Opening of the Central Somerset Railway.-Procession in the Abbey grounds Glastonbury
(Ref-The Illustrated London news Aug 26,1834)
The ceremonial of the opening of this line,which carries a road of iron into the very heart of pastoral Somerset,took place on Thursday (last week,under very interesting circumstances. It is a single line, and about twelve miles and a half in extreme length, connecting the port of Highbridge on the Bristol and Exeter line with the ancient and picturesque town of Glastonbury; and it is contemplated, at no distant period, to extend the line to Wells and Castle Carey on one hand, and on the other to Burnham, a port at which it is proposed to establish a line of steamers to ply daily to and from Cardiff on the Welsh side of the channel.
The existance of the raiway is due to the landed gentry of the district. The entire capital of the company was £90,000. Out of this £8000 was paid for the purchase of Highbridge and Glastonbury Canal, leaving £82,000 for the work, including costs of surveying engineering, Parliamentary, and all other expenses or £6560 per mile.
It is therefore one of the cheapest lines in the kingdom
There are neither tunnels, nor costly bridges , nor viaducts through the sea, nor other engineering works of magnitude perceptible to the eye; but the project was nevertheless, beset by engineering difficulties of no ordinary kind. The district which it runs for miles is a reclaimed waste from the sea-a peat moor. When woks were commenced "navvies" could not walk on the bog to use their spades withoutsinking nee deep into it. Bit Mr Gregory has siceeded across the quagmire a substantial railway. The course of the rail having been dug out,layers of bushes, with gravel and clay, were placed in the holes, and upon these again were used layers of trunks of trees. Wherever the bog was particularly soft,floating frames were provided, upon which the rails may be said in some degree to float.
The directors having invited directors and officials of the Bristol and Exeter Railway to be present at the opening, on Thursday week those gentlemen proceeded by early train to Highbridge, where they were met by the Hon. P.P.Bouverie, Chairman of the Somerset Central Company; Mr Gregory the engineer-in-chief; Mr. Slessor, sub-engineer Mr Rigby, the contractor; and others.