Latest news

Black Five no 45379 not available for the Spring Steam Gala

Andy Forster, the WSR's Chief Mechanical Engineer writes:

Unfortunately for a number of logistical reasons Black 5 number 45379 will not be available to attend the S&D Spring Steam Gala from the Mid Hants Railway as had previously been hoped. Our thanks go to the Mid Hants for their best efforts in trying to make this visit possible.

So that we can still maintain the published locomotive diagrams without having to resort to a GWR home locomotive we are arranging for a suitable replacement to attend. We should be able to confirm the number of the locomotive to our customers during next week once details have been finalised.

All is going well for the remainder of the fleet to attend the gala, 53808 is in the final stages of painting, 44422 is due to move from LNWR Heritage Crewe early next week and 53809 is close to being ready to move from Butterley. 80072, 34058, 34070 and 92214 all have their transport booked to be on the railway in good time."

13 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Drive and fire a steam loco on the Minehead Branch

There is a unique chance to drive and fire two of the guest steam locomotives which are attending the WSR Spring Steam Gala.

On Monday 7 March 2016 there are places available on a train doing two round trips between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead, headed by SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 53809. Four participants will be involved. In the morning one will drive from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead whilst another fires the engine and in the afternoon the other two course members will have their chance. When not on the footplate the participants will travel with the guard to have a closer look at that side of railway work. £695 per person, bookable in advance via 01643 700398.

On Tuesday 8 March 2016 the start point is Minehead for two round trips to Bishops Lydeard and this time the locomotive is BR 9F 2-10-0 no 92214. £765 per person bookable in advance via 01643 700398.

More information from the official WSR website.

12 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The WSR's 2016 Classic Car Run is announced

The West Somerset Railway is pleased to announce that the 2016 West Somerset Classic Car Run is to take place on Sunday 19 June 2016, Father's Day.

The run is open to pre-1980 classics, and is strictly limited to 100 participants on a first-come basis. The run will start from Bishops Lydeard Railway Station (near Taunton) and will take in a pre-arranged 35 mile route through some little-known but delightful West Somerset scenery, wooded valleys, along the coast and ending at the seaside resort at Minehead where free parking for the day has been arranged, adjacent to Minehead Station.

Paul Conibeare, West Somerset Railway's General Manager said:

The inaugural car run in 2015 was a great success, and we hope now to make this an annual event. It is perfect for Father's Day. This gives an opportunity for classic car owners to explore the lesser-known by-ways of West Somerset and for steam trains and classic cars to be seen together.

Download the Information Sheet and the Entry Form or contact the Run Organiser, Robin White at robin215white@btinternet.com

11 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

WSRA Company Secretary resigns

In a brief statement, the West Somerset Railway Association announced:

The WSRA company secretary, Ms Susan Kaufman, has resigned her post for personal reasons. The Trustees thank her for all her efforts on behalf of the Association and wish her well for the future. The Trustees will review the post in due course.

10 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

WSR Plc reschedules its Stakeholder Meeting

Geoff Pateman, WSR Plc Company Secretary, writes:

Following the announcement that the WSRA General Meeting has been called for 27 February at 11.00 a.m. at Crowcombe Village Hall the Plc has decided to reschedule its Stakeholder meeting, originally planned to take place on the same day at Minehead. This has been done in order to allow the greatest opportunity for our stakeholders who are also WSRA members to attend both events.

We are pleased to announce that the new date for our Stakeholder meeting is Saturday, 9 April from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hobby Horse Hotel in Minehead. This new date will allow those attending the meeting to travel on the railway both to and from the event.

Geoff Pateman
Company Secretary
For and on behalf of the Board of the West Somerset Railway Plc

10 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Spring Gala model railways featured in 'British Railway Modelling'

Claire Sheppy of the Heritage Carriages Project writes:

In recognition of the the 50th Anniversary of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset Railway in 1966, the modelling magazine 'British Railway Modelling' will be carrying several S & D slanted articles in the March issue, now on sale. Included in the magazine will be articles on the models of both Bath Green Park and Burnham on Sea. Both layouts will be available to see at Bishops Lydeard Station during the Spring Steam Gala.

9 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

Allocations announced for diesel working on the WSR in 2016

The Diesel & Electric Preservation Group have announced details of the Diesel Locomotive Running Dates for 2016.

