Latest news

The return of classic Western Region diesels on the Minehead Branch

Of the locos running at the Mixed Traction Weekend on 5-7 June 2015, the home fleet of Class 14 no D9526, Hymek no D7017 and Warship no D832 are of course classic WR hydraulics, whilst the home-based Brush Type 4 (Class 47) no D1661 is a former WR machine and the Class 33 no D6575 would have been seen regularly at locations where the Southern Region met the WR such as Exeter St Davids. Of the event guests,Peak no 45060 Sherwood Forester was a regular visitor to the West Country on inter-regional services between the late 60s and 1980s, Class 56 no 56006 represents the first type 5s to operate on the WR, starting in the 1980s when 56s appeared working Mendip stone trains in the Westbury area, and Class 59 no 59003 is one of the original class members that were imported by Foster Yeoman Ltd to work their stone trains from their Mendip quarry at Merehead. No 59003 has been working in Germany for a number of years and has only recently been repatriated to the UK by owners GBRF who are currently finishing off work on the loco at Eastleigh before bringing it to the WSR for its formal re-dedication at Minehead on the Friday of the Mixed Traction Weekend event. It will work down to Minehead, paired with the 56, on the 11.55am from Bishop Lydeard and will then be displayed on the turntable at Minehead for the remainder of the day.

22 May 2015
Details provided by the Special Events Planning Team External link

Support for the WSRA Reform Group is rolling in

The Reform Group report they have today received 75 sign-ups for the proposed new resolution to be put to the members at a General Meeting along with and a staggering £765 towards the cost of the campaign. Two documents give all the details. See the WSRA+ blog for links. The first document explains the arguments for the proposed resolution. The second is a sign-up form for those who support the request. Neither is an official WSRA document. WSRA members are strongly encouraged to read these two documents carefully. If the WSRA Trustee Board publish a statement we will post it here.

22 May 2015
Details provided by WSRA Reform Group External link

Model trains, railwayana & collectables valuation day at Minehead

Saturday 20 June 2015 will see a new event taking place at Minehead Station on the West Somerset Railway, when Peter Rixon of the long-established firm of Greenslade, Taylor, Hunt will be on site to value model railway items, railwayana and items from the wider field of collectables. There will be no fees for those attending the valuation day although anyone interested in possibly selling items at auction will be able to do so if they wish at a future Greenslade, Taylor, Hunt event. Collectables auctions are held quarterly at the Octagon Sales Room in East Reach in Taunton. The valuation day will last from 10am to 4pm and will take place under the station canopy. Steam trains will be running over the 20 miles of the West Somerset between Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, and Minehead.

West Somerset Railway General Manager Paul Conibeare commented "It was back in 1997 that we hosted the BBC's 'Antiques Roadshow' here at Minehead Station but we have not welcomed a valuation day since and it is pleasing to be working with Greenslade,, Taylor, Hunt, to offer a day with interest to both collectors of railway related items and the wider world of collectables here. The platform is used for a wide variety of events during the year and we look to make contributions to the visitor interest of Minehead in addition to the many thousands who arrive on the trains during the year."

22 May 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Weekend refreshment news from Stogumber Station

Stogumber Station will not be able to serve their sought-after refreshments on Sunday 24 May due to unavailability of staff. Tom Usher, Station Master of Stogumber Station, writes "Regrettably due to late notification of staff unavailability we will not be able to provide any refreshments at the station on Sunday 24 May. We apologise for any disappointment this may cause to our visitors. The rest of the weekend and Monday we will be operating normally. Travel from the station is unaffected."

21 May 2015
Details provided by Stogumber Station

Author of 'Itchybald Scratchet' at Bishops Lydeard Station on Saturday

Sue C Medcalf, author of 'Itchybald Scratchet', will be signing copies of the children's books at Bishops Lydeard Station on Saturday 23 May 2015. The series of books about Itchybald Scratchet starts with Itchy facing the twin threats of a badger cull and housing developments by the Upples (the badger name for people). Sue lives in Bishops Lydeard and has an interest in badgers and wildlife in general, along with their behaviour and habitat. Call in during normal shop hours 9.30am - 5.30pm - for a chat with Sue.

21 May 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

The WSRA Reform Group seek support for a new proposed resolution

The Reform Group have announced a bid to secure sufficient support from WSRA members to request a further resolution put to the membership. Two documents give all the details. See the WSRA+ blog for links. The first document explains the arguments for the proposed resolution. The second is a sign-up form for those who support the request. Neither is an official WSRA document. WSRA members are strongly encouraged to read these two documents carefully. If the WSRA Trustee Board publish a statement we will post it here.

