arrival of the railway. An old poster describes how 'a procession of
The Mayor and Corporation of Axbridge would be formed at the Town Hall,
Axbridge'. This would be prior to the cutting at 'Shutshelve Hill' of 'the
first sod' in the building of what was initially called the 'Yatton and Cheddar
Valley Railway'. Two years later, in 1869, a station had been built in
Woodborough, not Winscombe. First named 'Woodborough', it was soon changed to
'Winscombe' to avoid confusion with another station of that name in Wiltshire.
Ninety-four years later the railway closed to passengers and today even the
rails have gone. Now, the two hamlets are one and the resulting village has
come to be called Winscombe.However, you still may see signs in and around the
village that refer to Woodborough.
Outdoors there are many sports clubs, including a
bowls club in the middle of the village. Soccer, rugby, cricket and tennis are
mainly based at or very near the War Memorial Recreation
Ground. This is a fine green and grassy area bought many years ago by
money raised at public events. The deeds are retained, in trust, by the Parish
Council. However, over recent years the ground's changing rooms gradually
became inadequate. During the year 2000, with the combined effort of the three
clubs and the Parish Council, a major loan was obtained to finance a total
As a result, appended to what was always a fine pavilion is a
new block containing eight team changing rooms, several referees rooms and a
system of showers which can deal adequately with many very muddy players. In
addition the grounds contain a children's play area: every effort is made to
keep the equipment in first-class condition and attractive to youngsters - and
There have been other
major outdoor improvements. After the 1963
closure, the railway line and its associated stations gradually developed a
general air of dilapidation. The line and stations had been deserted and many
of the bridges, including the one at Sandford, were blown up. People began
walking the line and others started buying or leasing parts. Eventually, these
different demands led to the formation in 1977 of the Cheddar Valley Railway
Working Group, soon to become the the Winscombe Parish Railway Walk Society and
then the Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society. This group
persuaded Woodspring District Council to buy the remaining land, with its
track, though not the stations. This is now managed by the Society and will
always be free for the use of walkers. In 1996 the Railway Walk was designated
'A Local Nature Reserve'. Later, North Somerset Council created a cycle way
from the recreation ground south along the disused track to the A38 and beyond.
It is possible to cycle from the station to Cheddar mostly on the track:
perhaps one day it may be possible to cycle on the track to Wells. In the
future, it is intended that the cycle way be extended northwards through
Sandford to Yatton, and perhaps even Clevedon. After much collective effort the
result is for all to see: a linear asset that will be shared and enjoyed by
several local parishes.
But, what of Winscombe Station?
Yet another group had its eyes fixed firmly there! The Millennium Green Group,
later to become the Winscombe & Sandford Millennium Green
Trust, came into existence in 1997 with a plan to bring the derelict
station site back into community use as a celebration of the new millennium.
The community backed proposal formulated by this group for the station and its
immediate surrounds was one of the few accepted in the national 'Millennium
Green Scheme'. Charitable status, obtained in 1998, was needed so that the
group could acquire, hold and regenerate the area already designated a site 'of
County Importance for Conservation'. Responsibility for site management is
presently shared with North Somerset Council and the Cheddar Valley Railway
Walk Society, which has a right of pedestrian passage through what has now
become the Millennium Green. The success of this group and the product of their
hard physical efforts can be described, without exaggeration, as phenomenal.
The results can easily be judged by a stroll along the station! Wherever did
all these ideas come from? But, of course, the task continues and additional
support from villagers, old or new, is always appreciated.
What of the near future? There
are two projects that are more than mere thoughts in the minds of villagers.
Some young people determined by consultation
that the village needed a Youth Shelter at which youngsters could
gather not too far from the centre of the village and not too far from the
successful Youth Club. The group designed and priced a structure, roofed but
otherwise open to the weather, that would fit the bill. With the help of the
Parish Council, the group obtained much of the required funding and, with the
permission of the Committee controlling the Community Centre, has built the
shelter on its grounds.
Another group of young people identified the
need for a Skate Park. This, they said, should be away from the
centre of the village. Again with the help of the Parish Council and, this
time, the War Memorial Recreation Ground Committee, a possible position for
this skate park has been determined. The site is on the War Memorial Recreation
Ground. There are still difficulties that need to be overcome. Poor drainage
has always been a problem for the ground's pitches, which could be increased by
the addition of a skate park. So, solutions to this and other problems are
being sought. If they can be found, a skate park could appear.
So, what should reading this have told you?
Villagers feel that they belong to an active
village that is prepared to 'roll up its sleeves and get on with
it'. So, whether you are already living here or have just arrived or are
thinking of moving here, do join in and enjoy being part of our thriving