FoSBR are saddened to hear of the death of founder member Julie Boston. Julie died on 28th October 2022, at the age of 88, after a short illness.
FoSBR was formed in 1995 as Friends of the Severn Beach Railway to protest against the potential demise of the Severn Beach line. Services on this single-track branch line in Bristol had been reduced, with many trains replaced by buses.
FoSBR’s first action was on 25th September 1995. Residents met at Avonmouth railway station with buggies and bicycles to show that buses were not a suitable substitute for trains.
Julie picked up the campaign reins with a view to not only saving but improving the train service. She became a familiar face at Bristol City Council meetings, then later WECA meetings, making a vocal case for local rail.
In 2007, following pressure from FoSBR and others, Bristol City Council agreed to fund extra services on the Severn Beach Line for an initial three years. Passenger numbers immediately rose by 60%, and double-digit growth continued until Covid.
In 2020, despite the Covid restrictions, Julie and friends managed to celebrate FoSBR’s 25th anniversary by organising small group outings by train – the “FoSBR Sixes”.
In 2021, a long-held ambition was achieved when the Severn Beach Line moved onto a largely half-hourly timetable, Monday to Saturday as far as Avonmouth, hourly to Severn Beach.
Julie was very pleased with the direct service from Severn Beach Line stations to Weston-super-Mare. She encouraged many groups to make the trip with her.
Her interests were not confined to trains. She also campaigned for public footpaths, public libraries, public toilets, and buses. Ideally an event or action or walk would encompass several of these campaign strands, and involve a creative element such as poetry, banners, fancy dress or music.
Many FoSBR members were inspired to get involved by Julie’s indomitable enthusiasm, through both campaign disappointments and successes. FoSBR would not exist today without her cajoling and charm.
“Julie was an amazing campaigner who never gave up. Her tenacity not only gave us courage when we wondered if anything would change but also inspired and brought results. Her energy levels always amazed me and left me feeling tired! The Severn Beach trains and indeed all Bristol services must be her legacy.”Former FoSBR Chair Bernard Lane
“Julie inspired many people to act. I wouldn’t have got involved if it wasn’t for her and her encouragement. Her determination saved local lines and services and led to the start of half hourly local services.”Current FoSBR Chair Rob Dixon
Farewell Julie! We will miss your stubbornness, energy and imaginative campaigning spirit.
FoSBR, now known as Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways, will continue to campaign for rail at the core of an integrated transport network for Bristol, Bath and the West of England.
We send our condolences to Julie’s family. See our Flickr photo album for some favourite pictures of Julie.