Railway warn of limited car parking at Bishops Lydeard
The West Somerset Railway have posted the following on their Facebook page:
Due to heavy rainfall, our over-flow car parking at Bishops Lydeard will not be in use this weekend or for the Spring Steam Gala next weekend. Please use public transport where possible or choose to travel from Minehead, Watchet or Blue Anchor where there are hard-standing car parks.
16 March 2018 Details gleaned from Facebook page of West Somerset Railway Plc
Unsuccessful bid for original sign leads to possible silver lining
Many WSR supporters have expressed disappointment that their efforts were not successful in buying the original Dunster Station sign at the delayed Great Central Railwayana auction last Saturday, 10 March 2018. However, the cloud of not obtaining the sign has a potential silver lining. Following discussions it seems possible to make up three casting patterns for these distinctive Brunellian signs which are a significant part of WSR , GWR and Bristol & Exeter Railway history. To find out more please see the discussion paper.
Robin White has provided an update:
Pledges of funding from WSR supporters has raised the funding for the patterns for casting missing Brunellian station signs in only a day. We now need to push on and raise the estimated £2,000 cost of casting the reproduction signs, which will faithfully reproduce the station signs supplied new to the Railway in 1862/1874 where they are now missing and have not been replaced by original but later GWR signs. A short explanatory paper, updated from that circulated yesterday, is here.
15 March 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Steam Trust Limited Edition Mugs
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have reminded us:
Please do not forget to buy your mug at the Spring Gala. The mug depicts Sleeping Coach no 9038 There is a limited number and will be on sale at the Trust's museums at Blue Anchor and the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard.
The West Somerset Railway is very saddened to hear the news this morning of the passing of Stephen Hawking.
John Irven (former WSR Chairman) recalls the visit of Stephen Hawking to the Railway in August 2014:
He had seen our publicity about having a specially adapted carriage which allowed wheelchair users, including those on powered mobility wheelchairs, to travel alongside their family members in comfort, rather than being consigned in a wheelchair to the guard's van. He wanted to travel as any other disabled passenger but especially with members of his family on a private visit and ride on our steam hauled railway.
Passenger numbers on the West Somerset Railway totalled 189,359 for the 2017 season, an increase over the 186,603 carried in 2016. Commenting in the latest WSR Journal, Paul Conibeare, WSR General Manager, said:
I am delighted with the results for 2017 which shows the hard work put in by staff and volunteers.
The Model Railway at the Gauge Museum, Bishops Lydeard Station will re-open on 17 March 2018 now that the winter engineering work is over. Recently, James Pearson has been testing circuits at the end of the work with Tom Donelly and Matt Jackson working with him. See pictures by Alan Meade on the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust website.
The West Somerset Railway Association have published the latest Journal. Number 160 reveals a welcome new fresh look to the publication - well done to the designer and to the Journal team for this improvement. This Journal includes all the regular items along with a Letter from the Chairman, news of military-themed trains and events, a feature titled 'A Minehead Booking Clerk', and lots more.
Bishops Lydeard Station Shop at the Spring Steam Gala
West Somerset Railway Association Retail Manager Kate Beard writes:
Gala time is approaching again and the Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard is busy making preparations for the four day event. As well as our usual good stocks of the latest model railway and die cast items and railway books and DVDs, our book department will be tempting you with its regular promotional offers and carefully-selected out of print and second hand books, with several rare items. We shall also be offering a wide selection of back numbers of historic railway journals including a special offer on Backtrack magazine.
On Saturday 24 March we are pleased to welcome back railway author Allan Stanistreet who will be signing copies of his popular title 'Railways Round Exmoor', reissued last year with a comprehensive update and many colour illustrations.
The shop will be open on all four Gala days from 8.30am to 5.30pm. The cafe will be open from 8.45am
Dunster Station running-in board not coming home...
