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Located on the last broad gauge line in the Taunton Area
Located between Chard and Ilminster in Somerset, Donyatt Halt has been rebuilt after
46 years of neglect and is now a landmark on The Stop Line Way (Sustrans National
Cycle Route 33)
1861 - the Chard & Taunton Railway obtained an Act of Parliament to build a line
from Creech Junction, east of Taunton on the Bristol & Exeter Railway to Chard Joint.
1866 - The BER acquired the powers and opened the broad gauge (7’ 0¼”) line to passengers.
1876 - The Bristol & Exeter Railway was merged into the Great Western Railway.
1891 - Track coverted to standard gauge (4’ 8½”) by 400 men in one day on 19th July,
it was the last line in the Taunton area to be converted. The GWR left the conversion
as late as possible to prevent the London and South Western railway, who owned the
branch from Chard Joint to Chard Junction, from requesting to run trains through
1917 - The GWR took over the running of the whole branch.
1928 - Donyatt Halt built. Located about ¼ mile east of Donyatt village, the halt
comprises a single platform faced with wooden sleepers and a small wooden waiting
shelter. Access was by a footpath from the lane which passes over the railway on
the adjacent bridge. Chard Joint station renamed Chard.
1940 - The Taunton Stop Line was built by the Army to contain any German invasion
of the South West. The defences were 50 miles long and ran from Burnham on Sea on
the Bristol Channel to Seaton on the English Channel, comprising of a continuous
line of anti tank obstacles with pillboxes and road blocks. Between Ilminster and
Chard it followed the Great Western Railway branch and is a prominent feature at
1949 - Chard station renamed Chard Central.
1962 - Chard Branch closed to passengers but remained open for freight.
1964 - Chard Branch closed completely.
The rebuilt Donyatt Halt on 17th June 2010, obstacles which form part of the 1940
Taunton Stop Line can be seen on the bank to the right of the picture.
By car/taxi - Donyatt Halt can be accessed by road but there is no car parking facility.
To get there from the A303, take the A358 towards Chard at Southfields Roundabout
and turn left in Donyatt Village, the former station is about ¼ mile outside the
By foot/cycle - The best way to get there, walk or cycle along the Stop Line Way
between Chard and Ilminster, download this leaflet for additional information about
the heritage of the area covered by the project and further links to examine.
The map below shows the location of Donyatt Halt and the stations either side on
the former Chard branch, click on any of the markers to see the station name. Perry’s
Cider is also shown, use the zoom and pan tools to explore the map.
Donyatt Halt is best visited as part of a walk or cycle ride along the Stop Line
Way. There’s not enough to see for a special journey to the site alone unless you
are studying the history represented there, the restoration is good but there is
no track and therefore no trains.
However, anyone interested in railway or military heritage who visits the area should
go and have a look at the restored halt and remains of the stop line.
If you are travelling by car or cycle then I recommend a visit to Perry’s Cider at
nearby Dowlish Wake, follow the link below for more details.
Attractions and Facilities
Download the leaflet for details of the heritage attractions on the Stop Line Way,
there are no facilities at Donyatt Halt. Good food is available nearby at The George
Inn in Donyatt village (see link below).
On the platform there is a wodden statue of Doreen Ash who was evacuated to Donyatt
during the Second World War.
The statue was sculpted by Ian Edwards of Chard who’s Grandfather was evacuated to
Donyatt at the same time as Doreen Ash.
More of Doreen’s story can be found on the timber waiting shelter on the platform.
Perry’s Cider is just four miles away in the picturesque village of Dowlish Wake
and is well worth a visit. Indeed, some of their customers travel long distances
to buy the Farmhouse Cider which is made on the premises.
The cider mills and visitor centre still occupies the original family farm. Visitors
can sample the atmosphere of old West Country life and the traditions of the working
cider farm. The 16th Century thatched cider barn houses a large collection of cider
making and farming equipment of yesteryear which is on view all year round. There
is also a new tea room and farm shop opened in 2008 where visitors can sample any
of their ciders free.
The original Donyatt Halt shortly after closure.
Fast forward 40 years and work was progressing on the walking and cycle route between
Chard and Ilminster, part of Sustrans (Sustainable Transport) National Cycle Route
33 which runs from Bristol to Seaton. Part of the route, particularly this stretch
follows the 1940 Taunton Stop Line so it has been named ‘The Stop Line Way’.
From 2005 to 2009, a group of volunteers from Ilminster, Donyatt, Knowle St Giles
and Chard joined together to design a heritage project linking their communities
along part of The Stop Line Way. In 2008, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded them
a grant. One of the heritage projects on the route is the restoration of Donyatt
Halt to how it was when open, there was not much left of the original as seen in
the pictures below.
The remains of the original platform edge timbers after removal of the undergrowth
on 14th February 2009.
In 2009 Donyatt Halt was fully restored to as new condition, sadly, vandals have
made their mark on more than one occasion (look carefully at the top picture). Some
were caught and have been sentenced with community service.