. (Now known to us as Combe Cottage). She would stay with her grandmother while her mother cycled into Bridgwater to go shopping.


Bill Webber

In Feb 2016 Bill told me how when he used to live at Stawell as a child, the family would walk to Cossington Station to take the train to Bridgwater.




{1}  When the land for the bungalow next to the bridge was bought from British Rail in 1965, as well as the Conveyance document for that purchase, other documents were copied by solicitors doing their ‘search’ for the buyer in the area where the plot of land was being purchased. As a result there were copies taken of three Conveyance documents for the various original areas of land purchased by the Bridgwater Railway Company, and these in turn gave brief details of previous ownership and transfers on the plots of land concerned. These documents also contained maps referencing the Parliamentary Plan numbers and the corresponding Tithe numbers. The Parliamentary Plan numbers appeared on the submission made by the Bridgwater Railway Company that was approved by Parliament becoming the original Act of 18th August 1882.


{2} There is a reference to this company in the Barings Bank, House Correspondence –Proposals for Commercial Credits and for Other Business. ©The Baring Archive Limited 24.  1874 20 Apr, London: Cutbill Son & de Lungo. Proposal that Barings should take part in a company to be formed for the construction of railways in Natal


{3}To zoom in to any of the pictures in greater detail you can adjust this in Internet Explorer by using the menu at top left:  View> zoom> 400% Rem to reset to 150%.

     Alternatively use the Tools icon at top right.


{4} Highways Agency Historical Railways Estate

The Highways Agency Historical Railways Estate is now responsible for the historical railways estate (formerly known as the Burdensome Estate). This includes legacy bridges, abutments, tunnels, cuttings, viaducts and similar properties associated with closed railway lines, and sales.

Address: Highways Agency Historical Railways Estate,  Hudson House,  Toft Green,  York, YO1 6HP. 

Tel: 0300 123 5000.   Email: [email protected]



Sources consulted.


The Bridgwater Mercury. Newspaper/microfilm

The Bridgwater Railway by JD Harrison. Book

The Somerset & Dorset Railway by Robin Atthill. Book

Somerset Railways by Colin Maggs. Book

The Branch Lines of Somerset by Colin G Maggs  Book

Encyclopedia of Railways. General Editor OS Nock. Book

The Somerset & Dorset Then and Now by Mac Hawkins. Book

Pines Express No 220- Bulletin of the S&D Railway Trust. Magazine

Lost Somerset Railways. Book

Maritime Activities of the Somerset & Dorset Railway. By Chris Handley.  Book

Classic British Steam Locomotives by Peter Herring. Book

The Railway Data File, Blitz editions, Book.

Somerset and Dorset Railway Company Board of Directors meeting minutes.

The Midland and London and South Western Railway Companies’ Somerset and Dorset Railway meeting minutes.

Somerset and Dorset Joint Line Committee meeting minutes.

Looking Back.  Biography by Phillis Burrow.

Lines on an S & D Branch. Percy Parsons, Book


Contact the Author:

David C Bown     Contact:  email address:   [email protected]





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