An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

Catch a train to Watchet Market and Watchet Street Fair

WSR

Visit the historic harbour town of Watchet for its Wednesday Market, with stalls offering a variety of local produce and craft.

Also, a Street Fair is held on selected Sundays throughout the summer.

Watchet Station is in the centre of the town and close to the harbour.

More details and online train tickets More about Watchet Station

19 May 2018
Details gleaned from the official WSR website

The WSR Classic Car Run on Sunday 3 June 2018

WSR

This is now a little over two weeks away and 60 wonderful classics booked to come on the run. Every decade from the 20s to the 80s is represented and a wonderful range of sports and saloon models, with everything from Morris Minors to Lordly Jaguars.

The route has been checked and instructions will be sent out to participants next week, but there are still around 20 spaces available if you own a pre-1980 classic and you would like to come on the run.

Full details

18 May 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Volunteers needed for the Minehead Station Information Office

WSR

Could you spare a few hours as a volunteer in the West Somerset Railway's busy Information Office at Minehead Station? Help is needed with answering queries about a wide range of topics including train times, fares, facilities and details of special events. If so, the Railway would love to hear from you - please email volunteers@wsrail.net

The Railway is also looking for volunteers at historic Dunster Station - if you can help, please email volunteers@wsrail.net

16 May 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The WSR Tidy Train is out and about this week

WSR

Andrew Young, WSR's Infrastructure Engineering Manager, reports:

It's been a while since our last tidy-up train, so it wasn't a surprise to only cover one mile on the first evening! Our thanks to the volunteers who turned out and for Ops support in putting the train on. More days planned this week (Wed and Fri if anyone with WSR PTS is available to help out!).

16 May 2018
Details from the Facebook page of WSR Infrastructure Engineering

The WSR Classic Car Run takes place on 3 June 2018

WSR

Cars will gather at Bishops Lydeard Railway Station, near Taunton, on 3 June 2018 and then follow a pre-arranged 35 mile route through stunning West Somerset scenery, wooded valleys, seaside, ancient town and villages, with the Railway never far away. The Run ends at Minehead Station.

The Run is limited to pre-1980 vehicles only.

Full details about the Classic Car Run

15 May 2018
Details gleaned from the official WSR website

The West Somerset Railway's Best Kept Station Competition

WSR

Writing in his blog Steaming Along, WSR Plc Chairman Ian Coleby enthuses about the forthcoming Best Kept Station competition:

In the past the competition has been done by a 'mystery shopper' but this time there is a set day, July 15th, when the judges will visit. I have secured the services of Richard Fox of Taunton Flower Show and Peter Tinckner of Wellington Camera Club to act as judges. Both Richard and Peter are railway enthusiasts and regular visitors to the railway. I am pleased that the station staff have keenly taken to the idea and already the stations are looking fantastic.

Ian goes on to explain the heritage behind such competitions...

Read the blog

12 May 2018
Details gleaned from Steaming Along

By train and bus to Lynmouth or Porlock Weir on 13 May

WSR

With the popular Taunton Vintage Bus Day taking a break in 2018, there is news of a 'Minehead Bus Running Day' taking place on 13 May 2018. Quantock Heritage are pleased to announce that vehicles from their heritage fleet will be running a frequent service on the spectacular route between Minehead and Lynmouth. Buses will also run between Minehead, Porlock and Porlock Weir. Travel on the buses is free with programmes available at £3 each.

It is possible to combine a day out on the West Somerset Railway with a trip to either Lynmouth or Porlock Weir on Sunday 13 May 2018. Catch the 10.15am train from Bishops Lydeard to be sure of catching the noon bus to Lynmouth or the 12.15pm bus to Porlock Weir. The last train from Minehead in 4.15pm so be sure to catch the 2.05pm bus from Lynmouth; there are a few more options for departure from Porlock Weir but the last connecting service would seem to be 3.35pm. There are quite a few other options - please see the train and bus timetables in the links below. Use our travel suggestions at your own risk!