From Robin White, the Trust member who has been co-ordinating the attempt to acquire the sign and who attended the GCR auction at Stoneleigh:
Regrettably, the Dunster Station running-in board will not be coming home to Somerset. It sold at auction for £1550 to a private collector. The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is very grateful to WSR supporters who made pledges to allow the Trust to attempt to acquire the sign and hopes that those individuals will drop by soon to see the work of the Trust, particularly at its Museums at Blue Anchor and Bishops Lydeard stations and with GWR Brake Composite Corridor Coach no 6705 at Williton, which, it is hoped, will be in traffic later this year.
Chris Austin, Chairman of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, writes:
The RAMS team have done a great job in enlarging the archive store in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard and fitting it out with shelving. A working party of museum volunteers - including Ray Clack, Alan Randle, Mary Randle, Derek Blazdell, Geoff Evens and Peter Darke - put back the material yesterday (Friday) and started to prepare the museum for reopening on Saturday 17 March 2018
Live music at Washford Station with Jo Burt Band on 24 March
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust say:
During the West Somerset Railway's Spring Gala from 23-25 March 2018, be sure to stop off at Washford - we'll have good food available, admission to the museum and workshops will be free and there will be live music on Saturday evening!
Gourmet ploughman's, pasties and cake will be available all weekend and on Saturday evening from 7.30pm, Jo Burt and his band will be performing on site - don't miss it, be sure of your ticket, available from the online shop.
Minehead Branch Lost and Found Register to go on public display
A relic from the early days of one of the West Country's busiest railway branch lines and which was rescued when it was axed in the 1970s is to go on public display for the first time. The now-tattered ledger was kept at Minehead station and was used for more than 60 years to record many thousands of items which were found after being left behind by forgetful passengers between 1904 and 1968. The property ranged from false teeth to guns, farm machinery to jewellery, bowler hats to swimming costumes, and picnics to Christmas crackers. The register was originally saved by a railwayman who was afraid that otherwise it would have been dumped when the line was closed, and it has now been handed to the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, which runs the museum at Bishops Lydeard Station.
Steam Trust chairman Chris Austin and his team of volunteers are carrying out a major revamp of the museum where this historic relic from the branch line's past will be in safe keeping. More on what it reveals can be seen in the latest edition of the West Somerset Railway Journal, free to members of the WSR Association or available from the Bishops Lydeard Station Shop
Download the full text of the WSR's Press release.
The Hawksworth Saloon during the Spring Steam Gala
There will be opportunities to travel in the Hawksworth Inspection Saloon on all four days of the Great Western Routes and Branches Steam Gala 22 to 25 March 2018. It will be part of the trains departing from Bishops Lydeard at 11.00 and 15.45 and Minehead at 13.45 and 17.40. A supplementary fare of £5, payable on the day of travel, will be applicable for journeys in the saloon which will offer excellent views of what is afoot in the Gala and of the Somerset countryside as spring gets underway and we reach the weekend where the clocks go forward,
6 March 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
John Simms writes...
It is with regret that we have to report the passing of former Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust Chairman Godfrey Baker who died on March 3rd. Godfrey had been a committee member of the Trust since the 1980s and was Chairman from 2007 to 2017. Godfrey will be remembered by all who knew him for his friendly and gentlemanly approach to problems and for his steady patient approach to the work he carried out, including applying his building skills when required at Washford. One of his greatest achievements was being at the helm as the SDRT marked the 50th Anniversary of the closure of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset in 2016 with a year-long series of events along the routes of the lost line. Our sympathies and best wishes go to his wife Pauline and their children
The WSR have also issued this statement...
It is with profound sadness that the WSR announces the death of Godfrey Baker, former Chairman of the S&DRT. Godfrey died at Dorchester Hospice on Saturday 3rd March. Godfrey first became associated with the S&DRT in 1973 when the fledgling group was located at Radstock. He was also present on the first day of the Swanage Railway. Godfrey became a committee member of the S&DRT in 1988 and eventually held the post of Publicity Manager and more recently, Chairman from 2007-2017 when his illness forced him to stand down. Godfrey had many friends both in the S&DRT and the WSR too and I'm sure everyone will wish to send their condolences to his family. Godfrey is survived by his Pauline and their children and grandchildren.
