Latest news

Class 26 no D5343 to guest at the WSR's 2017 Diesel Gala

Don Bishop of the WSR's Special Events Planning Team (SEPT) writes:

I'm pleased to be able to announce that the Special Events Planning Team has secured Gloucestershire & Warwickshire based Class 26 No. D5343 (TOPS number 26043) to attend the Railway's Diesel Gala between 9 and 11 June 2017. The loco is owned by The Cotswold Mainline Diesel Group and based at the GWSR and we are very grateful to them for allowing the hire of the loco to the WSR for the Gala.

Built in 1959 at the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company the 75t loco spent the majority of its working life in based at Inverness in Scotland working trains in the far north to Wick, Thurso and Kyle of Lochalsh. It was withdrawn from BR service in January 1993 and moved to the GWSR for restoration.

The WSR SEPT are working on getting further visiting locos for the event and details will be announced as soon as possible

29 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Another wheelchair-accessible coach added to the fleet

The West Somerset Railway's newest wheelchair-accessible coach, no W4875, which has just been outshopped from the carriage & wagon workshops at Minehead. The coach was used for the first time today on the 12.35pm from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. The new coach ensures that all WSR trains will have be able to offer this facility. The WSR is justly proud of its ability to provide comfortable, safe and easy access to its trains for everyone.

29 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR Journal no 156 is published

Members of the West Somerset Railway Association are right now receiving the latest edition of the WSR Journal, produced by the Association's editorial team, led by Editor Richard Jones. The 90 page Number 156 'Spring 2017' contains, as usual, a great number of fine colour photographs along with lots of WSR news and updates. Alan Turner's truly delightful centrepiece photograph of a train at Horse Parks near Blue Anchor must rank very high amongst the all-time greats.

Of particular note is the article 'Southern Gateway Project' by Steve Williams which explains the proposed changes for the WSR's southern terminus at Bishops Lydeard. WSRA members are invited to express their views on the project; the consultation period extends until 30 April 2017. Full details in the latest Journal.

29 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

An update on the issue of Lineside Photography Passes

At the WSR Company Board meeting on 25 March 2017 the Board unanimously agreed several actions with regard to passes for Lineside Photography (LSPs). It is the Board's intention to withdraw the issue of LSPs with effect from 1 January 2018 and not reissue any in the future. Renewals for the rest of 2017, including the Flying Scotsman visits will recommence immediately.

Read the full statement.

27 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Flying Scotsman - detailed ticketing information

All tickets will be on sale on line from Monday 3rd April.

Flying Scotsman trains run only on 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 September 2017 (not 8 September). Tickets will not be on sale for the 10.00am and 10.41am departures from Bishops Lydeard on Tuesday 5 September, which will be reserved for local school children.

Passengers travel one way behind Flying Scotsman and the other way behind a named visiting locomotive (details to be announced). All journeys commence and end at Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) and travel the complete length of the West Somerset line to Minehead (a forty mile round trip). Passengers change trains at Minehead. Both journeys are in fully reserved non-stop trains. Both trains will convey a buffet car with a fully stocked licensed bar selling hot and cold drinks and light refreshments. On the Flying Scotsman, tea, coffee or fruit juice will be served free of charge at your seat.

There will be other scheduled stopping trains on the special days. Flying Scotsman tickets will also be valid for travel on other scheduled stopping trains, either before or after the booked Flying Scotsman trip. Places will not be reserved on other trains, which will also be available to passengers not travelling on Flying Scotsman trains.

For further ticketing information, including fares, for Flying Scotsman trains, please click here.

24 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Join the Ralegh's Cross Short Walk in April

The West Somerset Mineral Line Association invite folks to join their Ralegh's Cross Short Walk on 19 April 2017 for a fascinating insight into one of West Somerset's finest feats of Victorian engineering.This four hour walk visits the Winding House and the iron mines near Beulah Chapel. It includes part of the Incline - steep, spectacular but optional.

For full details please click here.

24 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Schoolchildren to be invited to ride behind Flying Scotsman

The West Somerset Railway is inviting schools to bring groups of children to ride behind the iconic Flying Scotsman locomotive when it comes to Somerset in September. Letters will be going to primary and first schools in West Somerset and Taunton Deane shortly to offer places to groups of children on trains on Tuesday 5 September 2017. Children will ride on the first of the Flying Scotsman trains on a 40 mile round trip, one way behind Flying Scotsman and one way behind another named visiting locomotive. Each school will simply have to pay a £50 administration charge, and all tickets will be free.

