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As the line descended from the Mendip Hills towards Shepton Mallet station it crossed two viaducts. The first, Bath Road Viaduct, north of Shepton Mallet, is 118 yards long and carried the line across the B3136 road, and at 62 ft. in height was the highest viaduct on the Somerset and Dorset Railway. Like a number of other viaducts on the line, this one had been widened when this section of the line was doubled, and during a gale in February 1946 one half of the viaduct collapsed. Fortunately no one was injured, but this raised concerns about the safety of other viaducts and these were inspected. The line at this point was reduced to single line working until the collapsed half of the viaduct was rebuilt in August of the same year.

Bath Road viaduct, Shepton Mallet

Bath Road Viaduct, at 62 ft. in height, the highest viaduct on the Somerset and Dorset Railway, seen here from the B3136 road looking north-east, (away from Shepton Mallet), on a fine day in early May 2001.

Half a mile further on, the line crossed the A37 road, but the bridge has been removed although the abutments still exist. After about 200 yards on an embankment the line then ran onto the Charlton Viaduct which swept in a gentle curve over 27 arches for 317 yards, the longest viaduct on the SDJR, before meeting another short length of embankment and then  crossing Charlton Road on a bridge and running into Shepton Mallet (Charlton Road)  Station. The Charlton Viaduct still stands and can be visited quite easily from a small side road off of Charlton Road, a public footpath actually passes under the viaduct. The bridge over Charlton Road no longer exists and the site of Shepton Mallet (Charlton Road) Station is now a trading estate.

Charlton Road viaduct, Shepton Mallet

Still impressive 35 years after the last train passed over it, Charlton Road viaduct, the longest viaduct on the Somerset and Dorset Railway, at 317 yards - a reminder of days long gone! Photographed in May 2001, 35 years and two months after the last train ran on the SDJR.

From Charlton Viaduct there is no trace of the line for 1½ miles until we reach the site of the Prestleigh Viaduct. The viaduct has been removed but the embankments each side still remain. From this point the trackbed still exists, but on private land and inaccessible, as it leads south west to Evercreech village and the site of Evercreech New station, which is now a housing estate.

Somerset and Dorset

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Copyright © Gordon Jones 2007

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