ST0743 : Harbour Road Car Park

taken 9 years ago, near to Watchet, Somerset, Great Britain

Harbour Road Car Park
Harbour Road Car Park
Watchet Railway Station on the left. The Old Goods Shed (now Watchet's Boat Museum) is at the end of the car park. The current bus station is also located at the far end of the car park. On the right, one sees the back of the Library and the Phoenix Drop-in Centre (formerly the Red Cross Building). Middle ground right, one sees the Harbour Road Public Conveniences, two impressive B&B establishments and the Methodist church. Further along is the (two-tone) former Van Heusen Shirt factory that is now the town's doctor's surgery.
One would have seen a very different and much noisier scene here in the 1960s. From behind the camera position, a spur off the railway dropped down a short sharp incline to the current car park level. It then branched into a couple of sidings that ran to the goods shed - which then had a fairly large open-sided barn spanning the lines in front of it. This barn sometimes housed truckloads of wood-pulp and esparto grass overnight. Tank engines would drop down onto these sidings, and then do a switchback onto another line that ran back past the photographic position to a fan of sidings on the East Quay. Two hand-propelled railway turntables also turned railway trucks through 90 degrees, to enable them to run out onto the East Pier. These trucks were usually pulled out onto the East Pier, one-at-a-time, by a tractor. After being loaded by crane with North African esparto grass or Baltic wood pulp bales, the trucks were assembled into short trainloads on the East Quay, and then pulled by tank engine over to the goods shed. Such trains were then reversed up the incline, and then switchbacked onto a freight loop, which rejoined the main railway track at a point just before the narrow gap between the station platform and the goods shed. (Presumably this freight loop would have constituted the run-around line for locos for those few years when Watchet was the original terminus of the West Somerset Railway.) Such freights then passed under Watchet Station's road bridge, and left the mainline shortly beyond it on the paper mill sidings. So when negotiating the foot level-crossing to the East of the Station, pedestrians had to look out for trains on the mainline and the freight loop, trains on the incline and trains on the quayside switchback. Some esparto grass and wood-pulp was also despatched to the Silverton Paper Mill in Devon by rail. A very shrill crossing bell announced the arrival of through trains, but I seem to remember that it did not ring for the described freight movements. Pedestrians instead had to keep an eye-out and ears open for cursing tank engine crews.
In the 1970s, the sidings were removed. Imported timber was then seen stacked from the quay right along to the goods shed.
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ST0743, 512 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 28 April, 2010   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 9 April, 2013
Geographical Context
City, Town centre  Railways  Docks, Harbours 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! ST 072 433 [100m precision]
WGS84: 51:10.8881N 3:19.7180W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! ST 072 433
View Direction
West-southwest (about 247 degrees)
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