The Last Train to Frome
ran on Sad Saturday
With a huff and a puff and a nostalgic
whistle, The Last Train on the old North Somerset branch line chugged
out of Temple Meads Station on Saturday. Groups of train-lovers leaned
out of every carriage window, some waving, some looking sad, some apprehensive,
and some just excited.
The ancient engine British Railways 5532 wobbled slightly
as it neared the platform end, chuffed billows of steam, recovered breath
and settled down for the journey to Frome. Keep right on to the
end of the line it seemed to say. Keep right on, Keep right
on as it had done for many a year.
It was Sad Saturday for the 110 train enthusiasts aboard, for it saw
the end of another branch line Bristol Radstock
Frome. To many enthusiasts the end of a branch line is a tragedy. Too
many are folding, they say. They look upon the Diabolical Diesel with
animosity. This was a route that began in 1873 and for Driver F. Herring,
who has driven on it for more than 40 years, it was an even more sad
ITS A SHAME
Polishing a gleam into the green engine, Driver Herring of Avenue Road,
Frome, declared: Its a shame. I wish it didnt have
to happen, but there it is. Modern times. After 40 years on the line
youre bound to feel sad, arent you?
Mr Herring who is going on to the Cheddar Valley line, picked up a polishing
rag, climbed into the cab with his fireman, Mr E Edwards of Butts Hill,
Frome, and let off steam.
Two minutes to go ... one ... zero ... and engine 5532 pulled out of
the station dead on time. Driver Herring put on a brave face, smiled
and gave a wave. The old train called at Brislington, Whitchurch, Pensford,
Clutton, Hallatrow, Farrington Gurney, Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Mells
Road and Frome.
Why do train-lovers turn up on such occasions? What prompts their boyish
interest in locomotives?
Mr H. B. Warburton, vice-Chairman of Bristol and district branch Railway
Correspondence and Travel Society told me: All our members go
on branch line engines within reasonable distance of Bristol. They go
on the last train mainly for sentimental reasons, and of course we all
like travelling on trains. The train will stop at all stations
down the line, he said, dragging me into the refreshment room
to escape the noisy steaming of engine 5532. The train will be
about half an hour late. We get off at stations to take last photographs.
He added sadly If any line closes we all feel a nostalgia. Lets
say we like to be in at the kill.
While the faithful few attended the last rites, British Railways Western
Region, issued the following business-like statement:
The withdrawal of the passenger train service between Bristol (Temple
Meads) and Frome, via Radstock West, on and from Monday November 2nd
has been announced by British Railways Western Region. Stations at Brislington,
Pensford, Clutton, Hallatrow, Midsomer Norton and Welton, and Radstock
West, together with Whitchurch, Farrington Gurney and Mells Road Halts
will be closed to passengers. Road services covering the area are operated
by the Bristol Omnibus Co. Ltd and the Bath Tramways Co. Ltd. Freight
trains will continue to use the line and facilities for the despatch
and collection of parcels traffic will be available at Bristol (Temple
Meads), St. Annes Park, Keynsham and Somerdale, Radstock North,
Midsomer Norton South, Binegar and Frome stations
Back to Top