Latest news

The 2016 Mixed Traction Weekend gets a new theme

As a result of discussions with the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group (D&EPG), the West Somerset Railway has changed the theme of the Mixed Traction Weekend which is being held from Friday 10 June 2016 to Sunday 12 June 2016.

The Gala theme will now be to celebrate 40 years of the D&EPG on the West Somerset Railway. Appearing at the Mixed Traction Weekend possibly for the last time, will be Class 42 'Warship' no D832 Onslaught, which is due to travel home to the East Lancashire Railway at Bury after seven years in the core of the D&EPG at their Williton Depot. Also in attendance Class 14 'Teddy Bear' no D9526, Class 33 'Crompton' no D6575, Class 35 'Hymek' no D7017, Class 47/8 no D1661 North Star and possibly Class 52 'Western' no D1010 Western Campaigner. GBRF will also be bringing Class 66 no 66757 West Somerset Railway to the event.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or over the phone on 01643 704996.

4 May 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

WSR Plc launch restoration appeal for GWR 2-6-2T no 4110

The West Somerset Railway has launched its next appeal project, focussing on the overall target of achieving a secure fleet of suitable locomotives to take the West Somerset Railway forward.

The Railway has recently purchased GWR 2-6-2T no 4110 in unrestored condition. The engine has not been in steam since June 1965, so there will be a considerable amount of restoration work to be completed before it is able to be entered into service between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead.

We therefore will be doing everything we can to fundraise for the restoration, which will include the selling of company shares and donations. For further information on the appeal please do not hesitate to contact us either by email info@wsrail.net or on 01643 704996

4 May 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The next meeting of the WSRA's Taunton Group

The next meeting of the WSRA Taunton Group will take place on 9 May 2016 and is not to be missed. Railway photographer and WSRA Report Chairman Robin Coombes will be giving a 45 minute presentation of his railway photography entitled 'A different take', and answering questions on this and the processes he has recently managed for the WSRA. Also, one of the new WSRA trustees will also be present to talk about the work underway to get the WSRA back on track after the recent upheavals.

Future meetings are planned:

  • 6 June 2016 A presentation on West Somerset Railway Infrastructure by WSR Infrastructure Manager Andrew Young, WSR Vice-Chairman Ian Coleby and WSR Civil Engineering Director Ric Auger
  • 4 July 2016 Summer evening social at Bishops Lydeard and we hope to take a short but rather special trip by train (subject to confirmation).

We take a break in August, and the Autumn programme will recommence on Monday 5 September 2016.

All meetings (except where otherwise stated) will be at the Wyvern Club, Mountfields Road Taunton TA1 3BJ, 7pm for 7.30pm. The venue has a bar and also offers food from snacks to a full meal. Meetings are open to all WSR supporters, whether you are a WSRA member or not.

Do come along and help revitalise our Association.

Robin White Taunton Area Group Organiser robin215white@btinternet.com

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

A summary of the latest WSRA Trustee Board meeting

The West Somerset Railway Association's Trustee Board have issued a synopsis of the main points discussed at the recent Board meeting held on 3 May 2016.

The full synopsis can be read on the WSRA website.

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

The 2016 Crowcombe Heathfield Station mug

The website of the Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station is having a gentle refresh for the new season. Have a look! One of the latest news items features the 2016 Station Mug:

Remember your visit to Crowcombe Heathfield station for years to come with a limited edition mug. Available in the station shop for just £4. Buy yours now. Once they've gone, theyve gone!

3 May 2016
Details kindly provided by Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station External link

Dine in style on the Quantock Belle on 5 June...

Here is the menu for the Quantock Belle Dining Train on 5 June 2016.

Starter:
Soup of the Day with Bread Roll and Butter; Prawn Salad with Brown Bread and Butter; Sliced Honeydew Melon served with seasonal Fruit and Fresh Mint

Main:
Roast Beef & Yorkshire pudding werved with Horseradish Sauce, roast potatoes and fresh vegetables

Dessert:
Apple Pie served with Custard; White Chocolate amp; Blackurrant Florette; Fresh Fruit Salad served with Cream or Ice Cream; Cheese and Biscuits

Call 01823 433856 during office hours on Tuesday to Saturday to book a table...

2 May 2016
Details gleaned from Quantock Belle's Facebook page

Good progress with the new pathway at Doniford

Volunteers have made speedy progress with laying a firm base layer for the new path between Doniford Halt and the nearby village. A strip of land was made available with kind co-operation of the landowner for the purpose and the path follows a level route at the edge of the field from the Halt to the existing roadside pavement in the village. When completed, it means passengers making their way to the nearby Doniford Farm tourist attraction and the Doniford Bay Holiday Park will no longer need to risk walking along the busy Watchet to Doniford road.

