↑ Return to Projects

Berkeley Station Dig

BerkeleySt_Work_1_300x200A team of volunteers is currently exploring the site of Berkeley Station, revealing its foundations, in order to determine the shape, dimensions and construction of the Midland style building. These details will then be used to help draw up plans for its eventual reconstruction.





Berkeley Station 1961






The station was originally built by the Midland Railway in 1876 and closed to passengers in 1964. It stood decaying for years until finally demolished in 1984.

So far the Vale of Berkeley Railway have been unable to find any detailed plans of the station so by digging the foundations its hoped to work out its exact location and size.



Berkeley Station Dig Progress

April 2018

This month has very much been a dig of two halves, with work concentrating to reveal the bay platform by the cattle dock and the area around the weighbridge office. These can clearly be seen on this fantastic aerial view of the Station site taken by Ken.


That said, at the beginning of the month, Derek continued to dig around the station building and was rewarded by finding one of the original cast iron down pipes. This is significant as it helps to show the size of the eaves and we even think we’ve found a photo of this pipe when it was in situ.












Back at the bay platform, lots of work has resulted in all of the waste material having been removed, with Brett and Edgar taking a moment to survey their handiwork. As the pictures show the team can be proud of what they’ve achieved.



















What’s more interesting is the number of finds from this area which include:

A lift up platform, that we think was used to allow the cattle to move from the cattle dock onto the waiting wagons in the bay area.

Hinges, possibly from one of the cattle dock gates.




Stone sills, possibly from one of the station buildings.


An S&T cable marker, in excellent condition.





In the meantime, over by the weighbridge office, the site has been tidied up and further investigations into the weighbridge pit has resulted in the discovery of a large space under the building. More should be revealed next month….












March 2018

What a difference a few weeks make, as the team have now cleared the whole of the bay area and revealed all the cobbles of the cattle dock, complete with centre drain.


















The cattle dock would have looked similar to the reconstructed example at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway. Cattle would have been kept in these pens prior to loading and being sent off to market, probably in  Gloucester.


Work to clear the weighbridge is progressing well with Rob (red top) standing in the weighbridge pit. Unfortunately the large cast iron weighing platform doesn’t appear to be under all the debris which is a shame, but not surprising given its scrap value.










Now the tree stump has been removed the west end rooms are slowly being excavated, with one of the rooms showing a fire place hearth in one corner. It’s thought this may be a private waiting room for Lord Berkeley and his family. If anyone knows different please get in touch and let us know.










Derek has continued to try and work out the drainage system, helped by Edgar, using a sophisticated remote camera system, which has revealed two sumps, the first towards the west end of the site and the second one besides the track just beyond the cattle pen.











In addition Derek’s subterranean explorations have revealed a lost culvert between the station platform and the goods area.







February 2018

Despite the cold weather the team have made great progress, with the main platform cleared enough to reveal all the front walls of the Station building and will be invaluable in helping to finalise the station’s dimensions in order to draw up a new building plan.










Back in the station building Edgar & Steve have successfully removed the last, but very stubborn tree stump, which will enable them to finish excavating the rooms at the west end of the building.

In the mean time Derek has been excavating a manhole to the west end of the station and started to use sophisticated equipment to work out how the drains of the building were all connected together. At times this was a very messy job with Derek almost disappearing down one manhole.



A star find this month were a set of old spear headed railings near the west end of the platform. These look very similar to railings that used to mark the west end of the platform when it was shortened as the photos below reveal.











Other great finds included a door handle and a hinge










In the meantime work has moved on to clearing all the vegetation around the old weighbridge building along the access road, with a chance they may uncover the actual weighbridge platform.

Weighbridges were usually placed on the entrance/exit of a goods yard and would weigh the empty carts, then weight the loaded carts, in order to determine the weight of goods shipped and hence charges payable.

It would be great to return this building back to how it once looked in order to demonstrate this practice.






During February the team heard that Network Rail had given permission to uncover the cattle dock and loading bay, so Steve set to work with the strimmer. After removing the layer of soil and debris, the coble stones of the cattle dock started to appear.



January 2018

This month the team have been focusing on clearing the main platform, revealing the foundations for the front walls of the Station Building and the platform ramp which is starting to appear in the bottom right of the photo at the east end of the station.

During the month a number of finds were made, including a wall bracket, some sort of pump, a sink, lots of coin & bits of pipe, but top of the list, found by Rob, was a brass handle, probably from a desk or draws used in the station, which has cleaned up really well.

The water storage tank at the back of the station, just behind the ladies toilets, has continued to be excavated. A lead water pipe leading into the tank can clearly be seen, with Edgar clearing out the bottom of the tank.


January 2018 – Station Layout

With the start of a new year, now seems like a good time to review what we’ve learnt about the layout of Berkeley Station, which can be seen on this map. To the west of the station lies the dairy and the line continues on to Sharpness. To the east of the station lies the cattle dock & goods shed where the line continues on to Berkeley Road and the Bristol to Gloucester main line.


There has been quite a lot of discussions and research on the layout of the station, resulting in this proposed plan by Bryan Merritt, partly based on comparing layouts of other Midland Stations and partly from what we’ve learned by taking to locals who used to use the Station until it was closed in 1964.


The closest matches we’ve found to date for Berkeley Station is Stoke Golding, another Midland Station, which is now a private house near Market Bosworth.

The plans for Shackerstone Station, on the preserved Battlefield Heritage Railway line, shows a lot of similarities to how we think Berkeley Station was laid out.



December 2017


Despite the cold, December brought with it further excitement as Network Rail have now installed a temporary fence along the edge of the platform enabling the team to start excavating the platform.







