Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Best Way to West Bay? [2]

Let The Train Take The Strain
click to enlarge this map
The Bridport Railway was a railway branch line that operated in the county of Dorset in England. It connected Bridport with the "main line" network at Maiden Newton, and opened on 12 November 1857. It was extended to West Bay in 1884, but the extension was not well used and it closed to passengers in 1930.

The remaining branch closed in 1975.

Starting at Maiden Newton, it is possible to find evidence of the line if you know where to look. Branch trains left from a north facing bay with a cute overall roof ...
... then turned south east for Bridport and West Bay. There is a railing on the platform at Maiden |Newton to stop excited rail historians from falling into the gulf left by the removal of the bay line.
The first station, named Toller, was actually at Toller Porcorum (Toller of the Pigs) ...
.. with its brother Fratrum ("brothers" in Latin) a short stroll away across the fields. Toller Whelme is further away! But you can still visit Toller Station and travel there by train.
But it is no longer at Toller. It was dismantled, removed and rebuilt on the South Devon Railway at Totnes

Totnes (Littlehempston) station, previously known as Totnes Riverside station and Littlehempston Riverside station, is a railway station situated in Littlehempston in the English county of Devon. It is the southern terminus of the South Devon Railway, a steam operated heritage railway.

Google Earth shows that the resurrected Toller is reached from Totnes Great Western station by footpath and footbridge over the River Dart.
But back to the Bridport line. Powerstock Station is now a private residence and Bridport and East Street have been obliterated by roads and rebuilding schemes. Indeed, if you are driving around the Bridport by-pass A35 (in green) or the rejiggled A3066 (n red) ...
... you are on the line of the branch trackbed.
Amazingly, despite closure in 1930, West Bay Station remains intact.
It doesn't take much imagination to see why the end bit of the Bridport line was unsuccessful, despite plentiful accommodation on the trains!
There is a little mystery concerning the building. Early pictures show a canopy reaching from stone structure to platform edge; seen here looking north.
Later shots show the canopy reduced in width as shown below, now looking south.
Despite excellent information on the "Disused Stations" web site, fbb can find no explanation. The present building has the name narrow canopy supported by brackets labelled "BR", although the line closed eighteen years before BR (British Railways) was invented. BR was also, of course, the "Bridport Railway" which company built the line.

Did the original canopy fall down?

For a while, the station became a restaurant complete with two railway coaches.
The coaches disappeared soon after this venture closed down, but they look a bit 4CEP-like.
The present manifestation of catering in this diminutive terminus building is called the "Station Kitchen" run by a Dorset company trading as "Sausage and Pear". Their adverts say "pricey"
... and the menu for Dinner Starters confirms this.
Perhaps the fbbs (poverty stricken old age pensioners?) are just plain mean? But the food has an excellent reputation. After the disappointment if West Bay's uninspiring architecture and facilities, the old folks decided to take a light (light? You must be joking!) afternoon tea at the station.
fbb had gobbled most of his Eccles cake before remembering to take a photo. But expensive tea bags ...
... and buns served on wooden planks suggested this would not be the cheapest of comestibles. Guess how much? Two cuppas, an Eccles cake for fbb and a massive chunk of lemon curd cake for the Mrs?

Answers later.

But it was a delight to see this little station alive and well and largely unchanged after just over 130 years of existence.
After replenishing the inner man and woman with several million calories and loadsa lethal sugar, the fbbs returned to Seaton with mixed feelings. A pleasant afternoon in a disappointing location; a delightful cafe in the station but ...
... a high price to pay for tea and a bun. At least the wooden planks were tastefully dusted with icing sugar and the milk came in a fake ⅓ pint little bottle ...
... which made it all worth while. Despite being labelled ⅓ pint, the bottlelets held nine 40ths of a pint! (If fbb's maths is better than it has been recently.

 Next Manchester bus blog : Monday 14th March 

1 comment:

  1. Wasn't there an attempt after the Bridport branch closed to start up a narrow gauge tourist 'railway' at the West Bay end of the line?