Beautiful woodland along the Strawberry Line

Heritage

Historical photo of pallets of strawberries being loaded onto a train

The Cheddar Valley Line, which ran from Yatton railway station through to Cheddar and Wells, became known as the “Strawberry Line” because of the volume of locally grown strawberries that it carried to London markets. Strawberries were collected from a string of Cheddar Valley village settlements sheltered under the southern slopes of the Mendip Hills between Cheddar and Wells for transporting to Yatton Junction. The line was also a vital economic link for passengers, quarrying, agriculture and general goods.

Old Yatton Station

Yatton Station, on the main Bristol to Exeter Line, was opened in 1841 to serve as a junction station for trains to Cheddar and Clevedon. But the Strawberry Line branch to Cheddar was not opened until the Somerset & Dorset and Bristol & Exeter railway companies joined forces in 1864. The line was later extended to Wells in 1870 and on to Shepton Mallet, Cranmore and Witham Junction in 1878. The Strawberry Line survived until the Beeching Axe closed it in 1963.

Poster of the old Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Light Railway

Clevedon, on the West Somerset coast, had a 3.5 mile branch line installed in 1847 by the Bristol & Exeter Railway, connecting the town to the Strawberry Line at Yatton station. After 116 years' service it closed in 1963. Clevedon was also on the Weston Clevedon & Porthishead Light Railway, which was completed in 1907 and closed in 1940.

Historical Wrington Station

Blagdon too was connected to the Strawberry Line when the Wrington Vale Light Railway opened a branch line to Congresbury station in 1901. It was constructed in the first instance to carry building materials for the creation of Blagdon Lake reservoir, and also transported milk and coal. The line closed to passengers in 1931 after struggling to compete with local bus services. Freight services to Blagdon continued until 1950, while the remaining stretch from Wrington to Congresbury closed in 1963 along with the Strawberry Line.

Coxley, a village some 2 miles south west of Wells, was on the railway line between Wells and Glastonbury. It had no station as such but housed a railway employee to control the level crossing gates in Mill Lane. The line was opened on 1861 by the Somerset & Dorset Railway and closed in 1951.

Evercreech Junction was on the railway line between Bath and Bournemouth connecting to Shepton Mallet at the “Shepton Mallet (Carlton Road)” station just east of the town. This line closed in 1966.

Cranmore station, situated on the Somerset & Dorset line between Shepton Mallet and Witham, closed in the 1960's. In 1972, the artist David Shepherd purchased Cranmore station and a section of the track to house and run his two locomotives, initially offering Brake Van rides before extending first to Merryfield Lane Halt in 1980 and then to Mendip Vale. Mendip Vale Station is currently the end of the line for the East Somerset Railway, some two miles short of Shepton Mallet.