We are pleased to produce Robin’s report in full.
The stations along the Minehead branch originally had Bristol and Exeter Railway style single-piece cast iron station signs as still exist at Dunster and Williton but from the 1890’s these were progressively replaced with Great Western Railway’s ‘house style’ of metal letters screwed onto a wooden backing board. This was a very flexible system as it allowed any station name or notice to be created and easily repainted. Letters came in a variety of pre-cast sizes from 2inch high up to 12 inches for the largest signs. They are in a distinct style or ‘font’. In GWR days the letters were white painted against a black background. When the painters came round after British Railways (Western Region) took over, the livery changed to chocolate and cream.
Stogumber’s distinct and clear nameboard can be seen in the photo of a family group waiting for a train in the first photo from the Tony Harden collection. Its date is uncertain but it must be before May 1964 when Leigh Loop signal box closed.
When closure came in 1971 the letters were removed from the board by unknown hands but they didn’t go far!
In 2019 Station Master Bob Preston was approached by a local couple who had found some metal letters, spelling S-T-O-G-U-M-B-E-R in an outbuilding of the house in the village they had bought and thought they might be ‘railway’.
Indeed they were! And after a period of discussion, the station was very pleased to accept them as a donation. RAMS stepped in to assist and produced a replica of the backboard and the letters were restored to place, care being taken not to remove their (at least) 50-year old cream paint.
As an historical artefact, they have not been left out in all weathers but have been give a protected place in Stogumber’s waiting room with a notice telling their story. Perhaps, as the Railway comes back to life in 2021, readers might like to stop off at Stogumber to view the letters as well as indulging in one of the station’s now-famous cream teas.
letters now back at the station :