The Avon Valley Railway (AVR) is a three-mile-long heritage railway based at Bitton station in South Gloucestershire, England, not far from Bristol and is run by a local group: The Avon Valley Railway Company Ltd. The railway follows the Avon Valley south-east from Oldland Common, through Bitton and alongside the River Avon towards Kelston and Bath. The railway shares its route with the Sustrans cycleway and footpath, the Bristol & Bath Railway Path.


Avon Valley Railway is located in Gloucestershire
Avon Valley Railway
Avon Valley Railway shown within Gloucestershire
(grid reference ST664710)

The railway is part of the otherwise-dismantled Midland Railway Mangotsfield and Bath branch line, which was closed in 1966 as a result of the Beeching cuts, due mainly to the Great Western Railway, which also connected Bristol and Bath, being just a few miles to the south.[1]

The railway is perhaps best known for connecting the former Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR), whose northern terminus was at Bath Green Park station, with the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS). The Midland Railway lines along the Avon Valley thus opened up the S&D lines to travellers from the British industrial Midlands. This was particularly so during summer Saturdays when families flocked south to the beaches of Dorset and the English south coast. Many extra trains thus had to be added to the schedule to accommodate this increased demand.[2][3] Although owned and run by the Midland Railway, many S&D locomotives were often seen working trains along this line.

After the lines were removed, from 2000 the northern section from Mangotsfield to Warmley was used to build a dual carriage development of the A4174 road, although both station sites currently still exist. The remainder of the line was passed from the British Railways Board to Sustrans, who in co-operation with the local councils developed the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.[4] Further development of the heritage railway is wholly dependent on a usage agreement with Sustrans.


Exposition of AVR Edmondson tickets from 1979—1986
Avon Valley Railway
Mangotsfield and Bath Branch Line
to Warmley
Oldland Common
River Avon
Avon Riverside
River Avon
Mangotsfield and Bath Branch Line
to Kelston

Bitton station and its yard, including some trackbed, was leased from British Railways Board by the Bristol Suburban Railway Society, a group of local volunteers intent on restoring commuter and weekend steam use to the Bristol-Mangotsfield-Bath and Mangotsfield-Yate railway routes.

Work progressed slowly over the years restoring the heavily vandalised buildings and laying track north towards Oldland Common and Warmley. Weekend steam-hauled 'brake van' train rides progressed to proper passenger services along the ever-lengthening line in restored 1950s British Railways Mark 1 carriages.

In 1979, the Bristol Suburban Railway Society was incorporated into the Bitton Railway Co. Ltd. and the laid track reached Oldland Common in 1988. By 1992 however, the city of Bristol had expanded greatly with houses encroaching upon the former railway line and expansion north to Warmley and Mangotsfield was no longer considered practical.[5] The line thus began to expand south out into the valley of the River Avon. By 2004, it had crossed the Avon and a new station was built to service the Avon Valley Country Park — a large picnic and recreation site — along with a river wharf to provide visitors with connections to river barges and river boat trips.

Building of a new buffet and toilets facility at Bitton station began in 2007 to replace the current buffet and toilets and to increase space for the railway's gift shop.[6]

Work continues to extend the railway south-east towards Kelston, Weston and a proposed "Bath Riverside" railway station in Bath.[7]

As a tourist attraction, the Avon Valley Railway now handles 80,000 visitors per year. The AVR provides round trip steam train travel from Bitton Station north to Oldland Common then south to Avon Riverside station. The line is open to travellers on most weekends.

Motive power

Steam locomotives

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. 4015 "Karel" TKh49 0-6-0T Operational, boiler ticket expires in 2026. Polish State Railways Green TKh 4015 (8361390031).jpg
No. 132 "Sapper" Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST Operational. WD Green Avon Riverside - Austerity 0-6-0ST WD132 Stop, look and listen.JPG
No. 44123 LMS Fowler 4F 0-6-0 Currently being restored from Barry scrapyard condition. N/A L.M.S. Class 4F at Ropley. - geograph.org.uk - 1126814.jpg
No. 7151 RSH 0-6-0T Stored, awaiting overhaul Black Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns No.7151 (8355323980).jpg
No. 2018 "Littleton No.5" Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST Stored, awaiting overhaul Dark Blue Manning Wardle 2018 (5624966830).jpg
No. 1798 "Edwin Hulse" Avonside 0-6-0ST Undergoing restoration N/A
No. 7492 Sentinel Waggon Works 4wd Undergoing restoration Dark Blue Bitton - Fry's shunter being looked after.JPG

Diesel locomotives/DMUs

Number & Name Description Current Status Livery Image
No. 446 "Kingswood" Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. 0-4-0 shunter Operational Green Barclay No.446 (8355327908).jpg
No. 610 "General Lord Robertson" Sentinel 0-8-0 shunter, ex-Army Undergoing restoration Blue Bitton - Army 610 in need of restoration.JPG
WD No. 70043 "Grumpy" Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 Shunter Operational Black Wd-040dm-grumpy-goods-bitton-2013.jpg
MOD No. 429 "River Annan" a.k.a. "Salty" Ruston and Hornsby LSSH 0-6-0DH shunter Operational Red Ruston & Hornsby No.466618 (8355332116).jpg
No. 07010 British Rail Class 07 Awaiting repairs BR Blue Bitton - 07010 in the yard.JPG
No. 31130 "Calder Hall Power Station" British Rail Class 31 Undergoing bodywork repairs Coal sector grey BRClass 31 No 31130 Calder Hall Power Station - Side.jpg
No. 5518 (31101) British Rail Class 31 Operational BR Blue 31101 - Battlefield Line (9638770254).jpg
No. 08202 British Rail Class 08 Operational BR Blue Bitton - 08202 by sleeper stack.JPG
Cars Sc52006 + Sc52025 British Rail Class 107 Operational BR Green Bitton - 52006-52025 departing for Oldland.JPG


  1. ^ Holland, Julian (2013). Dr Beeching's Axe: 50 Years on : Illustrated Memories of Britain's Lost Railways. David & Charles. p. 27. ISBN 9781446302675. 
  2. ^ Maggs, Colin (2005). The Mangotsfield to Bath Line: Including the Story of Green Park Station (Locomotion Papers). Oakwood Press. ISBN 978-0853616344. 
  3. ^ "Bath Green Park". Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  4. ^ "Welcome". Bristol & Bath Railway Path. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "Avon Valley Railway". Steam Railway Lines. Retrieved 14 November 2015. 
  6. ^ Avon Valley Railway – Railway News Article Archived 5 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Avon Valley Railway looks forward". BBC. Retrieved 11 October 2015. 

External links

Coordinates: 51°26′13″N 2°29′05″W / 51.43699°N 2.48477°W / 51.43699; -2.48477