Heritage Picture Gallery and Historical Documentation.
The archives are inteded to include all material and photographs capturing the age of steam and mood of this era. It will be a large and important section dedicated to railway preservation, heritage and historical record.
The archives will illustrate how the Strawberry Line was in it's prime, an important local steam railway, vital to the areas economy and prosperity. A separate group of local historians is being set up to ensure accuracy and completeness.
The Strawberry Line was an affectionate name given to the railway track that ran between Yatton, Cheddar, Wells and Shepton Mallet, and on to Cranmore and beyond to Witham. This included The Cheddar Valley Railway Line and The East Somerset Railway, plus the line from Yatton to Clevedon may now be added in.
The Cheddar Valley Railway Line
Part of the Great Western Railway, the Strawberry Line was completed in 1869. It became an important line for passengers and freight carrying dairy produce, stone, and of course, the famous Cheddar strawberries from which it takes its name. Victorian railway engineers completed a section of track which connected the Cheddar Valley settlements to Bristol. This brought huge benefits to the local economy opening up lucrative London markets to locally grown produce.
Renown for their quality strawberries grown on the southern slopes of the Mendip Hills, an army of strawberry growers and pickers fed the tables of the capital with this wonderful early season fruit for nearly a century. The Cheddar Valley Railway Line line soon became known affectionately as "The Strawberrry Line" but finally closed in 1965 under the Dr Beeching closures plan.
Since then part of the line has been reclaimed by nature and a part at Yatton, is now a Local Nature Reserve managed to protect and enhance a rich variety of wildlife habitats from ponds and wetlands to limestone grassland and dense scrub.
Work began converting the line from Yatton to Cheddar to a walking and cycling route in 1983 by volunteers from the Cheddar Valley Walk Society.
Improvements are still being made to the route 25 years later and more exciting projects are planned for the future including extending the route from Clevedon to Cranmore.
The East Somerset Railway
The East Somerset Railway was inaugarated in 1855 and opened as a broad-gauge line from Witham on the Westbury to Weymouth line passing through Cranmore to Shepton Mallet in 1858, extending to Wells in 1862. Unfortunately, the line was not commercially successful and it was sold to the Great Western Railway in 1874. The railway continued on GWR and then BR hands, essentially unchanged, until 1963 when passenger services were withdrawn. Freight traffic was also reduced and the line cutback. Bitumen trains continued to Cranmore until 1985 and stone trains still use the branch as far as Merehead Quarry.
Cranmore, Shepton Mallet is the home of Cranmore Railway Station which houses some of the countries last remaining working steam engines and original carriages and other rolling stock. It is possible to steam through the rolling Mendip countryside on a day out on one of these giants.
2008 marks the 150th anniversary so why not take a ride on one of the steam trains, on the five mile round trip and travel back in time to the halcyon days of steam when the Strawberry Line was in its prime.
Clevedon's Victorian Pier
At the other end of the "line", on Somerset's glorious coast in the west, is the Country's only working listed grade 1 Victorian Pier, in all its splendour and majesty. Well worth another day out and some thing to do for all the family. There are wonderful views of the Severn Estuary, the islands Flat Holm & Steep Holm, the two Severn Bridges, and one of the best sunsets in the West Country. The perfect spot for the Victorians to relish their Strawberries and Cream at the end of the day.
Axbridge, Cheddar, Wells and more in between
Hopefully soon it will be possible to visit all these varied and priceless gems, along the Strawberry Line, either on foot or possibly by bike.
The Strawberry Line "Safe Paths for All" project would not be possible without the on going support of a variety of volunteers and organisations, as well as an enlightened group of politicians.
More detail to follow.
Web Site Archives.
Archived material produced for the development of the web site can be found here.
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