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Avon Valley Railway


RCD’s Overview

The heritage railway runs on the previously closed line of the Midland Railway that ran from Bath to Bristol and, via Mangotsfield, to Gloucester, the Midlands and beyond. The line was closed to passengers in 1966. The railway operates a three-mile stretch of the line, centred on Bitton station, approximately half way between Bristol and Bath. The railway shares its route with a Sustrans cycleway and footpath (the Bristol and Bath Railway Path) and the close proximity to the line for walkers and cyclists adds to its attraction. It aspires to extend further east to the outskirts of Bath, where it intends to build a new station. The line has added historic interest in being on the former main line route for trains from Manchester and Birmingham to Bournemouth via the Somerset and Dorset Railway. The railway is close to Bath, and a visit to Bath can readily include a visit to this attractive heritage line.

The support group is the 'Avon Valley Railway Heritage Trust' (see 'Information on the Suport Group' below).


Happening This Month:

  • Go to 'Homepage' and click into 'Railway Club Calendar'

Key Facts (where and when)

Extent of Railway (where to where):

Bitton, to Oldland Common and Avon Riverside

Principal Visitor Centre:

Bitton Station

Period of Operation*

- April to June (Weekends and selected weekdays)

- July (Most weekends)

- August (Wednesdays and weekends)

- Sept (Weekends)

- Late November and December (Special Event Trains)

 [* This is a summary. Please go to the railway’s website for definitive operating days] 


Key Facts (what you’ll see)

Services usually steam or diesel?

Sundays (mainly steam). Saturdays (mainly diesel, save summer months, when predominantly steam)

Type of Steam / Diesel Locomotives Used:

Small industrial steam locomotives. Class 31 diesel and shunters

Length of Line:

3 miles

Time taken for a round trip:

1 hour

Number of trains per day:

5 in each direction

Number of Stations:

3 stations


Adult Return: £11. Concession Return: £10. Child Return: £7 (Rover tickets also available)

Time to allow for Visit:

2 hours





Picnic/Play areas:


Preservation Established:


Car Park Facilities:

Car parking free at Bitton station


Key Facts (Galas/Events/Dining)

Dining Trains:

- Bitton Belle

- Afternoon High Tea

- Fish & Chips

- Sausages & Cider / Pie & Ale

- Breakfast 

Event Trains:

- Santa Steam Specials: Late November and December

- Mince Pie Specials: Late December and early January 

Principal Galas:

- None currently advertised 


- Steam Driver Experience/ Diesel Driver Experience




Telephone:                                                           0117 932 5538


Social Media:                                              

                                                                                Also on Twitter/ Instagram/ YouTube/ Flickr



Brief History of the Railway and its Preservation  

The railway runs on the former Midland Railway that ran between Bristol and Bath, which by way of a triangular junction at Mangotsfield, connected to Gloucester and the Midlands. The Bristol and Gloucester Railway had opened in 1844 and was acquired by the Midland Railway under the noses of the Great Western Railway in 1845. The Midland Railway acquired the Birmingham to Gloucester Railway at the same time, making a through route from Birmingham to Bristol. Initially the Midland Railway used the GWR station at Temple Meads but from 1858 it established its own goods facilities at St Philips, and from 1870 its own passenger station at that location to handle primarily local trains. Bath was an important town, but located 8 miles from the Gloucester - Bristol line at its nearest point at Mangotsfield, and in 1869 the Midland Railway built a branch line from there to a new station at Bath. At around that time, the Somerset and Dorset Railway were planning to extend their line from Evercreech Junction to Bath, a route that was opened in 1874. This line entered Bath at the Midland station, at which point Bath became an important through route for trains from Bournemouth to the Midlands and the North via Gloucester. The Somerset and Dorset Railway was slated for closure in the Beeching Report, and it closed in 1966. The passenger services along the former Midland line from Bath to Bristol closed at the same time (there being the alternative GWR route between Bath and Bristol) however it remained open to freight until 1971.

In 1972 a group of local people set up The Bristol Suburban Railway Society, based at Bitton Station, with the aim of re-opening the line for a commuter service. The Society was granted permission to use Bitton Station as its base and in 1974 the first trains ran. Initially the Society intended to extend the line northwards, however opposition from adjacent landowners caused delay and expense, and by the time of resolution road plans over part of the track bed had been developed and some of the remaining tracked had been lost to housing. The Society therefore sought to extend to the south reaching and opening Avon Riverside Station in 2004.


Principal Aspiration

To extend the line towards Bath.

Steam Operational Locomotives:

(1) Hunslet 0-6-0ST - ‘Sapper’

(2) Polish TKH49 - No. 4015 ‘Karel’

(3) Sentinel (Fry’s) - No. 7492


Diesel Operational Locomotives:

(1) BR Class 08 – 08202

(2) BR Class 31 - 31130 ‘Calder Hall Power Station’

(3) BR Class 31 – 31101

(4) MOD 0-4-0 – No. WD70031 ‘Grumpy’


Locomotives under Overhaul:

(1) LMS Class 4F (Big Goods 0-6-0) (Fowler) - 44123

(2) Avonside 0-6-0 ‘Edwin Hulse’


Stored/ Under Restoration/ Out of Service:

- RSH 0-6-0 - No.7151

- Manning Wardle 0-6-0 - No.5 ‘Littleton’

- BR Class 07 shunter - No. D2994

- Sentinel 0-8-0 shunter - No.610 ‘General Lord Robertson’


Name of Support Group:

Avon Valley Railway Heritage Trust

Annual membership fee:

Adult: £18. Senior: £15. Junior: £12 Family: From £24

Own Website:


Benefits of membership:                                  

-          Three vouchers for travel for just £1

-          Half price travel on as many other days as wished throughout the year (special events excluded)

-          Discount (10%) off certain items available for sale in the shop

-          Social events organised throughout the year

-          Magazine, ‘Semaphore’ issued twice a year

-          Newsletter, ‘Ground Signal’, a supplementary newsletter published for members


How to Join:                                                        Go to


What They Say About Volunteering:

Running a heritage railway requires a diverse range of people and skills. There are over 30 different volunteer roles at the Avon Valley Railway and, between them, our existing volunteers contribute over 30,000 hours a year to our cause. However, if we are to continue to grow, we need your help. We’ve produced a Guide to Volunteering which gives more information about us and how you can get involved. It provides some introductory information on the roles we have available, and how we recruit new volunteers into the team.


How to Volunteer:                                            Go to for information and the Guide to Volunteering


How to Donate:                                                Go to


WHY JOIN:  Help the railway extend towards Bath.


Those interested in this railway may also be interested in the following railway societies also listed on this



Traditional Railway Societies:

- Midland Railway Society

- Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

- Bath Railway Society

- Bristol Railway Circle


Model Railway Clubs:

- Shirehampton Model Railway Club

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