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S&DJR Level-Crossings
S&DJR Crest Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway
Signalling at the Level-Crossings
S&DJR Crest

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Introduction Crossing Register Types of Crossing Gate Arrangements Gate Locks & Stops Signalling Alterations Closures


This page is about the various Level Crossings which existed on the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR) and in particular their locations, methods of operation and signalling. It deals mainly with those level-crossings where the S&DJR crossed public or private roads which were open for vehicle traffic and not foot-paths or 'accommodation' crossings provided purely for individual land-owners. The emphasis here is on level-crossings that were protected by some form of signalling, but it does include coverage of those which were simply supervised by a local crossing-keeper.

Stalbridge Level Crossing
Stalbridge Level Crossing in 1962 looking down the line towards Blandford

Register of Level Crossings

As far as the author is aware there is no known official comprehensive record of all S&DJR level-crossings. However much research has been done on this specific subject by Tim Deacon, and Peter Russell has included relevant information in his series of line maps of the S&DJR; the work of both those researchers has been published in various issues of the 'S&D Telegraph' magazine of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust. It is fortunate that copies of signal diagrams exist for most of the locations at which some form of signalling was provided, and there are a few references about signalling alterations at level-crossings in some S&DJR Signal Instructions, but details about the provision of crossing-keepers' houses have depended more upon old maps and photographs.

One intriguing source of information is S&DJR Drawing No 1009, a large drawing which contains a set of small sketches of the arrangements at 24 individual level-crossings, all of which were 'minor' rural crossings with little or no signalling; there is no content relating to any of the level-crossings which existed at stations or signal-boxes. The drawing is titled "Methods of Working Level Crossings Late 19th Century", so the reference to '19th Century' would suggest that the drawing was compiled retrospectively in the 20th Century as some form of historical reference, but the origin and purpose of the drawing is unknown. It does contain some discrepancies however; for example, Green Lane crossing (north of Bailey Gate) is depicted as being on double-track when in fact that section of line was not doubled until 1901, and signals are shown at Common Lane (south of Templecombe Junction) although it is believed that none existed there prior to 1907.

It is intended to produce a detailed Register of all signalled S&DJR level-crossings in due course. To be completed......

Types of Level-Crossing

In simple terms a 'level crossing' could be regarded as any location where a railway crossed a path, track or road on the same level. Most foot-path crossings were extremely simple, with little more than a stile or small gate on each side of the line and perhaps some warning notices for the pedestrian users. At many stations there was a 'board crossing' (ie surfaced with timber boards) across the tracks at one end of the platforms for use by passengers and these were often known as 'barrow crossings' because they were used by station staff to move the wheeled barrows used to carry luggage, parcels etc. These types of simple pedestrian crossings are not covered in this page.

Over the years there have been many different terms used for various categories of level-crossings, but historically those for vehicular traffic were divided into three basic categories:- Accommodation, Occupation and Public Road. An Accomodation crossing was provided at locations where the construction of the railway had divided a parcel of land into two sections, each in the same ownership; the crossing 'accommodated' the need of the landowner to be able to move between the two parts of his land. Such crossings usually had just a simple farm-type gate on each side of the line, which would open away from the railway, and suitable warning notices (usually about financial penalties for failing to close the gates after use!). These crossings would be for the private use of the landowner only; the gates would be opened/closed by the user and there would be no signalling whatsoever, although in some rare cases there might be a telephone for communication to the next signal-box along the line. There were a few examples on the S&DJR designated as 'Hunt' crossings, which were provided specifically to enable local Hunts to cross the line safely with their horses and packs of hounds.

An Occupation crossing was provided at locations where the railway had been constructed across a road or track which lead from a nearby public road to some form of private property or business (eg a large house or a farm etc). Such roads were usually private, although occasionally open to the public as well, and the crossing was provided to enable the continued 'occupation' of the property whose access had been affected by the construction of the railway. These crossings would be provided with gates on each side of the railway, which in most cases appear to have been kept normally closed across the road and opened away from the railway. At most of these crossings the gates would be opened/closed by the road-user (in a similar manner to accommodation crossings), but certainly there were a couple of S&DJR locations (Hammoon and Green Lane) where an adjacent cottage was provided to house a resident railway crossing-keeper.

