BGS Web Site
Welcome to our overhauled web site, which went live in Jan 2012.
The site which should work with most computer screen sizes and browsers.
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...
Cheers for now - Rob Speare
Info : July 2016 - New photos of S3501 castings added to 7mm section, with thanks to Tom Messer.
Info : June 2016 - 'The Broad Gauge Railway at Watchet' a publication by BGS member Chris Saunders is now available from the BGS Publications officer. 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 investigate more. . . If you were unaware of Britain's 'broad gauge' railways, or the Society that actively researches, documents and models it today; perhaps 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.
The Membership subscription is quite reasonable, and 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 should be easy to find detail on subjects previously written about.
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 England.
Early locomotives were typically wide bodied with fairly large spindly driving wheels, most often sporting polished brasswork on the splashers and firebox cladding. And their train crews needed to be hardy - with barely a small weatherboard as protection from the elements, as in this photograph of 0-6-0 Caesar class locomotive 'Nemesis', photographed at Trowbridge in Wiltshire.
This period saw the creation of locomotive and signalling technologies that were to shape railways for the next 100 years, along with engaging architecture, some of which we can still view.
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, lasting 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. 120 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.