East Somerset Railway
Cranmore railway station is the line's headquarters
Commercial operations
Original gauge7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm) Brunel gauge
Preserved operations
Length2+12 mi (4.0 km)
Preserved gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Commercial history
Opened9 November 1858
1 March 1862Extension opened
1874Converted to
4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Closed to passengers1963
Preservation history
1972Restoration (of the ESR) begins
1974ESR Granted Light Railway Order
1975ESR re-opened
1981ESR extended to Merryfield halt
1985ESR extended into Mendip Vale
East Somerset Railway
Mendip Vale
Maesdown Bridge
Old Tramway Bridge
Merryfield Lane
Cranmore West
Engine Sheds & Sidings
East Somerset Railway
East Somerset Railway shown within Somerset
(grid reference ST665435)

The East Somerset Railway is a 2+12-mile (4 km) heritage railway in Somerset, running between Cranmore and Mendip Vale. Prior to the Beeching Axe, the railway was once part of the former Cheddar Valley line that ran from Witham to Yatton, meeting the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway at Wells.


The East Somerset Railway Company was incorporated under the East Somerset Railway Act on 5 June 1856[1][2] and was built as a 7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge line. The line was originally between Witham railway station and Shepton Mallet and this line opened on 9 November 1858. It was planned by Mr. Brunel and built by engineer Mr. Ward and contractor Mr. Brotherwood. The station buildings at Shepton and Witham Friary, as well as the bridges along the route, were constructed of Inferior Oolite from nearby Doulting Stone Quarry.[3] Shepton was now 129 miles (208 km) from London by rail, a journey of just over four hours.[4]

Four years later the line was extended to Wells; this part of the line was opened on 1 March 1862. The East Somerset Railway was bought by the Great Western Railway on 2 December 1874, shortly after it was converted to 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge.

In 1878, the GWR joined the East Somerset line with the Cheddar Valley line to Wells, which had been built by the Bristol and Exeter Railway, by obtaining running rights over a section of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway and running its trains through the S&DJR Wells station at Priory Road, though GWR trains did not stop at Priory Road until 1934. At this stage, the main traffic became the through trains from Yatton to Witham and the East Somerset Railway station in Wells closed, with Wells (Tucker Street) becoming the station for the city on the line. The Yatton to Witham service remained in use with the GWR and later BR until passenger service finally ceased in 1963 as a result of the Beeching Axe, however trains carrying bitumen continued until 1985.


In 1971/72, the artist David Shepherd came across, viewed and later purchased Cranmore station and a section of the track to house and run his two locomotives; the BR 2-10-0 Class 9F No. 92203 "Black Prince" and BR Standard 4 4-6-0 No. 75029 'The Green Knight'.[5] In 1973, the line opened offering Brake Van rides before extending first to Merryfield in 1980 and then to Mendip Vale and into Cranmore station itself in 1985.

Today the railway plays host to a variety of preserved diesel and steam locomotives.

The East Somerset Railway only operates the line between Cranmore, Cranmore West, Merryfield Lane Halt and Mendip Vale. Between the last two sections, the railway runs through the Doulting Railway Cutting Site of Special Scientific Interest.[6] The section between Cranmore and the mainline is used for heavy quarry traffic to the nearby Merehead Quarry.

In 1991, a new station building was constructed at Cranmore which now includes a cafe, booking office, gift shop and toilets. The platform then extends to the old station which is now a museum. On the platform is an old K4 red telephone box which incorporates a stamp machine and post box. It was made around 1927 and is one of only 50 made to that design.[7] Opposite the platform is a signal box dating from 1904 and is the standard GWR pattern of the period. Close to Cranmore station are the engine sheds and workshop (known together as Cranmore Shed) which were built in 1973, (during the preserved line's restoration at the time).

Cranmore Traincare and Maintenance and Services (CTMS) was set up in 1995 at the Cranmore base of the ESR. They carry out professional repairs to carriages and bodywork overhauls on Diesel Locomotives. CTMS is based opposite the ESR loco workshop in a separate preservation era shed.

An order by the Secretary of State for Transport in 2005 allowed a further 660 yards (600 metres) of track to be used.[8]

On 25 March 2007, the East Somerset Railway announced that it had received a £7,500 grant from Shepton 21 Group, a local organisation, set up to regenerate the area around Shepton Mallet. The money was to be spent on conducting a feasibility study into extending the line towards Shepton Mallet, with a possible new terminus at Cannards Grave, on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet.[9]

In recent years the ESR has gained a reputation for restorations and overhauls at its Cranmore headquarters.[citation needed] In 2014, LMS Ivatt Class 2 No. 46447 was restored to working order from scrapyard condition, being followed by LMS Ivatt Class 2 2-6-2T No. 41313 in 2017 for the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. GWR 5205 Class No. 5239 Goliath was completed for the Dartmouth Steam Railway in November 2019. The railway has subsequently began restoring GWR 5101 class No. 4110 in January 2020. This loco is also owned by the Dartmouth Steam Railway.

