The Yate to Thornbury Railway


Tytherington Life

Recollections of the Tytherington railway

The Railway and the Quarries at Tytherington

Tytherington Stationmasters and Porters

Level Crossing in Tytherington

The first public train ran from Bristol to Thornbury via Tytherington on 2nd September 1872 and set down about 100 passengers at Thornbury. The line was closed to passenger traffic in 1942, and `finally' closed in 1967 when the rails were removed. In 1972 the track was re-laid to serve the new Stone Terminus at Grovesend Quarry but in 1990 with the trade recession the rail connection was temporarily closed but later reopened when trade picked up.  In 2013 Grovesend Quarry was 'mothballed' as demand for stone declined and the railway line became disused again.

  Work started on this branch line in 1867, the bridge over the Ladden Brook on the parish boundary was begun in 1868 as was the cutting through the limestone between Tytherington and Thornbury. The two tunnels, at Tytherington and Grovesend, were afterthoughts; the engineers decided that the gradient of 1 in 60 through the cutting was too steep and tunnels were bored at a cost of £15 a yard. Tytherington station cost £318, the Station House £288 10s. The time-table for the opening was very simple. A train left Thornbury at 8.10 a.m. arriving at Yate half an hour later 'in connection with the Main Line trains' and returned an hour later. Then in the afternoon it was 4.35 p.m. from Thornbury to Yate, and the return train arrived at Tytherington at 5.46 p.m. It was soon realised that the gap was too long and, a fortnight later, a mid-day train was added. In the 1920s, the return fare to Thornbury was 5d., to Bristol ls. 3d. There was also a milk train from Thornbury to Yate early each morning. North of Tytherington station from 1884 a siding lead into West Quarry. The siding closed on 10th June 1963 and was taken out of use that October. From 29th August 1898 on the opposite side of the branch, a siding led to Church Quarry

 When the line first opened the Western Daily Press (3rd Sept 1872) reported that “Simply for an excursion, a trip along the new route would repay the traveller, as in the locality of Tytherington the scenery is very bold and romantic, and similar in character to that at the Peaks in Derbyshire, which is perhaps unequalled in England.”  The photograph above left shows Tytherington station viewed towards Iron Action in 1956.

Tytherington station was identical in design to that at Iron Acton and by 1946 was staffed only by a leading porter, the post of station master having been abolished following the withdrawal of the passenger service in 1944. From 1st August 1947 the station became unstaffed and closed to parcels, from that date parcels being collected and delivered from Yate. A boy scout troop held the tenancy of the building from 1949 until the branch line closed in 1967. Construction of the railway cut across the garden of Porch House, West Street, leaving a detached strip of 1.5 acres on the west side of the line. This was purchased from the owners of Porch House and The Villa built on it.  

The operation of the line seems to have been uneventful; although in 1885 it is estimated that around 40,000 passengers passed through Tytherington on their way to Thornbury to view a beach whale at Littleton, some 4 miles away.  Another busy time was after its closure to passenger traffic when for three days after D-day in 1944, 600 wounded U.S. personnel were brought by train to Thornbury, to be taken on by ambulance to Leyhill Hospital, and other trains followed.

Around 1954, on returning from Thornbury, the train driver reported an incident to the Yate station master. When returning through Tytherington tunnel his engine struck an employee of the Tytherington Stone Company taking a short cut through the tunnel on his way home. Fortunately the injury was not serious. It turned out that deafness prevented the trespasser from hearing the trains approach. Coal was regularly transported along the line since there was a coal depot at Iron Acton used by both Bristol Co-op and Thomas Silvey. At Tytherington, Arthur Skuse was the local coal merchant, his sister sharing the business and helping him carry the coal.  Photograph above right shows rail enthusiasts at Tytherington station on a trip to Thornbury in 1956.

Photograph left shows Midland Railway sign dated 1893 situated by West Street railway bridge near Porch House, Tytherington. c 1970.