A Public Road crossing existed where the railway crossed a 'public highway' open to all traffic and these crossings would be provided with gates which could be closed across the road or railway as required. Many, but by no means all, of the public road crossings on the S&DJR were controlled from adjacent signal-boxes or ground-frames and provided with protecting signals, but there were a few which were merely worked by a resident crossing-keeper without any 'signalling' as such (other than a red 'target' on each gate). Some of the latter were 'Drove' crossings, where the railway crossed old 'drove' tracks used for the movement of livestock. It used to be a requirement for level-crossing gates to be capable of closing across the railway as well as the road (to ensure that any livestock being taken over the crossing could not escape onto the track), but at some of the minor crossings it would appear that the gates opened away from the railway; this may have been a later change, possibly reflecting a decline in the use of the road to little more than 'occupation' status.

Gate Arrangements

The precise arrangements of the gates at any one crossing might vary, but generally they fell into one of two groups. One group existed where minor roads crossed single-track lines and there would be just one gate on each side of the line. The other group existed where more important roads crossed double-track lines (or a passing-loop on a single-track line), in which case there would be two gates on each side of the line; when closed across the road the two gates would meet in the middle of the road, when across the railway they would meet in the 'six foot' between the two tracks. Variations existed where roads crossed the railway at an angle rather than 'square on', or where the relative widths of the road and railway varied considerably. For example at Bruton Road crossing (south of Evercreech Junction) there was just one gate each side of the line, but these gates were much longer than a normal single gate in order to close across both tracks of the double-line. Conversely, after alterations in the BR period, there was a set of four gates at Highbridge 'C' signal-box which met in the middle when closed across the road, but overlapped when closed across the track. In early days the gates appear to have been in the L&SWR style, but by BR days many had been replaced by the SR style, while the actual gate-posts (on which the gates were hung) were variously of wood, metal or concrete.

Gate Wheels. At level-crossings which were provided with four gates and located next to an elevated signal-box then the gates were worked by means of a 'gate wheel' located in the signal-box, a method which enabled the signalman to open or close the gates quickly and easily without the need to leave the signal-box. When the signalman wound the wheel a system of gears, cranks and rods under the road surface would swing the gates across the road or the railway as required; usually all four gates moved simultaneously, except that at crossings where the gates over-lapped then one pair of gates would have to move after the other pair. Gate-wheels were provided at Radstock West, Evercreech Junction South, Stalbridge, Bailey Gate Crossing, Corfe Mullen Junction, Shapwick and Highbridge 'C' signal-boxes.

Typical SRly gate-wheelThe gate-wheel shown on the right (click picture for larger image) is a typical Southern Railway example; there was a gate-wheel of this style at Corfe Mullen Junction (click here for image) and it is probable that the other S&DJR locations had the same type. The wheel was mounted on a short horizontal shaft on top of a tall cylindrical stand; when the wheel was turned a set of bevel gears rotated a vertical shaft which passed down through the centre of the wheel stand to a further set of gears fixed to the ground floor of the signal-box, which in turn moved the gate rodding. At some unknown date during the BR period the gate-wheel at Evercreech Junction South was replaced by one of the 'ship's wheel' type used by BR (Western Region) which had a vertical rack-and-pinion drive mechanism (click here for image).