20 May 2015
Details provided by WSRA Reform Group External link

Copies of The Railway Magazine 1959-1960, 1962-1972

Claire Sheppy, a volunteer with the Heritage Carriages Trust, writes "Due to the death of my father, and also another unexpected donation, I have available a set of 'The Railway Magazine' from 1959 until 1972 inclusive, as far as I can tell it is complete except that there seem to be no magazines for 1961. I would like to know whether anyone who might just be considering building a complete set of this long-running magazine, would like to have these, my only request would be that whoever should take them, make a financial donation of some sort to any of the West Somerset Railway organisations of their choice. These magazines as one lot together, are incredibly heavy, but I could either get them down to Bishops Lydeard or Williton, or alternatively should anyone wish to take up this offer, they could come to North Petherton to collect them, at a mutually convenient time." Claire can be contacted by email clairersheppy 'at' yahoo.co.uk

20 May 2015
Details provided by Claire Sheppy

The draft minutes of the recent Partnership Development Group meeting

The draft minutes of the railway's Partnership Development Group (PDG) meeting on 30 April 2015 have been issued. The document will be presented for approval at the next meeting of PDG due on 25 June. Of interest to railway preservationists is the formation of the Heritage & Preservation Discussion Group as an informal group as a sub-set of the PDG. Mark Smith, Director of WSR Plc, agreed to co-ordinate the Group with his experience as Vice-Chairman of the Heritage Railway Association. Other topics include a discussion about the Plc's lease of the railway and the Plc's approach to commercial activities. To read the draft minutes please click here.

19 May 2015
Details provided by the Partnership Development Group

Peter Chidzey is the new WSR Association Chairman

Peter Chidzey has been elected Chairman of theWest Somerset Railway Association. The recently issued press release continues "He succeeds David Williams, who stated that he did not wish to continue in the role at the General Meeting of Sunday 10 May. Peter has been a Vice-Chairman of the Association and is a director of WSRA (Promotions) Limited, as well as being a volunteer at West Somerset Restoration and on the Quantock Belle dining train. The appointment took effect from the close of the Trustees' meeting of Wednesday 13 May." The full text of the press release can be seen on the official WSRA website or here

19 May 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

A statement from WSR Plc about a discussion on National Preservation

We have been asked by Geoff Pateman of WSR Plc to post this item after the following comment was posted on the National Preservation website on 18 May:

"Latest from the railway says that Ian Aldridge has been banned by the WSR PLC!!! Reliable source close to trustees tells me and I believe them. Does anybody know anything about it."

The Plc would like it to be known that this comment is simply untrue.

18 May 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The next Taunton Group meeting will be held on Monday 18 May

The next meeting of the West Somerset Railway Association Taunton Group will be held in the evening of 18 May 2015 at the GWSA Club, Station Approach, Taunton. Mr Mike Curtis will give a presentation on Tornado which is coming to the end of its winter maintenance schedule and will be out on the mainline again in June. His presentation will also include the new P2 project Prince of Wales and some merchandise to raise funds for these two projects will be on sale. For this and all the latest news come to the GWSA Club, Station Approach, Taunton by 7.45pm on 18 May 2015.

16 May 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

The WSRA Trustee Board: a new chairman and a suspension

We understand the Association has a new Chairman and although no official announcement has been made, it seems David Williams has stepped down and Peter Chidzey has taken over. After the 'vote of no confidence' resolution was carried at the recent EGM, David Williams stated he had "no intention of continuing". Rather more surprising, and distinctly worrying, is the news that Trustee Ian Coleby has been suspended pending an investigation. There has been no word from the WSRA despite our requests to all other Trustees. However, Ian Coleby has issued a statement - we leave WSRA members and others to form their own opinion on this development. The official WSRA website is wsra.org.uk and membership commentary can be found at wsra-action.org and WSRA+

15 May 2015
Details provided by local correspondents

An update on the Crowcombe Heathfield Station Goods Office Project

The Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station have published an update on the Goods Office Project. Writing on the Friends website, John and Carol Oldfield from the Project Team explain "After several problems over the winter months regarding which way forward to go with the stone to be used in the re-build of the Goods Office it has been decided to use sawn & split stone from Capton Quarry (near Williton) as originally planned. The builder is in place to complete the 'metre of stone' for the Planning Officer and when it has been passed by the West Somerset Planning Committee we can go forward with the construction. When this procedure has been completed we will be in a position to put in place the schedule for re-build. Hopefully this will be in the late Summer, early Autumn depending on the timetable for trains and commitments already in place for Crowcombe Heathfield Station. The Project Team along with the Builders will be liaising with the owners of Capton Quarry within the next ten days to finalise arrangements."