The Group also report:

We are very pleased to report that it is likely Hymek no D7017 will be visiting the St Philips Marsh Open Day, in Bristol on Bank Holiday Monday 2 May 2016. Great Western Railway are running the day in aid of charity which will showcase a large variety of traction past and present as well as providing an insight into this important depot.

and they also have this to say about Warship no D832:

In other news, following on from our December press release, it has now been confirmed that D832 will be returning to its home on the East Lancs Railway after the June Diesel Gala. We will be sad to see the loco leave but wish it and the Bury Hydraulic Group all the best. There is an opportunity still to ride on the loco in 2016 at WSR - on Saturday 30th April where it will be working the Green Diesel Diagram and it will make its final trips during the weekend of the 10, 11, 12 June 2016 at the Mixed Traction Weekend.

7 February 2016
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group External link

Successful final steam test for Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219

Ryan and Liam Pope report:

We are pleased to say that Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219 passed its final steam test on Friday 5 February 2016. Hopefully, the loco will be in steam on both weekends of the Spring Steam Gala. We would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout the restoration of 1219. The next loco to restore is Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T no 1857.

7 February 2016
Details kindly provided by the owners of Andrew Barclay no 1219

Jeff and Wendy stand down after seven years at the Readers Halt

At the Friends of Minehead Station Annual General Meeting on 6 February 2016, Jeff Cousins presented his last report on the Readers Halt input for 2015, another record year. He and his wife Wendy are standing down after seven years of managing the busy and successful Readers Halt at Minehead Station. Martyn Snell, the Chairman of the Friends of Minehead Station adds:

The Friends are pleased that they will still work a day each week so we will not lose touch with them. A small group from Readers Halt will combine to take over their role during 2016 in the hope that someone will come forward and volunteer for this post.

7 February 2016
Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station

WSR Association General Meeting to be held on on 27 February 2016

Papers for the General Meeting were received by members by post on 6 February 2016. The postal bundle included:

Any member unable to attend the General Meeting is strongly urged to complete and return the Proxy Form. See the General Meeting 27 February 2016 page for more about the issues, the processes and a map of the venue.

6 February 2016
Details gleaned from documents received from West Somerset Railway Association External link

All Day Breakfast on the Quantock Belle during Spring Gala weekends

The Quantock Belle catering team will be offering hot food - all day breakfasts - during the 2016 Spring Steam Gala weekends The Belle will be attached to the 9.50am from Bishops Lydeard on 5 and 6 March for two round trips; then on Saturday 12 March, the Belle will be attached to the 10.45am from Bishops Lydeard for two round trips (and will sell hot food - such as bacon baps - in the platform before departure, as shunting arrangements allow); and finally, on Sunday 13 March things revert to the 9.50am departure from Bishops Lydeard.

4 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

Special Event Steam Engineman Courses in early March

A limited opportunity on Monday 7 March 2016 and Tuesday 8 March 2016 for four people to enjoy the footplate of guest locomotives hired in especially for the Spring Steam Gala.

Four participants on each day will do two round trips over the whole line, driving the locomotive one way, firing it on the return and then doing another round trip in company with the guard to learn something of what this role involves. (One pair will be on the footplate in the morning, the other with the guard and after the lunch, included in the price, they will swap places). Participants must be fully fit and able to drive and fire the locomotive. This is not purely a ride through the countryside!

On Monday 7 March 2016 the planned locomotives are LMS Black 5 no 45379 (start from Minehead) and SDJR 2-8-0 no 53809 (start from Bishops Lydeard) whilst next day the planned locomotive is BR Class 9F no 92214 (start from Minehead). These engines are only on the Railway for the Gala so this will be a special opportunity to see what life was like for crews on the Somerset and Dorset.

Please visit the official website for full details of locos and pricing.

Updated: 5 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A special 40th Anniversary train to run on 27 March 2016

The third month of 2016 will mark forty years since regular public train services returned to the Minehead Branch. To celebrate, and using the Quantock Belle coaching stock, there will be a special 40th Anniversary train on 27 March 2016 leaving Bishops Lydeard at 1pm and returning from Minehead at 5.15pm. Seventies wear is encouraged!

