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Somerset Map

The Yeovil Railway Centre was founded to save the turntable and to provide the infrastructure required by main line steam. If ever you wanted an example of what Gerard Manley Hopkins meant by the line "Whát I do is me: for that I came" in the poem I quote on my autobiography page, make sure you come here on a day when a mainline steam tour is due (see the official site for details).

When I first got there for their 20th Anniversary Celebrations, I thought, "Oh dear! I don't think I'm quite obsessed enough with trains for this place. And then the Cathedrals Express arrived, the place came alive, and it all suddenly made sense.

The 70ft turntable was built by Cowans and Sheldon of Glasgow in 1947, and can be operated manually or, as here, by connecting the engine's vacuum pipe to the turning mechanism. There are not many places were you can get a grandstand view of a mainline steam engine being turned, and it is a sight worth seeing.

Also of interest on the site is the old GWR Clifton Maybank Transfer Shed built in the 1860s, where goods were exchanged between a branch off the broad gauge Yeovil to Weymouth line and the standard gauge L&SWR Salisbury to Exeter line.

Despite being one of the few such transfer sheds to survive, its historical significance is not immediately obvious, which may explain why I didn't get a decent photo of it.

A short length of the old Clifton Maybank branch has been relaid and is used for demonstration runs on selected days. Again check with the official web site for details.

Yeovil Junction Station


Somerset Map

Yeovil Junction Station is neither in Yeovil (it's in the village of Stoford, a couple of miles outside the town) nor is it a junction, at least as far a passengers are concerned, there being no scheduled services up the branch to Yeovil's other surviving station at Pen Mill.

Originally it had two island platforms, but in the 60s the footbridge was truncated and what was the down platform became disused. The line was singled for a while, but a passing loop was later re-instated and mainline trains now use both faces of the old up platform.

Apart from that, however, the station has largely escaped the attentions of British Rail's official vandals, and these days would not look out of place on a heritage line.