14 May 2015
Details provided by the Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station External link

BR Peak no 45060 Sherwood Forester heading for the Minehead Branch

BR Class 45 Peak no 45060 Sherwood Forester is visiting the West Somerset Railway for the forthcoming Mixed Traction Weekend. No 45060 was built in 1960 - now 55 years old (the same as the last steam locomotive built for British Railway Evening Star!) and weighs no less than 138 tons. It will be moved to the Minehead Branch with Class 56 no 56006 by GBRF. The image, by Don Bishop, on the left shows the loco standing in Swanage Station at that railway's recent diesel gala.

13 May 2015
Details provided by Special Events Planning Team External link

Special fundraising day in aid of Minehead Station defibrillator

Sunday 14 June 2015 will see a special event at Minehead Railway Station, the northern terminus of the West Somerset Railway, aimed at raising funds for the purchase of a defibrillator for emergency use if required in the future.

The open day will run from midday to 3pm and the station platform will host a number of craft and sales stands. All of the stallholders are donating a prize for a raffle, proceeds from which will go towards the purchase of the defibrillator and in addition there will be performances by the Tano Taiko Drummers and the Minehead Male Voice Choir plus a Hog Roast, kindly hosted by the Yarn Market Hotel in Dunster, to augment the bill of fayre served at the Turntable Cafe at the station. The station shop and the Friends of Minehead Station's second hand book stall 'Readers Halt' will also be open.

In addition West Somerset Railway passengers who travel to Minehead from Bishops Lydeard station on the 11.05 diesel railcar train and return by the 3.25pm diesel railcar will be able to do so at a special reduced fare of £10.00. Tickets, which will only be valid on these two trains, can be purchased in advance from 01643 704996 or via the website at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk.

If anyone would like to support the appeal but cannot come along on 14 June cheques can be sent to the Friends of Minehead Station, The Railway Station, Minehead, TA24 5BG, with the word 'Defibrillator' wriiten on the back of the cheque.

12 May 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Class 37 no D6757 will miss the Mixed Traction Weekend

Class 37 no D6757 will not be able to attend the Mixed Traction Weekend as the loco failed with generator problems at the Swanage Railway over the weekend and will return to its Barrow Hill base for repairs. The Special Events Planning Team will try to source a replacement but will otherwise adjust the diagrams accordingly. Meanwhile, the Team confirm another visitor the air-braked Class 56 no 56006 will be able to work alone with the WSR's air-braked set of Mk1 stock. This stock will also be used by another visitor, Class 59 no 59003.

11 May 2015
Details provided by Special Events Planning Team External link

WSR Association Extraordinary General Meeting: results

The results of the voting at WSRA Extraordinary General Meeting on 10 May 2015

Resolution 1 - "Members have no confidence..." For:1178 Against:1127 Abstain:86 - carried.
Resolution 2 - "Review..." For:1317 Against:1010 Abstain:60 - carried.
Resolution 3 - "David Williams shall be removed..." For:1121 Against:1136 Abstain:123 - lost.
Resolution 3 - "Peter Chidzey shall be removed..." For:1086 Against:1141 Abstain:153 - lost.
Resolution 3 - "Nick Nicholls shall be removed..." For:1120 Against:1121 Abstain:138 - lost (the count gave a tie at 1120 so was decided by Chairman's casting vote)

The full wording of each resolution can be found here.

These figures have not been confirmed by the WSRA but we firmly believe are an accurate record of the announced results.

Our earlier comments about the WSRA Chairman, David Williams, were a tad premature. The Association have just published a press release in which David Williams states "...he did not wish to continue as Chairman, and would be stepping down to allow a new Chairman to be elected before the end of the month." He will remain as a Trustee.

More details of the EGM will appear here in due course.

11 May 2015
Details provided by local correspondents and WSRA+ External link

WSRA members are urged to vote on EGM resolutions

An Extraordinary General Meeting of the West Somerset Railway Association will be held at 2pm on 10 May 2015 at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall. The meeting has been called to consider and vote on five resolutions brought to the membership by a group of concerned members - see this page for details and statements. Members unable to attend may make use of the proxy form but should note the form must arrive at the WSRA office no later than 2pm on 8 May 2015 so time is tight.

