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BGS Web Site  

An Intro

Welcome to the BGS web-site, which should work with most computer screen sizes and browsers.

Please explore our site using the menu options at the top.

We don't use cookies or web tracking, but your computer will need Javascript enabled to view this site; if you find any errors, please let me know.

You are welcome to make suggestions for improvements or new features, perhaps there's a particular Broadsheet article you think might be of appeal to our web audience; drop me a line... 

Thanks - Rob Speare

 

The 2020 AGM, to which all current BGS members are invited, with be held on Saturday 4th April at 12.30pm at The Great Western Hotel, Station Approach, Taunton, TA1 1QW

Info : January 2020
A number of 4mm models kits have come back into stock.
Check the   4mm kits page.

Info : We have a stock of Tim Bryan's book 'Broad Gauge Railways' which is available from the BGS Treasurer.
See info on the  Publications page.

Info : 'The Broad Gauge Railway at Watchet' a publication by BGS member Chris Saunders is available from the BGS.  Please see our Books page.

Welcome to the BGS

Please use the Menu structure above to navigate your way around the site.

Whether it is history, research, modelling or a further reading, we hope you will find the site informative, maybe inspiring. . .

Broad Gauge Society
- Events Calendar

See more details on the  Events page.

 

This site is our window to the web, so if your first visit here, we invite you to explore . . .  If you were unaware of Britain's 'broad gauge' railways, or the Society that actively researches, documents and models it today; then we've already achieved something.

 

We hope you find the site interesting - if so, perhaps you may consider joining the Society; no special qualifications required.

Our Membership subscription will entitle you to receive our regular Journal and mailouts, expanding on information about this facinating period of railway operation.

 

The site includes an index of the Society's 'Broadsheet' magazine articles, so it should be straight forward to find details about subjects previously covered.

Britain's Broad Gauge Railways.

In 1836, the fledgling Great Western Railway was laid to a gauge of 7 feet 0¼ inches, as directed by young engineer I. K. Brunel.  A number of other new railway Companies adopted the specification, creating a network with a unique style and infrastructure that spread across much of South West England and S. Wales.  This most creative period was part of the huge industrial revolution that transformed everyday life in Britain.

With designs evolving over time, locomotives were built by numerous companies and railways, but were typically wide bodied with fairly large spindly driving wheels, most often sporting polished brasswork.   As can be seen in some of these photos, early train crews needed to be hardy, with often barely a small weatherboard as protection from the elements.

This period saw the creation of locomotive and signalling technologies that were to shape railways for the next 100 years.  Brunel's influence also pushed the boundaries of civil engineering and engaging architecture that gave the railway a distinct identity, some of which survives modernisation.

Many independant railways were absorbed into the larger Great Western Railway, but the Broad Gauge routes remained the most comfortable way to travel; a definitively superior and elegant passenger railway system, with creative transport solutions for goods, that lasted over fifty years.

Its supercession came in May 1892, with conversion of all G.W.R. lines to 'narrow' gauge (now 'standard'), and the withdrawal of most rolling stock.

The Broad Gauge Railway was part of a fascinating period of optimism, with new travel opportunities for ordinary people - fortunately just as photography was becoming available to record it.  Close to 130 years later, and those images capture the imagination of today's many researchers, period enthusiasts and modellers, who find this railway has a very unique and enduring magic.


Hopefully this web-site will help glimpse some aspects of the Broad Gauge railway, its history and operation, - along with the many activities of the  'Broad Gauge Society',  formed to research, archive, model, and sometimes to re-create this amazing railway.    Please explore . . .