Starters - Prawn cocktail or Tomato soup
Main - Chicken in Honey Sauce or Gammon & Pineapple or Vegetable Lasagne
Dessert - Black Forest Gateaux or Arctic roll & peaches or Ice Cream Sundae
Coffee and mints
Afternoon Tea on return journey - small cakes, tea and coffee.

Menu choices must be made when booking and the inclusive price will be £55.00. Bookings will open via 01643 704996 or www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk on Monday 8 February 2016.

2 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The Annual Potential New Volunteer Open Day

Mel Hillman, New Volunteer Co-ordinator, West Somerset Railway writes...

The West Somerset Railway will be holding its Annual Potential New Volunteer Open Day on Sunday 10 April 2016. This is an opportunity for anyone thinking of joining our team of enthusiastic volunteers to visit and find out more about the opportunities available. The day starts at 9.15am at Bishops Lydeard, followed a train trip to Williton to visit several departments and return to Bishops Lydeard by 1.45pm. Advance booking is essential. To book or to find out more information please email: volunteers@wsrail.net or telephone 01643 700384

1 February 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A statement from the Rally Committee

The WSRA Steam & Vintage Vehicle Rally Committee have issued a statement concerning the WSRA Review Report (the 'Coombes Report') and the recent call by over 400 WSRA members for a General Meeting to determine a resolution to remove six named Trustees from their position on the Association Board.

The statement is can be seen on the news page of the Rally website.

1 February 2016
Details kindly provided by WSRA Steam & Vintage Vehicle Rally Committee External link

An update from the Heritage Carriages Project

Claire Sheppy of the Heritage Carriages Project writes:

With most of the work completed to the outside of 6705, work has returned to inside, where various improvements and rectification work continues to the windows, window surrounds and panelling. But work has also turned to the picture frames for the pictures which were such a feature of Great Western Railway coaches in their heyday and Greg reports that the frames once varnished end up looking really pleasing.

Claire also advises of the Project's activities over the forthcoming Spring Steam Gala...

Once again, the West Somerset Steam Railway trust will be playing a significant part in the forthcoming Spring Gala where the theme will once more be the Somerset and Dorset Railway (commemorating 50 years since it closed.) To this end, we will be once again opening up the sleeping car at Bishops Lydeard for as many of the days of the Gala as possible, and additionally we are bringing in a representative model of the Gala theme, this year being an N-Gauge model of Burnham on Sea terminus station (built by Alastair Knox) which will be on display in the conference room area of the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard on the Friday and Saturday 11th and 12th of March during the Gala.

At Williton, 6705 will be available to be seen during times at which the Swindon shed is open, and it is intended that a steward will be on hand to show interested people around the coach.

Please visit the website of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust for the full update and images of the Burnham layout.

30 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

Steam Trust backs implementation of 'The Way Ahead'

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust supports the call by the Reform Group for an Extraordinary General Meeting of the West Somerset Railway Association to be held at an early date to ensure that the key recommendations of the Coombes report 'The Way Ahead' can be agreed and implemented at an early date. The Trust's statement continues:

The Trust submitted evidence to the Coombes review and a representative of the Trust served on the Panel that produced the report. The conclusions of the report are supported, and the Trust believes that the recommendations should now be implemented, and that the uncertainty of the current position should not be allowed to continue through and into the forthcoming operating season.

Whilst the report was commissioned by WSRA, it touches on the future of the whole railway and the Steam Trust therefore has no hesitation in commending it to all involved in supporting the West Somerset Railway.

The Trust looks forward to working constructively with the Association, the Restorations team at Williton, the PLC and the other support groups on the railway to achieve its objectives of promoting the heritage of the West Somerset Railway.

The Trust statement was issued on 29 January 2016 by the Trust's Chairman, Chris Austin, OBE.

29 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

Photographic Evening for WSRA Taunton Group on 1 February

Taunton Group organiser Ian Aldridge writes:

The WSRA Taunton Group Annual photographic Competition will take place at the meeting on 1 February 2016 and will be judged by the Chairman.

There are four categories Steam, Modern Traction, Landscape and a new section other modes of transport, photos can be formatted on memory stick, disc, slide or photo prints colour or black and white. All material submitted must have been taken during 2015 and there are cash prizes for 1st and 2nd in each class. Judge's decision is final.

My apologies for the delay in this announcement.

The WSRA Taunton Group meets at the GWSA Club, Station Approach, Taunton, Somerset TA1 2EV at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start.