At Glastonbury and Edington Junction there were level-crossings which had four gates, but were located at the opposite end of the station from the signal-box; in those locations the gates were worked by a member of the station staff who had to move each gate individually by hand on the ground, but they were locked from the signal-box. The original arrangements at Horsington (just north of Templecombe) are unknown, but by the time that a replacement Templecombe No 3 Junction signal-box was opened there in 1902 the crossing has four gates worked by a wheel in the signal-box; after that signal-box was abolished in 1933 the gates were worked by hand by a resident crossing-keeper and locked from an adjacent ground-frame (released by Templecombe No 2 Junction signal-box). It is believed (but not yet proven) that the level-crossing at Cheriton (about ¾ mile up the line from Horsington) also had four gates worked by hand by a resident crossing-keeper, but with no signals. At all the level-crossings which had only two gates then the gates would be worked individually by hand on the ground by the signalman, ground-frame operator, crossing-keeper or other member of railway staff as appropriate.

Targets. There was usually a large red 'target' fixed to the faces of the gates. At crossings where there was a single gate on each side of the line this would be a large flat metal disc, painted red all over (although sometimes with a wide white border around the edge), and usually positioned in the centre of the gate. At crossings with two gates each side of the line then usually each gate would have a semi-circular target, positioned at the closure end of the gate so that a complete circular target was formed when two gates met in the middle of the road. However in cases where the two gates overlapped when across the track then it appears to have been the practice just to fit a normal 'full target' to one of the gates. In most cases the targets were located so that they faced the road traffic when closed across the road, but some examples appear to have been positioned to face the rail traffic when closed across the track. The latter arrangement probably was used so that the target acted as a 'stop' signal for trains at crossings with no fixed signalling. Surviving photographs would suggest that the provision and arrangement of the targets varied over time and between different crossings.

Rule 99. It had been the practice at one time (known in British Railways days as 'Rule 99') that level-crossing gates would kept across the road except when it was necessary to open them for the passage of road traffic, but when the amount of road traffic began to increase substantially then many public road level-crossings were designated as 'Rule 99 exempt' and the gates normally were left across the railway. However the gates at occupation crossings were kept normally across the road and of course the gates at accommodation crossings always remained normally shut in order to maintain the continuity of the railway's boundary fencing with the adjacent fields.

Gate Locks & Stops

A key element of level-crossings was the method of securing the gates across the road in order to ensure the safe passage of trains. The mechanism varied between the different arrangements of gates, but as far as is known there were two main methods, the use of which depended upon whether there were two or four gates at the crossing and whether they were worked by hand or by wheel. Sadly no detailed records of the lock mechanisms are known to exist, but the following information is provided on the basis of similar installations seen elsewhere. Note however that the details applys only to gates that were controlled by an adjacent signal-box or ground-frame and therefore do not apply to occupation crossings or some of the minor public road crossings.

Where there were two gates worked by hand, then on each gate at the 'closing' end (ie the end that was not hinged to a gate-post) there was a vertical rod which slid in brackets fixed to the face of the gate nearer to the track. Each rod had a short 'nib' projecting at right-angles from it near the bottom and a longer right-angled projection nearer to the top, the latter acting as a handle by which the rod could be raised, lowered or rotated as required. The actual lock mechanism was located close to the base of the closure post, sunk in the road below a metal cover in which there was a central 'keyhole'. The crossing operator would close one gate across the road, lower its rod through the 'keyhole' and then rotate it (probably by 90 degrees), after which the same actions would be done with the other gate. Once the 'Gate Lock' lever in the signal-box or ground-frame had been operated then the rods could no longer be rotated, which in turn prevented them from being lifted out of their locks as the 'nibs' no longer aligned with the keyholes. It is believed that a similar arrangement was used at those level-crossings which had four gates, but were worked by hand, the only difference being that the locks would be set into the centre of the road where the closing ends of two gates would meet.

At locations where there were four gates worked by wheel, when the signalman wound the wheel the gate drive mechanism would swing the gates across the road so that the closing end of each gate met its counterpart in the middle of the road. Just before the gates reached the lock mechanism in the middle of the road a 'back-stop', driven by the rodding, would rise up from it in order to limit the movement of the gates. Once the gates had come to rest against the back-stop then a 'front-stop', worked by the Gate Lock lever, would hold them in place.

