Bristol and London and South Western (Junction) Railway

I have been doing some research into George White's proposal for a new railway from London to Bristol to compete with the Great Western Railway. It was backed by several prominent businessmen and the London and South Western Railway.

I obtained copies of the Bill tabled in Parliament in November 1882, although unfortunately not the accompanying plans. Here is a summary of the route with much of the incomprehensible Victorian bureaucratese removed.

Railway No 1

Commencing near Grateley on the London and South Western Railway at a point 330 yards north east of the 75 mile post. Passing through Newton Tony, Allington, Boscombe, Amesbury, Rolleston, Shrewton, Maddington, Chittern All Saints, Chittern Saint Mary, Imber, Cheverell, Erlestoke, Coulsdon, Edington, Bratton, Westbury, Dilton, North Bradley, Woolverton, Lullington, Telisford, Laverton, Hardington, Hemington, Manor of Stoney, Littleton and Foxcote. Terminating at a junction.

Railway No 2

From the terminating junction in No 1 through Writhlington to a junction with the Bristol and North Somerset Railway at Radstock. [Note the Bristol and North Somerset Railway is still named as such even through it was taken over by GWR in 1875.]

Railway No 3

From the terminating junction in No 1 to a junction with the Somerset and Dorset Junction (sic) Railway at the post denoting a distance of 8 miles from Bath. [A bit over a mile south of Wellow.]

Railway No 4

From a junction with the Bristol and North Somerset Railway at the northern end of the bridge over the River Avon, terminating in the parish of St James on the west side of Bridewell St, Bristol.

Railway No 5

From a junction with No 4 near its termination to a quay on the Floating Harbour. [At the Potato Warehouse, wherever that was.]

Railway No 6

From the termination of No 4 to the parish of St Michael near Host St. [I have no idea what for or what industry was in the area. The only prominent building was St Bartholomew's Hospital, which had been turned into flats in the 1860s.]

The Company and LSWR would have had joint management and maintenance of the track and the Company would enter into an agreement with LSWR for the "provision of rollingstock, machinery, officers and men". It would have given the Company running rights over the North Somerset Railway (GWR) from Radstock to the Avon bridge and over the S&D into Bath. Effectively, LSWR trains would run from Waterloo to Bristol (and probably to Bath).

Two amendments were made to the Bill in March 1883.

Railway No 1A

From a junction with No 1 at Amesbury to Winterbourne Stoke. [Much of the land around Winterbourne Stoke was owned by Lord Ashburton, part of the Baring family. Barings Bank was to help finance the railway.]

Railway No 7

From a junction with No 4 near Unity Street, terminating at a junction with the Midland Railway at St. Philip's Station.

The Company would have had running rights into St Philip's Station (presumably for interchange) and the Midland would have had running rights to the terminus.

The Bill was only narrowly defeated, mainly due to objections from Sir John Lubbock (an archaeologist turned MP) as the line would have run literally right past Stonehenge and cut through the Cursus.

Here is a drawing from the Parliamentary papers showing why Sir John Lubbock was quite rightly alarmed.

From The annals of Bristol in the nineteenth century by John Latimer, 1887.

The capital of the proposed company was £1,866,000. The contemplated works in Bristol were of a gigantic character, the projected line being intended to run through a dense mass of property between St.Philip's Marsh and the stone Bridge, while a site for the city terminus was to be obtained by covering over the float from the Stone Bridge to the Drawbridge. The scheme met an amount of approval rarely accorded to local plans of improvement, the provisional committee formed for promoting the bill comprising a majority of the council and of the leading mechantile firms, while the merchants' society made a liberal grant towards the expenses; the Chamber of Commerce forwarded petitions in favour of the scheme, and meetings in its support were held in every ward. In fact, as was observed at the time, Bristolians presented the rare spectacle of being unanimous.

The Bristol satisfaction was visibly diminished by an announcement that the proposed station was to be indefinitely postponed. The junction with the North Somerset line was also abandonded through the opposition of the Midland company, and the promoters had to fall back upon a proposed railway to join the Midland system at Bath, thus diverting Bristol traffic by way of Mangotsfield. After a long struggle with the Great Western Company before a committee of the House of Commons, the bill was rejected. Shortly afterwards the Great Western and South Western boards entered into a compact, by which they mutually undertook to refrain for ten years from an aggressive policy towards each other. The agreement raised an insuperable bar against the revival of the above scheme.

If anybody has any additional information about the proposed railway, please add a comment below.