Due to the weather, the weekend's 'Tidy Train' had to be cancelled. Snow on the ground makes collection difficult to say the least. Another date will be fixed later in the year when the evenings start drawing out. With better weather ahead, attention turns to track renewal at Seaward Way Crossing. A small correction to the alignment is required. On Tuesday 6 March 2018, Seaward Way will be blocked from 9.15am until completion of the works due to finish by lunch on Friday 9 March 2018.
On the Sunday of its Spring Steam Gala, 25 March 2018, the West Somerset Railway is offering the younger audience a special fare offering for children aged between 5 and 17. On that date only any child in the appropriate age range accompanied by a fare paying adult or senior will be able to travel for a flat rate of £2.00 for any return or single journey or the really keen will be able to enjoy a day rover ticket at the same price. The £2.00 child tickets - valid only on Sunday 25 March 2018 - can be purchased at booking offices or from travelling ticket inspectors on the trains on the day.2018.
We have received news regarding the sad death of WSR volunteer John Betts in the early hours of Saturday morning 3 March 2018 at the age of 81. John was the Booking Office Clerk at Bishops Lydeard on Saturdays for many years and a volunteer since 1997 and would have been the first face that many passengers would have seen before starting their journey. We are sure all WSR folk will join us in sending sincere sympathies to John's family.
We have been advised by his son that John Betts funeral will be held at Yeovil Crematorium, Bunford Road, Yeovil, Somerset, BA20 2EJ, on Tuesday 20 March 2018 at 11.20am. No flowers please and donations to the WSRA c/o Forseys in Glastonbury ideally or on the day.
5 March 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent via member of the family
Celebrating twenty years of the Readers Halt at Minehead Station
On 8 March 1998, Readers Halt opened and to celebrate the first twenty years, anyone who can come down to the station at Minehead on 8 March 2018 will be more than welcome to a cup of coffee and piece of cake. All those who have donated things to sell, those who have bought items and especially those who have opened the 'Halt' over the years are sincerely thanked by the Friends of Minehead Station committee. Come and see what has been achieved. Martyn Snell, Chairman of the Friends of Minehead Station, adds:
Readers Halt was preceded by the late John Richards selling magazines and books off a platform trolley before the late David Perry persuaded the FoMS committee to build Readers Halt. Due to its success, it has been extended once to provide a larger storage area and, during the last few days, sliding glass screens have been inserted in the outer two serving windows to provide better protection from east winds for those hardy souls who open the 'Halt' on all operational days. The money raised over the years has been ploughed back into the infrastructure of Minehead Station to make it a place of which to be proud.
3 March 2018 Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station
Auction of the 'Dunster' running-in board postponed
In the light of the extraordinary weather conditions, Great Central Railwayana auctions have taken the sensible decision to postpone the auction today which included the 'Dunster' name board which the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is hoping to acquire with the assistance of a number of sponsors. The auction is to be run as a telephone / internet auction next Saturday, 10 March, and the auctioneers have the Trust's commission bid.
3 March 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
An update from the recent meeting of the Board of WSR Plc
News from the Boardroom - a regular update on Plc Board meetings. Amongst items discussed in February 2018 were a New Board member, the 2018 AGM, the consultation on the draft Corporate Plan, staff communication and consultation, the Commercial programme, the Rules and Operating Standards Committee, along with reports from the Infrastructure Engineering and the Mechanical Engineering departments. Full report.
Great Western Routes and Branches at the Spring Steam Gala
The West Somerset Railway's 2018 Spring Steam Gala will take as its theme 'Great Western Routes and Branches', marking the 70th anniversary of the GWR being nationalised and becoming part of British Railways. It is also now over half a century since the sight and sound of Great Western steam engines working on the lines of South West England faded from daily life. More information.