For full details please click here.

24 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Large Prairie no 5199 arrives in West Somerset

GWR 2-6-2T no 5199 - based at the Llangollen Railway - has just arrived in West Somerset to assist for the next few months whilst the two SDJR Class 7F 2-8-0s (nos 53808 and 53809) are returned to fine fettle. No 5199's first working will be Sunday 26 March 2017 on the Quantock Belle from Bishops Lydeard. The loco will be staying until beginning of June.

23 March 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Clive takes on Taunton Station's island platform gardens

On 21 March 2017, Clive Goddard - wearing green GWR tabards for identification purposes - was busy working on the gardens on the island platform at Taunton Station (platforms 3 and 4), which they have just taken over on behalf of WSR. Clive is Head Gardener at WSR's Bishops Lydeard Station. The former flower beds on Taunton's platform 2 - cared for by Clive and his team for many years on behalf of the WSR - will disappear under the station redevelopment plans but happily the island platform gardens are both bigger and more visible. Could they be followed soon by trains from the WSR?

22 March 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

2017 diesel running dates announced

The Diesel & Electric Preservation Group have announced the dates for diesel running on the West Somerset Railway in 2017. Locomotive allocations for particular dates will be advised later. Also, have a look at the DEPG website for more details about 'Maybach Memories', an exciting new venture for 2017. Finally for now, bookings are now being taken for the popular 'Diesel Driver Experience' courses.

21 March 2017
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

The Quantock Belle at the 2017 Spring Steam Gala

The Quantock Belle will offer a walk on restaurant car service on a number of trains during the 2017 Spring Steam Gala. The full QB consist will operate on Friday 28 April, Saturday 29 April and Sunday 30 April, including bar car Aries (doubling as the train buffet) and First Open Meteor. Morning trains will offer a breakfast menu whilst a luncheon menu is offered on the midday and early afternoon trains; a cream tea is available on the afternoon service from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard.

For full details of the train times and the breakfast and luncheon menus, please click here.

19 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The 2017 Diesel Gala & Rail Ale Trail

The West Somerset Railway presents three days of heritage diesel traction. Friday 9 June 2017 and Saturday 10 June 2017 will be exclusively diesel haulage whilst Sunday 11 June 2017 will also see one steam locomotive in service alongside the diesels. Four home-based heritage diesel locomotives already confirmed - nos D6575, D7017, D1661 and D1010. Visiting locomotives yet to be confirmed. A mix of passenger and freight trains will operate on both Friday and Saturday whilst Sunday will be for passengers only.

The West Somerset Railway has teamed up with Society of Independent Brewers to offer a rail ale trail throughout the Diesel Gala. Some stations along the railway will be home to brewers from different regions in the south with Bishops Lydeard Station hosting Somerset brewers; Stogumber hosting Dorset, Cornwall and Guernsey; and Minehead Station hosts Devon brewers.

17 March 2017
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR Plc Chairman's Briefing from February 2017 Board

The WSR Plc Chairman's Briefing from the February 2017 Board Meeting is now available. Topics covered are Safety, Chairman's Report, General Manager's Report, Finance Director's Report and Planning Director's Report.

The Briefing is available here.

16 March 2017
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc

Long term security for Steam Trust under new agreement

The Trust has now signed an agreement with the WSR Plc covering the two museums at Blue Anchor and Bishops Lydeard, on access at Williton for carriage restoration, on storage of heritage carriages pending restoration and on the use of carriages once restored. The agreement can be read under Documents on the Trust website. Also see the Trust's online news page for more details.

16 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam RailwayTrust

Summertime 'Maybach Memories' heritage diesel haulage announced

Just announced by the WSR Plc...

The West Somerset Railway and the Diesel Electric Preservation Group are pleased to announce they have agreed to operate an additional eleven heritage diesel hydraulic locomotive hauled trains, during the 2017 season. These trains will run under the brand name of 'Maybach Memories' in recognition that the last British Railways Western Region Maybach powered diesel hydraulic locomotives ran in 1977.

Further details including dates of operation of these trains can be found on the official WSR website.