29 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

An augmented train service on Wednesday 9 March

In the gap between the main activities of the 2016 Spring Steam Gala there will be an augmented train service on Wednesday 9 March with locomotives with Somerset and Dorset Railway connections in action. These are planned to be LMS 4F no 44422, SDJR 7F nos 53808 and 53809, BR Standard 4MT no 80072 (running as 80043) and SR West Country no 34053 (which at lunchtime at Bishops Lydeard will be renamed Templecombe).

Departures from Bishops Lydeard will be at 10.25am, 11.05am, 11.55am, 2.15pm and 4.10pm, all running through to Minehead. From Minehead departures for Bishops Lydeard will be at 10.15am, 12.35pm, 2.10pm, 3.05pm and 4.00pm with a 1.10pm departure for Williton, leaving Williton on the return at 2.05pm.

Wednesday 9 March 2016 will be a normal fares day. Plus the £10 Rover Ticket is on offer for those in possession of the necessary pair of tokens from 'Heritage Railway' magazine.

29 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Brake van rides during the Spring Steam Gala

There will a limited number of brake van rides during the 2016 Spring Steam Gala offering a chance to see the West Somerset and the Somerset and Dorset themed event from a different viewpoint than a station platform or a window on a Mark 1 coach.

The available places are on the 2pm from Minehead on 5 March and 10 March, plus on the 8.45am from Bishops Lydeard on 11 March. They will cost £25 for each one way journey and those booking a brake van trip will also need to have purchased a rover ticket or buy one at the time of booking. The places can be purchased by calling 01643 700398.

Discounted advanced price rover tickets for the 2016 Spring Steam Gala are on sale via www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or 01643 704996.

27 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A call for an Extraordinary General Meeting for the WSRA

The WSRA Reform Group is calling for a General Meeting to secure the immediate removal of six named trustees. The Group say:

In the weeks that have followed the publication of the report [by the WSRA Review Panel]...there have been many emails and letters sent to the Trustees urging them to follow the recommendations and step down. The Trustees promised to issue a response to the report but have so far, chosen to do nothing. It is also evident that the 6 trustees who have been responsible for the continued decline of our association have no intention of complying.

More about this can be seen at wsra-action.org along with the form for members to sign up to the call, if they so wish.

23 January 2016
Details gleaned from the WSRA+ blog

New Volunteers Day for retail staff at Minehead Station

There will be an open day for potential new volunteers interested in working in catering and retail at Minehead Station on Saturday 13 February 2016.

Those attending will be given an insight into the work of the Buffer Stop Shop and the Turntable Cafe at the Station and also what is involved in working in the on-train buffet cars.

Colin Howard, Head of Catering and Retail for the West Somerset Railway, commented

Volunteers have been a key part of the success of the Railway over the last four decades and we are always looking for more willing hands to assist in taking the WSR forward. The work in the shop, the cafe and on the buffet cars is ideal for anyone who enjoys meeting people and adding to the enjoyment of the day out for our passengers and visitors. Full training is given.

The open day will begin at 11.00am and will end at 2pm.

22 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Photographic Evening for WSRA Taunton Group on 1 February

Taunton Group organiser Ian Aldridge writes:

Please be advised that the WSRA Taunton Group meeting for 1 February 2016 will be held at the GWSA Club Station Approach, Taunton, Somerset TA1 2EV at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start. The Photographic Evening will take place and although not all the technical problems have been overcome all the equipment to run the evening is available.

22 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

Volunteers wanted for the Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard

Kate Beard writes:

Volunteers are required for the Station Shop and Whistle Stop Cafe on Platform Two at Bishops Lydeard Station. Flexible shifts are available on weekdays and/or weekends. Please contact Kate on 01823 432125 or email shop@wsra.org.uk

22 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

WSR Plc statement concerning the West Somerset Railway Association

Geoff Pateman, Company Secretary writes for and on behalf of the Board of the WSR Plc:

The West Somerset Railway PLC has already stated that it fully supports the recommendations of the Coombes review and its main finding that the six WSRA trustees should resign with immediate effect. We have been working very constructively with Frank Courtney, their new acting chairman on how governance issues can be resolved and how a smooth transition to a new board of trustees would enable relationships with the PLC and other members of the railway family to be regularised.

