Latest news

Williton signal lamps to be converted to LED units

Writing in the latest West Somerset Steam Railway Trust newsletter, Trustee John Jenkins explains "The Williton scheme will convert all the signal lamps to Light Emitting Diode (LED) units. There are many such units on the main line and failure/light degradation is almost unheard of, as well as power consumption being greatly reduced. The standard LED unit completely replaces the lamp case, but does not look particularly historic, so for signals in close public view at Williton the Trust has agreed to contribute to 'retro-fit' LED units (shown opposite) which will fit inside the traditional lampcase and not look out of place. When alight the LED unit will also directly operate the traditional signalbox repeater, as there is insufficient heat to operate a pyrometer." Our thanks to John Jenkins for permission to reproduce part of his article.

28 July 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

The 2015 Minehead Summer Festival on Wednesday 12 August

This very popular annual event will once again have as its centrepiece a display of formation aerobatic flying by the RAF Red Arrows team. This takes place at 2.30pm and other aerial excitement is provided by the Red Devils parachute team. There are craft and charity stalls, live music and entertainment throughout the day. The roads in the area are very busy indeed when this event is on and the West Somerset Railway will be operating a special timetable.

28 July 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The latest West Somerset Steam Railway Trust newsletter

Issue 4 of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust newsletter is now available. The feature article by one of the Trustees, John Jenkins, looks at the signalling heritage aspects of the Williton Loop project. Also included are reports on the AGM, progress with 6705 and emerging plans for Bishops Lydeard. To view the newsletter please click here or visit the Steam Trust website.

27 July 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

Go by train to the Watchet Summertime Festival in August

Watchet is holding its Summertime Festival with a fine programme of events in the old harbour town between 8 and 15 August 2015. Many events can be reached by using the West Somerset Railway trains. Watchet Station is in the heart of the town.

27 July 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Confirmed results from West Somerset Railway Association AGM/EGM

We have received the confirmed results from the WSRA AGM/EGM as follows...

Trustee elections
Ian Aldridge 824
Ian Coleby 1243
Nigel Adams 1295
Barrie Childs 1222
Paul Johnson 767
Rodney Greenway 691
David Randles 747

Other resolutions
Resolution 7 1104 216 197
Resolution 8 1178 99 248
Resolution 10 (i) 865 617 45
Resolution 10(ii) 649 829 58
(the three values are votes 'For' 'Against' 'Abstain')

26 July 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

Train shuttle between Bishops Lydeard and the Steam Rally

A reminder of the times of the train shuttle between Bishops Lydeard and the Rally. It is free to travel on this special shuttle service. The shuttle train stops at the platform adjacent to the Rally at Norton Fitzwarren. A three coach diesel mulitple unit (DMU) is used with plenty of room for passengers and pushchairs. The journey takes ten minutes.

The DMU leaves Bishops Lydeard Station for the platform at Norton Fitzwarren at 9.45am, 10.20am, 11am, 11.40am, 12.15pm, 1.50pm, 2.30pm, 3.05pm, 3.52pm and 4.45pm.

The DMU leaves the platform at Norton Fitzwarren for Bishops Lydeard at 10am, 10.40am, 11.15am, 11.55am, 1.25pm, 2.10pm, 2.45pm, 3.20pm, 4.10pm and 5.00pm.

Full details of the 2015 Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally

26 July 2015
Details provided by the The Rally Team External link

Unconfirmed results from West Somerset Railway Association AGM/EGM

Reports from local correspondents suggest Ian Coleby and Ian Aldridge have been re-elected as a Trustees whilst Barrie Childs, Nigel Adams and Paul Johnson have been elected to the Trustee Board for the first time.

We also understand EGM Resolution 10i (the Trustees asking for a mandate from the membership to pursue the freehold of the West Somerset Railway) was carried and EGM Resolution 10ii (the member-led call to remove six of the Trustees) was lost.

25 July 2015
Details provided by local correspondents

The Friends of Minehead Station celebrate the £350,000 milestone

Martyn Snell, Chairman of the Friends of Minehead Station, reports "Today many of the past and present volunteers who keep Readers Halt up and running met at Minehead Station where they presented a symbolic cheque to Paul Conibeare in the sum of £350,000, the amount raised and spent (or will be spent) on the infrastructure of Minehead Station This has been raised over the 17 years the Halt has been in business and I thank everyone who has helped on the Halt during this time and for the many folks who have given the items we have sold. Without both groups of people, Minehead Station would not look as is does today." Thanks also to John Simms of WSR Plc for help with this rather nice news.

