POLICE are continuing investigations into a suspected arson attack at the historic Donyatt Halt railway station.

A wooden shelter – which had been built at the long-time disused station as part of a restoration project – was burnt to the ground on Wednesday, November 25, sometime between 2.45pm and 3.10pm.

A police spokesman said the incident was “being treated as suspected arson”.

The wooden statue of Doreen Ash, who was evacuated to Donyatt during the Second World War, sits on the platform and is a reminder of all those children who arrived in the village to get away from the German bombs which were causing destruction in English cities.

The statue was sculpted by Ian Edwards, of Chard, who’s own grandfather was also evacuated to Donyatt at the same time as Doreen.

The restoration of Donyatt Halt was part of a community project between 2005 to 2009 which saw a group of volunteers from Ilminster, Donyatt, Knowle St Giles and Chard work together with district and parish councils to link the communities along the disused railway line with a cycle path.

The original Donyatt Halt was built in 1928 with a single platform faced with wooden sleepers and a small wooden waiting shelter.

In 1940 it became part of the Taunton Stop Line which was built by the Army to contain any German invasion of the South West.

The defences were 50 miles long and ran from Burnham-on-Sea on the Bristol Channel to Seaton on the English Channel comprising of a continuous line of anti-tank obstacles with pillboxes and road blocks.

Between Ilminster and Chard it followed the Great Western Railway branch and is a prominent feature of Donyatt Halt with the anti-tank obstacles – large blocks of concrete known as dragon’s teeth – still visible thanks to the heritage project, which received National Lottery funding, uncovering them from overgrown vegetation as part of the restoration.

Sadly, Donyatt Halt has been subjected to vandalism in recent years and this latest incident has angered local people once again.

Donyatt’s Somerset County Council representative, Cllr Linda Vijeh, is in talks with the council to see what can be done to restore the hut.

The site is in the ownership of the county council and the authority entered into a ten-year maintenance contract with Donyatt Parish Council in 2008.

“I’m looking to see what the next steps should be in relation to restoring the hut,” she said. “The general feeling is that given its vulnerability, highlighted by this latest event, that perhaps consideration needs to be given to having a more substantial structure.”

Anyone with information about the fire at Donyatt Halt – please call police on 101 and quote reference 5215048459.

Donyatt Halt and the wooden shelter burnt to the ground.