50 years of Avon Valley Railway

Avon Valley Railway marked its 50th anniversary with celebration events at Bitton Station.

The first train rides on the heritage railway, on just 100 yards of relaid track, took place in April 1974. Since then, the hard work of volunteers and supporters has led to the development of a tourist attraction visited by up to 80,000 people a year.

There are now three miles of track, and locomotives and carriages have been returned to their former glory – as has the original Victorian railway station building. Steam and diesel train rides operate throughout the year,.

The Avon Valley branch line opened in 1869 and was closed in the Beeching cuts in the late 1960s.

West of England Mayor Dan Norris opened the celebration weekend by unveiling a plaque.

He said: “Avon Valley Railway is a Bitton gem that for the last 50 years has been loved by people of all ages in the West of England.

“I am chuffed to be able to mark this special anniversary, and celebrate an important part of a lot of people’s identities”

Mark Simmons, AVR’s general manager, said: “We are really pleased to be welcoming Dan Norris back to the railway to help mark this major milestone in the history of the Avon Valley Railway.

“It is testament to our volunteers back in 1974 that they had the vision to preserve Bristol & Bath’s railway heritage which we have built on since then to create such a wonderful and unique attraction.”