Frome & Witham

From left middle distance in this picture (right), we come off  a  length of track still used today by Whatley quarry, stopping under Frome station's preserved - and cleaned -  Brunelian overall roof, . We have reached one end of the Mendip hills. Frome station
On leaving Frome, we gain the West of England main line, proceeding west to Witham Friary, whose station, which we are leaving (below, left)  was still alive. Monastic fragments in the village of Witham date back to a Carthusian monastery of 1178, easily longer-lived than everything affected by the too-deep cuts of the Beeching axe, which shortly would prune away Witham station and services along the "Strawberry" line to Yatton.
Branching off the West of England main line.
Setting off down the branch  means that we are circumnavigating the Mendips, in whose southern slopes resides Merehead quarry, soon to escalate its output carried by rail, which at least has preserved this first portion of the line, to just short of Cranmore. Cranmore has been able to remain rail-connected as a result.
Name boardThis circuit of the Mendips is a turn which enginemen often did themselves, e.g. from Frome in a clockwise direction back to Frome, exactly our journey on this tour today, - below crossing a Yatton to Witham train at Cranmore, soon to be home to David Shepherd's collection.
If you visit the Strawberry line, this scene at the north-west end of Cranmore station platform as the railtour crossed the 2.45 Yatton - Witham (information from Andy Viles) is virtually identical now, 40 years on - some things don't change. Incidentally, the goods shed at Hallatrow, which we passed earlier, was apparently offered to David, though it seems he did not take up the offer. Shepton Mallet, formerly the next station on, remains a goal for the preserved section to regain. Cranmore, 82035 eastbound.
Next, a sufficiently long stop at Wells for a quick peek at the city (for city it is - thanks to the magnificent cathedral)...

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