The Malmesbury Branch Line
Malmesbury - History
The development of the railway in Britain had an enormous impact nationwide; opening up otherwise relatively closed rural communities on an unprecedented scale. Malmesbury was at first ignored by early rail development, the first scheme suggested in 1845 was rejected by landowners, but a few decades later a branch line was developed.
On 17th December 1877, the Malmesbury Branch Line and station had its grand opening. The impact on trade was immediately noticeable; Malmesbury’s market held on the third Wednesday of every month prospered and saw its best attendance in 30 years in February 1878. The railway was well utilised in both of the world wars, the first saw large numbers of troops travelling through the town from nearby military bases and the second saw significant numbers of refugees coming to Malmesbury and the surrounding villages. In 1933 the branch was connected to the main line from South Wales.
Despite its usage, the railway soon closed down, first to passengers in September 1951 and then to goods in 1962. Remnants of the railway, including sleepers and an old railway tunnel, can still be seen at various points alongside the River Avon in the outermost parts of the town.
Vernon, Charles & Malmesbury Civic Trust., An Historical Guide to Malmesbury (Malmesbury Civic Trust, Chippenham: May, 2005).