Train times Bus times

12 May 2018
Details kindly provided by Quantock Heritage

Request for images for the next WSR Journal

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Journal Editorial Team write:

Production of the next journal has just begun and the Editor would like some more pictures to illustrate it. Preferably pictures taken in the last few months. Whilst pictures of steam trains in the countryside are very welcome, we also like pictures showing events, our people working on the railway and pictures showing the lesser known action. These make for a much more varied and interesting magazine. If you can help, please email highest resolution you can to journal@wsra.org.uk Please include some caption information and the date it was taken. We can't guarantee to use everything as space is not unlimited!

11 May 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Frank Courtney resigns as WSR Plc Director

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Plc regrets to announce that Frank Courtney has tendered his resignation as a Director with immediate effect.

Frank has been a volunteer on the Railway for many years, working as a guard amongst other activities. Frank was instrumental in the reforms of the WSRA and last year spearheaded the successful visit of Flying Scotsman.

We wish Frank well and anticipate seeing his continued involvement on the Railway.

9 May 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Meet the 'Clan Line' team at Bishops Lydeard on 27 May

WSR

Following the Quantock Intruder tour from London to the West Somerset Railway on 26 May 2018 hauled by SR Merchant Navy Class 4-6-2 no 35028 Clan Line, the engine will be on display on WSR metals at Bishops Lydeard Station on Sunday 27 May 2018, before the loco makes its way to Bristol a few days later for mainline railtour duties during the following month. The Clan Line folks add:

This is a perfect opportunity and a unique chance, away from the mainline, to get up close to our loco as well as getting the chance to meet our dedicated team of volunteers, so why not come along, say hello and have a chat on this unique event on Sunday May 27th!

Quantock Intruder - full details and booking More about the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society

8 May 2018
Details kindly provided by Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society

News from the WSR Plc Boardroom

WSR

The WSR Plc have issued the April 2018 edition of their regular updates on Plc Board meetings. This edition includes news of a New Director; forthcoming Director retirements; Long Service Awards; the Heritage Committee; and the Williton Site Strategy. There are also updates on Locomotives and Infrastructure.

May we congratulate Rodney Greenway on his appointment as Plc Director. Rodney is a long serving WSR supporter and also a valued contributor to this website.

Read the full report

8 May 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Ken retires after sixteen years as focal point for first aid

WSR

Ken Mardell writes:

After 16 years looking after the first aid boxes and arranging first aid courses on the West Somerset Railway I have decided to retire. Anything to do with first aid will you please contact Rhiannan Powis training@wsrail.net

Our thanks to Ken for his work on this vital work over the years.

8 May 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Oiling fishplates on the West Somerset Railway

WSR

The WSR's Infrastructure Manager, Andrew Young, explains:

The Permanent Way volunteers were out in force on the morning of 6 May 2018, oiling fishplates before the rail warmed up. There are more than 4000 sets of plates which need to be loosened, injected with oil and tightened again - generally every other year. This gang meet every Sunday; if you would like to get involved with our track maintenance please get in touch. There are opportunities to join gangs on different days too...

Discover more about being a WSR volunteer

7 May 2018
Details gleaned from the Facebook page of WSR Infrastructure Engineering

A statement from the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

WSR

DEPG has issued the following statement:

May 5th saw the launch of our season with the first passenger train to be hauled by one of our classic heritage locomotives with Hymek D7017 booked for the task. After completing one Down trip to Minehead, it soon became clear that all was not well with our venerable hydraulic and the crew did well to get the train to Williton at which point the Hymek was removed. With the WSR Thunderbird loco D6575 at Minehead, the decision was made to press our second Crompton D6566 into service to recover the diagram, which was completed without further locomotive issues although an entirely unconnected incident at Bishops Lydeard later in the day disrupted all WSR services. The Hymek was successfully repaired and is once again ready for use, and has been worked light engine to Bishops Lydeard ready for its planned visit to the Swanage Railway Diesel Gala on 10th to 13th May. Regrettably, the repair has necessitated Hymek D7018 lending its voltage regulator to keep her older sister in traffic. This unfortunately means that, because of other delays and interruptions that have plagued the Williton team this year, we have reluctantly had to make the hard decision to postpone the relaunch of D7018 at our own Gala in June until a suitable opportunity later in the year. We sincerely apologise to our many supporters who will have been looking forward with us to see D7018 reappear at the June WSR gala and we hope that we will not have to keep you waiting much longer.

