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West Wilts Rail User Group - Walk yesterday from Bradford-on-Avon to Trowbridge

The purpose of our journeys by train are many and varied. And the West Wilts Rail user's group (web site [here]) exists to "give a voice to West Wiltshire Rail Users on timetables and their concerns about the general service." That's normally through a series of meetings at which guest speakers appear and issues are discussed, and also by working with the railway industry, local rail partnerships, and through publicity. There are also special events - such as the celebrations at Bradford-on-Avon, Avoncliff and Dilton Marsh of various anniversaries that have happened or will happen in the next year or two. And yesterday, giving publicity to the usefulness of rail in walking / rambling, Rob Brown of the WWRUG lead a group of us from Bradford-on-Avon to Trowbridge, through towns and field, beside the river but never very far from the railway.

South West Trains and First Great Western meetShortly before 08:30, trains arrived at Bradford-on-Avon in both direction, giving walkers the opportunity to arrive in either direction. The train in the background is in the colours of First Great Western, and the one arriving in the front is in the South West Trains livery. Trains run to Bradford-on-Avon from a wide variety of places including London (Waterloo), London (Paddington), Brighton, Portsmouth, Weymouth, Cardiff, Great Malvern and other stations on these routes such as Bristol and Bath, Yeovil and Warminster, Salisbury and Frome, Reading and Basingstoke, Newbury and Trowbridge.


Old seats at Bradford-on-Avon stationBradford-on-Avon station has changed considerably over the years. Rob was telling us how the car park was once a goods yard, how railway workers once grew vegetables on allotments in front of the long-gone signal box, and how there used to be so many cattle trucks and parcels handled here. That's all gone, but the historic station remains, and passenger traffic has risen from around 70,000 tickets per year sold 100 years ago to over 300,000 journeys per year now - and on a still-rising curve.


Disabled / Wheelchair access rampAccess to the Bristol-bound platform has only been via the footbridge in the recent past, and this has meant that wheelchair users have been unable to get off the train here from the Westbury direction, or join trains towards Bath Spa. It's also been very difficult for users of prams and pushchairs to fold and lug them over the bridge. This new ramp, running from housing to the rear of the station, should make life very much easier for these people when it's opened - it looks almost ready!


Bradfors-on-AvonWe walked towrds the centre of Bradford-on-Avon - an old mill town situated on the river Avon, with som elovely old architecture such as these Georgian buildings. The river is spanned by an old road bridge, and there has been much local controversy about a new footbridge with many considering the designs offered to be too modern to fit in with the town. It looks like the bridge isn't happening at present due to this lack of agreement.


New homes on derelict factory siteLooking over the river, new housing is replacing some of the old mills. The centre of Bradford-on-Avon is already busy, and this can only bring a further bustle to the place as a previously derelict site comes back to life.


In the woods -light shines through treesThe footpath that we took rose away from the river's edge through the trees, with magnificent lighting allowing me to take a wonderful string of picture of which I can only share a few here. A beautiful autumnal day.


Rob Brown tells us the history of Bradford-on-AvonFrom the path, Rob describes to us the mills (that are now private dwellings) and the municipal dump (that's now a golf course that border the river below the path we took. We walked past the quaintly named Shoulder of Mutton Allotments, through some more modern housing on this quiet Saturday morning, and out onto the fields.


Beside the river Avon between Bradford and TrowbridgeOut of town, our path lead us back down to the tranquil Avon - grassy pastured running down to the river, and a gorgous autumnal day. Gypsy, who had come with us on this walk, was free to run around (that dog covers 400 yards for every 100 I walk) and make some new friends, and the majority of the group had cameras out. This section of the river has never ben navigable by larger boats, but we passed by the local boat club's canoe base building and indeed a racing canoe passed us at one point in near-silence.


Kennet and Avon near Biss AquaductAlthough the river's not navigable from Bradford-on-Avon, the Kennet and Avon canal which follows the same valley most certainly is these days. As the river and canal briefly come close together, we climbed a high embankment and continued our walk canal-side. The canal is very much a main walking and cycling artery, leaving the riverside pastures to look like a sleepy backwater that time's forgotten.


