This year our French group decided to have Christmas lunch at Bitton railway Station.
This railway was part of my childhood. I remember sitting in boring lessons at school and watching trains pass along the line. The Avon valley railway line which was part of the Midland rail network ran from Bristol to Bath and connected up with the Somerset and Dorset railway known affectionally as the S and D or slow and dirty. It took people on day trips to the seaside, to places like Bournemouth and Weymouth.
However in 1960’s the government decided that the car was the future and closed a lot of branch lines including ours. For many years the tracks and stations were allowed to decay. However we were fortunate our line between Bristol and Bath was turned into a cycle track by Sustrans. The thirteen mile path is very popular with both cyclists and walkers and also provides an important wildlife corridor.
A group of volunteers bought Bitton railway station which dates from the 1860’s and decided to reopen part of the track. They now run trains over a three mile stretch including crossing the river Avon. The volunteers host special events such as Santa Specials, Thomas the Tank Engine days, murder mysteries and Grandparents days. If you want a present for the man in your life they can even learn to drive a steam train.
The Railway Buffet
The volunteers also reopened the station buffet and use two converted 1950’s railway carriages named Margaret and Rose to serve meals. Our U3A French group decided that it would make an unusual venue for our Christmas meal.
We enjoyed a very good lunch with all the trimmings in Rose and we were even able to order a glass of wine If you are visiting the area at other times of the year you can get a good range of reasonably priced snacks and drinks. You can also enjoy a full English breakfast followed by a walk along the river towards Bath. For locals it is a popular place to take visitors. For the more energetic the cycle track leads to the former Green Park Station in Bath which now houses a number of stalls where you can buy snacks or crafts. The station has free car parking.
On a personal note I am pleased to report that 2018 was a very good year for me. As well as starting this blog, Bill and I celebrated our ruby wedding after surviving 40 years of married life, our youngest son Christopher married his school friend Lorna and our second son Martin and his wife Kirsty presented us with our first grand daughter. I wonder what 2019 will bring.