'Taunton to Barnstaple' - book launch and presentation at Brushford
The Taunton to Barnstaple Railway was in many ways the 'twin' of the Minehead Branch. Described as a 'journey in pictures courtesy of the late Peter Gray', Freddie Huxtable's book will be launched along with a presentation by Freddie and Amyas Crump at Brushford Parish Hall on 24 March 2018. Doors open at 6.30pm. Download the poster.
WSR Supporters Day - as blogged by the WSR Plc Chairman
WSR Plc Chairman, Ian Coleby, reports on the day's events in his Steaming Along blog:
We had a good attendance at the supporters day today. A small crowd gathered to look round the development sites at Bishops Lydeard Station. This was conducted by Frank Courtney who explained the lie of the land at Station Farm and provided a tour of Blackmore House. We also looked around the new developments in the Gauge Museum. After lunch, we gathered in Bishops Lydeard Village Hall for the main event. I provided my first chairman's address - nervously but soon settled down (!) and Paul Conibeare gave a preview of the railway's events in 2018. I was really pleased that both Paul Whitehouse and Chris Austin were able to be present and to give presentations on the work of the Association and Trust.
GWR Pannier no 9466 completes the Spring Gala line-up
Dennis Howells' 94xx pannier tank no 9466 has been booked to complete the line up for the four day Spring Steam Gala starting 22 March. It will join nos 6960 Raveningham Hall, 6990 Witherslack Hall, 7822 Foxcote Manor, 7714, 1450, 6046 and 53808 working trains between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead during the event. Discounted Rover Tickets (including the £2 young persons ticket for Sunday 25 March) can be obtained via 01643 704996 or from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk
Prior to the opening of the Stogumber to Norton Fitzwarren section in June 1979, Leighwood Level Crossing was converted by the WSR Company to an open crossing protected by lights. Partly due to age and an ORR instruction to upgrade these lights to LED, the Railway's Signal & Telegraph Gang carried out the light installation on Monday 19 February. Many months had been spent preparing for this work. The remainder of the week was used to complete the wiring and testing.
West Somerset 'Railway Supporters Day' coming soon
A further reminder that this takes place on Saturday 24 February 2018. Meet at 11am in Bishops Lydeard Station car park for guided tour of the station. Then at 2pm at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall for an update on current activities, a chance to contribute to the new draft corporate plan and a Q&A session. Plus tea, coffee and biscuits! Open to all supporters of the railway. Download the poster
WSR into second round of Hinkley Point C Grants programme
The HPC Community Cohesion Grants Programme addresses intangible and residual community impacts deriving from the construction of Hinkley Point C. The successful West Somerset Railway application, led by the West Somerset Railway Association, focusses on volunteering and the benefits of personal well-being, community cohesion and economic stability that a
volunteering spirit can bring to the community.
WSR Plc Chairman Ian Coleby said:
The West Somerset Railway is an important part of the economy of West Somerset and we welcome this opportunity to extend our family of volunteers and engage with a wider community base.
WSRA Chairman Paul Whitehouse said:
As the support charity for the West Somerset Railway we are
thrilled to be leading on this project which will benefit individuals, the West Somerset Community, and the
WSR Plc Corporate Plan 2018-2023 Consultation Phase
The consultation phase of the West Somerset Railway Plc's Corporate Plan 2018-2023 will commence formally at the Supporters Day event at Bishops Lydeard on Saturday 24 February 2018. However the Plc are keen to circulate a copy of the Consultation Draft Version in advance and have made the document available for download. The consultation period will last until 7 April. More details about the consultation will follow but meantime any comments can be sent to Frank Courtney firstname.lastname@example.org
Trust appeals for help in acquiring Dunster Station sign
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, the heritage and educational trust associated with the West Somerset Railway is seeking donations to assist in acquiring an original sign from Dunster Station which dates from when the station opened in 1874. It was sold by British Railways to a private collector in 1971 when the line closed but is now being offered at a Railwayana Auction on 3 March 2018 with a sale estimate of £300 to £500. Trust Chairman Chris Austin said:
This is an important original item which the Trust would like to acquire to help with our task of telling the story of the West Somerset Railway.
