Forest of Dean Lines and the Severn Bridge

cover illustration
Forest of Dean Lines and the Severn Bridge

Neil Parkhouse

328 pages. 275x215mm. Printed on gloss art paper, casebound with printed board covers.

ISBN13 : 9781899889983

£30.00


contents and extra information for this book »

The Severn & Wye and Forest of Dean tramroads are amongst the earliest lines established in Great Britain. Horse operated, they were later converted into railways worked by locomotives and, later still, both also provided passenger services for the benefit of local inhabitants. These only lasted for around fifty years, however, with that on the S&W line, having commenced much earlier, succumbing in 1929, whilst passenger trains on the Forest of Dean Branch to Cinderford covered the period from 1907 to 1958. It is for freight traffic that the Forest lines are chiefly remembered today and we are fortunate that several photographers made it their mission to record these lines and their operations in the last years of their life. The early loss of many of the passenger trains ensured that the tangle of branch lines in the Forest also attracted numerous railtours, most of which are illustrated and a separate study of these has been made. Also illustrated in detail is the Severn Bridge, the S&WR’s attempt to break out from the confines of the Forest, which ended up bankrupting the company but which provided an additional outlet for Forest coal and connected the communities of Lydney and Sharpness for over eighty years, until it was damaged in a tragic and disastrous accident in 1960. It was subsequently demolished in the late 1960s and its demise is still much mourned today. The bridge and its swing span is here illustrated as never before. For this second volume covering the railways of Gloucestershire in colour, author Neil Parkhouse has once again assembled a remarkable and extensive selection of pictures, collected over the last fifteen years, which are further illustrated with maps, tickets, WTT extracts and other ephemera. As well as the lines and the infrastructure, various of the collieries, docks and works which were served are also pictured. The hugely individualistic nature of the Forest of Dean is well depicted within these pages and many of its hidden nooks and crannies explored. The period covered is from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s, when traffic on the branch to Parkend finally ceased and the Dean Forest Railway took over. Railway enthusiasts and local Forest of Dean folk alike will find much to enjoy within these pages, when life moved at a different pace and the Forest was still a very secret part of the county of Gloucestershire. Lines featured are: • THE FOREST OF DEAN BRANCH (Newnham to Cinderford, Northern United and Whimsey) • THE SEVERN & WYE LINE (Lydney to Lydbrook, including Lydney Docks and Princess Royal) • THE COLEFORD BRANCH (Coleford Junction to Sling, Coleford and Whitecliff) • LINES AROUND BLAKENEY (Purton Steam Carriage Road and Forest of Dean Central Railway) • THE SEVERN BRIDGE RAILWAY (Lydney to Sharpness)

Forest of Dean Lines and the Severn Bridge - Sample Images

cover illustration

By the date of this view, looking northwards from Letcher's Bridge on 22nd September 1965, the signal box had been repainted in Western Region chocolate and cream livery. Having collected the token for the Whimsey Branch from the driver of No. 4689, signalman Len Roberts climbs the steps back up to his often lonely outpost. With the Bilson Junction to Bullo Junction token safely on board instead, the train will now head back down the branch. The rake of mineral wagons beyond are empties bound for Northern United, so the consist here is just three Berry Wiggins tanks and a brake van. The guard exchanges a word or two with the yard man before departure. Note the permanent way (pw) huts in the right foreground, both of which housed motor inspection trolleys used by the Cinderford gang. The short derelict siding behind had been used to hold the spare auto trailer between services; there was an accident here in 1914, when the two trailers of the auto train were shunted through the end of the siding and hit the arch which was later filled in. Bilson yard is still recognisable and relatively unspoilt today, although a water treatment works has been built on the left; many of the wooden fence posts seen here still stand sentinel on either side. Bill Potter/KRMcover illustration

Whilst the nostalgic pull of the steam locomotive remains as strong as ever, there is now a growing body of interest in the green diesel era on British Railways and in the early classes of diesels, many of which failed to survive beyond the early to mid 1970s. There are numerous evocative views of various types of green liveried diesels at work in the Forest within these pages but this lovely shot of NBL-built Type 2 diesel hydraulic No. D6319 shunting Marsh Wharf sidings in glorious summer sunshine on 10th June 1968, is undoubtedly one of the best and can only further fuel this interest. No. D6319 was delivered new to Plymouth Laira (83D) on 11th April 1960 and was withdrawn on 22nd May 1971. It was cut up at Swindon Works. Having shunted the empty ballast hoppers into position on the centre road, the locomotive will then collect the rake of steel mineral wagons on the left, which are loaded with free mined coal. The man on the left is operating the point levers. Bill Potter/KRM

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Updated : 08 August 2017