Monday, 6 June 2016

Bridport stirs!


3 above 7.8.1973 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing

Bridport 25.2.1975 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing


Powerstock 25.2.1975 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing

This was a lovely line that I was lucky enough to visit twice before closure (and once after). From the classic GWR junction station on the wonderful (and busier than ever) Weymouth to Castle Cary line at Maiden Newton it followed a very rural route through hills and valleys and via the classic village stations at Toller and Powerstock to a crumbling and overgrown station in Bridport.

It struggled on as late as 1975, but was closed completely in that year, one of the last major rail closures in the UK. A few more years and this would never have happened. There were a couple of half hearted attempts to get trains back to Bridport, both narrow gauge and only one looking at reopening the original route. Both schemes were well ahead of their time, espcially the Brit Valley Railway scheme which probably is STILL a few years ahead of its time, proposing a modern narrow gauge network including routes to Weymouth and Crewkerne. After the Oil Age has gone I'm sure that scheme will go ahead.

There are some (currently very tentative) aims to rebuild the line as a standard gauge heritage and community railway. There is very little if any encroachment on the line except at the extreme Bridport end and no major engineering issues. The line is in a very busy tourist area, and the town of Bridport could easily support a railway in the 21st century. With the potential reopening of the Weymouth Tramway and the incredible success of the Swanage Railway there is plenty to attract railway enthusiasts to the area, to add another layer of potential traffic to this line.



  1. .....first thing to do is get the route protected? Is it in the local plan?

  2. Sustrans has no interest in reinstatement of railway. I can't see how a cycleway can ever replace a railway. Also, Sustrans have sold off station sites to developers, to help pay for their cycleway schemes. It's urgent to consult with Dorset County Council, to seek protection of railway route.

  3. The BVR scheme is not dead - it failed to proceed as planned due to The Rural Challenge funding (£1M) we won in a National Competion being politically switched to another region in 1998, causing other sponsorship & sources of finance being lost. I'm a Director of Jurassic Coast Railways Ltd & have been working with the retired founders of the BVR scheme to take it forward. The aim is to relaunch by or before the end of 2019. This time between Maiden Newton & West Bay with a major park & ride car park at Broomhills, immediately off the A35 main road. We will utilise the old track bed between Maiden Newton to Bradpole (shared with the Trailway) & new build between Bradpole & West Bay - around 14 miles in all. Phase 1 is West Bay to Pymore. As per BVR plans, it will be 2' 6" (762mm) gauge with heritage steam (ex Sri Lanka J Class 4-6-4 tanks) with new build heritage style coaches (as per Welsh Highland Railway) but utilising Hydrogen powered train sets (see Zillertalbhan Railway, Austria) for all year round community service. When we are ready to go public we will have a new web site & marketing collateral & a focused, professional campaign. Bridport will not get another chance for a main line connected (cross platform at Maiden Newton) railway again - our proposals are significantly more cost effective, flexible & appropriate. Since the mid 1990's Bridports population (& popularity) has grown dramatically - the railways time has come! If of interest you may contact me at - - I would be delighted to hear from you & appreciate any offers of help, support & professional assistance. Kind regards, Nigel Ewens