There were also various arrangements for securing the gates when they were placed across the railway. From a railway operating viewpoint this was not an essential feature, but it was probably considered desirable (especially with the growth in motor vehicle road traffic) to prevent them swinging out into the road accidently (eg on a windy day). At crossings which had four gates worked by wheel then it is believed that there was a fixed 'back stop' placed in the 'six-foot' between the two tracks and a set of 'front stops' worked by lever in the signal-box. In later years this lever was usually a separate 'Gate Stops' lever, but it believed that in earlier installations the 'Gate Lock' lever performed both functions. Where the four gates were worked by hand then it appears that they were secured simply by providing a 'throw-over gate loop' on the top of the closing end of one gate of each pair; when a pair of gates were together across the tracks then the loop could be lifted up and dropped over the adjacent gate, thereby securing the two gates together (in much the same way as a pair of farm gates). (See the sequence at 7:03 onwards in this 1963 film showing the gates at Edington Burtle being closed and then opened again.) It is possible, but uncertain, that the vertical locking rods were also dropped into holes in the ground. The arrangements at crossings with just two hand gates are a little unclear, but it may be that there were just simple latches on the closure posts to secure the gates when across the rails and/or that the vertical locking rods were dropped into holes in the ground. There are photographs which show such gates secured by chain and padlock around the closure posts, but it may be that the chains were used only when there was no attendance at the crossing.

Signalling Arrangements

The provision of signals at S&DJR level-crossings was confined to those which passed over public roads, but the actual arrangements varied and there were several smaller S&DJR crossings which had no signals at all. There were also a few locations where occupation crossings existed within the control area of a signal-box (at Stourpaine there was even one immediately adjacent to the signal-box), but these were not interlocked with the signalling in any way; curious though it may seem, the safety of the trains at such locations depended entirely upon the crossing user following the correct procedures.

In locations where public roads crossed the railway then there might be a separate foot-path crossing at one side of the road, equipped with its own set of 'wicket' gates, and sometimes those wicket gates might be locked by a lever in an adjacent signal-box or ground-frame. Even then however it was not usual practice for the wicket gate lever to be interlocked with any signals, so that the signalman or crossing-keeper could allow pedestrains to cross the line even when the signals had been cleared for an approaching train, only locking the wicket gates at the last minute.

Several of the S&DJR level-crossings were sited at or near a signal-box at a station or junction. In such cases the crossing came within the protection of the signals provided for that signal-box and no additional signals had to be provided specifically for the purpose of protecting the level-crossing. Examples existed at Wellow, Radstock, Evercreech Junction, Templecombe Junction, Stalbridge, Corfe Mullen Junction, Pylle, West Pennard, Glastonbury, Shapwick, Edington Junction, Highbridge and Bridgwater. Most of those examples were crossings with four gates over public roads, but those at Wellow, Bridgwater, Pylle and West Pennard only two gates; at the latter two stations the crossings existed mainly to provide vehicular access to the goods yard.

There were a few small S&DJR stations where there was a manned ground-frame (GF) which controlled a level-crossing, a connection to a siding and appropriate protecting signals; examples existed at Henstridge, Ashcott and Polsham. There was a slightly different arrangement at Bason Bridge, where the level-crossing and its protecting signals were worked from a separate GF from that which controlled the sidings. All of these examples were on single-track sections of the railway and had two gates only. At Henstridge the Up and Down Home signals were abolished on 15-June-1952 (S&D Weekly Notice) and about mid/late-1955 the Up and Down Distant signals were replaced by white 'marker lights' and the gates ceased to be locked from the GF (which continued in use only to work the siding connection); it is believed that thereafter the gates were kept padlocked across the road except when required to be opened.