24 July 2015
Details provided by the Friends of Minehead Station and West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Quantock Brewery relocates next to Bishops Lydeard Station

The award winning Quantock Brewery is relocating to a home that is actually in the Quantocks and will be based in the Broad Gauge Business Park adjacent to Bishops Lydeard station. And the good news for WSR staff who enjoy good beer is by showing a staff identity card a 10% discount is on offer. Meanwhile on 15 August the brewery is holding an Open Day from 11am onwards. The full range of Quantock's beers will be on sale together with Harry's Cider and the Brewery Shop will be open. A BBQ will serve Quantock Ale Burgers, Quantock Stout and Stilton Sausages, Roasted Pork and Funky Chicken. Entertainment includes the West Somerset Morris Men, Birds of Prey Rescue Centre on display and "introducing Miss Siobhan McGonigle singing the Vintage Years". Click here for open day poster

24 July 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Whitehouse v West Somerset Railway Association and others

For WSRA members who may be following recent events, we have received from Robin White a transcript of the judgement of HHJ Denyer on Whitehouse v West Somerset Railway Association and others at Bristol Civil Justice Centre on 21 July 2015. Robin adds "Paul Whitehouse is my client in this matter and he has asked me to make this transcript available publicly to anyone who wants it." Click here for transcript.

24 July 2015
Details provided by local correspondents

Coach links for Dunster Country Fair on Wednesday 29 July 2015

The West Somerset Railway will be running a coach link between Dunster Station and Dunster Steep Car Park on Wednesday 29 July, the date of the Dunster Country Fair. It is a short walk from the Steep to Dunster Show Ground and the car park is on the edge of the medieval village. Travel on the coach is free to West Somerset Railway passengers. Please note that this coach is separate from the one running in connection with the Dunster Castle Express on that date. The coach, from Ridlers of Dulverton, will leave Dunster Station at 10.30, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00 and 17.00 and the Steep at 11.00, 12.30. 13.30, 14.30, 15.30, 16.20 and 17.10.

24 July 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

WSRA Review: extended closing date for written submissions

The Review Panel has received a number of requests to extend the deadline for written submissions. As the Review Panel regards these as very important and wishes to ensure that everyone has had reasonable time after notification to make their contribution, the final date for the receipt of submissions will now be Monday 10 August 2015. This should not affect the overall timetable for the review process. The Review Panel will be providing an update on progress made so far as part of the Association's Annual General Meeting on Saturday 25 July. A reminder that the email address for submissions is wsrareview@gmail.com

23 July 2015
Details provided by the Review Team via WSRA

Injunction against WSRA membership termination is lost

We understand the injunction called by WSRA member Paul Whitehouse against the termination of his membership was lost at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday 21 July 2015. A representative of Paul Whitehouse reports "Paul notes the judge's comments that the process applied to him was 'woefully inadequate' and that, absent the special legal protection afforded to charities, the judge would have granted the injunctions he sought. He also notes the very unusual costs order made by the judge in his favour." The WSRA have provided a brief statement: "First and foremost, we are pleased that the judge ruled in favour of the Charity on a substantive point of law...We will fully take note of comments made by the judge with regard to procedure." (We will provide a link to a full statement when available). Please note we have not received an independent report on the proceedings.

22 July 2015 (updated 23 July 2015)
Details provided by local correspondents and WSRA

The Iffy Rivet Company - the next generation

Ryan Pope will be leading a team of volunteers to restore a GWR Mink 'A' Covered Goods Van at Williton's Swindon Shed. The group will meet every Thursday at 5pm onwards where everyone of all abilities is welcome. Built in 1913 the van will be available to run in the heritage fleet set on the West Somerset Railway once complete. Ryan said "It will be a good project to work on that should not take too long to complete. The volunteers will then be able to see something finished running on the railway that they helped restore." If you would like to get involved, new volunteers or old, please contact Williton on 01984 633547. Thank to Paul Searle for the story and picture.

