The latest Newsletter from the Steam Trust is now available
The Winter 2017 edition - Issue no 9 - of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's Newsletter has been published. It is available in PDF format on the Newsletters page of the Trust's website. Issue no 9 extends to nine pages packed with news of recent developments and it is well worth a read.
WSR Plc announce resignation of Ben Grellier as Director
The WSR Plc have announced:
It is with great sadness that the WSR PLC Board have to announce today the resignation of Ben Grellier as a Director of the Company. Ben joined the Board in early 2017 and held the Volunteer Development portfolio, whilst continuing to offer his services to the Operating Department, during trips 'home' to visit his family. He will be sorely missed from the Board, although the Directors are pleased that he will continue as an active volunteer on the frontline. Additionally, Ben will assist the Board in the completion of several projects to enhance our ability to recruit and look after our volunteers, for which we are ever so grateful. Ben has additionally written his own statement.
Steve Gooding, Team Leader of the Volunteer Cutting Back Gang, writes:
On Sunday 10 December 2017 the Volunteer Cutting Back Gang were due to continue with clearance work in the Combe Florey cutting but due to high winds and heavy rain I cancelled the session after discussion with the rest of the team. On arrival back at Bishops Lydeard Station I phoned the Signalman to let him know of my decision as we were shown as working in the Ops Notice. The Signalman requested if I would wait until the 10.10am Santa Express had departed for its journey to Williton just in case there were any problems along the track.
At about 10.30am the Signalman phoned to inform me that a large tree was blocking the line near Nornvis Bridge and asked if I could I deal with it. We reloaded our kit and headed for Crowcombe Heathfield Station to report to the Signalman and discuss the plans for dealing with it. Parking up by the barn above Nornvis, Martyn Trott, Keith Sandford and I made the short walk across the field to Nornvis Bridge to find the train part way into Crowcombe Cutting. The train crew had made a good start on removing the smaller branches but my chainsaw was required to finish the job to allow the train to pass.
Once this was completed I contacted the Signalman to find out what they would be doing with the late running services. In the event the 10.10am departure from Bishops Lydeard was terminated at Crowcombe Heathfield. The three of us remained on site to clear the brash from the cess and to cut the tree into suitable sized logs for stacking in the cess. By 1pm I was able to report the Signalman that the line was completely clear and safe to use.
All three of us returned to the mess room at Bishops Lydeard Station to enjoy our well earned sandwiches. Paul Conibeare who was driving the Quantock Belle Dining Train looked into to say thank you for our help. So not only did we rescue Santa but also the General Manager.
15 December 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
'The Taunton to Barnstaple Line' by Freddie Huxtable - Volume 2
Many customers have been asking when Volume 2 of Freddie Huxtable's book on the Taunton to Barnstaple Line is due out. The good news is that the long wait is over and we are expecting stocks of Freddie's book to be with us in the week before Christmas. Even better news is that Freddie has agreed to join us in the shop on Saturday 30 December during the WSR's Winter Steam Festival to sign copies of his book. Freddie will be with us from 10am to 3pm so there will be plenty of time to take a trip on the WSR before or after purchasing your copy!
Volume 2 deals with the route, stations and signalling and is lavishly illustrated with photographs from the 1950s and 1960s.
And a reminder that Freddie will be signing his book at the Buffer Stop Shop in Minehead Station on Friday 29 December 2017 from 10am to 3pm.
'GW Routes and Branches' theme for 2018 Spring Steam Gala
Early details about the 2018 Spring Steam Gala are now available on the official WSR website. The theme is 'Great Western Routes and Branches'. Between 1923 and 1948 the Great Western Railway had main line routes radiating out from Paddington in London to Birkenhead on Merseyside, Aberystwyth and Fishguard on the west coast of Wales, and through the south west of England to Penzance. From those main lines there was a variety of secondary and branch lines, ranging widely and wildly in their atmospheres. The West Somerset Railway intend to field a selection of appropriate steam locomotives - the list will grow as hire arrangements are confirmed. The event will be held on 22 to 25 March 2018.
Sorting a slurried bed and a dipped joint at Churchlands
Amongst other tasks in the last week, the West Somerset Railway Plc's Permanent Way Gang carried out more tamping, ballasting and a tidy-up at the Watchet relay worksite. The team also managed to carry out a ballast renewal on a joint at Churchlands where a slurried ('wet') bed was creating a dipped joint.
Conker Brown running-in boards for Dunster Station
Dunster Station has new running-in boards. The colour is conker brown.
Due to be delivered in the next week are seven new BR style totem signs for the lamp standards to help ensure visitors know where they are.
10 December 2017 Details kindly provided by the Dunster Station Master
A busy weekend ahead on the West Somerset Railway
The forthcoming weekend will be a busy one with a varied programme of festive season trains in operation. The station cafes and shops at Bishops Lydeard and Minehead will be open as will the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard Station. Many of the Santa trains are fully booked but there are a small number of seats still available on one or two trains. Check first by ringing 01643 704996. Full details of the services can be found at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk
Saturday 9 December will see Santa Express and Sherry and Mince Pie trains between Bishops Lydeard and Williton. Also, on this day only, the Minehead Station Christmas Market diesel railcar special will leave Bishops Lydeard at 12.45pm calling at all stations (except Doniford Halt) along the way; tickets for this particular train costing only £5 for adults and £2.50 for young persons aged 5 to 17. The return train leaves at 4.30pm. The evening sees the Quantock Belle on a fully-booked Murder Mystery duty.
