One of the most popular rail stations in the UK
West Somerset Railway
Route: Bishops Lydeard to Minehead Journey Time: 1 hour 35 mins Service: February – Saturdays, Sundays, 12 – 14 / March – Saturdays, Sundays, 15, 19 – 22, 28, 29 / April – every days except 15, 19, 22, 26, 29 / May – every day except 3, 10, 13, 17 / June, July, August, September, October – every day except October 11, 18, 25 / November 1 – 3, 30 / December – Saturdays, Sundays, 6, 10,11, 23, 24, 27 – 31 / January 1
Tickets: Adults £17.00, Child £8.50, Family £45.00 (2 adults & 4 children) unlimited travel on day of issue
Parking: Bishops Lydeard Station free TA4 3BX, Dunster Station TA24 6TH, Watchet Station TA23 0AU pay and display opposite
Brunel’s broad gauge branch line from Norton Fitzwarren to Watchet opened in spring 1862. An extension from Watchet to Minehead was added in 1874. All the track was converted to standard gauge in 1882.
The Bristol and Exeter Railway operated the line until the Great Western Railway took over in 1923. Apart from some improvements carried out in the 1930s under a Government unemployment scheme, no alterations were made to the railway A gradual increase in passenger traffic culminated in ten trains being run in each direction every weekday.
In the summer months through trains came from Paddington and the Midlands. But by the 1950s the line was losing money, DMUs were introduced from 10 September 1962 to lower costs.
A major change came when the Butlin’s holiday camp opened at Minehead in 1962. This gave the railway an increase in passenger traffic unfortunately it was short lived as British Rail applied for a closure notice in 1969.
There were many objections with an enquiry delaying the closing date until 4 January 1971.