7 May 2015
Details provided by wsr.org.uk

WSRA Home Counties Group go to Hampshire on Sunday

Keith Smith tells us this Sunday sees the return of the annual Basingstoke Festival of Transport run by the Thornycroft Society. It takes place in the War Memorial Park, next to the Council Offices in Basingstoke and is free to enter. The West Somerset Railway Association's Home Counties Group will be there to publicise the West Somerset Railway as usual, and to meet friends old and new. A warm welcome is extended to all!

7 May 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

Join the Murder Mystery Special and solve the crime

With the long summer evenings here why not enjoy looking at the Somerset countryside as the shadows lengthen towards sunset? And enjoy exercising the 'little grey cells' on solving a Murder Mystery on a steam train? There are still seats available on the May 30th evening outing for armchair sleuths.

The plot revolves dastardly doings at a summer holiday camp, appropriate for the time of the year. The first scene is staged on the platform at Bishops Lydeard station at 7pm and the train steams out towards Minehead at 7.15pm. It is back around 10.30pm.

As well as the actors going through the story before you have a chance to work out 'whodunit' you will also be able to enjoy a three course meal served at your table. The complete cost is £56 and bookings must be made by 22 May. More information can be seen at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk and bookings can be made online or by calling 01643 704996 (9am to 5pm seven days a week).

7 May 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Roy Pitman

John Simms, the Railway's Publicity Officer, writes "We were sorry to learn of the death of Roy Pitman on 5 May after a short illness. Roy and his late wife Mona (together with the black labrador Sooty) were leading lights in the running of Washford Station and the Museum of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust, with Roy spending a number of years as Station Master. In more recent times Roy and Mona acted as couriers on the trains giving talks to pre-booked parties."

"Living near Bruton Roy's childhood days involved travelling to and from school by the Somerset and Dorset line, kindling a lifelong interest in the route, the trains and the people who worked on it. He spent much of his working life in the Insurance business with his later years spent as an education officer with Royal Liver. Away from railways and work another key interest was football and Roy was for many years a scout for Yeovil Town and in later years Bath City, being a very familiar face around the non-league grounds of South West England."

"Our condolences go to Roy and Mona's family and we would like to say thank you for their contributions over many years to the history and success of the West Somerset Railway."

7 May 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust issue their Volunteer Policy

At its meeting on 25 April 2015, the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust adopted a Volunteer Policy. As Chris Bolt, the Treasurer of the Trust, explains, "All charities are encouraged by the Charities Commission to have such a policy." To see the policy, visit the website of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust or click here.

3 May 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

The latest WSR Journal has been issued to Association members

Journal no 149 has landed on the doormats of members of the West Somerset Railway Association. Along with the regular features, are two excellent articles, 'A tale of two Taunton tank engines' by Philip Horton (author of 'The Beeching Legacy' books) and 'Securing a workforce for the future' by long serving WSR volunteer John Glover. From the list of Trustees we learn that John Wood, Chris Walters and David Smart have recently resigned from the Trustee Board. We believe two of the remaining Trustees will be required to stand down and, if they wish, to stand again for election - there will be five vacancies - at the AGM at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall on 25 July at 2pm. Whilst not appearing in the latest Journal, members might also be interested to see a letter to members from the Chairman recently published on the website of the West Somerset Railway Association.

1 May 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

The Free Press once again produce a fine supplement featuring the WSR

Once again the West Somerset Free Press have produced a free supplement in newspaper style with masses of information about the West Somerset Railway. The supplement "Full steam ahead - your guide to the West Somerset Railway 2015" follows the pattern of previous issues, covering everything from a potted history of the line, special trains and events, volunteering, a guide to the stations, catering specials and engineman courses. As ever, an excellent production from the West Somerset Free Press providing valuable publicity for the Railway.

1 May 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Free Press External link

Help the Red Cross and enjoy reduced fare on special train

The West Somerset Railway is pleased to be working to help the Red Cross in their invaluable work both in Britain and abroad with a reduced fare excursion train on Saturday 16 May 2015. The special steam train will leave Bishops Lydeard station at 11.45am and will arrive at Minehead at 1.10pm. The return train will leave Minehead at 3.55pm. Amongst those travelling will be the Glastonbury Male Voice Choir and the student Jazz Band from Kings College Taunton.

The reduced price tickets are available for advanced sales only priced £12.00 for adults and seniors and £10.00 for children. Bookings can be made via www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or by calling 01643 704996. There are no further fare reductions on this special train.

1 May 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

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