On Sunday 10 December, more Santa Express and Sherry and Mince Pie trains from Bishops Lydeard, plus Santa Special trains also from Bishops Lydeard. Finally, nestled in between the 'Santas' is a fully-booked Quantock Belle Christmas Luncheon special.
WSR's Infrastructure Engineering Department on Facebook
Andrew Young, the WSR's Infrastructure Manager, has reminded us about the Department's Facebook page:
Our page provides news on all our infrastructure work, promoting the work of our department staff. It will also be used to advertise positions and hopefully attract new volunteers keen on working outdoors. Comments are welcome and we will try to answer questions.
In a statement issued on 7 December 2017, the WSR Plc announced:
It is with regret that the WSR Plc Board have accepted the resignation of Alan Nicholson as Chairman and Board Member. Alan has contributed hugely to the success of the railway and in his resignation letter he indicated that, after considerable thought, he felt he was not able to continue the level of commitment that he considered the role required. We have also regretfully accepted the resignation of Paul Hancock as Director and Board Member.
The Board are very conscious of the need to review the way in which we operate so that the various roles do not become too onerous for the individuals concerned, who are, of course, all unpaid volunteers. The railway is at a critical point in its continued successful development and the Board must be in a position to lead and co-ordinate that development. The Board have already given some time to planning how it will work in the future, and this will be concluded at its next meeting on 18th December.
In the meantime, the Board's work will continue, including setting the budget for 2018. There are various new developments being planned and further announcements will be made in due course. We would particularly like to place on record our appreciation of the work of Alan and Paul, and look forward to seeing them around the railway in the future.
The gradients of the lines on the WSR's Norton Triangles
The page showing the WSR's gradients has long promised the addition of the profiles for the lines on the Norton Triangles. Time has prevented a full ground survey and as a stop-gap measure we have used high quality Lidar data from data.gov.uk to, at least, give an indication of the general rise and fall on these lines. The resulting profiles can be seen here
7 December 2017 Details from wsr.org.uk
The 2017 Carol Trains - more seats and tickets now available
Due to popular demand, the Railway have added a few more seats to the 2017 Carol Trains on Monday 11 December and Tuesday 12 December. The Carol Train meanders through the Somerset countryside, steaming through the cold December evening from either Bishops Lydeard or Minehead. The service stops at each station on its way to Williton. Passengers can alight at each station and accompany the brass band singing popular Christmas carols. This enjoyable event really ignites the festive cheer and is one not to be missed. We have limited number of seats available so please do book as soon as possible. Full details and booking
Bishops Lydeard Station Shop opening dates for December
In the run up to Christmas, the Station Shop and Whistle Stop Cafe at Bishops Lydeard will be open on 9, 10, 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24 December 2017. And then after Christmas, on 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 December 2017 and 1 January 2018. The Shop will then close for a winter break until Saturday 20 January 2018. Then open from 10am to 3pm on Saturdays only until the 2018 season starts in February. Contact the Shop on 01823 432125 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest WSR Journal - no 159 - has been sent to members of the West Somerset Railway Association. The new editor is Ian Coleby. The high quality 80 page publication is packed with colour photographs and a lively selection of articles plus the usual news from the Railway's departments. The Association's website has a membership page with all the details and a link to online membership applications and renewals.
Large selection of WSR clothing at the Buffet Stop Shop
Large selection of WSR clothing available at the Buffet Stop Shop at Minehead Station. Sweatshirts, Hoodies, Polo T-shirts, Rugby Tops, Caps, Hats, Scarves, Umbrellas and much more. Ideal Christmas gifts. More
The Turntable Cafe at Minehead Station will be open between 10am and 4.30pm for the Christmas Market on Saturday 9 December 2017.
On a sadder note, we understand the funeral of former Minehead Station Master Alan Scott will be held at Efford Crematorium* in Plymouth on Tues 12 December 2017 at 2pm (*109 Efford Rd, Plymouth PL3 6NG)
The 'Steam Trust' consults on its updated Business Plan
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's draft plan for 2018-2020 is now being published for consultation. Anyone with an interest in the West Somerset Railway is invited to comment. Please see the Trust website to view the draft plan and details of how to comment.
WSR features in SDJR 7F article in latest Steam Railway magazine
December's edition of Steam Railway magazine (SR474) includes a large article all about 7Fs. It includes a description of a trip out on the line with Stuart Nelhams and George Thomas earlier this year and describes how the 7F operates and is ideal for the WSR. It also includes quotes from many different members of the loco department.
