On a recent walk I took a photograph of the Winterstoke Railway Bridge in Weston-super-Mare.
There are plans to replace the bridge due to the decaying nature of the bridge.
There is an interesting story behind the bridge which was builtin the Second World War in 1941 to provide easy access to the military aeroplane factory. Emergency wartime powers were used by the War Office at the time to enable the bridge to be built, as a result the bridge was owned by the War Office, now the Ministry of Defence.
The fact that the bridge was owned by the MoD has created challenged in getting the bridge repaired and now to be replaced.
With all the beautiful weather we decided to take advantage of it and go for a walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal, well part of it anyhow.
The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway in southern England with an overall length of 87 miles, made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal. The name is used to refer to the entire length of the navigation rather than solely to the central canal section. From Bristol to Bath the waterway follows the natural course of the River Avon before the canal links it to the River Kennet at Newbury, and from there to Reading on the River Thames. In all, the waterway incorporates 105 locks.
The two river stretches were made navigable in the early 18th century, and the 57-mile (92 km) canal section was constructed between 1794 and 1810. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the canal gradually fell into disuse after the opening of the Great Western Railway. In the latter half of the 20th century the canal was restored in stages, largely by volunteers. After decades of dereliction and much restoration work, it was fully reopened in 1990. The Kennet and Avon Canal has been developed as a popular heritage tourism destination for boating, canoeing, fishing, walking and cycling, and is also important for wildlife conservation.
We decided to do the walk as my eldest had gone on a school trip (as part of curriculum enrichment) in 2015 and had recommended it to us.
We caught the train to Avoncliff Halt.
Seriously this is a halt, and the platform is only big enough for a single carriage, so we had to make sure we were at the front of the train. Originally opened in 1906.
What looks like a road bridge is in fact part of the Avoncliff Aqueduct.
The Avoncliff Aqueduct crosses both the Wessex main line and the River Avon.
It was built between 1797 and 1801
There was this lovely house alongside the canal.
Very peaceful walking along in the shade. Though to be honest there were a fair few cyclists and other walkers as well.
Quite a few boats as well.
This is the Dundas Aqueduct, again built between 1797 and 1801.
The aqueduct is also the junction between the Kennet and Avon Canal and the largely derelict Somerset Coal Canal. The short stretch of the Somerset Coal Canal still in water forms Brassknocker Basin, used for boat moorings, cycle hire and a cafe.
Whilst we were walking along, two military helicopters, probably on their way to RNAS Yeovilton flew past, relatively low. One was a Puma, the other a Merlin.
As we got near the city centre of Bath, we went through two amazing tunnels.
Overall quite a trek, but great weather, lovely scenery and rather peaceful.
On a recent visit to Longleat Wildlife and Safari Park we rode on the Miniature Railway. It reminded me that we, as a family, had done this quite a few times over the years. So when we got home I looked over my photographs and it bought back lots of happy memories.
The 15 inch railway was established in 1965 and expanded in 1976. The track has changed over the years, but currently skirts the lake before heading back to the station through the trees. There is a tunnel and a halt which is used at Christmas.
My first visit to Longleat was in the early 1970s, of which I don’t remember much, and I am not even sure if we went there. What I do remember was going to sleep, having an amazing dream about going to a Safari Park and getting a safari themed Land Rover in the shop.
When I woke up in the morning, I was astounded to find the Land Rover in my room.
It looked a lot like this one.
Was it a dream, was it reality? No idea if I travelled on the railway, it was just a dream…
Myself and my wife visited in 2002, but I don’t think we travelled on the train, as we only did the safari park. Back then the train was an extra cost, as were most of the other non-park attractions.
As a family we took my son to Longleat in 2005 and as well as going around the Safari Park, we also travelled the railway. He was really into trains.
We were pulled by the Ceawlin, locomotive number five.
In this photograph you can see the Lenka Railcar, the only engine built at Longleat. It was sold to private owner in 2017.
