Williton Station has its own carpark and is about a mile from the village centre. It is the principal intermediate train crossing place on the West Somerset Railway.
The station is typical of Brunel’s design with booking office, waiting rooms, Ladies’ and Gents’ all maintained in their original Victorian glory. The platforms have trolleys, trunks, bikes, milk churns and the general paraphernalia one would have seen decorating the station in the old days.
We have a well-stocked café and shop with indoor seating as well as benches on the platform where you can watch all the activity as the steam trains come and go.
The station was first opened on 31 March 1862 when the West Somerset Railway started operations between Norton Junction and Watchet. A single platform was provided, on the left side of trains travelling towards Watchet. In 1874 a second ‘loop’ track and platform was opened and trains could then pass in the station. A new road bridge was built in 1873 at the south end of the station before the loop was opened, but the level crossing next to the platform was left in place. The railway was operated by the Bristol and Exeter Railway which became a part of the Great Western Railway in 1876 but the West Somerset Railway remained an independent company until 1922 when it too was absorbed by the Great Western. In both 1907 and again in 1937 the passing loop was extended to allow longer trains to pass at Williton.
The main goods facilities were found to the west of the station, one siding serving the goods shed and cattle pens and another longer siding serving a loading platform. Goods traffic consisted mainly of sugar beet and timber going out and fertilizer and coal coming in.
Nationalisation in 1948 saw the line become a part of the Western Region of British Railways but was closed on 4 January 1971.
On 28 March 1976 the present West Somerset Railway opened for business and the line to Williton opened on Saturday 28 August 1976.
A larger than usual gap separates the two platforms which owes its existence to the original 7ft ¼in broad gauge used when the line was originally built.
The Signal Box is brick built and is the only example of a Bristol and Exeter Railway design still in full working order. The signal box contains a 27 lever frame dating back to the 1920’s, with two additional levers to lock the wicket gates at the crossing. Good examples of B&ER barge boards are on each end of the signal box.
The Wooden former parcels office was used by the Signal and Telegraph Department but is now used as a Refreshment Room and shop.
The main station building (Grade II listed) built of local stone has an original Italianate chimney and inside the waiting room and booking office have been expertly restored to their original condition, including the furniture.
The former Goods Shed built in 1862 is home to the Diesel And Electric Preservation Group and is now used as the Heritage Diesel Visitor Centre. In 1997 the DEPG constructed a steel maintenance shed containing two roads adjacent to the former Good Shed.
At the North end of the yard stands the Grade II Listed “Swindon Shed” originally built in 1899 at Swindon Works and donated to the WSR by Tarmac Limited. It has been used since 1995 by West Somerset Restoration . Many restoration projects have been undertaken in this shed with possibly the most high profile being the complete restoration of West Country Class Steam Locomotive 34046 Braunton. The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust and also present there are 5542 Ltd who are rebuilding a Great Western Auto Coach No: 169.
For many years the former Trowbridge footbridge rested in the station car park and was subject to a fundraising appeal to enable it to be refurbished. On 14 July 2010 the footbridge was taken to TEMA Engineering in Cardiff where it was extensively restored and repainted. The foundations for the bridge were completed on 19 January 2011 and the footbridge was returned to Williton on 16 March 2011 and rebuilt on the site of the original wooden bridge.
The station’s passing loop opened in 1871 was extended in 1906 and again in 1937 but, in 1968, the bridge over the stream failed and BR shortened the loop once more. In 2016 the West Somerset Railway rebuilt the ‘up’ side bridge and extended the loop under the road bridge once again. Considerable work was undertaken to the signals and associated equipment, and the wagon used by the Williton Station Staff as a mess room and workshop was removed and a new facility constructed on the ‘down’ side of the track.
Work is continuing on updating the Photo Galleries. Please send photos and information to firstname.lastname@example.org and for photographs include a caption, the date it was taken and the photographer’s name.
Relaunch Of Website
Three years of hardware breakdowns, software redundancies and change of station personnel to those of little IT experience has led to our website and email systems falling into confusion!
We are now enlisting the help of a new member of staff (who in turn is calling on his more up to date offspring!) in the hope of restoring our communications to the benefit of all.
4 March 2018
GWR 4-6-0 No.7828 ‘Odney Manor’ leaving Williton on 15 May 2016. © Alan Turner