After a few days of removing the undergrowth, the station platform was revealed along with the front wall of the station which seemed surprisingly close to the platform edge.


Work also started on exploring the left hand wing of the building, revealing the ladies toilet and an abundance of old lead pipes, used to supply water.






The team also started to explore what is thought to be the old water storage tank out the front of the station, which so far is approximately 12ft in length.



Numerous finds have been discovered from parts of the building such as window surround bricks, roofing slates, ridge tiles and a decorative cast iron air brick, to equipment that would have been used in and around the station such as the ends of shunting poles and a point clip.


























In time when the station is reconstructed some of these items such as the window bricks may be able to be reused.




October & November 2017

The highlight of the excavations came at the very end of November when on the 29th the team were delighted to find one of the columns that divided one of the front double windows. The window divide was found in 3 pieces with the key stone that goes on top of the column found nearby. This will help enormously when it comes to remaking these for the reconstructed station.













A week earlier a shard of frosted window glass was found and shows how elaborate the window design was.


The main thrust of activities has concentrated on investigating further the ‘cellar’ and a ‘sump’ that have been found and removing the tree stumps. Once cleaned up the purpose of the sump still isn’t clear as the water pipe turns and goes under the structure. The cleaned up manhole however, clearly shows the main drain from the station.


Hot on the back of removing stumps from the Long Siding outside the shed, Edgar, Lawrence and the rest of the team have turned their attentions to Berkeley


Removing these stumps will enable further digging to investigate the building, its design and hopefully the purpose of each room.

One such mystery is the purpose of the drainage gulley recently uncovered, which might indicate the purpose of the room it leads from.

Another mystery is the purpose of the cellars or ‘sumps’ which have been found and can be seen in the centre of the picture below.

One suggestion is they were for storing water, since the station when build wasn’t connected to any mains supply, the water being transported to the station by a water wagon, but if anyone knows any different we’d love to hear from them.


Another initiative this month has been to erect some temporary signs to help indicate to the passing public the purpose of each section of the station as follows:

A = Gents Toilets

B = Waiting Room

C = Booking Hall

D = Ticket Office

In due course we’d like to erect some proper information boards to help the passing public learn more about the station and the Vale of Berkeley railway project.


To help gain an overall perspective of work on the Berkeley Station dig to date, one of the volunteers used his drone to take a fascinating aerial picture of the dig.

The gents toilets are on the right hand side with the booking hall in the centre. The building is approximately 3/4 exposed with just the left hand wing remaining to be uncovered.

Recently a member of the public, who remembered the station when it was in use, visited the site and gave the team some valuable information about its layout and design. Apparently the station had beautiful Victorian cast iron fire places in the main rooms.


It’s not all hard work at the dig site, especially when the sun comes out on a sunny autumn day and lunch time arrives.

The next phase of work on the horizon is to start a detailed survey of the building and draw up a detailed plan for its eventual reconstruction.

Next year the team also hope to start work exposing the platform, but more tools and money are needed. If anyone is able to help with this work, please get in touch.




September 2017

Sept2017This month Tim has provided an update of progress of the dig with a plan showing just how much of the foundations have now been uncovered (in red). This is about 5/8 of the total building.

The main structures include on the very right hand side the gents toilets, then the pavilion, probably the booking office with the booking hall for the public in the center.





July 2017

July2017_1_640x480Great progress over the last 2 months, with all of the booking office uncovered, including the cellar and most of last years revealed foundations revealed again.

Quite a number of bricks have been found, which would be nice to re-use on an internal wall one day when the station is reconstructed.






The image on the right shows the station building side on, looking across the right hand pavilion , with the toilets behind, into the side of the booking office with the platform side next to the fence and the road side on the left hand side.












May 2017

May2017_1_800x1067Now the fence is complete, the actual work to uncover the foundations can restart, with clearing the spoil put over the foundations last year to protect them from the winter weather and starting new trenches, this time locating what Tim, the team leader, thinks is the front wall (road side) of the booking office.May2017_2_640x480



April 2017

Work has restarted on the Berkeley Station Dig with erecting a Midland Railway style fence to keep people away from the work area. The team made great progress this month completing the fence along with the relevant safety signs.












October 2016

Due to the weather now turning colder work has stopped on the Berkeley Dig.


September 2016

This month has concentrated on revealing more of the right hand wing of the station, where the Gents toilets were located. We have now uncovered both the front and back walls enabling us to measure parts of this wing which will help in drawing up accurate plans of the station’s size. In addition we’ve also revealed some of the bricks used, helping to reveal the colour of the station.

Network Rail have been busy clearing more of the platform from vegetation which will frther help with these investigations.


Map showing the Station Building and the Station Masters House (which still exists) behind.


The Red area shows the parts of the station that have been uncovered to date.













Part of the Right Hand Wing uncovered


View of the excavation work from the front right corner of the building












Earlier this month BBC News and BBC Gloucestershire Radio visited our dig at Berkeley Station to find out more about the Vale of Berkeley Railway and this project.


Tim Cambray being interviewed by BBC News

Tim Cambray gives an interview to BBC Points West which can be seen at 13:05 on the timeline.


A summary is available on the BBC News website:


In addition the Trust’s Chairman, Howard Parker gave an interview on the Mark Cummings show which can be heard at 2hr 39mins 56 secs into the show.




August 2016

Volunteers start to dig to see if they can find anything of the foundations of the old station building.

Eventually they reveal some of the floor and what we think is an old waste pipe, possibly somewhere near the right hand edge of the main building.


Part of the Station Floor is uncovered


The old waste pipe of the Station