SEmG

Crewkerne

It would be a bold person who claimed that, unlike other places, the coming of the railway to Crewkerne led to a booming population because the number of residents stayed remarkably stable for the first 100 years of railway service! The station was built in 1859 and opened with the L&SWR main line to Exeter Queen Street on 19th July 1860. The entire line was double-tracked by July 1870, but was reduced to single-track again in May 1967.
 
The eastern end of station buildings seen from beyond the closed down platform.

photograph by Chris Osment

Crewkerne
 
The station is situated about a mile outside of the town on the edge of the village of Misterton. The much-gabled station buildings were built of stone on the Up platform and, apart from the forecourt canopy, are little altered today from their original form. The station master used to occupy quarters in the three-storey section of the buildings. Adjacent to the road overbridge at one time was a water tank on a tall stone base, but the tank was removed many years ago and replaced by a gabled roof; the building is now let out for commercial purposes.

The line through the station is on a 1 in 250 gradient up towards Exeter which is an easing of the 1 in 80 westerly uphill gradient on both approaches. The main goods yard was on the Up side, with some additional sidings on the Down side. The restricted site meant that all the main point connections were concentrated in a fairly small area of level ground, with a noticeable drop down of the main line eastwards towards Yeovil Junction when compared against the level sidings. For main years the Up yard had several wagon turntables and was one of the last haunts of the faithful shunting horse.

The layout was controlled by a small wooden L&SWR signalbox situated on the Up platform, which was opened circa 1875 with only a 12 lever frame - no shunting signals were provided here at all. This signalbox was closed on 6th November 1960 (and subsequently demolished) and replaced by a modern brick-built box a few yards further east beyond the end of the platform. This had a 24 lever frame and at long last Crewkerne got a full set of shunting signals! In December 1962 several of the main running signals were replaced by colour lights, a rather eclectic mixture which included a 4 aspect Down home and a searchlight pattern Down Starting.

Crewkerne Station's brief moment of fame came when, on 24th April 1953, Merchant Navy class locomotive 35020 Bibby Line hauling the 4.30pm Exeter Central to Waterloo service broke its crank axle while passing through the station at about 70mph. In the ensuing mechanical disruption a flying brake block struck a stanchion supporting the platform canopy, causing part of it to collapse, while another brake block struck the bridge abutment. Fortunately there were no human casualties. It was this incident that precipitated the rebuilding of the Merchant Navy class. The station canopy was rebuilt later and the changes are still recognisable today.

 
Crewkerne Evidence of the repaired station canopy can still be seen today.

photograph by Chris Osment

 
The goods yard closed on 18 April 1966 and the new signalbox closed on 26th February 1967. The Down platform was taken out of use on 7th May 1967 and the line was reduced to a single track, the section initially extending from Chard Junction as far east as Sherborne, but subsequently only as far as Yeovil Junction. With the improvement in fortunes of the line in recent years the surviving (Up) platform was extended eastwards in 1992 in readiness for the new 'Turbo' trains. This extension passes in front of the former signal-box, which is now boarded-up and used as a permanent-way hut(?). Many of the buildings in the goods yard are still in place and in use under private ownership; the down yard is used by a coal merchant and the unused down platform still exists, but bereft of any buildings.
 
The now closed signal box carries a Network SouthEast nameplate though the locals will query whether the location counts as being in the south east! The NSE area, of course, stretched as far as Whimple. Note the NSE lamp-posts behind the fence.

photograph by Chris Osment

Crewkerne
 
About half a mile west of the station is Crewkerne Gates level crossing. Originally this had its own ground frame working protecting signals, but these were taken out of use when the gates were replaced by automatic half barriers in November 1967. The crossing keeper was provided with a house which still stands adjacent to the crossing. Another half mile further west is the 205 yard long Crewkerne tunnel.
 
Crewkerne The front of the station buildings photographed early in the evening on 9th July 2004.

photograph by Chris Osment

 
Another view of the closed signalbox, with the old goods shed behind.

photograph by Chris Osment

Crewkerne
 
Crewkerne In this view Mother Nature can be seen to be getting a good hold on the old water-tower, which is on the up platform next to the overbridge!

photograph by Chris Osment

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This page was created 1 August 2004

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