22 July 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Restoration External link

Volunteers wanted for the Steam Rally on 1 and 2 August 2015

The Rally Committee write "The Rally is just two weeks away now and we are all working very hard to make it a success for our exhibitors and for our visitors. Lots of preparation work is going on at the site - for example construction of a platform for the brake van rides. Would you like to be part of our team? We need volunteers who can direct traffic in our car parks over the weekend and stewards to direct visitors on site. If you can spare a few hours on either day then our Volunteer Coordinator, Graham, would like to hear from you. Call him on 01823 270524 after 6pm for a chat, or email your details to wsrarally@gmail.com "

The 2015 Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally is held at Norton Fitzwarren near Taunton on 1 and 2 August 2015.

17 July 2015
Details provided by the The Rally Team External link

The West Somerset Steam Express from London to Minehead

Times are now up at uksteam.info for the Railway Touring Co's first West Somerset Steam Express on Saturday 25 July 2015, headed by BR 4-6-2 no 70000 Britannia. There will be no diesel locomotive involved. The excursion leaves London Paddington at 8.06am. uksteam.info also suggest it is possible, but not yet certain, that Britannia will head right through to Minehead where it will be turned and serviced, rather than come off at Bishops Lydeard with a WSR steam loco taking the train to its destination. For more details click here. Thanks to uksteam.info for the information.

17 July 2015
Details provided by the uksteam.info External link

From Gravesend to Minehead and back by train

uksteam.info report "On Tuesday 14 July, an incoming Steam Dreams mainline charter is due to run from Gravesend to Minehead via Guildford and Newbury. I believe that it will be topped and tailed by a pair of West Coast diesels on the mainline. At Bishops Lydeard (12:40-13:10), a WSR steam loco will be added at the front. The train with 3 locos will then run to Minehead - one of the advantages of the long platform at Minehead. The steam loco will be turned at Minehead and will then head the train back to Bishops Lydeard (18:25-18:35) where it will be detached. The last time a similar train ran the diesels where a Class 37 and a 47. The steam loco will probably be one of 3850, 4936 or 6960." Thanks to uksteam.info for the report.

14 July 2015
Details provided by the uksteam.info External link

For those about to vote in the 2015 WSRA Trustee elections

Amongst the papers for the forthcoming West Somerset Railway Association's Annual General Meeting on 25 July 2015 is the proxy form. Resolution 6 asks the membership to vote for up to five candidate Trustees. But we at wsr.org.uk advise those members planning to use the proxy form to delay making their votes. There is some confusion over how the votes "against" a candidate are used in the reckoning. We are not sure if the "against" votes are deducted from any "for" votes for a particular candidate. We have asked the Company Secretary for the definitive answer and the reply says the question is being reseached. When we get the answer, we will post it on this page.

13 July 2015
Details from wsr.org.uk

Check out the back of the local buses...

The Committee of the Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally have once again invested in the good old back of a bus to further promote the event. That's why the striking posters have started appearing on the Buses of Somerset in the local area.

There's still plenty of time to buy tickets for the event - buy online and get entry to the Rally on both days for the price of one. Another online option is the combined ticket giving access to ne day at the Rally and one day at the Taunton Flower Show which is held the following weekend.

The 2015 Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally is held at Norton Fitzwarren near Taunton on 1 and 2 August 2015.

13 July 2015
Details provided by the The Rally Team External link

Trustee elections at the 2015 WSRA Annual General Meeting

Amongst the papers for the forthcoming West Somerset Railway Association's Annual General Meeting on 25 July 2015 is a document headed "Meet the candidates standing for election or re-election..." The membership is asked to fill five vacant places. There are no less than eight candidates. To support their bid, each candidate has provided a statement of up to 250 words for the document to help the membership to decide. We have put these statements on a special page on this website.

Members are reminded to vote for up to five candidates and no more. We recommend members use all five votes, even resorting to the abstain column if not sure of the candidates, otherwise the appointed proxy is permitted to use the remaining unallocated votes. Best advice is to ensure a mark against five candidates.

