Swindon & Cricklade extends northwards

Work has begun on the Swindon & Cricklade Railway’s northern extension towards the second town in its name.

 Swindon & Cricklade Railway volunteers clearing the trackbed of the railway’s northern extension. Visible in the background is the tower of St Sampson’s Church, marking their goal of Cricklade. DAVE HERBERT

Swindon & Cricklade Railway volunteers clearing the trackbed of the railway’s northern extension. Visible in the background is the tower of St Sampson’s Church, marking their goal of Cricklade. DAVE HERBERT

Volunteers have begun clearing the trackbed north of the current railhead at South Meadow Lane, in a £2 million project to extend the SCR 1¾ miles to Cricklade.

The first target is Farfield Lane (half-a-mile north of South Meadow Lane), where the railway will need to rebuild a bridge that was blown up in a military exercise in the 1970s.

SCR spokesman Adrian Thompson said: “Sadly as the bridge was blown up, the original parapets are not usable so need to be replaced along with the bridge structure.”

After this, the place is to construct a platform and run-round loop, as the cutting south of the bridge is too narrow.

Rails and sleepers have been gathered with the aim of relaying this initial section during 2018, after which a further 1¼ miles remain to Cricklade.

Including the recently-opened southern extension to Taw Valley Halt, this will make the line four miles long in total.

Mr Thompson said: “We are looking at various costings to complete the job in the most economical way possible.

“One of the many downsides is we are having to rebuild and replace lots of items, including culverts that have been removed over the years by various individuals; this includes all the safety fencing from around culverts and bridges.”