Report of Colonel W Yolland (Board of Trade Railway Inspector)
into the proposed opening of the Frome to Radstock section to passengers

25th June 1875

Original Document - Public Record Office, Kew. MT6 142/10

Railway Department
Board of Trade
Whitehall London SW

Bristol 25th June 1875


I have the honour to report for the information of the Board of Trade, in compliance with the instructions contained in your Minute of the 4th Instant.

That I have re-inspected the Radstock Branch of the Great Western Railway which was first inspected by me in the year 1854, but the notice of the intention to open was subsequently withdrawn (as a passenger line), and it has been worked since that date as a mineral line.

This line, which is now on the narrow gauge, commences at the North side of the Frome Station on the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Branch, and terminates in the Radstock Station yard a short distance to the East of the Radstock Passenger Station of the Bristol and North Somerset Railway; and its length is returned as 8 miles 4.6 chains independent of a short junction line, 23 chains in length, joining the Wilts Somerset and Weymouth Branch at what is called the North Junction, still further to the North than the junction close to Frome Station. This short junction line was not ready for inspection and I did not in consequence look at it, and have therefore to state that by reason of the incompleteness of the works its opening for traffic would be attended with danger to the public using the same. I would suggest that the notice of the intention to open this short junction line should be withdrawn, and another given, when the works are complete.

As regards the main line between Frome and Radstock, I have to state that the details received from the Great Western Railway Company, no longer represent the present state of the line, as it is described as a single line throughout, whereas the line has actually been doubled between Radstock and Mells for upwards of 3 miles, and I would suggest that the Great Western Railway Company should be requested to supply correct details of the present state of the line as requested on the 1st June (R4018).

I understand that the line was relaid in 1861, and the Company have been engaged lately in taking out a good many of the worn rails and replacing them with new ones – portions of the line are laid with one description of rail and permanent way while other parts are laid with an entirely different description of permanent which I am unable to particularise from the details having made out for the state of the line in July 1874, but both kinds are substantial.

The gauge is 4 feet 8 1/2 inches, and the intervening space where there are two lines is 6 feet: the steepest incline is 1 in 48.29 and the sharpest curve for a length of 15.6 chains has a radius of 10 chains close to Frome Station – this curve is protected by check or guard rails on each line inside the inner rails of the curve of each line.

There are 11 over and 11 under bridges besides 5 viaducts on this line – The largest openings in the over bridges are 28 feet on the square and 32 1/2 feet on the skew; among the under bridges, the greatest openings are 27 feet on the square and 31 5/12 feet on the skew – and among the viaducts the largest opening is 42 feet on the square and 46 feet on the skew. I have no drawings of any of these bridges or viaducts, but although they have now been constructed for upwards of 20 years they are standing well, with the exception that in some, the stone has suffered from the action of the weather, and repairs have been required and in some places are still in hand – and with respect to the under bridges and viaducts where timber is used for supporting the permanent way, they did not present any unusual deflections under a rolling load – The viaducts will require to be carefully looked after, as they are mostly of wood and after such an interval of time, decayed portions will continually require from time to time to be taken out.

There are no stations on the line. Frome Station at one end and Radstock Station of the Bristol and North Somerset Railway (which is worked by the Great Western Railway) at the other are to be made use of.

There are three authorised level crossings of public roads on the line, but I understand that the Great Western Railway Company, are seeking powers in Parliament this session to do away with these three level crossings, and under such circumstances, it is not necessary to ask the Railway Company to put up lodges or stations at them – they are protected by signals in each direction.

The requisite arrangements have been made for working the traffic on the absolute block system and on the single portion of the line in conjunction with the train staff, but I have not received any undertaking of the Company’s as to the mode of working intended to be adopted.

The requirements of the Board of Trade have also been complied with in reference to the interlocking, but the points and signals are not yet generally connected with the levers in the Signal Boxes and in some instances which were pointed out on the ground, the facing point locks required closer adjustment. Clocks have also to be placed in the Signal Cabins.

At the junction of Coal Siding near the West Signal Box at Frome, a single throw off point is to be changed into double switches with a dead end. At Huish’s Coal Siding an electric communication is to be established between Nos. 1 and 2 Signal Boxes. There is a steep incline for tram cars from a colliery on a hill near Radstock (Whittinson & Hewits) down to a colliery siding north of the line, where if a tramcar or cars were to break away, they might be projected across the passenger lines – and a stone buttress is to be erected between the colliery siding and these passenger lines, to prevent accidents occurring to the trains.

The line requires to be very carefully gone over and all worn and damaged rails should be taken out, and be replaced by new ones, but I am unwilling to recommend that the opening of this line for passenger traffic should now be postponed on this account or from the connecting up of the points and signals with the levers in the Signal Boxes not having been yet completed, if it is understood that these things will at once be completed, and that the Inspector of the Board of Trade, may if thought necessary again go over the line, when these few requirements have been attended to – and provided also that a satisfactory undertaking as to the mode of working be received from the Company.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant
W Yolland

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