There were many level-crossings at intermediate locations which were not close to any station or junction; most, but not all, of those were on single-line sections of the railway, crossed relatively minor roads and had only two gates. Any signalling installation at these crossings was purely for the protection of the crossing. Some of these minor crossings had no signals at all, other than perhaps 'targets' on the gates, and safety relied entirely upon the crossing-keeper to open or close the gates as required for the passage of trains. Where fixed signals were provided then usually there was nothing more than a stop signal in each direction, the provision of distant signals being rare at S&DJR level-crossings. At some crossings both Up and Down Home signals were worked from a single lever, at others a small GF was provided; some of the GFs had a Gate Lock lever, whilst others had no interlocking between the signals and the gates, but the reason for the difference is unknown. Examples of such minor crossings existed at Bruton Road, Lamyatt, Lake, Elbow Corner, Cockmill and several other locations all of which are listed in the Register.

There were a couple of instances of non-vehicular crossings which warrant a mention here because of the provision of some form of signalling equipment. At Highbridge there was a pedestrian route between the S&DJR and GWR parts of the station which crossed the S&DJR single-line on the level between the S&DJR 'A' and GWR 'West' signal-boxes and had a single large gate on each side of the line. Originally the two gates were locked by a single lever in the 'A' box, but after that closed in 1914 the gates were controlled by the 'West' box which had one lever to close the gates across the path and a second lever to bolt them. At Evercreech New station a public footpath crossed the line at the south end of the platforms and this was equipped with warning bells; at one time these were controlled by treadles activated by approaching trains, but at some unknown date the treadles were replaced by track-circuits. This was the only such installation known to have existed at a S&DJR footpath crossing and it is unclear why it was provided there.


There is circumstantial evidence that at least some of the level-crossings were protected originally by disc-and-crossbar signals (D&C), as the late CR Clinker recorded brief details of several early S&DJR Signal Instructions (SI) relating to the replacement of such signals at various level-crossings. (Unfortunately no original copies of those Instructions have been sighted.) The earliest known of such Instructions dates from 1889 but, given that the S&DJR were installing semaphore signals in 1874 and started to replace their D&C signals from late 1875 onwards, it is probable that the D&C signals known to have been replaced at level-crossings in the 1890s were among the last survivors. According to Clinker the D&C signals at Milldown Crossing (just north of Blandford) were the last on the S&DJR when abolished on 8-August-1902 (SI 158). At level-crossings on single-lines there would only be a train approaching from one direction at any one time, so it probable that - given the nature of a D&C signal - just one signal was provided to control trains in both directions.

2-arm semaphore at Elbow Corner crossingThe subsequent arrangement of signals at the minor level-crossings on single-lines varied quite a bit and it is unclear what the criteria were for the various different solutions. When the D&C signal at Elbow Corner (west of Evercreech Junction) was abolished on 5-December-1890 (SI 47 according to Clinker) it was replaced by a single wooden post carrying two semaphore arms, one each side of the post facing in opposite directions with separate spectacle plates (click photo for larger image), all worked from a single lever located outside the crossing-keeper's cottage. (As with a D&C signal, the fact that both arms would always be 'off' at the same time would not matter when there would only be one train approaching the level-crossing at any time.) A similar change took place at Lake (between Bailey Gate and Wimborne Junction) on 28-May-1894 (SI 67 according to Clinker). It is known from S&DJR Drawing No 1009 that a 2-arm signal had existed also at Stean Bow (just east of West Pennard), but it is not known when that was provided, whether it had been of the same style nor whether it had been preceded by a D&C signal. There was no interlocking between the signals and the gates at any of those locations. By contrast no replacement signals were provided when the D&C signals were abolished at Green Lane (north of Bailey Gate) on 3-April-1901 (SI 138 according to Clinker).

According to Clinker SI 37 recorded the removal of D&C signals from Huntspill (between Edington Junction and Bason Bridge) on 14-August-1889, but he made no mention of any replacement signals. Subsequently however SI 204 stated that new Up and Down signals would be brought into use there at 3:00pm on 30-March-1908, at which time "..the old double-arm post in front of the gatehouse will be removed..", so it would seem a reasonable presumption that the previous 1889 alteration had included the provision of a wooden 2-arm post similar to that provided at Elbow Corner in 1890. Unusally these new signals at Hunstpill were not worked by any levers, but by a mechanism connected directly to the gates, so that the signals were pulled 'off' automatically as the gates were swung across the road. According to a note on S&DJR Drawing No 1009 these signals were provided as a result of an incident when a runaway horse and trap became entangled in the gates!

