Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

On Tour - Rail in the UK Tour 25 June 2023


Another beautiful sunny day to greet us as we rose and prepared to move on to another adventure!! We left the beautiful Buckfast Abbey area and the wonderful Northgate House Hotel for tonight we would be in the Luxurious heritage Queen's Hotel in Cheltenham, but first, the West Somerset Heritage Railway.

We arrived at the Railway at the Bishops Lydeard end of the railway which is 30 miles in length. We bought our tickets and boarded our train in the last carriage as the staff, who in the short time that we had meet them, had become our friends, suggested it being the best carriage. It was very comfortable as we settled in for our hour plus journey. The actual line runs from Bishops Lydeard in the southwest to Minehead in the northwest. The name Minehead has nothing to do with mining: it comes from the Old English word "myned", meaning hill. For hundreds of years Minehead was a small settlement at the foot of North Hill comprising 3 separate areas: Higher Town, Lower Town and Quay Town. The town's subsequent growth was based on the development of 2 features, first the harbour and then the railway.

The harbor was built in 1610 and for the next 2 centuries Minehead was a prosperous seaport. There was also a thriving fishing fleet. By the early 19th Century, however, problems with silting up of the harbour saw Minehead decline in importance as a Port.

The railway came to Minehead in 1874. The aim was to bring visitors to the area, so the station was sited conveniently on the seafront and The Avenue was laid out, connecting it to the main part of the town. Minehead grew rapidly as a holiday resort, with most of the growth in the area between the Lower town( present town centre) and the railway station. The day's working engines can be seen being coaled and watered in the locomotives yard at Minehead. An engine uses ¾ tonn of coal and 3,785 litres of water between each trip between Minehead and Lydeard. The route was beautiful with much greenery and quaint little villages plus many significant historical areas.

We finished our 2 way trip and then made our way by foot to the end of the platform and then approached a lovely little pub for sausages and chips as the main meals had been completed. Michael retrieved our coach and we boarded and headed towards Cheltenham. I was really a wonderful day but tomorrow will bring more!!

Graham Fleeton.


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