1 December 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Successful lamp post working party at Stogumber Station
Robin White reports:
A good group turned up on 25 November 2017 to extract and despatch the two non-Railway lamps from Stogumber and plant a newly-cast GWR pattern lamp on the downside of the foot crossing. All was completed by lunchtime, including having the new post in undercoat. It is hoped to have it illuminated for the Carol trains and painted to match the ex-St Ives genuine GWR post on the other side. Thanks to Steve, Paul, Shirl, Amyas, John and Bob who turned out to help and the Station staff who kept the crew sustained with tea, coffee and bacon rolls.
26 November 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
The WSR's 'festive train' season commences on 1 December
Passenger train operations on the West Somerset Railway resume on Friday 1 December with the Dunster by Candlelight evening services. On Saturday 2 December and Sunday 3 December, anyone wanting to take a twenty mile round trip between Bishops Lydeard and Williton can enjoy views of the Quantock Hills on the Santa Express and Sherry and Mince Pie Special trains. Tickets are also on sale now for the Diesel Railcar train to and from Minehead for the Station Christmas Market on 9 December. Details and bookings can be seen and made at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or call the Minehead office on 01643 704996.
25 November 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Draft minutes of recent Steam Trust Board meeting
The draft minutes of the most recent meeting of the Board of Trustees are available on the website of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust. The meeting approved a revised Volunteer Policy and also Artefact Receipt and Exit forms - electronic copies can be found on the Documents page of the Trust's website.
The Steam Trust's special limited edition souvenir mugs
The Steam Trust have available special souvenir mugs depicting GWR Sleeping Car no 9038. This is a limited edition of 144 mugs and will not be repeated once all have been sold. These will be available from the Museums at Blue Anchor and Bishops Lydeard or at any events where the Steam Trust have a stand. These can be pre-ordered but must be collected from the Steam Trust (for pre orders please contact David Baker on email@example.com or 01392 851752)
The cost will be £5 per mug but for Steam Trust Members with a current Steam Trust Membership card, there will be a 10% discount making them £4.50 each. Steam Trust members will need to produce their membership card when purchasing.
We understand the former Station Master at Minehead, Alan Scott, died in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, on the afternoon of 21 November 2017. John Simms has provided a few words about Alan's life and his busy time working on the West Somerset Railway.
22 November 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
News about the Railway's Safety Officer
The West Somerset Railway Plc have announced:
Please be advised, that Graham Jackson has been appointed as the Railway's Safety Officer with immediate effect. Graham will report to the General Manager on all safety matters. He can contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
West Somerset to feature in 2000 mile Tornado railtour in 2018
As part of its 10th birthday celebrations next year it is planned that Tornado will haul an exclusive Golden Eagle Luxury Trains charter using the Royal Scotsman carriages from Inverness to Penzance as part of a 2,000 mile itinerary.
The tour starts on 15 October 2018. Five days later, on 20 October, no 60163 will haul the train from Crewe to West Somerset subject to confirmation. Next day, the tour continues from Taunton to Penzance behind nos 60163 and 6024.
It is the intention of the Trust next year to open and staff both Museums on every Sunday, Bank Holiday and Gala day from the March Gala to the last running day in November. We were able to achieve this at Blue Anchor in 2017 (many thanks to those who helped this year) and are hoping to do the same at both Museums next year. In addition the Gauge Museum will be open but not staffed on all running days. In addition the Model Railway in the Gauge Museum will be open for as many days as volunteers can be found.
This will not be achievable without more volunteers. It is not an onerous task; it just requires volunteers to be there and to be able to talk to the visitors. Training will be given. Opening hours are normally between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm (depending on the number of visitors around). If anyone is able to help please contact David Baker on email@example.com or on 01392 851752 stating whether you would like to help at Blue Anchor Museum, the Gauge Museum (BL) or the Model Railway.
Synopsis of WSRA Board Meeting held on 13 November 2017
The West Somerset Railway Association have published a synopsis of the latest Trustee Board meeting on 13 November 2017. Topics covered include the future of West Somerset Restoration, Board Membership, Subscriptions, the future of the Norton site, and the date of the 2018 AGM.
The November Newsletter from the Friends of Minehead Station
The latest newsletter from the Friends of Minehead Station has been published and reveals the Friends have been very active in their efforts. There is mention of the floodlighting works, still ongoing; a Readers Halt report including the effects of the Antiques Roadshow and Flying Scotsman events; an update from the Gardening Team and the Works Team; and much more. And it seems long-serving FoMS Chairman Martyn Snell is to step down after six years in that post. Martyn writes to FoMS members:
I have made your committee aware that I feel it is a good time for me to consider standing down as your Chairman.
Martyn also reminds everyone about the Christmas Market on Saturday 9 December 2017 on the platform at Minehead Station.
17 November 2017 Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station
A successful 2017 Rally and now looking forward to 2018...
An update on the Rally website from the Chairman of the Steam and Vintage Rally committee, Geoff Garfield, which starts and ends with these words:
Our annual Rally took place on the 5th & 6th August this year, and was again very well attended. Over 6000 visitors came through the main gate.
We look forward to working again with our volunteers, exhibitors and traders to deliver an equally successful Rally on 4th and 5th August 2018.