In the previous year SI 208 stated that 'new signals' would be brought into use at Common Lane (south of Templecombe Junction) at 12:00 noon on 17-June-1907, but no mention was made of the removal of any existing signals. A note on S&DJR Drawing No 1009 states that the signals were provided at this location as a result of a near-miss when a horse and wagon became stuck on the crossing when a fast Down train was due. Sadly the SI gives no details about the new arrangements, but S&DJR Drawing No 1009 records that the signals were 'worked by the gates', so one could speculate that there was a similar arrangement to that provided at Hunstpill in the following year. An old photograph allegedly showing the Down Home at Common Lane suggests the provision of lower-quadrant arms (LQ) of the contemporary L&SWR style on S&DJR-style rail-built posts and it is possible that similar signals were provided at Huntspill.

By 1909 at Cockmill (between Pylle and West Pennard) there was already an Up Home signal located about 520 yards from the level-crossing, probably because the approach from Pylle was around a long right-hand curve which would have prevented early sighting of the gates by an approaching train. According to SI 208 a Down Home signal was added on 6-February-1909 at 519 yards from the level-crossing, with both signals interlocked with the gates and controlled by a new ground-frame (GF). A signal diagram from the BR(SR) period clearly shows a 3-lever GF on the Up side of the line in front of the crossing-keeper's cottage and arranged such that the crossing-keeper would face the track when operating the frame, yet there is photograph evidence circa-1960 which clearly shows a Stevens 3-lever 'knee' frame positioned 'back-to-track'. The date and reason for the change are unknown, nor is it known if the signals or levers were renumbered accordingly, but one possible theory is that it was a safety measure; the track and GF were at a higher level than the cottage and there may have been an instance of the crossing-keeper falling back down the embankment when pulling on the levers.

In 1921 the 2-arm signal which had been provided at Lake in 1894 was replaced on 28th September by a new signal with a lattice post and two L&SWR-style LQ arms, one for each direction, but unlike the older version the new arms were at different heights on a post which was 10' lower (see SI 270). In the absence of any information to the contrary, it is assumed that both arms continued to be worked by the existing single lever. This would appear to be the last time that 2-arm signals were used for level-crossing refurbishment work, as all the known alterations thereafter provided separate signals for Up and Down directions.

Alterations took place at Stean Bow on 31-December-1935 (SI 353) when the existing 2-arm signal was replaced by separate Up and Down Home signals, each sited 100 yards from the level-crossing. Both of the new signals continued to be worked by just a single lever located outside the crossing-keeper's cottage and there was no interlocking with the gates. A further change occurred there on 29-April-1938 when the Down Home signal was reduced in height from 22' to 15' (SI 368). At Elbow Corner the existing 2-arm signal was replaced on 6-December-1942 (SI 392) by separate new Up Home and Down signals, each with upper-quadrant (UQ) arms on SR-type rail-built posts 15' high and located 100 yards from the level-crossing. A 1949 BR(SR) copy of the signal diagram and subsequent photographs show that the new signals were worked by a 2-lever 'knee' type GF positioned 'back-to-track' on the Up side of the line between the road and the crossing-keeper's cottage, but as SI 392 makes no mention of a GF then it is unclear when that was provided; there was no interlocking between the gates and the signals. If the abolished 2-arm signal was the same one that was provided in 1890, and it had not been renewed in the meantime in a similar fashion to the 1921 work at Lake, then it may well have been the last surviving example of that type.