16 March 2017
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc

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 of the Group held on 1 December 2016 . The draft minutes are available as a downloadable PDF document.

The next meeting of the Partnership Development Group will be held on 30 March 2017.

15 March 2017
Details kindly provided by Partnership Development Group Secretariat

Steam Trust submit Heritage Lottery Fund grant application

The Steam Trust has now submitted its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of £65,000 to refresh the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard. A decision is expected by the middle of May. If successful, the grant - with additional Steam Trust resources and volunteer input - will enable the Trust to enhance the displays in the Museum and install improved heating and lighting, and will fund the employment of a part-time Learning Officer/Museum Assistant for two years.

The Steam Trust has also announced Geoff Evens has joined the Board of the Steam Trust.

14 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam RailwayTrust

The Association looking for volunteers during Spring Steam Gala

The Association are looking for assistance during the Spring Steam Gala:

The West Somerset Railway Association is looking for volunteers to staff a membership stand on the platform of Minehead station during the Spring Steam Gala. (Thursday April 27th to 30th). To help to run this there will be a need for 2/3 volunteers a day to be present between 09.30 and 16.30. If sufficient volunteers come forward it is hoped to have a further stand at Williton during rhe event. If you can assist please contact John Simms via simmsj841@gmail.com or 01823 323106.

13 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Rebuilding of Auto Coach no 169 making good progress

The Auto 169 team report:

After a time making new or renovating old components we are beginning to fit them onto the coach including new side frames and window mouldings. The steel panels have returned to the driver's end. Meanwhile new door posts are under construction in our workshop at Williton where we welcome visitors to pop by and see our progress.

13 March 2017
Details kindly provided by Loco 5542 Ltd

Join the WSRA Fifty Fifty Club

The WSRA Fifty Fifty Club is a fun way to contribute to the work of the WSRA whilst at the same time enjoying the chance to win prizes. As the name suggests, the monthly contributions are split equally, with half going to support the WSRA and half going into the prize fund. Each month a draw is taken and there are six prize winners. To join, visit the Fifty Fifty Club page and download the Fifty Fifty Club leaflet.

12 March 2017
Details gleaned from West Somerset Railway Association

A new WSR Journal Editor is required

The WSR journal is an A5 sized features based glossy magazine for our members and supporters. It is issued four times a year and run by a team of dedicated volunteers, led by the Editor, with contributions from all around the railway. The WSRA say:

Our current Journal editor will be standing down after the summer 2017 issue and we are looking for someone to succeed him. There will be an opportunity to work with the current editor on the summer issue, before taking over for the autumn 2017 issue. For more information please contact either the WSRA General Manager or the current Journal Editor.

More information and contact details on the vacancies page on the West Somerset Railway Association website.

12 March 2017
Details gleaned from West Somerset Railway Association

The March WSR 'Online' newsletter now available

The March 2017 edition of Online - the newsletter of the West Somerset Railway and associated support organisations - is now available on the official WSR website. Topics covered this month include reports from Signal & Telegraph, Permanent Way, Flying Scotsman Project, PTS courses, Southern Gateway Project, and the Steam Fayre.

Go to the newsletter page on the official WSR website.

9 March 2017
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc

Celebrating the life of a much loved founder member

WSR Association founder member John Pearce passed away in February 2017. As the Association say on a lovely tribute page on the WSRA website:

When John Pearce passed away, aged 79 years, on the evening of 16th February, the West Somerset Railway lost its longest-serving and greatest supporter. A man whose dedication and commitment to the West Somerset Railway leaves a lasting legacy that will never be forgotten.

Read the full tribute.

8 March 2017
Details gleaned from website of West Somerset Railway Association

Camelot to work the Minehead Branch in October

West Somerset Railway Plc have announced:

It has just been confirmed that BR Standard Class 5 no 73082 Camelot will be visiting us for the Autumn Steam Gala! It is very rare for the Bluebell Railway to let their home-based locomotives visit other railways so we thank both the railway and the locomotive's owners (73082 Camelot Locomotive Society) for this exciting opportunity.

7 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Presentation from the recent WSR Stakeholders Meeting

West Somerset Railway Plc have kindly made available the summary presentation made at the Stakeholders Meeting held at Bishops Lydeard on 25 February 2017.