We are therefore disappointed that the trustees have, we believe, indicated that they have chosen not to accept the Coombes report and recommendations and have decided not to resign. The Reform Group have now called for an EGM to enable the members to vote on the proposition to mandate that the trustees now resign and the Coombes report recommendations be taken forward. The West Somerset Railway PLC fully supports the objectives of, and call for, an EGM and we urge all WSRA members to engage with the process and to vote for the resolution in order to help bring this matter to a conclusion.

22 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Spring Gala guest loco no 80072 to assume the identity of no 80043

Another guest locomotive will be assuming a different identity during the West Somerset Railway's commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset Railway. It has been decided by the Special Events Planning Team that BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T no 80072 run as classmate no 80043.

No 80043 was one of 4MTs which worked on the line between 1963 and closure in 1966, running the semi-fast and stopping services which remained after BR Western Region diverted the through trains to the former GWR route via Oxford and Reading. It was active on 6 March 1966, the day after the end of regular operations when it worked a farewell special train in company with LMS Stanier 8F 2-8-0 no 48706.

Discounted advanced price rover tickets for the 2016 Spring Steam Gala are on sale via www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or 01643 704996.

22 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Old photos found showing the former Williton loop layout

Folks following progress of the current project to extend the passing loop at Williton Station - see Latest pictures page - might be interested in a couple of pictures on the Railway Correspondence and Travel Society website. The pictures clearly show the loop layout before the rationalisation put in by British Railways in 1968.

Here are the links to the older pictures:

The 2016 extension will differ in some ways - for example, the loop will be slightly longer, the trap point will be positioned further south, and there will be no catch point. Thanks to Alan Bond, Station Master at Dunster Station, for the links.

21 January 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Sir Keith Park to become Templecombe at the Spring Gala

As part of the West Somerset Railway's Spring Steam Gala, rebuilt Bulleid 'Light Pacific' 4-6-2 no 34053 Sir Keith Park will take on the identity of long-scrapped class mate no 34098 Templecombe at a naming ceremony to be held at Bishops Lydeard Station on 9 March 2016 between 11.30am and midday. It will then run in this guise during the second part of the WSR's Spring Steam Gala which will be taking place on 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, and 13 March 2016.

Bishops Lydeard Station, the southern terminus of the WSR, will be assuming the identity of Templecombe Station for the six days of the Gala which will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset Railway. Templecombe was an important station on the S&D as it was the junction with the main line between Waterloo and Exeter Central and had marshalling yards and a locomotive depot. The station closed completely in March 1966 but the main line station has re-opened seventeen years later and is thriving with the support of an active Friends of Templecombe Station support group. The Friends are kindly sponsoring the costs of the identity change including the name and numberplates.

The West Somerset Railway add:

Thanks for permission to rename the locomotive for the Gala goes to its owning group Southern Locomotives Limited who are based on the Swanage Railway. Thanks also go to SLL and the Severn Valley Railway for making 34053 available to appear at the event.

19 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Memories sought of the early days of the WSR infrastucture

WSR Plc Director Ric Auger writes:

Andrew Young and I are giving a talk on 2 February 2016 to the Institution of Civil Engineers in Taunton on WSR infrastructure past, present and future. I will be covering the early days from the 70s on. We would really appreciate any photos and/or anecdotes about civil engineering, PW or drainage work in the early days. We are hoping to encourage new volunteers to join up. If you have anything you are willing to share please email to infrastructure@wsrail.net

(Update: Ric says this email is now working and could anyone who did send a reply and had a delivery failure message please resend. Thanks.)

18 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

'Quantock Gold 76 ale' to mark the WSR's 40th anniversary

The first passenger trains on the revived West Somerset Railway ran in March 1976 and to mark the fortieth anniversary Quantock Brewery are producing a special commemorative Golden Ale. It will be a 4.2% strength beer using British and American hops in the recipe

Called 'Quantock Gold 76' the beer will be launched at the WSR's Spring Steam Gala on 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13 March 2016 when it will be available in bottled form from the licensed buffet cars on the trains and will also be sold in draught form from a special bar on the platform at Minehead Station. After the Gala it will be available in bottled form from the on train buffet cars and the Turntable Cafe at Minehead Station.