The route of the ESR


The railway hosts several events throughout the year


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Operational steam locomotives

Number & Name Description History and Current Status Livery Photograph
No. 1719 Lady Nan Andrew Barclay Sons & Co.
No. 1719 "Lady Nan" was built in 1920. It was delivered to J. and R. Howie Ltd., Hurlford Fireclay Works, near Kilmarnock on 23 December 1920 and was known as 'Hurlford Fireclay Works No. 2'. The locomotive worked there until it was sold in April 1959 to Glenfield & Kennedy ltd. of Kilmarnock. There it was repaired using parts from a 1903 Barclay locomotive and named 'Glenfield No. 2'.

By early 1966 rail traffic at Glenfield had diminished and the locomotive was offered for sale, but was not sold until March 1972 when a local scrap merchant effected the purchase. Later that month, the locomotive was resold to Mr. R.P.Weisham just before scrapping was to commence. The locomotive was moved for storage purposes to the National Coal Board at Backworth, Northumberland on 14 April 1972. On 6 May 1973, the loco was moved to Radstock for a further period of storage, until 5 November 1975 when the loco was moved to Cranmore.

'Glenfield No.2' entered Cranmore Works during 1978 and was the subject of a complete general overhaul. Being completed and fitted with vacuum brake gear, 'Glenfield' emerged in 1985 in blue livery and was renamed 'Lady Nan'.

For several years, 'Lady Nan' was loaned to the National Railway Museum, but it returned to Cranmore during 2000. It returned to service following overhaul in 2017 and is primarily used on 'Driver for a Tenner' duties on high days and holidays.

Caledonian Railway Blue
No. 4555 GWR 4500 Class
4555 was built in 1924 at Swindon Works. It arrived at Dartmouth in 1973 where it has remained ever since. It was withdrawn from service in 2007, requiring a major overhaul. This overhaul began in 2014 and was completed in early 2020. Following its completion at Churston, the locomotive moved to the East Somerset Railway in March 2020 where it will stay for a period of 3 years. It moved to Tyseley Locomotive Works in September 2020 for firebox repairs, these were completed and the loco returned to traffic in April 2021. GWR Lined Green with 'Great Western' Lettering and Edwardian crest
No. 46447 LMS Ivatt Class 2
No. 46447 was built in 1950. It was first allocated the Crewe North, not far from its birthplace of Crewe Works, though moved to Workington within months to replace many elderly LNWR locomotives in the local area. It was moved to various sheds in North Wales and Derbyshire, right up until 1966, subsequently sold for scrap to Dai Woodham. It was rescued in 1972 as the 20th locomotive to leave Barry Scrapyard and moved to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. No. 46447 later moved to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway in 2008. In 2012, an agreement was made between the ESR and the Isle of Wight which saw No. 46447 move to Cranmore in exchange for LB&SCR E1 No. 32110 Burgundy. It arrived at Cranmore in November 2012 and it was launched back into service following restoration in October 2014. It will now run on the ESR for 10 years. BR Lined Black with the Late Crest

Steam locomotives under overhaul

Number & Name Description History and Current Status Livery Photograph
No. 31


No. 31 was built in 1950. It worked for the National Coal Board at Whittle Colliery throughout its working life before being withdrawn. It was originally sold to the North Yorkshire Moors Railwaybefore being sold to the Avon Valley Railway. It is now at Merryfield Lane on the ESR in a stripped down state. It requires a new firebox. n/a
No. 4110 GWR 5101 Class
4110 was built in 1936 at Swindon Works. It was rescued from Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, Glamorgan in 1979 by the Great Western Preservation Group and moved to Southall Railway Centre becoming the 100th locomotive to leave the scrapyard. 4110 later ended up being moved to Tyseley Locomotive Works for restoration, however only a small amount was undertaken before the engine was put on the market to raise funds for another project. 4110 was purchased and moved to the West Somerset Railway in 2015, with the goal being to restore the engine over five years when funding was available alongside space in the workshop at Minehead. After failing to undertake work on the locomotive by 2018 it was decided to put the engine on the market once again. The engine was purchased by the Dartmouth Steam Railway in 2019.

