A POTTED HISTORY
Blue Anchor Station was opened in 1874 at a cost of £350 with then only one platform, now the up (to London) side, to give direct access to the beach. Known at this time as the Blue Anchor Excursion Platform, it later became known as Bradley Gate for a period of over 12 months, thereafter acquiring its current name. It was probably built to serve the village of Carhampton about a mile inland, as there were very few houses and no caravans or chalets in the area at that time. The name Blue Anchor is derived from the blue clay which is found on the anchors of boats who have sheltered in the bay. The single track coastal line was built by the Minehead Railway Co., connecting at Watchet with the original West Somerset Railway, which had been opened to Taunton in 1862. Both lines were built to Brunel's Broad Gauge (the rails were 7ft.0¼in. apart) and were leased to the larger Bristol & Exeter Railway who operated the train service. All of these smaller railway companies were eventually absorbed by the Great Western Railway, which in 1882 converted the line into the narrower "standard" gauge of 4ft.8½in., which is the one in use today.
The main station building, which was the only structure in existence when the line opened, is completely different in design from those at Washford and Dunster. In January 1904 a passing loop was added by the Great Western Railway, together with a down platform and waiting room, signal box and level crossing gates. Trains could now pass one another here for the first time, controlled by the new signals. Because of the large numbers of holidaymakers coming to West Somerset and the need for longer trains to carry them, both platforms were lengthened in 1934, together with the passing loop towards Taunton. The station was very busy during the summer and railway porters wheeling luggage on the station barrows around to the sea front caravan sites could earn almost an extra week's wages in tips on a busy Saturday.
The station was closed by British Rail in January 1971, along with the rest of the line, but in March 1976 the present West Somerset Railway re-opened the section from Minehead to Blue Anchor to steam services. Blue Anchor station is now in the care of a voluntary Station Master and a small team of volunteers who are trying to recreate the atmosphere of a typical country station of a bygone era, with its well tended flower gardens and polished brasswork. This is a long term project which is mostly being carried out by volunteers and funded by donations from visitors.
BLUE ANCHOR STATION
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Photo by Ian Preater