Weston Clevedon & Portishead Railway Home

Copyright © 2004-2016

Paul Gregory  

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Track and Signalling

The track was standard gauge, laid with 56lb/yd (Weston to Clevedon) and 60lb (Clevedon to Portishead) flat bottomed rail on wooden sleepers. This restricted speeds to 25 mph as a Light Railway. Initially semi-circular cross-section split timber sleepers were laid (with the curved part to the top - photo on right), but these were replaced with normal rectangular ones around 1900.

Semi-circular sleepers

In 1919, Colonel Stephens experimented with the use of concrete sleeper blocks or ‘pots’, made in Clevedon, to replace wooden sleepers. The blocks measured 20” x 12” x 7.5” spaced at 2ft 2in, but some were larger at 24” long. Wooden pegs were cast into the blocks and the rail fastened by spikes driven into the pegs. Every third pair of blocks were tied together by metal tie rods. These blocks were laid on various parts of the line. This method was reasonably successful. In some places every third pair was replaced with a wooden sleeper. See Kingston Road picture.

Concrete block track

Photo on right is one of 16 sleepers owned by the WC&P Railway Group thanks to a donation.

Click to enlarge.

There were around 80 level crossings (including farm crossings), mostly ungated, with wooden cattle grids, which were painted white. Where there were gates, women were sometimes employed to open them, but otherwise the fireman would run ahead to open them, while the conductor closed them, and the train stopped twice !

Cattle grids

Complex gated crossings existed at Clevedon Triangle and at Clevedon All Saints. Until 1938, ungated crossings had no traffic lights, even where crossing the busy Bristol to Weston main road. Trains would whistle and slow to 8 mph on approach to these crossings. In 1938, train-operated traffic lights were installed at the New Bristol Road and Locking Road East crossings.

When more than one train was running, a train staff was used. Staffs were exchanged when passing at the Wick St Lawrence loop.

Signal at Weston

Signals were fairly few and were of lower quadrant type. There were signals at both Weston and Portishead termini and at Clevedon, Wick and Worle. Signals and siding points were operated by ground frames. Photo on right shows a signal at the end of the platform at Weston, looking towards Clevedon.

Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy of Weston-super-Mare Library.