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Latterly known as one of the best loved Great Western branch lines, the Culm Valley Light Railway was promoted as a pioneer light railway, intended not only to serve the fertile and picturesque Culm Valley, but to show the country how rural areas could have the benefits of a railway service. It was the first major line engineered by the young Arthur Pain who went on to construct several other light railways, notably the Southwold and the Axminster & Lyme Regis. Alas, the finances did not work out as planned and the CVLR was forced to go cap in hand to an unwilling Great Western Railway to sell out at a loss.
Michael Messenger tells how the line came into being and the engineer's evangelical views on light railways, how the traffic eventually built up and encouraged new enterprises along the line, until the railway became reliant on one or two customers. When they ceased so the railway closed, but it did last almost 100 years, much of the time thanks to the dairy at Hemyock.
Latterly with its easy going and unhurried style, gently running beside river and field, past thatched cottage and country pub, with the smallest of engines and gas-lit coaches, it came to epitomise the English country branch line.
This deeply researched book tells its story and is fully illustrated with maps, drawings, and photographs. The appeal of the line always attracted photographers and the work of some of the ablest has been used to good effect.