Quantock Brewery is situated adjacent to Bishops Lydeard Station, the southern most station on the WSR. The brewery shop is open to the public and 'Quantock Gold 76' will be available from the Brewery Tap during the Gala. There will also be promotional materials available in the form of souvenir glasses and leisure wear.

Much to see at the WSR's 2016 Spring Steam Gala.

18 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The S&D in miniature at the 2016 Spring Steam Gala

The West Somerset Railway's 2016 Spring Steam Gala will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of the much missed and often modelled Somerset and Dorset Railway which closed in March 1966. Amongst the Gala attractions will be a number of appropriately themed model railway exhibits including the Taunton Model Railway Group's award winning 4mm scale model of Bath Green Park Station, the northern terminus of the S&D; operation is planned for five Gala days (5, 6, 9, 10, 12 March) plus 13 March. Also at Bishops Lydeard Station, the Gauge Museum's model railway will feature models of engines that once worked the S&D and subject to availability of volunteer operators it will be in action throughout the Gala. Also, on 11 and 12 March, the Gauge Museum will feature a 2mm scale model of Burnham-on-Sea Station courtesy of Alastair Knox and the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust. Down the line, the exhibits at the Washford Station Museum of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust include a 4mm scale diorama of Highbridge Station. Much to see at the WSR's 2016 Spring Steam Gala.

14 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

BR Class 9F to grace the WSR metals at the Spring Steam Gala

The number of guest locomotives for the 2016 Spring Steam Gala will be six with the news that BR 9F 2-10-0 no 92214 will be attending courtesy of the Great Central Railway. The 9F will join nos 53809, 34070, 45379, 80072 and 34053 - all will be typical of classes used on the S&D during its later years and will supplement home locos nos 53808, 44422 and Kilmersdon. Of course the usual availability caveats apply.

13 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Diesel show stoppers at the start of 2016

The latest update from the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group includes the following report:

D7018. We need to purchase a main drive prop shaft for around £5000. The existing shaft is not currently fit for purpose. It is hoped that this will be resolved before. too long.

D6566. The loco has arrived back from its work at Cranmore but now needs a team of volunteers to help re-build the engine.

D1010. The loco needs a loaded test run following various work done recently. Currently work on the railway precludes this run from taking place for a few weeks yet.

11 January 2016
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group External link

Travel in style aboard SDJR no 4 during the Spring Steam Gala

On 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13 March 2016, passengers will have their first opportunity since 1930 to travel in Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway coach number 4. The coach was built at the SDJR's Highbridge workshops and carried passengers from the last decade of the 19th century until it was sold out of railway service in 1930. The chassis went for scrap but the body found a new life as a sports pavilion in Templecombe.

In 1986 the body was recovered by the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust and moved to its museum and restoration base at Washford station on the West Somerset Railway. After many years of painstaking restoration and now with a replacement six wheeled chassis it will soon be ready to carry passengers again. Painted in the famous Prussian Blue livery of the Somerset and Dorset it will offer a taste of railway travel as it was 125 years ago.

On the dates shown above, when the West Somerset is holding a special Gala event to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of the much loved Somerset and Dorset line, the coach will run shuttle trips over a short distance of track from Minehead Station. It will be hauled by Peckett saddle tank locomotive Kilmersdon which once worked the former Somerset coalfields and is now owned by the Trust. Various guest steam engines of classes that once worked over the Somerset and Dorset will haul an enhanced service of trains on the Minehead Branch and the Trust's museum at Washford will be open to visitors. Full details of the event can be seen at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or obtained by ringing 01643 704996.

9 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Tablet exchange demonstrations during the 2016 Spring Steam Gala

The Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust owns one of the only surviving 'Whitaker' tablet exchange apparatus units. The lineside apparatus is installed at Washford Yard and the home based SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 53808 is fitted with the locomotive part of the gear. Work is underway seeking to move the lineside tablet exchange arm from the Yard to the adjacent running line at Washford so that demonstrations of this equipment working can be held as the 7F passes through the station.

7 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A steam test for boiler of LMS 4F no 44422

A steam test has been held at LNWR Crewe for the boiler of LMS 4F 0-6-0 no 44422. All is progressing well for delivery of the completed loco in February 2016 in good time for an appearance at the 2016 Spring Steam Gala. The engine is unlikely to have been repainted by this time so will appear in a rather work-worn BR livery. It is hoped the engine can take a full role in the Gala but its activities may be restricted a little depending on any work still to be tackled when it arrives in West Somerset.

