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contracts ended - even the one taking barrels of blackberries from Axbridge - but including in the 1950s some 200 growers of strawberries sent their produce by rail in the Cheddar valley. Now there are just a handful of strawberry growers left. Somerset’s loss has been Spain’s gain.

From the 1920s the rise of the car and the lorry as forms of reliable transport foretold the end of the golden age of steam. By 1931 passenger transport was discontinued on the branch line to Wrington and Blagdon. In Wells Priory Road Station closed in 1951 when the Somerset and Dorset branch line from Glastonbury and Street was shut down while over in Clevedon the Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway closed in 1940. Reading the national press of the time it is clear the fate of the railway branchlines was under threat. There was talk of future uses such as relief roads and bypasses - which eventually happened in Yeovil and Axbridge.

During the spring and summer of 1963 the transport ministry was busy releasing news of the impending closures to the railways. Promises were made about providing a national lorry freight network, more buses would be put on to cover rural areas hit by the cuts and as many workers as possible would be found new work in other industries. Such is the stuff of Government spin - no different then to what it is now. The brutal reality was thousands of workers would be out of work and many in isolated communities would be left to stranded.

The newspapers and trade journals of the time were filled with adverts for cheap cars and bikes - no coincidence that thousands of rail commuters would have to find new ways to get to work. A new NSU Prinz 4 car that featured a heater, a clock and four gears could be bought for £526, while a 175cc Lambretta scooter would put you back £109 and ten shillings.

And so it came to the last few day of the line. In recognition the train used for the last run on Saturday 7th September

was a cleaned up 0-6-0 Collett GWR locomotive. Some 93 passengers crammed onto the train at Yatton including the parish chairman Maurice Crossman who cheerfully admitted he’d never caught the train. Wilf Hodges of Eastvillage was the driver and Tony Harris was the fireman. Colin Forse of Yatton was also onboard. The late Mr Forse was the driver stranded in a snow drift earlier that year when his locomotive was buried under 12 ft of snow at Draycott.

From Wells the last train was driven by Harry Vile while David Shepherd was on duty as fireman. Some 250 passengers were on board by the time it left Axbridge, and some high spirited youths placed a coffin marked The Strawberry Line RIP in white letters on the tender as the train huffed and puffed its way back along the cutting and over the bridge towards Shute Shelve tunnel and history.

Do you have memories of the Strawberry Line? Call the editor on 07789 964769 or email There’s more features about the past in the area on the website

George Williams Funeral Directors

• Popular pre-paid funeral plans on offer from our family run business offering a professional and personal service • Private Chapel • Burials and Cremations • Green and Woodland-style Funerals • Home Visits

Penn Farm, 54 Redcliffe St, Cheddar, Somerset BS27 3PF

Contact Alison & Derek Pople or Kathryn Spencer on 01934 742958 or 07738 040545 • 24 hrs a day 7 days a week

You’d be surprised how many people say that if they’d known what it was like before they came to Sandford Station, they’d have moved here sooner.

Living at Sandford Station is not just about having care and support, it’s equally about making the most of your retirement. From the licensed Pullman restaurant that opens daily, regular events and outings, indoor and outdoor bowling, a swimming pool and activity gym, a hairdresser and the library with broadband access, we’ve got it covered.

For people with longer term care needs in mind, 24-hour dementia and nursing care is available on site.

Sandford Station is owned and managed by award-winning charity, the St Monica Trust, which operates a 100% buy-back scheme at the end of occupation.

Why not give us a call and find out more about resales availability? Registered Charity 202151

k e l i b e hair & beauty

11 High Street Axbridge Somerset BS26 2AF Tel 01934 732711

20% off your next Service at kelibe. We are pleased to announce that kelibe now incorporates

Helen Stiles Hairdressing & Jamie Riches Hairdressing.

Along side Amy Willis the salon owner and Senior Beauty Therapist, treatments from bio sculpture gel nails, facials, waxing and spray tanning can be offered.

To welcome existing and new clients to either our hair or beauty salon we would like to offer you 20% off your next

service if you recommend a friend. Your friend will then also receive 20% off their first service too.

To book an appointment with Amy or Helen please call 01934 732711 or Jamie on 07703 415383

Please visit for further salon information and follow the links for Helen stiles and Jamie Riches

Find us on Facebook and Twitter @kelibehair - @helenstiles - @jamiericheshair 22 Strawberry Line Times May 2013 Strawberry Line Times May 2013 23

Resales lists are now open

For a FREE information pack call 0117 949 4004

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