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Travelling along the Didcot to Newbury Line

By Bill Nicholls

This is a project I have had going for a while and am in the process of writing an article for I had been meaning to get round to catching up with more photos for a while and today seemed like the time to do this. The area to cover went from Hermitage to Thatcham and to my shame had to be covered by driving from place to place; even this took around two hours. The first place to stop was just outside Hermitage by the M4 embankment this is where the Didcot to Newbury railway was cut in two SU5174 : From the fence to the embankment by Bill Nicholls. Up to there the rail bed is still used by local people taking their dogs or themselves out for a walk as the path is well trod to Hampstead Norreys SU5174 : Path through the saplings by Bill Nicholls
Going round the other side I pass a house that looks to be built on the old line then I pull into a close called Pinewood crescent SU5173 : Pinewood Crescent by Bill Nicholls, now there is a clue and Iím looking for Pinewood halt. The area I am looking at is a cutting SU5174 : Along to Pinewood by Bill Nicholls and runs to the M4 embankment SU5174 : Bread delivery by Bill Nicholls Though the signs are there for the railway there is no sign of the halt. The house I passed on the road turned out to be on top of the cutting SU5174 : Bending past the house by Bill Nicholls and doubtful anything to do with the railway.
From here I drive up the various local roads to look for signs of a bridge or crossing and come across one down Chapel Lane SU5173 : Top of the bridge by Bill Nicholls. Stopping near the playground which takes some of the line over I get some photos of the bridge, there is a nasty looking fence stopping you going through to view the other side though SU5173 : Bridge at the Halt by Bill Nicholls. A footpath runs up to the right s you look at the bridge taking you back to the road.
I could not find any benchmarks and on one side some rather unsociable conifers have grown up obscuring the view in the Newbury direction. It was not until I got home and looked at the book on the railway I discovered that this may well have been Pinewood Halt. A return trip will be needed. I finished up and drove round the back of the village to get a photo of an embankment I had seen which was on a bend SU5173 : Embankment on the bend by Bill Nicholls Looking across from the top it is clear that once there must have been a bridge here now you look at a house that sits in the area that was cleared. Back on the road and a drive to another bridge on Malston Road SU5072 : Through to Hermitage by Bill Nicholls then along Station road where at the end you find Hermitage Station SU5072 : Hermitage Station by Bill Nicholls the house is still there but little else and the goods yard is now used by a drilling company.
Back on the road and a stop off at Long Lane in Currage where there is a bridge remaining though the original parapet looks like it is cut down. Did not try to get down the old track bed and the way down was through gorse but I managed to get a photo from the embankment topSU5071 : Bridge from the field by Bill Nicholls. The other side had a timber yard on the track bed so it is possible to view that side as well. From here I drove to Newbury Shaw Cemetery for a look round and also view the railway where it ran past the bottom. Not much to be seen as there are now some house built on the track bed SU4868 : Newbury Shaw Cemetery by Bill Nicholls SU4868 : Bungalow on the line by Bill Nicholls
The last section to do was in Thatcham where I had noticed a bridge parapet but on getting there I found the bridge had been filled in up to the arch on one side and the other had the parapet removed and all that was left was a bank. A company called Hitachi Capital had a building built on the site now and the track bed was now a carpark SU4868 : End of the carpark by Bill Nicholls. A further visit round here will also be needed and I have now plotted the route through the town of Newbury and need to find the two bridges that crossed watercourses.
I felt it was time to go home but I stopped off at a couple of places on the way back to get a shot of the line SU4970 : Along the line by Bill Nicholls and one of a level crossing at Fishers Farm SU4970 : Towards the crossing by Bill Nicholls before going back to the Uplands Bridge SU5277 : Looking through to Compton by Bill Nicholls Enough to be getting on with for now but more work is needed before I have finished and this will be back round Newbury.

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Mon, 12 Mar 2012 at 20:38
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