John Speller's Web Pages Castle Cary Branch

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Narrow Gauge

Castle Cary Branch
As early as the Exeter Direct Railway Bill of 1844, it was proposed to build a line between Taunton and Castle Cary on the Wilts, Somerset & Weymouth line in order to provide a more direct route between Paddington and Taunton. There were further proposals in 1865, but it was not until 1895 that the Great Western Railway began to make the Langport and Castle Cary Railway a reality. The section from Castle Cary to Charlton Mackrell opened to goods traffic on 1 July 1905. The Taunton end of the line from Cogload Junction to Somerton opened to goods traffic 2 April 1906. Following the completion of Somerton Tunnel (1,053 yards), the major engineering work on the line, the intervening section between Somerton and Charlton Mackrell opened on 20 May 1906. Through goods trains from London began using the new line on 11 June 1906. A Directors' Special was run over the line non-stop from Paddington to Plymouth on 29 June 1906 and it was intended that the line should open to passenger traffic on 2 July 1906. Most histories, indeed, state erroneously that it was. In fact there was a rock fall in Box Tunnel which blocked the Great Western main line and to deal with this emergency the Langport and Castle Cary line was opened to passenger traffic a day early on 1 July 1906. The same day the London & South Western Railway main line to the West of England was also blocked by the Salisbury disaster, so the Castle Cary route was the only one that was open. On 15 November 1931 a new flyover was brought into use at Cogload Junction, which speeded up trains by moving the actual junction between the Bristol and Castle Cary lines into Taunton station. Local passenger service between Taunton and Castle Cary was withdrawn on 10 September 1962. At the time it was stated that the reason for the closure was that diesel multiple units could not be used on main lines. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of discontinuing the rest of the service, the decision to close Langport East station was most unfortunate, and its reopening has periodically been mooted ever since.
Map of the Castle Cary Branch
The non-stop Directors' and Press Special from Paddington to Plymouth on 29 June 1906 at Langport East station behind De Glehn Compound Atlantic No. 102 "La France"
Opening day at Somerton, 1906. Railmotor No. 15 with the first Castle Cary Branch train
The 1931 flyover at Cogload Junction. A little-known fact about this location is that nearby there once stood Minchin Buckland Priory, the only priory in England of the Sisters of the Order St. John of Jerusalem. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
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