Weymouth to Cheltenham Spa train near TrowbridgeAll too soon, the canal passed over the Biss aquaduct [pictures]. The river Biss is a tributary of the river Avon and heads off south through Trowbridge and Westbury to its source at Upton Scudamore, while the rive Avon carries on north east through Melksham and Chippenham, and the canal heads east for Devizes and - eventually - Newbury, Reading and the river Thames to London. A second aquaduct takes the canal over the railway which turn southwards here too, and we also turned and walked alongside the railway. All the way from Bradford-on-Avon we had heard trains in the distance, and occasionally seen them across the river. Now we were close to them as they passed us; here's a Weymouth to Cheltenham Spa train that's just left Trowbridge.


Bacon Factory Siding, TrowbridgeLike Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge station has a rich history, and Rob was telling us about some of this - how the loco shed had housed up to 20 locomotives in its time, how the car park had been a major goods yard, and how an extra branch had served the bacon factory. Indeed, the bridge that lead this line over one of the footpaths from the north west into the town is still in place, showing an interesting and historic construction, and sadly providing a dark alleyway that's well decorated with graffiti and may not be the most welcoming place at night.


Trowbridge StationAnd so to Trowbridge station, where our group split up as we all headed homewards. Gypsy and I took the train back to Bradford-on-Avon. Once again, Trowbridge station may have loat a very great deal over the years in terms of goods and parcels, but passenger traffic is booming. It would have been undreamed of in 1970 to suggest that the line would support an hourly Portsmouth to Cardiff service - let alone that it would be 4 carriages long on a Saturday (yes, I know 3 is the norm), with every seat taken and the rear 2 carriages so packed that people had to squeeze in through the doors. This, truely is the new age of the train. Provide an appropriate service and people will use it; I was very sad that there wasn't a return service to Melksham, Chippenham and Swindon for 4 hours, for I know that if it was provides as reglarly as the other services calling at Trowbridge it would be heavily patronised. But that's a story for another day, and for all parties to work together to bring to fruition.


