The railway line that ran from Thornbury to Yate was opened in 1872 after many delays and technical problems. We have written on another page about the long history of planning and technical problems that occurred before the railway line could be built. Click here to read more.
The aerial photograph above gives a good impression of the layout of the station at Thornbury. It is possible to see the entrance to the station at the top of High Street along the sloping path up to the station itself and its platform. The turntable was necessary because it was a single track line. The photograph below shows an engine on the turntable. Thornbury had its own Station Master for much of its existence as a passenger railway and we have written more about them. Click here to read about the Station Masters.
The image above on the left is a thumbnail of a small section of a map of much the same area dated 1881. It shows the position of the railway station and line that led to it. One of the main entrances to the station for passengers was along the pathway that commenced next to what was then the last house in the High Street, now number 81 High Street. Part of the wall for the gateway to this path is still visible near this house next to where the Tanners Court flats adjoin it. It is interesting to note that the map shows clearly that on the far side of the railway line (facing The Villa) was a line of trees on the map, forming the southern boundary of the railway site. This line of trees can still be seen along the side of the path as one walks into the present Tesco site. The position of the station itself can also be seen in the image below. Showing in the distance is the back of a row of houses. The two tall houses at the end of the row are now Townsend House (81 High Street) and 79 High Street.
The station platform itself was where of a row of houses now stand in a road called Midland Way, named after the Midland Railway Company that ran the line.
The map above also shows that although there were sidings at the station and a short stretch of double track as the line left the station, it quickly narrowed into a single track. The majority of the line was always single track. There were no signals between Thornbury and Yate and the line operated by using a “staff.” This was collected by the driver from the signal box at Yate and retained by him until he returned to Yate. No driver was allowed to use the line without a staff so that accidents could not happen. This staff is now in the possession of Thornbury Museum and can be seen there by prior arrangement. The line terminated in Thornbury near the top end of the High Street. At this point the engine had to be turned on a large turntable as can be seen in the photograph on the left.
The photograph above was taken in Midland Way slightly above the site of the station platform looking along what was once the line to Tytherington. In the middle distance of this photograph is the turning to the left into Cooper Road which is another of the last vestiges of Thornbury’s railway past. Cooper was the name of one of Thornbury’s station masters. Another of these remnants of Thornbury’s railway past is the road on the nearby trading estate which named Short Way after the engine driver, William Short.
The photograph below shows the houses that now stand where the station platform once was. This angle shows another incline and how high the line was above the level of the High Street.
The presence of the railway in Thornbury meant there was a surprising bonus for the town. The water tower at the station also helped to supply the people of Thornbury with water. Click here to read more