9 July 2015
Details from wsr.org.uk

Train shuttle between Bishops Lydeard and the 2015 Steam Rally

The times of the train shuttle between Bishops Lydeard and the Rally are now available. It is free to travel on this special shuttle service. The shuttle train stops at the platform adjacent to the Rally at Norton Fitzwarren. A three coach diesel mulitple unit (DMU) is used with plenty of room for passengers and pushchairs. The journey takes ten minutes.

The DMU leaves Bishops Lydeard Station for the platform at Norton Fitzwarren at 9.45am, 10.20am, 11am, 11.40am, 12.15pm, 1.50pm, 2.30pm, 3.05pm, 3.52pm and 4.45pm.

The DMU leaves the platform at Norton Fitzwarren for Bishops Lydeard at 10am, 10.40am, 11.15am, 11.55am, 1.25pm, 2.10pm, 2.45pm, 3.20pm, 4.10pm and 5.00pm.

Full details of the 2015 Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally

9 July 2015
Details provided by the The Rally Team External link

Combined tickets offer double delights in early August

Next month brings the chance to enjoy two of Taunton's great family events - and at a discounted price! First up is the West Somerset Railway Association's Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally which takes place at Norton Fitzwarren on 1 and 2 August; then the following week Vivary Park hosts the Taunton Flower Show on 7 and 8 August. Sometimes, the dates of these two great events clash - but not this year and fans will have plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely visit to both. Even better is the discount on joint tickets - go to either www.steamrally.org.uk or www.tauntonfs.co.uk or tickets can be purchased from the Taunton Visitor Centre.

7 July 2015
Details provided by the The Rally Team External link

News from the WSR Association Review Panel

The WSRA Review Panel met for the second time on Tuesday 30 June 2015. The Review Panel is made up of Robin Coombes as Chairman, Brian Fraser representing the Reform Group, Simon Stretton representing the WSRA, Andrew Forster representing WSR Plc, Martyn Snell representing the volunteers and Ryan Pope representing young volunteers. To ensure that the Panel is fully representational it is seeking female and/or younger representatives so ensure its future orientation.

The Panel has issued invitations for written submissions on the WSRA its role and future purpose. Any interested party can make these.

The Review Panel has also agreed on the methodology on which the WSRA shall be reviewed. The assessment of capability methodology is based on one developed by the UK Government Cabinet Office and was the model used to review the ORR (Office of Rail Regulation now Office of Road and Rail) in 2012. The reason for using this is that it is a well established, tried and tested process and unlikely to be challenged that it is not independent and comprehensive.

The Review Panel will now be establishing key lines of inquiry which it will be developed once the written submissions have been received.

Ryan Pope the Review Panel member for young volunteers said he was "delighted to be a member of the Panel and that it was a great opportunity to gain an insight into how all the various aspects of the railway relate to each other and looking forward to it making an important contribution to the railway's future success."

Written submissions are to be emailed to wsrareview@gmail.com and to be returned no later than Monday 27 July 2015. After this there will naturally be a period for evaluating the responses, then during August invitations will be sent out asking those whom the Review Panel wish to interview and present evidence to attend.

Please see the detailed guidelines for submissions.

7 July 2015
Details provided by the WSRA Review Panel

More action for the Powderham Signal Box exhibit in the Gauge Museum

Tim Stevens, Powderham Signal Box Exhibit Manager writes "The Powderham signal box exhibit in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard will again be in action on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 August from 11am to 4.30pm. Come and experience the sights and sounds of a small but busy signal box in the days of steam. We are happy for visitors to participate, so if you fancy a bit of 'bell-bashing and lever-heaving', now's your chance! We were pleased to welcome two new volunteers at the Mixed Traction Weekend, who will hopefully become regular signalmen/guides. However we are always keen to recruit more volunteers (to give the 'old stagers' a rest!), so if you are interested, please contact me, Tim Stevens, Powderham Signal Box Exhibit Manager 01778 349003 or 07907 246394."