Click on any image to see it full size in a new frame / window
(written 2011-10-23)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
M202 - Well House Manor - West Wiltshire
  [4653] Coats of arms - towns and authorities in Wiltshire - (2016-02-21)
  [4623] Rambling from Westbury - (2016-01-16)
  [3722] Walking by the wiver - (2012-05-06)
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  [3498] Which West Wilts Town? A picture quiz for you - (2011-10-28)
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  [2305] Hot Tap at West Wilts Show - (2009-07-26)
  [2302] See us at the West Wilts Show - (2009-07-23)
  [2224] Trowbridge - a missed opportunity? Melksham - into the breach? - (2009-06-08)
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  [1252] Westbury Bypass - how it would effect Melksham - (2007-06-29)
  [1154] As I came back from Tesco - (2007-04-19)
  [1103] Dilton Marsh - (2007-03-08)
  [1030] Hotel for Trowbridge - (2007-01-12)
  [938] Bratton and Edington new town, Wiltshire - (2006-11-23)
  [929] Presenting Melksham - for a weekend away in Wiltshire - (2006-11-17)
  [880] Celebration circles - (2006-09-27)
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  [814] Melksham Railway Calendar 2007 - (2006-07-25)
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Z501 - Public Transport - Rail
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  [4131] West Coast (of Wales) - railway and stations in pictures - (2013-07-04)
  [4113] Wiltshire and Melksham Transport - what is going on? - (2013-06-09)
  [4110] TransWilts meeting ... - (2013-06-07)
  [4105] Our day trip by train from Swindon, Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2013-05-28)
  [4104] Weymouth vis the TransWilts - the day out today - (2013-05-27)
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  [3937] Agenda for Wiltshire Link Travel groups meeting, Saturday 1st December 2012 - (2012-11-27)
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  [3410] A review of the Summer Sunday extra trains on the TransWilts line - (2011-08-29)
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  [2513] Wiltshire Council purchases Melksham Station Land - (2009-11-26)
  [2511] The story of the railway land at Melksham Station - (2009-11-24)
  [2486] Santa Special - Trowbridge and Melksham to Swindon - (2009-10-31)
  [2477] By train ... - (2009-10-25)
  [2473] Exploring Old Railways - (2009-10-24)
  [2457] Railway Arithmetic - (2009-10-16)
  [2438] Listening to The Minister - (2009-10-05)
  [2395] From Lymington by train - last of the slammers - (2009-09-05)
  [2391] Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy - Draft for Consultation - (2009-09-02)
  [2372] Public Transport from (and to) Melksham on Sundays - (2009-08-23)
  [2328] Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08)
  [2318] For Lua Programmers AND for Town Planners - (2009-08-02)
  [2268] Westbury Bypass Refused - looking forward - (2009-07-04)
  [2133] Bigger and better this year! - (2009-04-20)
  [2057] Train and Coach fares from London (and airports) to Melksham - (2009-02-26)
  [2042] Wiltshire Rail Service Update - (2009-02-15)
  [2026] Melksham Climate Friendly Group - (2009-02-05)
  [2024] Carry on Training - in spite of the weather - (2009-02-03)
  [1999] How low can you sink? - (2009-01-17)
  [1966] Background to the TransWilts Train Fiasco - (2008-12-29)
  [1965] How much does a train service actually cost - (2008-12-29)
  [1964] Why hasnt the fiasco been put right - (2008-12-29)
  [1905] A Gold Star for First Great Western Customer Service - (2008-11-24)
  [1858] Camera with night vision, youth with no vision - (2008-10-28)
  [1848] 30th November - Santa Trip from Melksham - (2008-10-19)
  [1757] Preserved railways - struggling to the future? - (2008-08-17)
  [1729] Back from the future - (2008-07-30)
  [1708] A Train Service Update for Melksham Party in the Park - (2008-07-13)
  [1616] Not daring to be an anorak - (2008-04-19)
  [1567] Melksham - Swindon. Train v Bus v Car - (2008-03-07)
  [1558] Getting somewhere with the train service - (2008-02-28)
  [1530] Railway Acronyms and Abbreviations - (2008-02-03)
  [1452] Santa on the train to Melksham - (2007-12-01)
  [1428] Travel Across Wiltshire - the game - (2007-11-11)
  [1424] Closer than you think - the next step - (2007-11-08)
  [1382] First Great Western - information for customers - (2007-10-07)
  [1358] Look forward with a new broom - Wiltshire Train Service - (2007-09-19)
  [1314] Business travel by train in the USA - (2007-08-22)
  [1303] Heading Upstate New York - (2007-08-14)
  [1291] Day trip to Weymouth - (2007-08-05)
  [1274] Radio coverage for railway issues - (2007-07-23)
  [1273] Melksham or Weymouth? Meal or day out? - (2007-07-23)
  [1228] Some progress on the train campaign - (2007-06-10)
  [1139] Overcrowded trains around Bristol - (2007-04-08)
  [1097] Train and business balls all in the air! - (2007-03-02)
  [1093] Wiltshire Train - can YOU come on 5th March? - (2007-02-25)
  [1076] Save the Train - an update - (2007-02-12)
  [1069] Rail trouble forced me to buy hotel - (2007-02-07)
  [1063] Bradford-on-Avon - 150 years of passenger trains - (2007-02-03)
  [1045] Bang! Train campaign hits home - (2007-01-19)
  [1044] Call for appropriate train services - Swindon, Bristol, Bath, West Wilts, Severn Beach etc - (2007-01-18)
  [1033] Empty at Easleigh, Missing at Melksham, Overflowing at Oldfield - (2007-01-14)
  [976] Santa at the station - (2006-12-09)
  [974] The last commuter train through Melksham - (2006-12-09)
  [952] Coming from London to Melksham by train for a course - (2006-11-28)
  [877] Yes, but what do we do now?? - (2006-09-24)
  [803] Not shouting - (2006-07-16)
  [790] Shadow Transport Minister to visit Melksham - (2006-07-02)
  [697] For any North and West Wilts and Swindon Readers - (2006-04-23)
  [688] Are you free on Friday evening? - (2006-04-18)
  [648] West Wilts Railway Users Group and trains to Lacock - (2006-03-16)
  [634] Real chance to make a difference - (2006-03-05)
  [632] Moral dilemma - (2006-03-04)
  [527] Greater Western Franchise Awarded - (2005-12-13)
  [524] Santa comes to Melksham - (2005-12-11)
  [521] Proof needed? Please just use common sense! - (2005-12-08)
  [488] Looking for railway groups and users - Swindon, Salisbury, Southampton - (2005-11-06)
  [486] Rail services under threat - Swindon, Melksham ... and Newquay and Bicester too - (2005-11-05)
  [447] Tomorrow's meeting. - (2005-09-19)
  [434] Through public transport connection, Chippenham to Salisbury, to cease - (2005-09-02)
  [428] Swindon - Chippenham - Melksham - Trowbridge - Westbury train service - (2005-08-29)
  [154] Railway train service, Melksham station - (2004-12-17)


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