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Devizes Days: Studley to Calne Along the Old Railwayline

Stanley Bridge over the old railway line. Here we are, out walking along the old “Great Western” main railway line from Chippenham to Calne. The line was five miles long, and was a single track branch line that ran along the valley of the river Marden, via two stations at Stanley Bridge Halt and Black Dog Halt.

Built as a replacement for the overwhelmed Melksham Calne and Chippenham Branch of the Wilts and Berks Canal, it opened for freight in October 1863. Calne opened to passengers in November 1863, with a private stop at Black Dog Halt in 1905. With no tunnels required, the construction of the line was simple and was built in the broad gauge of 7′ 0 ” opening to freight traffic on October 29th 1863.

The line was then opened to passengers from November 3rd 1863, an unofficial holiday in Calne. The passenger station was used during WW2 to transport servicemen and equipment to the Royal Air Force bases at Compton Bassett and Yatesbury, and the goods station also saw increased trade with an increase in coal traffic, fuel for the RAF stations and animal feeds and grain for the local millers. The line had two near misses during German bombing raids in the Second World War, when bombs fell close to the station and the tracks.

The line was still producing a good profit in the 1950s. Figures for the year ending September 1952, showed an income of more than 150,000, with 300,000 passengers. However, as the Harris sausage factory in Calne began to use the road transport to move its products, the railway began to see a drop in revenue.

The decorative gates of a private house near Black Dog Halt. Following the closures of the RAF stations at Yatesbury and Compton Bassett, passenger numbers diminished rapidly and by late 1963, freight services had been cut to one a weekday, while Sunday passenger services had been withdrawn. Freight services were withdrawn in November 1964 and Calne finally lost its passenger service during the Beeching cuts in 1965.

Most of track was lifted between Easter and June 1967 leaving just a short section near the junction which was used as a siding.

By 1972 a section of the track was opened up to the public as the Marden Nature Trail, and today most of the 6 mile route between Chippenham and Calne is part of the National Cycle Network, and known as the Chippenham/Calne Railway Path.

Chaveywell Bridge over the Calne Arm of the Wilts & Berks Canal We walked via the Chaveywell Bridge over the Wilts & Berks Canal, to the “Lansdown Hotel” in Calne, where we enjoyed a good lunch and drink, to end of a good walk, with good company, in good fresh air and no rain!

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Devizes Days: Studley to Calne Along the Old Railwayline

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