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By February 25, 2020 Read More →

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES Feature: readers update the story of Bridgwater’s lost Railway Hotel with memories from the 1950s and 1960s and when it became offices before being demolished

Bridgwater’s lost hotel

This is an update on the article by Harry Mottram – which is in full below the update.

The short article about the Railway Hotel prompted 150 likes on the Bridgwater Past and Present Facebook site and large number of comments which helped to give more details of the hotel’s history.

All lamented the destruction of the hotel in favour of its redevelopment with some memories of its heyday back in the day when it was a hostelry, wedding venue and even somewhere to park your bike before catching the train.

As mentioned in the article I once met a couple (now quite elderly) who had their wedding reception in the hotel and then were seen off on the platform by their guests as they took a train to Torquay for their honeymoon. It sounded like a scene from an old movie or even the Philip Larkin poem the Whitsun Weddings. Julia Dyte said it was a ‘very posh hotel in its time’ and her mother had purchased wardrobes from the closing down sale.

Gaye O’Neill recalled passing it on the way to school and was convinced the then closed hotel was haunted.

Carolyn Stevens said: “I have memories of family days out by train. On returning my nan used to disappear into the railway, while the rest of us climbed the steps towards Red Gate Street.”

Prosaically Roy Snook commented: “My father always left his bike there in the old stables around the back, when working out of town, no car then, so always caught the train, cost 3d per day or a 1/- per week.”

Brian Sweeting said: “I remember sitting on the steps with a lemonade while my grandad and uncle was having a pint. Bert Lake worked in the parcel office and my grandad was the mainline signalman.”

Barry Temlett recalls a wedding in which he took a junior role in. He said: “I was a pageboy at a wedding for my aunty, around the middle of the 1950s, and I stood on the steps to have a photo taken.”

Clearly it was a popular venue as Sharon Martine noted her parents got hitched in 1955 and had their wedding breakfast at the hotel.

Chris Adams said his parents used to stay there while visiting Bridgwater from Weston-super-Mare on the way to Bridgwater’s fair while Wendy Jennings and Sandra (Cridge) used to leave their bikes there and catch the train to the coast.

Wedding receptions were still being held there in 1960 as Nicky Marsden
recalls as her parents had theirs in the hotel. It closed in the 1960s and was turned into offices. Jane Canham worked there in 1968 when it was used as offices for a pools promotion company while Maureen Vickery echoed the views of many saying: “A beautiful old building that should never have been demolished.”

The original article is here:

STRAWBERRY LINE TIMES Feature: Bridgwater’s lost Railway Hotel – once one of the town’s top class venues – but now replaced by a garage

The former Railway Hotel in Bridgwater

One of the scandals of recent times is the neglect of our railways in Somerset. From the time of Dr Beaching’s cuts when branch lines were axed during the 1960s to the modern era of stations without ticket offices or even a member of staff, the railway stations in this area have been neglected.

Back in the day of course it was a different matter. Those were days when Bridgwater not only had a railway station it could be proud of but it also had a Railway Hotel. The Railroad (late the Railway Hotel) dates to the early Victorian period when John Richards was first recorded as having been the landlord in 1839 to 1840.

William Read held the fort from 1897, the year of the Jubilee, all the way into the 1920s having seen troops embark from the station bound for the Great War and a few years earlier the war in South Africa. It has now gone and is currently the site of a garage.

The station is the second busiest in Somerset, handling more than 346,000 passengers per year according to the Office for Rail and Road.

The Bridgwater Major Transport Infrastructure Board, which was created by Somerset County Council, announced details in August 2018 of a £1.2M scheme to improve the station, funded by money from the Hinkley Point C programme.

Do you recall the days of the Railway Hotel? Do you feel the station should once again have a hotel? Should more trains stop at Bridgwater? Email your thoughts and memories to harryfmottram@gmail.com

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