Many stretches of the route from Savernake (70 miles out from London) to Taunton (142¾ miles) enabled the 'King' and 'Castle' Class locos to show their speed capabilities.
OS Nock tabulated many such runs over the years and they are detailed in his fine book 'Locomotive Practice and Performance' published by Patrick Stephens Ltd.(Below) A fitting testimony to the very fast running on the GWW through Somerset can be found in this shot of 'King' class No 6008 King James II of Laira speeding through Keinton Mandeville station on Monday 9 September 1957 with train 130, the down Cornish Riviera Limited, due to pass here about 12.27pm.
During World War 2 Castle Cary was considered by the military to be a strategic railway junction serving the large naval base at Weymouth, however fast-forward to the present day, and Castle Cary station has come under siege in a quite different way.
Once a year this normally quiet country junction is besieged by thousands of passengers visiting the world-famous Glastonbury Festival just eight miles away at Worthy Farm between the small villages of Pilton and Pylle, six miles east of Glastonbury.
During its construction in 1906, the most notable engineering features were the high viaduct across the River Cary and the 1,053 yard-long Somerton Tunnel.
The line passes through attractive Somerset countryside and the stations of Alford Halt 117½ miles, Keinton Mandeville 120 miles, Charlton Mackrell 122 miles, So5¾, miles, Long Sutton & Pitney 128 miles and finally Langport East 130 miles.
Closed on 10th September 1962, Keinton Mandeville station was situated 120 miles from Paddington, 22¾ miles before Taunton on the GWR's newly-built line from Castle Cary to Curry Rivel.
Opened on 21 July 1906, this 15¾ mile stretch enabled the GWR to cut as much as 20 minutes off the journey time between Paddington and Taunton.
Photo Joe Moss collection, distributed by Roger Carpenter.
At 9.15am on the morning of Thursday 3 September 1942, a squad of Luftwaffe Junkers 88 bombers raided the junction at Castle Cary as part of Germany's attempt to disrupt Britain's vital railway network.