John Speller's Web Pages Berks & Hants Railway

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Broad Gauge

Berks & Hants Railway
The Berks & Hants Railway was incorporated by an Act of 30 June 1845 to build a 25-mile double-track broad gauge line from Reading to Hungerford in the County of Berks, with a 14-mile double-track branch to Basingstoke in Hampshire, to be worked by the Great Western Railway. The line was taken over by the GWR under their Act of 14 May 1846. The Engineer was I. K. Brunel, FRS. The Berks & Hants Railway opened to Hungerford on 23 December 1847. The Basingstoke branch opened on 1 November 1848. The Berks & Hants extension railway, opened in November 1862, extended the line from Hungerford to join up with the Devizes branch of the Somerset, Wilts & Weymouth Railway. Together with the Weymouth line all these lines were converted to narrow gauge in 1874. With the opening of the direct line from Castle Cary on the Weymouth line to Curry Rivel Junction near Langport in 1906, the Berks & Hants line became part of the West of England main line to Penzance. The Basingstoke branch now forms part of the main line from Birmingham to Southampton. Under the Great Western Main Line Electrification Scheme, Network Rail are proposing to electrify the Reading to Newbury section of the line on the 25 kV AC overhead system by 2016.
Map of the Berks & Hants Railway
Hungerford station in around 1905. Note the longitudinal sleepered track still in place three decades after the conversion of the gauge. The advertisement for Sutton's Seeds reminds me of the days when one used to see their neat little rows of seedlings from the train on the approach to Reading station; all built up now, alas
Postcard view of a Weymouth express at Newbury station behind a Dean "3232" Class 2-4-0 before fitting with a Belpaire boiler in c. 1914. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Mortimer station on the Basingstoke branch, 24 August 2008. This is perhaps the finest surviving example of one of Brunel's chalet-style wayside stations, even retaining the original shelter on the opposite platform. Image copyright Stephen McKay and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
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