6 May 2018
Details kindly provided by the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

Online tickets now available for 2018 Steam & Vintage Rally

WSR

The Steam and Vintage Rally team have announced advance tickets can now be purchased online for the 2018 event. Ticket prices are pegged at last year's prices - £12 for an Adult Day Ticket and £10 for a Senior Citizen Day Ticket. There is no charge for a child accompanied by a valid ticket holder. And once again, two for the price of one! Day tickets purchased online are valid on both days of the Rally.

Book tickets for the 2018 Steam and Vintage Rally

6 May 2018
Details kindly provided by The Steam and Vintage Rally

The Somerset Day Express on 11 May

WSR

In connection with 'Somerset Day' on 11 May 2018, the West Somerset Railway is running the Somerset Day Express from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and back. This train will be steam-hauled with GWR 'Hall' Class no 6960 Raveningham Hall currently rostered. The limited-stop train leaves Bishops Lydeard at 10.30am and arrives at Minehead at 11.45am. There'll be ample time to enjoy a walk or the shops before lunch at a cafe or a picnic on the beach. The return train departs Minehead at 2.15pm. The Somerset Day Express intermediate stops will be Williton, Watchet and Blue Anchor only. See link below for details of discounted tickets.

Book tickets for the Somerset Day Express All about Somerset Day 2018 Train times

4 May 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Coastal Camping Coach now available at Blue Anchor Station

WSR

The Coastal Camping Coach Company explain:

Recreate the carefree holidays of the 1950s...but this time in comfort! A Coastal Camping Coach holiday is perfect for all ages. Enjoy a seaside holiday with steam trains puffing by and relive the carefree, car free days of travelling on a branch line railway to reach your holiday destination. Welcome to the newly restored holiday Camping Coach at Blue Anchor, Somerset.

Full details and bookings

4 May 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Clan Line to head a London to Minehead railtour

WSR

UK Railtours are running a railtour from London to Minehead on Saturday 26 May 2018:

Our long-awaited tour taking SR 'Merchant Navy' Pacific no 35028 Clan Line from London to the West Somerset Railway has now been confirmed and we are anticipating a lot of interest.

Full details and booking

4 May 2018
Details gleaned from website of UK Railtours

Volunteer bar staff needed for mini beer festival

WSR

Don Bishop writes:

At the 2018 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' diesel gala between Friday 8 June and Sunday 10 June the WSR are holding a mini beer festival along with our colleagues at the Somerset & Dorset Trust at Washford. We are planning a number of real ales from the Somerset and Devon areas to be enjoyed by passengers stopping off on our gala train services at Washford. The bar area will be in one of the SDRT's workshops over in the yard along with a covered area for attendees to enjoy their pint whilst watching the trains go by. The event is expected to be popular because diesel fans are well known for also enjoying a real ale or two.

However we need help with manning the bar area and 'pulling pints' on the Friday (from lunchtime until approx 10pm), Saturday (from lunchtime until approx 10pm) and Sunday (from lunchtime to early/mid-afternoon). If you are an experienced bar person, or are willing to learn, would you like to volunteer your services to help the railway provide this facility to our passengers at the gala? Training will be given.