Click here to open or save the document.

2 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Helping hands needed at the 2017 Steam Rally

Planning and running the West Somerset Railway Association's annual Steam Fayre and Vintage Rally, which attracts some 2000 exhibitors and over 5000 visitors is a demanding and enjoyable task. The Rally Team say:

We have many volunteers from throughout the railway, and beyond, who help in different ways and enjoy being part of this fun and friendly event, working as part of a great team. We do have some vacancies for extra help, so why not join us?

Click here for lots of information about volunteering at the Steam Rally.

2 March 2017
Details kindly provided by The Steam Fayre & Vintage Rally

Pullman Car Lydia comes to Somerset

Pullman Car Lydia arrived on the West Somerset Railway on 28 February 2017. Lydia is privately owned and has come to the Railway for recommissioning work to be carried out at West Somerset Restoration at Williton. Lydia is a 'Kitchen First' car with 20 First Class seats, mostly arranged at tables for two.

Lydia is an exceptionally historic British Pullman Car. Built in Birmingham in 1925 she was then shipped to the continent and ran for three years between Milan and Nice. During the 1930s she was often used in the Imperial Airways service from Waterloo to Southampton to connect with the flying boat service to a range of Empire destinations. During World War Two she served in General Eisenhower's special train, code-named 'Bayonet' as he toured southern England planning the D-Day landings. In 1965 she was used in Winston Churchill's funeral train. In 1968 she toured the USA with famous loco Flying Scotsman which will be visiting the West Somerset Railway in 2017. Lydia was brought back to the UK in 2001.

WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare said:

Pullman Car Lydia is an amazing, opulent vehicle from another age. She is a breath-taking example of the coach builders art from the 1920s including polished mahogany and wonderful inlaid marquetry

Discussions are underway to examine whether Lydia can be brought into traffic on the West Somerset Railway.

1 March 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Engineers from Bombardier enjoy a working weekend on the WSR

Dave Horton, WSR's Head of Mechanical Engineering writes:

On Saturday 25 February 2017 the team of Engineers from Bombardier Transportation in Derby was split with half going to Orchard Junction to do cutting back, the other half helping Bob Rimell with DMU maintenance at Bishops Lydeard. In the evening a special run down to Norton Fitzwarren and back was arranged to thank the group for their efforts, which included a fish and chip supper. On Sunday the entire group was based at Minehead, assisting John Hasker and Rich Hiscox in further painting of the 04 shunter, no. D2271. In so doing, the team were able to experience a variety of WSR tasks including PWay, vehicle running maintenance and overhaul. The group were very impressed with the visit and are keen to return. If anybody would like to enquire about the possibility of running similar weekends with groups of colleagues or friends, then do get in touch: home@wsrail.net.

27 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News for the 2017 Rally steam section exhibitors

A message from the Rally Team for steam section exhibitors:

We are relaunching our steam section for 2017, with a new Marshal and a new demonstration area. Invitations will be sent out by post on 28th February. So, please look out for your invite. If you are interested in exhibiting, and have not received an invitation, please drop an e mail to wsrarally@gmail.com

Click here for the latest information about the 2017 Steam Fayre and Vintage Rally.

27 February 2017
Details gleaned from the Steam Rally website

An update on the Antiques Roadshow at Minehead Station

Martyn Snell, who is leading the liaison between the BBC and WSR Plc on the forthcoming visit of the Antiques Roadshow to Minehead Station on 17 May 2017, has provided an update to the recent Stakeholders Meeting. Here are the main points:

The event will be filmed at Minehead Station from 9.30am to 6.30pm on Wednesday 17 May 2017, with setting up taking place the day before.

A special timetable will operate on the day based around the 'Red' timetable with the addition of an early DMU service from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead; the DMU then shuttling back and forth to Williton, with the final service returning to Bishops Lydeard.

The 'Welcome and Registration' area for all Roadshow visitors will be on the pedestrian area immediately outside the Station Building/Turntable Cafe. Those arriving by train will be asked to leave by way of Platform 1 and join the registration queue. The filming is planned to take place on Platform 2 and in carriages in the Bay Platform.

Refreshing all involved including our visitors is in the capable hands of David Noble and his team. We are grateful to the Beach Hotel who have come on board with regard to refreshing the BBC staff and WSR Stewards.