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

A Warship will be sighted near the West Somerset coast

Diesel hydraulic fans will have one of the last chances, for now, to ride behind one of the Western Region's 'Warship' Class locomotives on Saturday 30 April 2016 when Class 42 no D832 Onslaught will work over the Minehead Branch. The route will take the train along the clifftops at Helwell Bay and along the beach at Blue Anchor. The 'Warship' will head the 11.45am from Bishops Lydeard, the 1.20pm from Minehead to Williton and the 2.15pm back to Minehead, and then a run to Bishops Lydeard leaving Minehead at 5.15pm. Other trains will run - see timetable. No D832 will return to the East Lancashire Railway shortly after on 14 June after appearing at the Mixed Traction event.

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

By bus from Dunster Station to Dunster Castle this weekend

On Sunday 1 May and Bank Holiday Monday 2 May, a free vintage bus service will link Dunster Station, the village and the Castle. There will be no through ticketing packages available on these dates but WSR passengers who show their tickets at the Castle entrance gate will get a 25% discount on admission. The bus, a heritage vehicle from the Crosville fleet, will leave Dunster Station at 10.35am, 11.45am, 12.40pm, 1.50pm, 2.35pm, 3.50pm and 4.40pm. Departure times from Dunster village will be 10am, 10.50am, 12 noon, 12.55pm, 2.05pm, 3.15pm, 4.05pm and 5pm, and people staying in the village are welcome to travel down to the Station.

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

An update from the Steam Trust

Trustee Claire Sheppy has provided an update from the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust:

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust AGM was held on 23 April 2016, at the Gauge Museum, Bishops Lydeard. There was a very pleasing turnout in terms of numbers of people attending to this meeting.

Turning now to the West Somerset Railway Spring Gala 2016, which has been widely acclaimed as being the best Gala ever, (see the many excellent videos on YouTube, together with comments concerning the event) , the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust played a significant part, succeeding in manning the Blue Anchor Museum, and the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard on all six days of the Gala, and 6705 at Williton on all but the Thursday of the Gala on which day the shed was not open to the general public. This included the bringing in of the N-Gauge model of Burnham on Sea station (photos of this are as below in an earlier posting), which was much admired both for its accuracy and it's running.

With regard to 6705, work being undertaken currently centres extensively around varnishing the internal panelling, . If anyone is either proficient at scumbling, or would like to learn how to do this, then we would be particularly pleased to see you at Williton. Also underway is exploration concerning the restoration of the seating, and its necessary upholstery

Finally, we are taking steps to endeavour to make the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust website more visible. To this end, Steve Edge and myself are jointly exploring ways of improving the website and access to it. If you have ever googled West Somerset Steam Railway Trust you will find that it does not produce a direct link, amongst other things, what we are trying to achieve is that if one were to put in 'West Somerset Steam Railway Trust', it would come up with a direct link to the Trust website as either the first or second item in the list.

26 April 2016
Details gleaned from West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

Arrangements for the WSR Classic Car Run in June

Arrangements for the second annual West Somerset Railway Classic Car Run from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead on Sunday 19 June 2016 (Fathers' Day) are now firming up and entries are coming in steadily.

A wonderful selection of classics from the 1930s to the 1980s, from Morris Minors to Bentleys, family saloons, Land Rovers and iconic sports cars will take a 35 mile trip around the highways and byways of West Somerset, setting off from Bishops Lydeard at 11am, arriving at Minehead from about noon and parking up around Minehead Railway Station and the Beach Hotel for the afternoon.

The route will be Bishops Lydeard - Lydeard St Lawrence - Crowcombe Station - Stogumber Station - Stogumber village - Vellow - Staple Cross - Williton Station, Williton Town - Watchet - Washford Cross - Washford - Blue Anchor Sea Front - Carhampton - Dunster - Timberscombe - Dunster - Alcombe and finally down Minehead High Street to the Railway Station.

By the generosity of Watchet Town Council the cars with be able to cross Watchet promenade on a loop through Watchet as an addition to the route followed last year.

West Somerset Railway volunteer and Run Organiser, Robin White said:

We do hope folk will turn out to give the car owners a wave as the pass by. Spectators can also see the cars gather at Bishops Lydeard from 9 am and then take the 1025 steam train from Bishops Lydeard to get to one of the stations ahead of the vehicles to see them pass, and then come on to Minehead to admire them again. We have just passed 35 entries, so classic owners should be in touch to snap up one of the last few places. The capacity we have on the run is for a maximum of 50 vehicles

Intending participants, with a pre-1980 classic vehicle, can contact Robin on 07710 336 807.