If you are able to help please contact either Don Bishop (email; donbishop@btconnect.com) or Mark Hill (via Minehead commercial office) to register your interest and we'll be in touch.

show more/show less

2 May 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR Plc and WSRA announce a review for the Williton site

WSR

A project to review the best way forward for the Williton site - the Swindon Shed, the activity within it and the immediate environment - has been authorised by both boards. A number of proposals have been suggested by various people in recent times but no agreement has been reached. The purpose of this review is to find a financially viable solution which is of benefit to the West Somerset Railway and which has the backing of all organisations.

Read the full statement

1 May 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

By train and bus to Lynmouth or Porlock Weir on 13 May

WSR

With the popular Taunton Vintage Bus Day taking a break in 2018, there is news of a 'Minehead Bus Running Day' taking place on 13 May 2018. Quantock Heritage are pleased to announce that vehicles from their heritage fleet will be running a frequent service on the spectacular route between Minehead and Lynmouth. Buses will also run between Minehead, Porlock and Porlock Weir. Travel on the buses is free with programmes available at £3 each.

It is possible to combine a day out on the West Somerset Railway with a trip to either Lynmouth or Porlock Weir on Sunday 13 May 2018. Catch the 10.15am train from Bishops Lydeard to be sure of catching the noon bus to Lynmouth or the 12.15pm bus to Porlock Weir. The last train from Minehead in 4.15pm so be sure to catch the 2.05pm bus from Lynmouth; there are a few more options for departure from Porlock Weir but the last connecting service would seem to be 3.35pm. There are quite a few other options - please see the train and bus timetables in the links below. Use our travel suggestions at your own risk!

Train times Bus times

1 May 2018
Details kindly provided by Quantock Heritage

West Somerset Railway Association Annual General Meeting

WSR

The 2018 Annual General Meeting of the West Somerset Railway Association will be held in Bishops Lydeard Village Hall at 2.00pm on Saturday 7 July.

Could you serve as a Trustee? Do you have the skills and experience your Association needs? Nominations for Trustee will open on 8th May and nomination forms will shortly be available to download from the website. Nominations will close on 7th June, in accordance with the Articles of Association.

30 April 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

First aid boxes on the West Somerset Railway

WSR

For the safety and wellbeing of visitors and staff, the West Somerset Railway has a considerable number of first aid boxes around the Railway and on the trains. Station Masters, Heads of Departments and Team Leaders are responsible for arranging regular checks on the contents of the first aid boxes and for ensuring missing items are promptly replaced.

30 April 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Operating 'Midford Signal Box' - a video filmed at Washford

WSR

The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust have produced a video demonstrating the work of the Midford Signalman as explained below:

New video shows our working replica of Midford signalbox in action. One of the attractions at our base at Washford is a working replica of the interior of the the S&D's Midford signalbox. Controlling the divergence of the line - single track from Bath and double track on to Wellow - times were busy for the signalman on summer Saturdays as through trains as well as regular local services passed along the single line bottleneck through Devonshire and Combe Down Tunnels. The video demonstration shows a train being accepted from Bath Junction and then offered on to Wellow, all with authentic bell codes. [Video by Matt Stevens]

View the video

29 April 2018
Details gleaned from the website of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

Enjoy both a new GWR Class 802 and WSR steam

WSR

The April 'Railway Magazine' reports that it is planned that the first working of the new Great Western Railway Class 802 trains will be the 0730 Paddington - Penzance on 16 July 2018. Interestingly the 0730 is a train on which it is possible to obtain the inclusive package of (1) train travel from a number of GWR stations to and from Taunton, (2) Buses of Somerset's service 28 between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard station, and (3) a day ticket on the West Somerset Railway. The tickets for this package can be found on the GWR website gwr.com (see link below)

Go to WSR package on GWR website

29 April 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Eighty miles of diesel hydraulic haulage on offer on 5 May

WSR

Saturday 5 May presents the first opportunity in 2018 to travel behind Class 35 'Hymek' no D7017 as it operates the inaugural Saturday of the WSR's new Brown timetable, offering eighty miles of diesel hydraulic haulage starting with the 11.15am from Bishops Lydeard.