The locomotive arrived at Cranmore on 10 January 2020 for restoration, which began immediately. Once completed it will run at the East Somerset Railway for three years[10]


Former resident locomotives include 56xx 5637, 9F 92203 "Black Prince", Standard 4MT 4-6-0 75029 "The Green Knight", Standard 4MT 2-6-0 76017, GWR Castle 5029 "Nunney Castle", SR Westcountry 34027 'Taw Valley', SR Westcountry 34105 'Swanage', SR S15 828, GWR Manor 7822 'Foxcote Manor', GWR 14xx 1450, LBSCR E1 110, LMS 3F 47493, NER J72 69023 'Joem' and GNR J52 68846.

Diesel Traction

The ESR is host to a Class 108 DMU as well as a fleet of Sentinel shunting locomotives, these are listed below:

Number & Name Description History and Current Status Livery
L231 (51909 & 56271) BR Class 108 DMU
Operational, undergone major repairs over the past few years, including heavy bodywork repairs and a full repaint carried out by Cranmore Traincare & Maintenance Services. Owned by The Mendip Traction & Rolling Stock Group.[11] BR Blue
10165 'Joan' 0-4-0 SR Sentinel Shunter Operational, built in 1963 and named after her steam predecessor when bought by the Oxfordshire Ironstone Company, the loco was withdrawn in 1989. It was initially preserved at the Dean Forest Railway but soon fell out of use. It arrived at Cranmore in 2005 for restoration which was completed in 2017. Owned by the Sentinel Diesel Preservation Group (SDPG).[12] Oxfordshire Ironstone Company Maroon with Red Bufferbeams
10199 0-4-0 CD Sentinel Shunter Under repair, delivered to Glasgow in 1964. Gifted to the SDPG in 2007 by Esso from their plant in Plymouth. The loco was withdrawn in 2014 for engine repairs.[12] N/A
10175 0-4-0 CD Sentinel Shunter Operational, built in 1964, gifted into preservation in 1981 to the East Lancashire Railway by Bowaters Paper Mill. Moved to Cranmore in 2015. Owned by the SDPG.[12] Oxford Blue with red bufferbeam as 'DH 16'
10221 'Eric' 0-6-0 SR Sentinel Shunter Under restoration, built in 1965 and delivered new to the Port of Bristol Authority's Avonmouth Docks as PBA 42. Donated by Westbury Lafarge Cement works and is a long term project. Owned by the SDPG.[12] N/A
10218 0-6-0 SR Sentinel Shunter Operational, built in 1965. Much like 10221 it was operated by the Port of Bristol as PBA 39. Arrived at Cranmore in 1999. Privately Owned.[12] Oxford Blue with red and white bufferbeam as 'PBA 39'


Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap  Download coordinates as: KML
Point Coordinates
(links to map & photo sources)
Cranmore railway station 51°11′06″N 2°28′41″W / 51.185°N 2.478°W / 51.185; -2.478 (Cranmore railway station) Eastern start of railway line
Cranmore West railway station 51°11′02″N 2°28′59″W / 51.184°N 2.483°W / 51.184; -2.483 (Cranmore West railway station)
Merryfield Lane railway station 51°10′52″N 2°29′53″W / 51.181°N 2.498°W / 51.181; -2.498 (Merryfield Lane railway station)
Mendip Vale railway station 51°10′48″N 2°31′12″W / 51.180°N 2.520°W / 51.180; -2.520 (Mendip Vale railway station) Western terminus
Western end of line 51°10′48″N 2°31′08″W / 51.180°N 2.519°W / 51.180; -2.519 (Western end of line)


  1. ^ "Railway Magazine", July 1958
  2. ^ "East Somerset Railway Company". The National Archives. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Opening of the East Somerset Railway". Wells Journal. 13 November 1858. Retrieved 26 August 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ Kelly's Directory of Somersetshire: With the City of Bristol. Kelly's Directory. 1883. p. 302. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  5. ^ "History". East Somerset Railway. East Somerset Railway. Archived from the original on 12 June 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  6. ^ "Doulting Railway Cutting" (PDF). SSSI citation sheet. English Nature. Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  7. ^ "Cranmore Station". East Somerset Railway. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  8. ^ "The East Somerset Railway Order". Department of Transport. Archived from the original on 3 March 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  9. ^ "Press Release". East Somerset Railway. Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  10. ^ Duggan, Jamie (10 January 2020). "Steam locomotive 4110 arrives at the East Somerset Railway for restoration". RailAdvent. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Heritage Diesel Multiple Unit". eastsomersetrailway.com. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Industrial Diesel Locomotives". eastsomersetrailway.com. Retrieved 24 August 2021.

Further reading