Bradford on Avon Level Crossing

Bridge Street, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


Bridge Street level crossing in 1964

A watercolour painting of Bradford on Avon railway level crossing, by M.J. Calvert 1964


When the Wilts, Somerset & Weymouth Railway finally opened in 1857 from Bradford Junction, it crossed the River Avon by a timber viaduct and then passed through a 159 yard (145m)-long tunnel before reaching the station. In between, it had to cross Bridge Street, which led to the factories of Greenland Upper and Middle Mills, by a level crossing, the only one between Bristol and Warminster.

The crossing had a ground frame, its own small signal box, which operated the locking bolts on the gate and the railway signals on the approaches from each side. This small building had a fireplace to keep the crossing keeper warm in winter, but presumably no water supply, as rainwater seems to have been collected in a butt.

The old gate in the painting was normally closed to road traffic, with a kissing gate on one  side for pedestrians- workers would have walked to Greenland. There were no signals for the road. The occasional vehicle going to and from the factories would have had to ask for the gate to be opened.

The Bradford on Avon signal box at the station was closed in the middle of 1966 and probably the level crossing box closed then too and both were demolished. New gates and signals were operated from further along the line, today from the signal box at Westbury. The modern half-barrier crossing gate is equipped with signals for road traffic, of which there is much more since Greenland was converted into housing.

Today, the guard of a stopping train on the up line (that is, towards Trowbridge and Salisbury) operates a button on the platform to tell the Westbury box to operate the level crossing and, when it is closed, get a green signal. Detectors on the track approaching from the other direction and for non-stop trains from Bath otherwise will operate the gate.