A PETITION lobbying Bristol City Council to support the reopening of the railway line which links the city to Portishead has been handed over with more than 1,500 signatures. Concerned residents living in and around Portishead have put their names to the petition which was started by the Portishead Heritage Rail Project in January.


On July 12 the group, which aims to raise awareness of the need for the line,presented the document, which called for Bristol City Council to seek the reopening of the railway as a matter of urgency, to senior Bristol councillor Helen Holland. A copy was also given to Portishead and North Weston Town Council at its monthly meeting for the chairman, Jean Lord, to take to North Somerset Council.


A spokesman for the rail project said: "Fighting for the railway line is a very strong campaign, a campaign which is pure common sense. Reopening the line will benefit the economy, the local people and tourism in the area. We are demonstrating how many people feel so strongly about this."


The Portishead to Bristol railway line first opened in 1867 with stations at Clifton Bridge, Pill, Portbury and Portishead. The track operated as a passenger line with the station near the site of the new Portishead Primary School. In 1953 this station was demolished and a new one built near the High Street on land now used by Waitrose. The railway brought essentials like coal and oil to the dockside industries. It carried away timber from the dock, phosphoric acid from the chemical plant and horseshoe nails from a nearby factory. It provided a vital link to Bristol for company directors, workers and schoolchildren.


However, a review carried out by Beeching in the 1960s found there was no longer a need for the line. On September 7 1964 passenger services ceased. Freight continued to run but was also stopped in 1981. Members of the Portishead Rail Heritage Project are pictured in their campaign T shirts with the petition handed to Bristol City Council.