We went again in 2008, but I have no photographs of the train, but I am pretty sure we must have had a ride on the train back then.
Between 2011 and 2017 the railway was known as the Jungle Express, with the station and carriages given additional theming.
We visited in 2012 and travelled on the Jungle Express.
This time the train was pulled by the Flynn Locomotive.
I do remember that the station had a model railway shop, but by our visit in 2012, it had stopped selling model trains and now sold toy trains, wooden trains and stuff.
On our most recent visit the Jungle Express theming had gone, as had the shop.
The railway has fifteen carriages, all built at Longleat between 1976 and 2013 and are now wearing mock British Railways crimson and cream livery The railway also has several permanent way wagons.
This time our train was pulled by the huge John Thynn.
We enjoyed our most recent visit and I expect we might go again some time in the future.
Across this blog I wrote fifteen posts in 2016. As might not be expected most of the top ten posts that year were from 2016, and I was pleased to see how popular my 1990s photographs of the Bristol Harbourside were.
I visited Legoland in 2013 and felt that it was A bit tired and this was the tenth most popular post, dropping one place from last year.
The sixth placed post was from my 2012 series of Cinematic Advent Calendar posts, this one was #07 – The Eagle has Landed. There were quite a few films in the advent calendar that have significant memories over and above the film itself. Queuing for Star Wars was significant for example. With The Eagle has Landed I went to see it at the Aldeburgh cinema with my grandparents.
Though I am more likely to spend time at Worle station, I have been known to catch trains from the main station in Weston-super-Mare. Despite being a smallish town, Weston has three railway stations. The main station which opened in 1884 replacing the original station which opened in 1841. Weston Milton opened in 1933, a small halt to serve the then expanding Milton area. Worle station was opened in 1990 and unlike the other two stations, which are on the Weston loop, Worle is on the main Bristol to Plymouth line.
Over the years the railway station at Weston-super-Mare, well in terms of tracks, has changed quite a bit, even if the buildings and platforms have remained as much as they have since the line was built. This photograph from the local paper reminded me of how much has changed.
Back then there was an up and down line on the Weston loop. There was also multiple sidings for good and carriages. I suspect a lot of the coal wagons for the local gas works were stored there awaiting return to the Welsh collieries.
By the late 1970s (the BR HST is still in blue and grey), when this image was taken on 28th March 1978, most of the sidings have now been taken away and replaced with a coach park. Lots of visitors to Weston-super-Mare were now coming by coach. The light brown building on the right of the photograph in the background is the Odeon cinema which is still there today, but Weston is getting it’s own multiplex at Dolphin Square.
You can see a lot of the points had been removed too.
By the time of this Google Street View image, the sidings have all been removed and replaced with a Tesco store and car park (which was the focus of the story in the local paper). Hildesheim Bridge was built in 1991 and crosses the eastern end of the platforms.
Hildesheim is the German town which Weston is twinned with.
Change happens and over the next few years I suspect we will see more change.
At Bristol Temple Meads I did wonder if I had travelled back in time to 1976, as there was a British Rail blue and yellow engine on the platform. My train yesterday morning included a very different engine, this was a GWR High Speed Train painted in the original colours when the train entered service forty years ago in 2016.
This was painted up specially for an event in May to celebrate forty years of the HST. I thought it was nice that only was it painted up in the original colours, but is currently being used to pull trains. It’s a pity that they couldn’t paint a whole train in the original colours.
The post at number 5 was from the Cinematic Advent Calendar which I posted back before Christmas in 2012. The post in question was #24 – Back to the Future and as 2015 was the year in which Marty McFly went to in the film series, it’s quite apt that it in this year’s top ten.
Over 2015 there were seventy Shaun the Sheep sculptures places all across Bristol and the top two posts on the blog were about these Sheep. At number two was Ten out of Seventy and the most read post was about all seventy sheep, Shaun in the City.