THE 50th anniversary of the closure of Devizes station has sparked many memories for people living in the town.

It was on April 16, 1966, that the last passenger service stopped at Devizes but goods services had finished 18 months earlier in November 1964.

In 1857 the branch line through Devizes from Trowbridge was opened and then in 1862 it became part of an extension of the line from Hungerford via Pewsey which finally gave Devizes a link to London.

To allow this to happen a tunnel had to be built under Devizes Castle to allow the direct line to run from the West Country to the capital.

But the demise of Devizes came when another line between Patney and Chirton stations linked Plymouth with London via Westbury. This was a much quicker route and Devizes suffered.

In 1966 the almost inevitable happened when Richard Beeching swung his axe which saw Devizes, along with more than 2,000 other stations including Lavington, closed. Beeching ordered that the station would close on April 18 but as no trains ran on a Sunday the last one to actually stop in Devizes was on April 16.

Last year a new book detailing the rise and fall of the railway in Devizes and surrounding areas was published by retired civil engineer Peter Simmonds.

He said: “As the railways altered so dramatically in the 1960s, I wanted to document the history and no one else seemed prepared to tackle the challenge. This has been a 30-year project, which started in the 1980s, but I have worked more seriously on it over the last four years along with the help of volunteers.”

Lavington station also closed in 1966 leaving Pewsey as the only station between Bedwyn and Westbury.

Today there is little trace of a railway station in Devizes. The old station is now a car park and there is a shooting range in the tunnel closest to the old station.

Unfortunately the rights of way that had been purchased for the track were sold off so a reinstatement of the old line would be very difficult. One of the only few remaining reminders of the railway is the road bridge over the old Pans Lane Halt station.

In February, 2014, a sign from Devizes station was sold at auction in the town for nearly £1,000.

The “totem” sign, which would have alerted passengers to the fact they had reached their destination, was bought by a collector from the north of England after fierce bidding took it up to £800. With buyer’s premium and VAT, the final price was nearly £1,000.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: “Sadly, the sign didn’t stay in Wiltshire but the market in railway memorabilia is very high all over the country.”

Among the many with memories of Devizes station is Tony Painter who was a keen trainspotter in his youth and spent many hours on the lookout for steam trains in the late 1950s and 60s.

He said: “When I discovered the station and the steaming, occasionally gleaming, but usually smelly and grimy monsters that passed through it, I was captured.

“Most of all it was the variety of engines and their numbers and names, the Western Region or old GWR, that created a romance by its generous naming of engines – the proud express classes, the Castles and Kings, and the more numerous workaday Halls, Counties and Granges.

“All the locomotives in each region were listed in a series of two and sixpenny pocket books so that you could underline the ones you had seen.”

Writing on the Facebook site Days Gone by In Devizes one person wrote: “My grandad Charlie Elliott was a ganger based at Patney. My dad Jim Perry was first a porter at Patney before moving on to Pewsey and then Woodborough signal boxes. Charlie Tilley used to escort me and my sister to school every day from Patney to Devizes in the early 60s.”