7 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A joint statement about BR(W) 2-6-2T no 4160

Andrew Forster, Chief Mech Eng WSR Plc and Andrew Chatwin, Chairman Four One Six O Ltd have issued a joint statement

The Directors of Four One Six O Ltd have decided that BR(W) large prairie number 4160 will go to the engineering workshops of the Llangollen Railway for its overhaul.

The reasoning behind the decision is that the Llangollen Railway currently has spare capacity available in their locomotive overhaul programme to be able to start the overhaul immediately. All other contractors, including the WSR, would not have been able to start for some time. The locomotive will finish WSR service on 2nd January at Bishops Lydeard and be loaded shortly afterwards for the road move to Llangollen.

This decision is good news for both the WSR and 4160 as it represents the quickest means of returning this popular locomotive to service. The WSR Chief Mechanical Engineer has been invited to participate as a consultant during the overhaul.

Both parties have also agreed to meet to negotiate hire arrangements for when the overhaul is completed in order to facilitate the return of the locomotive to the WSR. This would enable the successful relationship that the Railway has had with this locomotive to continue.

Four One Six O Ltd's other locomotive, 09 class number D4107, continues on hire as pilot locomotive at Bishops Lydeard.

7 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Spring Steam Gala - brake van and footplate rides

An added attraction at the 2016 Spring Steam Gala is the opportunity to ride the full length of the WSR in a goods brake van as part of the Gala goods train workings. What better way to carry yourself off to reliving the experience of being on an S&D goods over Mendip Hills. Some Gala goods workings will be hauled by a 7F - the 7Fs were a class of powerful steam locomotive specially designed to work goods on the S&D line over the Mendips. Also available will be a limited number of footplate passes to ride on the loco footplate over the full line or on a shorter trip from Bishops Lydeard and around the Norton Fitzwarren triangle and return light engine. Both of these extra opportunities are very limited and are available for an extra charge by calling the WSR's main office on 01643 704996 to discuss the options available. The finalisation of what trips are available will depend on which locos are working which diagrams and the presence of trainees and owners' representatives on footplates. Tickets for passenger services during the 2016 Spring Steam Gala can be purchased online

5 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Demolition train to run during the Spring Steam Gala

Diesel locos never worked passenger or freight services over the Somerset and Dorset line - it remained a steam-only line right to the end (indeed delaying the Western Region's desired 'no steam' achievement by some three months until the closure in March 1966) with only a very few DMUs working excursions over the line in the early 1960s. However WR diesel hydraulics in the shape of Hymeks and North British D63xx Bo-Bos (later Class 22) worked most of the demolition trains in the late 1960s after closure. To represent this part of history the WSR plans to run a Hymek hauled 'demolition train' after services end on Sunday 6 March 2016 - a full 50 years to the day after the end of services on the real S&D. Resident Class 03 shunter no D2133 also worked demolition trains on the Highbridge line. Tickets for the 2016 Spring Steam Gala can be purchased online

5 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

WSRA Development Plan - an overview paper

As work on the Development Plan gets under way, Acting Chairman of the West Somerset Railway Association, Frank Courtney, has issued an 'overview paper'. In the covering letter, Frank says:

I am pleased to say that we have now started the Development Plan process. The first step is to publish an Overview Paper, and this is attached to this letter, for your consideration. Why do we need an Overview Paper? It became clear to us, as soon as we started considering how to draft a Development Plan that there were a wide range of matters where we needed a steer from Members before undertaking detailed work. We hope this will become clear as you read the Overview Paper. The Association has evolved over many years and if we are now to set a new direction, then we need to know what Members want the thrust of that direction to be. Nevertheless, we realise that not everyone will agree with each other, so we will need to continue to consult as we move the process on.

The full document can be found on the website of the West Somerset Railway Association (under the 'Documents' section) or on this website.

4 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

It might seem like we are closed, but we are not...

The West Somerset Railway Plc's Minehead offices will be open on weekdays between 9am and 5pm to answer any queries - ring 01643-704996. For all weekends in January, the station at Minehead will be closed. Timetable information can be found on the West Somerset Railway official website and tickets can be purchased online at any time.

3 January 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

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