View the timetable for 5 May 2018

28 April 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The European Association of Railway Personnel

WSR

A friendly, cultural, scientific and social organisation in the European spirit, between persons in or connected with the railway industry, to promote good relations between like-minded people and thereby to contribute to the realisation of European ideals. The meetings of people and the international friendships arising from them should lead to the breaking down of tensions and national prejudices.

More about individual membership of the British Section of the Association Europeenne des Cheminots (European Association of Railway Personnel) from Bob Clarke bob.aec.bs.eu@gmail.com

28 April 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Synopsis of recent WSRA Board Meeting

WSR

The Trustees of the West Somerset Railway Association met on 16 April 2018. A synopsis is available on the Association's website. Topics include Hinkley Point Community Fund, Taunton Model Engineers Club, Action against former Trustees, Nomination of Director to Plc Board, Locomotove Restoration Fund and Stogumber Station funding bid.

Read the Board meeting synopsis

27 April 2018
Details gleaned from website of West Somerset Railway Association

Royal Wedding Prosecco and Cream

WSR

The West Somerset Railway have announced:

Join us in celebrating the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday 19 May 2018 and enjoy a fabulous West Country cream tea, washed down with a glass of fizz. Enjoy an enchanting steam train journey through the delightful Somerset coast and countryside whilst enjoying a traditional West Country Cream Tea served to your seat. Tickets must be booked in advance.

Full details

27 April 2018
Details gleaned from website of West Somerset Railway Plc

Engineering Trainees wanted for the West Somerset Railway

WSR

WSR volunteer Andy Norman writes:

Funding has been secured for four Engineering Trainees based at Minehead on the West Somerset Railway. We need two for a June start this year and two for a June start next year. The funding for their salaries is coming through BESTT who have secured HLF funding for this. The Trainees will be working with the WSR's Mechanical Engineering team at Minehead learning all aspects of locomotive repair and maintenance.

The recruitment is being handled by local recruitment consultants Andy Norman Associates at no cost to the West Somerset Railway.

Full job details and online application form

24 April 2018
Details kindly provided by Andy Norman Associates

Successful testing of two popular diesel locomotives

WSR

A convoy of diesel locomotives - Class 33 Crompton nos D6566 and D6575, Class 14 bo D9526 and Class 35 Hymek no D7017 - headed from the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group's Williton base to Bishops Lydeard in the early morning of Saturday 21 April 2018. Later, D9526 used the Bishops Lydeard - Norton Fitzwarren section for proving trials of its newly overhauled engine. Reports suggest that all was very well. The Hymek headed for the loco shed and the DEPG's team used the pit to access the underside of the loco so that the brake blocks could be changed and readjusted. Again all went well. The two Cromptons started off in top/tail formation with a rake of three Mk1 coaches with D6566 leading from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and D6575 trailing as a dead load (ie not powering). Equal to roughly a seven coach load this was another proving test for D6566 following major overhaul and repair works. At Minehead, D6566 ran round, and later worked a Crompton double headed train of three coaches but not quite what it seems as D6575 was not powering. No problems found with D6566 so a successful day of trials for the DEPG.

Picture  Further information about the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

23 April 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

S & D Railway Trust and WSR Plc sign 50 year lease

WSR

Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust say:

At our AGM on Saturday 21 April 2018, Ian Coleby (Chairman of West Somerset Railway Plc) and Ian Young (Chairman of S&DRT Ltd) signed a new 50 year lease for our Washford base. This is a huge step forward for the Trust and we have already been busy with improvements to museum displays, publicity material, etc.

In addition, we are working with the WSR to provide a Beer Festival at Washford during the Diesel Gala on 8 to10 June and it is hoped that this will be followed by many similar events.

The WSR would like to further the 'string of pearls' concept, whereby each station illustrates a different aspect or time period of transport history and Washford will be part of that.