22 April 2016
Details kindly provided by the WSR Classic Car Run

Online tickets for 2016 Steam Rally now available

Tickets for the 2016 Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally are now available to purchase online. The Rally's website explains...

This year we have moved to 'print-your-own' tickets. After purchase, just print the tickets and bring the paper copy along to the Rally gate in the day. A quick scan of the paper copy and once validated, the Rally awaits you. And remember, tickets purchased online are valid for both days of the Rally weekend. Have a look at the Tickets page. Day tickets can also be bought at the Rally gate.

21 April 2016
Details gleaned from www.steamrally.org.uk External link

The WSR Journal 2016 and beyond

Following the publication of the 'Coombes Report' into the WSRA, it became obvious that significant changes were required within the organisation. Working Groups were set up to look into various aspects of the WSRA and one of those encompassed the Journal. As a result of that process the Journal will have a new more modern look and be put together by a team, rather than by a single individual. The team skills include picture editing and photography, writing and journalism, typesetting and page layout, editing and advertising sales, etc etc.

The WSR Journal is embarking on a journey of discovery, as contributors seek to re-establish relationships with organisations and departments up and down the railway in a genuine attempt to support the whole West Somerset Railway, by publishing accurate and up to date information for the purpose of generating enthusiasm and support.

19 April 2016
Details gleaned from www.wsra.org.uk External link

WSRA seeks contributions for the next Journal

Magda Davies writes:

The new Journal is progressing well and we have a good Editorial team in place. Do you have an interesting story/article/photo/joke (clean, please) about the WSR that you would like to send us? If so, please send it to journal@wsra.org.uk as soon as possible. We are also keen to reinstate Readers' Letters, preferably looking ahead, rather than dwelling on past problems. Please send any articles in Word and photos as jpgs.

16 April 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

WSRA announce plans for Summer Consultation Meeting

The West Somerset Railway Association have announced plans for a Summer meeting:

The Consultation Meeting for the West Somerset Railway Association, which will consider draft plans for the future of the Association, will take place on Sunday 24th July. The West Somerset Railway PLC have kindly agreed to make available the Diesel Multiple Unit for the day, and the intention is that attending members will be able to visit the Restoration Workshop at Williton and also view the Norton Fitzwarren Triangle. Detailed plans for the day are still being worked out, but we thought it would be helpful to give Members advance information of the date: we anticipate that the whole day (morning and afternoon) will be occupied by the visits and the meeting. Travel on the DMU, which will be free of charge, will only be available to WSRA members.

Members will appreciate that July is a busy time on the railway and the meeting will have to be held on the Sunday to ensure there are available train paths for the DMU. We will send out further information about the day as soon as we can.

14 April 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

Line up finalised for the Mixed Traction Weekend event

The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group have kindly provided an update.

We are pleased to announce that the line up for the Mixed Traction Weekend event - 10, 11 and 12 June - has been finalised.

Warship D832 will now be working during the gala having just come back from Swanage. That will be the last chance to ride behind it on the WSR for some time as it returns to the East Lancashire Railway shortly after on 14 June.

GBRF will be bringing 66757 to the event named West Somerset Railway. Sadly D015 is unavailable over the weekend.

The full home based fleet will be in action including a welcome outing for Western D1010 and the Class 09 that resides at Bishops Lydeard. Friday 10 June is an all diesel affair as usual with the weekend having a token steam diagram.

In other news - D832 has recently undertaken a successful loaded test run and will now be prepared for its penultimate running day on 30 April before its short visit to the Swanage Railway.

D1010 has been subject to a lot of work over the winter which resulted in a number of checks being undertaken in the yard recently ready for a loaded test run on 17 April, provisionally.

Unfortunately several of the Wednesday Lunch dining trains - 4 May, 18 May, 8 June, 22 June and 6 July - have been cancelled although five other such trains remain in the programme and we have updated the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group diary of diesel running dates accordingly.

14 April 2016
Details kindly provided by Diesel and Electric Preservation Group External link

The Butlin's Express gets underway

The inaugural Butlin's Express left Minehead at 10.15am on 13 April 2016 complete with 'Billy the Bear' and the Redcoats.

The inaugural Butlin's Express is a new venture, with the West Somerset Railway working with Butlin's Minehead to offer packages in 2016.