Just under a mile south of Evercreech Junction there were level-crossings at Lamyatt and Bruton Road, about 640 yards apart. According to S&DJR Drawing No 1009 each of those crossings had separate Up and Down Home signals worked by a 2-lever GF with no interlocking with the gates, but it is not known when those arrangements came into force. According to SI 354 on 20-February-1936 both the Home signals at Bruton Road were abolished and replaced by Up and Down Distant signals instead, the Down Distant being installed as a lower arm on the post carrying the Down Home at Lamyatt. At the same time the GF was abolished and replaced instead by a 'signal winch', which incorporated a lever for locking the gates; sadly nothing is known about this 'winch', but it is assumed that winding or unwinding the winch raised or lowered both the signal arms (which at that date are believed to have been UQ). No other instance of a 'signal winch' is known on the S&DJR, so it is unclear why this arrangement was used here instead of a conventional GF. Click here to see the signal diagrams for both locations circa-1950.

More extensive alterations took place at Lamyatt and Bruton Road in 1958, when both the GF at Lamyatt and the winch at Bruton Road were abolished and replaced by separate new 3-lever GFs. The Up and Down Homes at Lamyatt were abolished and the existing Down Distant for Bruton Road was relocated as a lower arm below the Down Advanced Starting at Evercreech Junction South. Both the Up and Down Distants for Bruton Road were converted to motor operation and 'slotted' by Lamyatt, so both Distant signals now protected both crossings and were interlocked with their gates. (It is believed that these changes came into use on 22-September-1958.) Older S&DJR drawings suggest that both crossings had four gates, but there is photographic evidence from the BR period that Bruton Road had only one long gate on each side and a post-1958 diagram for Lamyatt suggests that a similar arrangement existed there. Click here to see the signal diagrams for the revised arrangements at both locations post-1958.


In the absence of any detailed research, it is probably a reasonable assumption that the numbers and types of S&DJR level-crossings varied over the years, as perhaps did their status; for example, the alterations at Henstridge in the 1950s would suggest that the use of that crossing had declined to the extent that interlocked signalling was no longer considered necessary. However it would appear that no S&DJR public road crossings were closed completely until such time as the section of line on which they were situated was closed. Although the crossing at Milldown was 'closed to the public' on 8-August-1902 (according to Clinker's record of SI 158) and replaced by  a new bridge further north, it did remain in occupation (or accommodation) use thereafter. The first total closure is believed to have been at Lake on 18-June-1933 when the line from Corfe Mullen Junction was truncated. The next closures would have been the crossings at Polsham and Coxley when the Wells Branch was closed on 29-October-1951. The Bridgwater Branch closed to passengers on 1-December-1952 but remained in use for goods traffic until 4-October-1954, at which time the crossings at Chilton Drove, Stone End and Horsey Lane also closed. However the level-crossing adjacent to the former Bridgwater signal-box remained open for some time thereafter, as it was on a short section of the single-line which remained in use accessed from the former GWR sidings until the whole station site was closed in 1962. The level-crossings at Highbridge East 'A' and Highbridge East 'B' signal-boxes were closed on 16-May-1965 when the remnants of the S&DJR lines west of the ex-GWR main line were closed completely and the line over the 'flat crossing' was diverted into the ex-GWR goods yard.

On 6-March-1966 the S&DJR was closed completely to all traffic except for four short sections which remained in use for goods traffic. There were no crossings on the short section of line from Bath Junction to Twerton Siding, which closed on 30-November-1967. The line from Writhlington to Radstock remained in use for coal traffic (via a new connecting link to the nearby ex-GWR line) and so the level-crossing at Radstock remained open; the line was closed on 19-November-1973, but the actual last rail movement over the crossing was on 16-October-1975. The line from Blandford to Broadstone remained open for goods traffic until 6-January-1969, at which time the crossings at Bailey Gate Crossing and Corfe Mullen were closed. The line from Highbridge to Bason Bridge remained open for milk traffic, where the level-crossing remained in use until that section of line closed on 3-October-1972. It is perhaps rather fitting therefore that the penultimate level-crossing to be taken out-of-use on the former S&DJR was one of those on the first section of line to be opened by the original Somerset Central Railway in 1852.

© CJL Osment 2020
Acknowledgements to Mike Arlett, Tim Deacon and Peter Russell for additional information.


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