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Branch Lines to Chard


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ISBN:9781911038528 320 Pages, Hardback, Free Postage.

Chard in Somerset has a history of manufacturing, and a claim to be the birthplace of powered flight. In the nineteenth century it hoped to be placed on key transport routes – firstly a canal linking the English and Bristol Channels, and then the main railway routes to the South West. These visions foundered – instead there was a local canal, while the main railway routes bypassed the town. So in Victorian times, with the canal failing, local businesses and landowners took the initiative and promoted branch lines from Chard, to join the South Western main line at Chard Road (later Chard Junction) some three miles south of the town, and northwards to Taunton. The first, Chard Town, was to standard gauge and opened by the L&SWR in 1863; the line to Taunton was built to Brunel’s broad gauge and was opened by the Bristol & Exeter Railway in 1866 and subsequently taken over by the Great Western. As a consequence, there were three stations bearing the name Chard, remarkable for a town of its size. Chard remained a ‘frontier town’ between the Great Western and London & South Western railways, and was among the last of the broad gauge branch lines to be converted to standard gauge, retaining its unique character to the end.

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Product Code: LITN313

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