On Wednesdays and Sundays from April to the end of the season. Butlin's guests will be able to travel on the Butlin's Express, a steam train leaving Minehead at 10.15am. Passengers will be accompanied by the Redcoats from the Holiday Centre. Passengers will travel to Watchet and will return on a later steam train service. Tickets will be sold by Butlins from their booking points or through Seaware, not by the West Somerset Railway.

Furthermore, on Wednesdays 13 April, 4 May, 8 June, 7 September and 5 October during Tots Breaks at the Holiday Centre, the Tots Express will run on the same basis with passengers travelling on the 10.15am steam train from Minehead to Watchet returning in their own time.

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

The renewal of rails and roadway at Leighwood Level Crossing

A sterling effort by the Railway's Permanent Way team along with the Operating, Motive Power, Signal & Telegraph Departments and many others, saw the complete reinstallation of Leighwood Level Crossing infrastructure including rails and road surface during a 40 hour track possession on 10, 11 and 12 April 2016.

Possession was taken on Sunday evening after the last train to take advantage of a non-running day on the Monday and possession was given up at 10am on Tuesday 12 April for normal services to resume. To complete the task, several staff worked well into the early hours.

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

Helping hands needed to support the Plc's Corporate Services

As a result of the restructuring of the Board and Committee functions, the Plc is seeking to recruit volunteers who would be responsible for organising and preparing agendas and papers for board meetings, committees and stakeholder meetings, taking Board and other Committee minutes and assisting the Committee Chairman on following up on actions from meetings.

If you are interested in taking on one of these roles then please contact either Mel Hillman the Plc's newly appointed Corporate Services Administrator (mel.vol@wsrail.net) or Steve Williams the Plc's Planning Director williams@oakevillage.wanadoo.co.uk). Training would be available if required.

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

The latest draft minutes from the Partnership Development Group

The Secretary of the Partnership Development Group has kindly provided the draft minutes of the meeting ot the Group held on 31 March 2016. The draft minutes are available as a downloadable PDF document.

Three other documents form appendices to the minutes: a letter from WSR Plc to WSRA; a diagram outlining a proposed path for the leasehold/freehold issue; and a document from the WSRA.

The next meeting of the Partnership Development Group will be held on 3 May 2016.

10 April 2016
Details kindly provided by Partnership Development Group Secretariat

Building an editorial team for the WSR Journal

Magda Davies of the West Somerset Railway Association writes:

We, the new WSRA Trustees, are looking to find an editorial team to produce a new Journal as soon as possible. If you have an interest and/or any expertise in this area, please contact me as soon as possible on 01823 354515 or at magda@zdavies.freeserve.co.uk I wait with baited breath!

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

And it's goodbye from him...

We wish John Simms - the Railway's Publicity Officer - a long and happy retirement. On his last day in the office, John said:

As I shall be departing the WSR at lunchtime today (8 April) for four and a half days annual leave followed by retirement I would just like to say thank you to the people I have worked with in my time on the Railway - 16 years at Washford and 22 at Minehead. A lot has changed and been achieved in that time by a general spirit of working together and esprit de corps and the strength of the WSR owes most to the people who work for it. Long may that continue and I look forward to occasional trips on the trains in the future.

Steve Jervis, Assistant to the General Manager, adds:

John Simms logged off, quite literally, for the last time today after 22 years sterling service to the WSR. John started off at Washford helping to run the S&DRT's Museum and shop before commencing work in the main office at Minehead in 1994. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knows him. A happy and long retirement John from all your many friends on the railway.

We at wsr.org.uk would like to say that John's act is going to be very hard to follow. His creative publicity work, issued in a prompt and timely fashion, provided the very necessary 'churn' of information and news from our fine Railway. We particularly thank John for his faith and trust in the 'unofficial' publicity outlets which was most encouraging for the likes of wsr.org.uk Thanks John.

8 April 2016
Comments kindly provided by John Simms and Steve Jervis

Two Directors to leave the WSR Plc Board

At its March Board meeting, the WSR Plc received confirmation from David Baker, Commercial Director, that, for personal reasons, he was standing down from the Board after the AGM in June. David will however remain as Share Registrar and continue to support the West Somerset Railway in that role which includes oversight of the Long Service Awards and the organisation and management of the Annual General Meeting. David has served the railway over many years in a variety of voluntary roles and his expertise and knowledge will be sorely missed.

At the same meeting, Geof Cox, HR Director who joined the Board in November 2015, also announced that he would not be seeking nomination to the Board at the AGM. Geof lives on the outskirts of Bristol and the travel requirements combined with business commitments meant that he could not give sufficient time to what is a growing and challenging HR agenda within the Company. Geof confirmed that he would continue to serve as HR Director until the AGM.