Further information from the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

22 April 2018
Details gleaned from Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust's Facebook page

Peckett 0-4-0ST 'Kilmersdon' off to Cornwall until 2019

WSR

The Helston Railway have announced the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust's Prussian Blue liveried Peckett 0-4-0ST no 1788 Kilmersdon - normally based at Washford on the West Somerset Railway - will work trains on the restored Cornish line during the 2018 season and will stay until early 2019:

The plan of action is for Kilmersdon to make her Cornish debut during our popular 'Return to the 40s' event on the 27 & 28 May (late bank holiday) hauling the first steam passenger trains on the Helston branch in over 55 years!

Further information from the Helston Railway

20 April 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent and the Helston Railway

News from Blue Anchor Station

WSR

On Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 5.30pm, a plaque will be unveiled on a bench on the down platform at Blue Anchor Station, in memory of a long serving volunteer Alan Scott who sadly died at the end of last year. Everyone who knew Alan is most welcome to attend this short dedication to commemorate his many years of service to the WSR. Light refreshments will be served.

The Friends of Blue Anchor Station Annual General Meeting will follow at 6pm.

17 April 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

'Atlantic Coast Express' event postponed until April 2019

WSR

The West Somerset Railway plans to run a week long Atlantic Coast Express event next April. It had been intended to run it this September but provision of key locomotives was beginning to look challenging. WSR Vice Chairman, Frank Courtney, said:

We need to get this right and offer as close to an authentic ACE express as it is possible to do on a 20 mile West Country branch. We think we need at least three Bulleid designed locos, preferably including at least one Merchant Navy and two light Pacifics. Putting the event back will give us more time to get these in place.

This event is not a traditional gala and the WSR will be offering its normal range of enthusiast galas in 2019. The ACE event will include non-stop running, fully reservable seats and free light refreshments served at seat. Paul Conibeare, the West Somerset's General Manager, said:

We all recognise that Flying Scotsman is an exceptional loco and hopefully she will be able to return before long. The aim with the ACE event is to offer a different, but premium day out to many of those people who enjoyed the Scotsman event on the railway. Many of these people are not traditional railway enthusiasts, but simply those who are seeking an exciting and interesting day out and being treated as special passengers.

More information about the event will be released in the Autumn.

16 April 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The Exmoor Coast Statesman - Crewe-Dunster-Minehead

WSR

The Exmoor Coast Statesman will run on Saturday 30 June 2018 from Crewe to Dunster and Minehead, calling at Whitchurch, Shrewsbury, Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Ludlow, Leominster, Hereford, Abergavenny, Pontypool and Cwmbran. There are four different classes of travel available on board the Statesman. The train will be diesel-hauled (Class 47/57) throughout.

Full details and booking

15 April 2018
Details gleaned from the Statesman Rail website

Train times, station information, online booking

WSR

The official West Somerset Railway website is the place for all kinds of information about the Railway and the train services. There is even an online booking facility which saves queuing at the ticket offices. Buy tickets now for the standard services or perhaps for the Diesel Gala in June or maybe the luxury dining train, the Quantock Belle.

The official West Somerset Railway website

15 April 2018
Details gleaned from the official WSR website

Stogumber Station stop secured for last Up train

WSR

The folks at Stogumber Station have successfully secured a timetabled stop for the last Up train as they explain:

Those of you who have spotted that the last Up train of the day does not stop at Stogumber, will be pleased to know that it now will stop at Stogumber. After pressure from stationmaster Alan Bines, WSR have announced that this train on the brown and yellow timetables will stop at Stogumber, a victory for commonsense. The train is the three unit DMU. Stogumber remains an ideal station from which to start and finish your journey. We have parking for a number of cars, a buffet and restrooms.

Note: we have asked WSR Plc for an actual time for this stop so we can update the online timetables.

More news from Stogumber Station

14 April 2018
Details kindly provided by Friends of Stogumber Station

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