Holt Junction Station

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Holt, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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Holt Junction sign

Enamelled sign from the station, now in Bradford on Avon Museum

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The original plan of the Great Western Railway (GWR) between London and Bristol in 1835 was for there to be branches to Bradford, Trowbridge and Devizes, but these were not built. It was left to the Wiltshire, Somerset & Weymouth Railway (WSWR) to build a line from Chippenham to Westbury and beyond, passing through Holt in 1848. Again, promised branches to Bradford and to Devizes were left out until 1857, when Holt Junction became the junction for the Devizes Branch.

When the GWR made the Berks & Hants Extension Railway westwards from Pewsey to Devizes in 1862, trains from London and Reading could run on to the WSWR at Holt Junction.The building of a direct line from Patney & Chirton to Westbury in 1900 by-passed Devizes and Holt, thereby reducing traffic. The Patney & Chirton to Holt Junction line via Devizes closed in April 1966 and most structures on it, including Holt Junction Station, were demolished in 1970. The former WSWR is still open through Holt and carries trains between Swindon and Westbury, but is reduced to a single line.

At first the station was only used for passengers changing from main to and from branch line trains. Access for local people as a real station only began in 1874. The goods yard dealt with imports of coal, wool and hides for Beavens’, feathers and hair for Sawtell’s bedding factory and exported leather and the produce of market gardens, especially tomatoes and products of the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company (later NestlĂ©) factory at nearby Staverton.

For a period the coal yard belonged to the Somersetshire Coal Company of  Stephen Steed, George Saunders Sainsbury, Henry John Sainsbury and William Edward Sainsbury, who operated at Bristol, Chippenham, Melksham, Calne and Trowbridge as well, but became bankrupt in 1883. The Sainsburys were involved in other businesses in Devizes including the Bear Hotel, a brewery and the Giddings wine merchant.

The first Station Master of Holt Junction was Edwin Pyle until 1881 when he went to be the landlord of the Cross Guns pub at Avoncliff, Westwood. The Station Master in 1911 was named Goldsworth Beer.

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Holt Junction: Beavens' factory outing c1905A photograph of a factory outing from J. & T. Beavens’ leather works to Weymouth, waiting for a train at Holt Junction Station in about 1903. The station consisted of one island platform that was connected to Station Road by a footbridge. Looking north-east, the former WSWR main line curves off to the left in the background, with the Devizes Branch going to the right.

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Beavens' excursion to Portsmouth 1905Another Beavens’ works outing, this time in 1905 and the party is waiting for a special train to take them to Portsmouth for the day.

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