As a consequence, the Board will now be seeking to recruit a new Commercial Director and HR Director. This process will be led by Steve Williams Planning Director and the roles have been advertised.

John Irven, Plc Chairman, paid tribute to both David and Geof for their contributions.

David has been an invaluable contributor to the PLC board, most recently as vice chairman and acting chairman during my illness last year, and I am very pleased that he will be able to continue as share registrar and his contribution to the WSR. Due to Geof's commitments, he is unfortunately unable to continue on board, but has already made a significant contribution to developing and strengthening our HR function. We wish them both well for the future.

8 April 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The next meeting of the WSRA's Taunton Group

The next meeting of the WSRA Taunton Group will take place on 9 May 2016 and is not to be missed. Railway photographer and WSRA Report Chairman Robin Coombes will be giving a presentation of his railway photography entitled 'A different take', and answering questions on this and the processes he has recently managed for the WSRA. Also, one of the new WSRA trustees will also be present to talk about the work underway to get the WSRA back on track after the recent upheavals.

Future meetings are planned:

  • 6 June 2016 A presentation on West Somerset Railway Infrastructure by WSR Infrastructure Manager Andrew Young, WSR Vice-Chairman Ian Coleby and WSR Civil Engineering Director Ric Auger
  • 4 July 2016 Summer evening social at Bishops Lydeard and we hope to take a short but rather special trip by train (subject to confirmation).

We take a break in August, and the Autumn programme will recommence on Monday 5 September 2016.

All meetings (except where otherwise stated) will be at the Wyvern Club, Mountfields Road Taunton TA1 3BJ, 7pm for 7.30pm. The venue has a bar and also offers food from snacks to a full meal. Meetings are open to all WSR supporters, whether you are a WSRA member or not.

Do come along and help revitalise our Association.

Robin White Taunton Area Group Organiser robin215white@btinternet.com

8 April 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

New way forward for the WSR Plc and WSRA

The chairmen of the PLC and WSRA, John Irven and Frank Courtney are jointly publishing correspondence between the two organisations as an illustration of the progress being made in helping the WSRA and their new board of trustees establish good governance to meet the requirements of their members as expressed at AGM and EGMs, and in the Coombes report.

John Irven said:

I am delighted that Frank and I are finding such mutually positive ways forward to regularise the situation between our two organisations, and to help re-establish the WSRA's reputation and position as a key member and partner within the WSR family. I am also pleased that Frank and his new board have readily accepted the role and help that the Partnership Development Group should play in this. Both boards recognise there is a way still to travel, but we have made a great start on the journey. Full letter.

Frank Courtney said:

I am very pleased to respond positively to John Irven's letter, which we welcome. As a group of trustees we are working hard to re-establish the Association's contribution to the whole West Somerset Railway. We have a great deal to do and will be bringing forward extensive proposals for consideration by our Members at a special meeting in July, prior to the Annual General Meeting, in October. We look forward to the PLC and other colleagues, working through the Partnership Development Group, being fully involved in these discussions from the earliest stages. Full letter.

The PLC will provide further updates at the stakeholder meeting open to all staff, volunteers, shareholders and partners at the Hobby Horse, Minehead from 2.00pm on Saturday, 9th April 2016, where Frank and team will also attend as guests.

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

The next meeting of the WSRA's Taunton Group

The next meeting of the WSRA Taunton Group will take place on 4 April 2016 and features 'A blast from the past!' with Arthur Turner giving a presentation from his photographs of main line steam from 1980 to 1990. One of the new WSRA trustees will also be present to talk about the work underway to get the WSRA back on track after the recent upheavals.

Future meetings are planned:

  • 9 May 2016 A real coup - railway photographer and WSRA Report Chairman Robin Coombes will be giving a presentation of his railway photography entitled 'A different take', and answering questions.
  • 6 June 2016 A presentation on West Somerset Railway Infrastructure by Ian Coleby, Ric Auger and Andrew Young of the WSR Plc.
  • 4 July 2016 Summer evening social at Bishops Lydeard and we hope to take a short but rather special trip by train (subject to confirmation).

We take a break in August, and the Autumn programme will recommence on Monday 5 September 2016.

Robin White, (Interim) Taunton Meetings Organiser adds:

All meetings (except where otherwise stated) will be at the Wyvern Club, Mountfields Road Taunton TA1 3BJ, 7pm for 7.30pm. The venue has a bar and also offers food from snacks to a full meal. Meetings are open to all WSR supporters, whether you are a WSRA member or not. If you are anywhere near Taunton on these evenings, do come along and help revitalise our Association. robin215white@btinternet.com

1 April 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

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