Student volunteer Anna takes a look at Melksham railway station....
During the 19th Century Melksham, there was a significant influx of businesess and businessmen wishing to promote the town as a Spa town. One of these was Walter Long of Rood Ashton, the chair of the committee founded to fund the new railway station. As the number of manufacturing industries grew, a need for large-scale and quick transport was necessary in order to distribute their products nationally.
On 5 September 1848, the Wilts and Somerset Railway opened the Melksham station, costing in excess of £1 million. However, immediately there were issues with monopolies, causing passengers wishing to travel to Chippenham to be diverted to Thingley, in Corsham. These problems were solved in 1850, when the Wilts and Somerset Railway merged with The Great Western Railway (originally designed by Brunel, from London to Bristol, via Swindon and Chippenham).
While the railway worked successfully with little interruption during the latter part of the 19th Century and early 20th Century, in 1966, John Beeching proposed that 30% of railway networks should close to reduce public transport spending and assist in boosting the economy. As a result, Melksham Station closed on 18 April 1966, despite the line remaining as a single diversion route for freight and passengers. Several station buildings were demolished and one of the platforms was removed.
It was only when the economy was stable in 1985 that the station re-opened to provide limited services for commuters to Swindon. In 2001 when services increased with five trains running daily. The station became Great Western Railway’s fastest growing stations, an improved service was introduced in 2013 to allow longer trains to stop on the platform.
Article by Anna Hallett