|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||19.5 miles (31.4 km)|
|Meets:||A371, B3145, A30, A3030, B3092, A350|
|Old route now:||A371, B3081|
|Route outline (key)|
The A357 from Wincanton to Durweston (near Blandford Forum) must rate as one of the least improved A roads in the country, but then most roads in these parts of Somerset and Dorset are fairly poor. It has several single-lane sections, only one of which (a river bridge) has been sorted out, and passes through a number of towns and villages, with narrow, winding street.
Wincanton - Durweston
The A357 starts to the west of Wincanton, at a junction with the A371. The 1922 listing shows the road starting near Shepton Mallet, but the A371 was extended from Shepton Mallet to Wincanton to take over the A357. There does not appear to be any particular reason why this change took place as the A371 makes a right-angle turn in Shepton to achieve this classification. The A371 then takes another right-angle turn at its junction with the A357 to run for another mile before joining up to the A303, although this is a more recent change.
The A357 immediately passes under the A303 and runs for around 3.5 miles before coming to Templecombe. Passing under a low railway bridge, we go through the narrow High Street. Shortly after leaving Templecombe, we have a section of single-lane road with traffic lights to control the flow. Coming into Henstridge and the crossroads with the A30, we have a second section of traffic-light-controlled single-lane road, which makes progress through the junction terribly slow at times.
Through Henstridge and then Stalbridge (both narrow in places), we come to a TOTSO T-junction. The A357 takes the right (westwards) turning, whilst the left is a minor road. On the ground, it looks like the road used to go straight on; this is now a private drive and has never been a classified road. We then have a long 270-degree turn and come to Lydlinch Common and the junction with the A3030 to Sherborne.
Shortly after the A3030 junction, we have a short section of dual carriageway, although each carriageway is single lane. This is where a narrow river bridge has had a second bridge added to avoid the narrow section. The newer, Blandford bound bridge is a steel girder affair, reminiscent of an army Bailey bridge.
Next we come to the traffic-light-controlled junction with the B3092 road to Sturminster Newton. Traffic lights are only there because of the narrow bridge over the River Stour for the B3092, which is immediately north of the junction.
We then pass through the very pretty town of Shillingstone, which is a long strip development along the A352. Shortly after that, we pass through the village of Durweston, over the river Stour and to the junction with the A350 around 1.5 miles north of Blandford Forum. Just as at Sturminster Newton, the bridge is narrow, so the whole junction is traffic-light-controlled.
It is interesting to note that for its entire route (including the original route to Shepton), the A357 parallels the famous Somerset and Dorset railway and is never more than a mile away from it. Closed in the 1960s, this railway was similar to the road in that is was narrow in places, passed through numerous small towns and villages, was twisty and hilly, and in dire need of improvement.
Original Author(s): Jim Cobb
While sharing some of the same route, the current A357 is very different to that identified in the 1922 Road Lists. The original route give the A357 number started at Cannard's Grave to the south of Shepton Mallet. It then passed through Bruton before detouring to the east to pass through Wincanton. After heading west again the original route meets the current route. At the southern end the road terminated at Lydlinch, between Stalbridge and Sturminster Newton.
However, all of this was to change in 1935 when, like so many other roads around the country, it was the subject of renumbering. As a result, the road changed from being a true Somerset lad with his toe in Dorset, to being a Dorset man keeping a watchful eye on Somerset! Almost all of the Somerset section was consumed by an extended A371, leaving the road to start on the A303 a couple of miles west of Wincanton (the A303 had taken over a section of the A357 in 1933 anyway), head south through Templecombe and across the border to Dorset. At the other end, over half of the former A355 was renumbered as the A357, taking this route all the way to the A350 at Durweston, just a couple of miles west of Blandford Forum.