Portskewett is a village situated on the Welsh bank of the Severn Estuary between the M4 and M48 road bridges. The village entered the railway age in 1850 with a small station on the newly opened South Wales Railway, but for 23 years between 1863 and 1886 was the junction for the first railway and steamship ferry crossing of the Severn from South Wales to Bristol. The opening of the Severn Tunnel in 1886 made the ferry redundant, and the infrastructure for the crossing was dismantled but Portskewett retained its small country station until 1964 when it became a victim of the Beeching cuts.
In the 1870s my great grandfather travelled from his birthplace in Somerset to South Wales via the ferry in order to find work. He later joined the Great Western Railway and his final posting was to Portskewett in 1900 where he lived in one of the old railway cottages that used to be opposite the station. My family remained in the village and I grew up in the 1950s when Portskewett still had a railway station, some of the earliest railway houses were still standing, and Black Rock had a small community living there.
Here is the location of Portskewett.
Click on the map for more options.
The story of the railway development at this location has been researched from contemporary records and newspaper reports and is now available as an 84 page book containing many plans, drawings and photographs:
Please click here or on the cover illustration opposite for purchase details.
Before the Railway
South Wales Railway and the First Portskewett Station
Early Traffic on the Line
Bristol & South Wales Union Railway and the New Passage Ferry
Traffic Working at Portskewett Junction and the Pier Branch
The Severn Tunnel and Closure of the New Passage Ferry
Into the 20th Century
British Railways and Final Closure
Station and Track Layout
20th Century Photographs
Accidents and Incidents
The Railway Today
There is inevitably some overlap with my other book on the Bristol & South Wales Union Railway which I have tried to keep to a minimum. For detailed information on the piers, ferry service and ferry steamers the latter book is more appropriate.
Sample pages can be viewed here and some illustrations and photographs from the book are reproduced below:
© Richard Smith 2013. All rights reserved.