The operational side - train arrivals and departures - will fall to Minehead Station Staff under Stationmaster Pam Hawkins (with the assistance of the Operations Office). The Roadshow side will fall to Martyn Snell (with the assistance of the Commercial Office) who will be the liaison between the BBC and the Company on the day.

With many thanks to Martyn Snell for kindly sending this update.

26 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News from the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group

The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group have issued an update on the WSR's Diesel Gala in June 2017:

The WSR have confirmed that we can have 'diesel only' days on Friday 9 June and Saturday 10 June this year, with a single steam diagram on the Sunday of the event. This means that we will need a minimum of six diesel locos, four of which the DEPG will supply - Hymek no D7017, Crompton Class 33 no D6575, Class 47 no D1661 and Western no D1010. Thus we have to find two visiting locomotives and the DEPG was authorised to proceed to make enquiries around possible heritage diesel locomotives. Modern mainline locomotives do not fit the bill this year following feedback and the theme of the event. It will be a difficult challenge though as a budget of just £8k has been set at present to cover transport and hire fees. The search is on, we hope to provide an update shortly. Our aim is to still have Hymek no D7018 appear at the June gala double headed with sister locomotive D7017, at this stage though we are not prepared to formally advertise her attendance at the gala and then let down all our hydraulic enthusiasts.

23 February 2017
Details kindly provided by the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group

The WSR Association joins easyfundraising

If you shop online then do it through easyfundraising.org.uk and raise a free donation for West Somerset Railway Association every time you shop. The Association say:

Visit our easyfundraising page and sign up, then when you shop online do it via easy fundraising and generate donations for the WSRA. We are raising funds to help us complete the overhaul of Small Prairie 4561 to run again on the West Somerset Railway.

22 February 2017
Details gleaned from the website of the West Somerset Railway Association

Draft minutes of recent Steam Trust Board meeting now available

The draft minutes of the recent meeting of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Board are now available on the Trust website.

The document reveals a discussion on a wide range of topics of interest to supporters of the Trust and the wider West Somerset Railway community.

22 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Volunteers wanted for WSR Mechanical Engineering Dept

The Mechanical Engineering department of the West Somerset Railway is looking for new volunteers to help in all aspects of locomotive, carriage and wagon maintenance and restoration.

The West Somerset Railway has an endless supply of exciting projects from steam locomotive overhauls to wagon restoration, so if you have any of the skills or experience listed above and would like to be involved then the Railway want to hear from you!

More details and contact information.

21 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

An update on the visit of Flying Scotsman to WSR

The West Somerset Railway is planning a special event with a Scottish theme around the visit of Flying Scotsman in September. The unique locomotive will be making an initial visit to the WSR in May, bringing in a railtour on Tuesday 23 May. It will then spend two days on shed with the platform at Minehead open to visitors before departing on Friday 26 May. For the main visit it will arrive on Monday 4 September, operate trains on the railway on 5, 6, 7, (not 8), 9, 10, 11 and 12 September before departing on Wednesday 13 September 2017.

During the September visit, trains will operate to a special timetable, with Flying Scotsman heading a non-stop train from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead, twice a day. A normal service of stopping trains will also operate on these days.

All travel behind Flying Scotsman will be on a special train with limited accommodation and all tickets purchased in advance. These will go on sale on the West Somerset Railway website in March. A series of options will be available, which will include one way travel along the 20 mile route behind Flying Scotsman and the other behind another visiting loco with a significant Scottish connection - details of this second loco are currently under negotiation, and it is hoped to announce this shortly. It is also expected to offer some evening dining train options, with a Scottish flavour, during the September visit.

For more information please see the official WSR press release.

16 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News from the Steam Rally folks

An update from the Steam Fayre and Vintage Rally website:

Plans for the Rally in August are going well. Entry forms are being sent out just now, but please be patient if you have not yet seen yours - the section marshals have to contact more than 800 exhibitors and traders so it can take some time! They do a brilliant job though and we thank them all.

If you would like to help us put on our magnificent show, do get in touch via the volunteering page. We welcome those who could support the section marshals; help prepare the rally site in the week before; ensure we keep visitors & exhibitors safe by marshalling traffic on site; and sell tickets and programmes at our entry gates.

15 February 2017
Details from The Rally Committee

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