Anyone wishing to support the acquisition is asked to contact Trust member Robin Moira White, who is co-ordinating the effort. She can be contacted via email: email@example.com or by telephone 01984 656 423. Please do not send your donation yet but pledge the sum you can offer and you will be called upon after the auction. Please also tell Robin if you are a UK taxpayer, as then 25% gift aid can be claimed from the government on your donation.
Wartime vehicle loading trials at Minehead Station
Trials took place on 16 February 2018 at Minehead Station loading some military vehicles onto ex-War Department flat wagons, ahead of the appearance on the WSR's 'military train' at the Spring Steam Gala at the end of March, and later the 1940s Weekend on 15 and 16 September 2018. These events will celebrate life in West Somerset during the 1940s and will not only cover the military aspects of that historic time. See the WSR Forties Weekend 2018 facebook page for lots more information (please note we understand the WSR is a member of the team in the externally-organised events).
Good progress with the boiler of GWR 0-6-2T no 6695 at the Flour Mill workshops in the Forest of Dean. Work is well underway in cutting out the wasted/grooved steel plate from the outer firebox wrapper. Steel stays have been removed along with all the rivets securing the foundation ring. The next job is to turn the boiler upside down, remove the foundation ring for assessment and repair, and cut away the lower section of the steel throatplate. More on facebook about the 6695 Loco Group.
18 February 2018 Details kindly provided by the 6695 Loco Group
West Somerset 'Railway Supporters Day' coming soon
A reminder that this takes place on Saturday 24 February 2018. Meet at 11am in Bishops Lydeard Station car park for guided tour of the station. Then at 2pm at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall for an update on current activities, a chance to contribute to the new draft corporate plan and a Q&A session. Plus tea, coffee and biscuits! Open to all supporters of the railway. Download the poster
Some thirty years since it first opened, Doniford is, from 10 March 2018, no longer a request stop and all regular service trains will stop. Until that date, Doniford is closed for all trains due to refurbishment works.
Station Master's house at Crowcombe Heathfield for sale
The Station Master's house at Crowcombe Heathfield is on the market. The asking price is £399,000. Built in the early 1860s when the West Somerset Railway itself was constructed, the extended property stands adjacent to Crowcombe Bridge. Extremely good views of passing trains guaranteed. For more details, search the internet for 'Puff Cottage Crowcombe Heathfield'.
16 February 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Volunteers wanted for the Tidy Train on 3 and 4 March
Rhiannon Powis writes:
We are still looking for volunteers able to help on the 3rd and/or 4th March with the tidy train. If you have a valid PTS, suitable footwear and hiviz, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01643 700400 and leave a message. Thank you! Rhiannon.
The WSR Plc is pleased to announce that Bill Knell has been co-opted as a director of the company. Bill's working background was in the UK Insurance Industry in a number of fields, including HR, Planning, line management and business development. He was elected as a Trustee of the WSRA at the 2016 AGM and was Chair of their Fund Raising & Membership Committee until his resignation for personal reasons in September 2017.
At the meeting on 19 January, the board co-opted Paul Conibeare and Richard Maw as directors. Both had previously been associate directors of the company. Paul is very well known as our General Manager, a post he has held since 2006. Paul continues to be a volunteer on the railway, including steam driving turns when time permits. He has been involved with the railway for almost 40 years in a number of roles in mechanical engineering.
Richard was appointed as the Head of Finance in 2017 and now takes over as Finance Director. Richard is a Chartered Accountant and joined us from various director and other roles in a wide cross section of businesses in both the commercial and not for profit sectors and across a number of businesses in the pharmaceutical, insurance, manufacturing and construction industries.