The Bridport Railway

The Bridport Railway was a standard gauge branch line that operated in the county of Dorset in England. Starting at its junction with the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway line at Maiden Newton, the line ran to the town of Bridport and for a period on to West Bay, also known as Bridport Harbour.

After the idea of a Bridport line was raised in the early nineteenth century the reluctance of the main line companies to build the line resulted in a syndicate of Bridport people deciding in 1854 to build it themselves. At first it was built to the broad gauge and operated by the Great Western Railway, opening on 12th November 1857. The line was subsequently taken fully into that company and operated as a branch from the junction to West Bay, a name given to Bridport Harbour to promote it as a resort due to the harbour trade having fallen while the railway was planned and built. Initially the line had an intermediate station at Powerstock, variously called Poorstock. Later a station was added at Toller.

The line, the last in Dorset constructed to the broad gauge, was converted to standard gauge in June 1874.

During the First World War the West Bay extension was closed as an austerity measure. It re-opened at the end of the war but lost its passenger service in 1930 when the GWR decided that the hoped for resort would never arrive. The goods service continued until 1962 when it was withdrawn and the tracks lifted south of Bridport station. Then in 1965 the goods service was withdrawn from the entire branch and at about the same time steam traction was withdrawn. This left the line as a siding from Maiden Newton operated in the main by a single car Diesel Multiple Unit, usually a Class 122 or similar. The line was marked for closure in the Beeching Report but the narrow roads of the area and a subsidy from Dorset County Council kept it running. Having survived attempts at closure the line finally succumbed in May 1975, perhaps the last closure directly linked to the Beeching report.

The track was lifted during the autumn of 1975 and little trace of it remains in some places.

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8 Comments

  1. Richard Pike said,

    December 7, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Hi,

    I was the second man on the last trip in May 1975. The driver was Reg Chappell and the guard I think was Cyril Crate. We were Westbury based traincrew.
    I was 18 at the time and I have never been able to get hold of any information or even better photos of the last rip. There must be some because I placed 3 detonators at Bridport prior to leaving with the last train and the cameras were snapping away.

    If you can give me any ideas of how to get hold of this nostalgia I would be very grateful

    Regards

    Richard Pike

  2. December 7, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    The person you need to contact is Brian Jackson, the author of several books on Dorset’s railways. Unfortunately I don’t have any contact details, but if you can find a copy of one of his books you should be able to contact him through the publishers.

  3. Ian Heys said,

    December 10, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Hello,

    I run a small film production company and we have just produced a 1 hour 20 minute film on the Bridport Branch with around 40 minutes of archive cine film including scenes taken on the last day.
    If you are interested in getting a copy please get in touch.

    All the best,

    Ian Heys
    Branch Line Video

  4. Richard Pike said,

    December 31, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Ian,

    Can you let me know how I can purchase your film archives odf the last day of the Bridport Branch as I was the second man on the last shuttles to and from Bridport from Maiden Newton.

    Kind Regards

    Richard Pike

  5. Ian Heys said,

    January 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Hello Richard,

    If you write to:
    Branch Line Video
    84 Himley Green
    Leighton Buzzard
    LU7 2QA

    The cost including post and packing is £18.95
    All the best,

    Ian Heys
    Branch Line Video

  6. Richard Pike said,

    October 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Ian,

    Do you have an e mail address so I can order the dvd and pay for it electronically

    Kind Regards

    Richard

  7. Ian Heys said,

    October 20, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Hello Richard

    We do not do email transactions but if you would like to phone on 01525 382070 we can take credit card details and send it in the post to you.

    All the best

    Ian
    Branch Line Video

  8. October 5, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    hi my dad tony holcome was on the the last day to and he was also at the party. Richard Pike you still owner him a drink from that day.


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