6 July 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Statement on votes at the WSR Plc 2015 Annual General Meeting

The West Somerset Railway Plc have issued a statement about the voting at their recent 2015 AGM. "There appears to be, in the public domain and on national websites, a total misrepresentation of the number of votes and proxy votes at the PLC AGM on Saturday 27 June 2015. As Company Share Registrar and Acting Chairman of the meeting, this document shows the correct information as related at the AGM and as per the records and will be included in the official minutes." [issued by David Baker, WSR Plc Company Share Registrar/Director/Vice Chairman]

3 July 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Barnstaple Branch brake van rides are back at 2015 Steam Rally

Back by popular demand at this year's rally are the brake van rides along the former Barnstaple branch line. They will be hauled by Peckett 0-4-0ST Kilmersdon - which was the last working steam locomotive in the North Somerset coalfields - now owned by the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust. The ride gives a superb panoramic view of the Rally site and should not to be missed. Don't forget if you buy online, the Day Rally ticket is valid for both days of the event. Full details of the 2015 Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally

3 July 2015
Details provided by the The Rally Team External link

Author of 'Itchybald Scratchet' at Bishops Lydeard Station

Sue C Medcalf, author of 'Itchybald Scratchet', will be signing copies of the children's books at Bishops Lydeard Station on both of the Day out with Thomas weekends. 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.

2 July 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

West Somerset Railway encouraging votes for Watercress Line

The West Somerset Railway Plc are encouraging its supporters to vote for the Watercress Line in Hampshire which has reached the final of the National Lottery Awards 2015. A vote for the Watercress Line, who have long being very supportive of the WSR, before 29 July could mean they win a £2,000 cash prize to support their project and they could appear at a star-stuuded BBC One event. Voting is easy at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or call 0844 8369673.

2 July 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A guided tour by bus of the West Somerset Mineral Railway

The West Somerset Mineral Line Association have arranged a guided tour by bus of one of West Somerset's finest feats of Victorian engineering - the remains of mines, the railway, the incline and the engine houses of the long-disused West Somerset Mineral Railway. Meet at Minehead Railway Station at 9.30am on Saturday 4 July 2015. The cost is £6 for the bus. Donations to the mineral line welcome. Please book as soon as possible - call 01398 323841. For further information see www.wsmla.org.uk

30 June 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

West Somerset Railway Plc welcomes back Chairman John Irven

The shareholders and the Board of the West Somerset Railway Plc welcomed back Chairman John Irven after his spell of absence. John resumed his role as Chairman of the WSR Plc at the Company AGM on Saturday 27 June 2015. David Baker will now resume his role as Vice Chairman to the Board and will continue to assist John to ensure he gets back to full recovery. John expressed his sincere thanks to David and to Steve Williams and Humphrey Davies who have been David's Acting Vice Chairmen during John's absence. For a report on the Annual General Meeting please see this press release.

29 June 2015
Details provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Changes to the diesel locomotives rostered for passenger work

Due to some work required on Class 42 no D832 Onslaught to replace the springs and to undertake some work on the brake system the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group have stopped the locomotive and other diesel locomotives will work its rostered turns this summer. Class 47 no D1661 North Star and Class 35 no D7017 will get some extra running dates as a result. The full revised allocations can be found here. Meantime, Class 33 no D6575 substitutes for the Hymek on 25 & 26 July due to traincrew availability.

25 June 2015
Details provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group & West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Catering job vacancies with West Somerset Railway Plc

The West Somerset Railway Plc are looking for an On-train Catering/Cafe Assistant for its on-train buffets and catering services and to assist at its cafe at Minehead Station. The job is seasonal and for a fixed term, until 31October 2015. Pay is minimum wage and staff receive the equivalent of 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year pro rata. Hours of work will be by agreement, but will average 22.5 hours per week, and will include some evening and weekend work.

They are also looking for staff for its Minehead cafe outlet, the Turntable Cafe, which sells teas, coffees and light snacks to visitors on the railway. The job is seasonal to cover for busy periods and for a fixed term, until 30 September 2015. Pay is minimum wage and staff receive the equivalent of 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year pro rata. Hours of work will be 11.30 to 2.30 (3hrs), five days per week with additional hours as required by agreement. The hours will include some weekend work.

For more information or to apply, in the first instance, please contact the Retail Services Manager, Colin Howard, in person at Minehead Station, by telephone on 01643 700384 or by email to colin.howard@wsrail.net

25 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Janet Dixon

The Chairman of the Friends of Minehead Station, Martyn Snell, writes "It is with much sadness that I tell our railway family (they may have seen it on the company staff website) of the death of Janet Dixon after a brave fight against a short illness. She died about 11.00pm on Tuesday 23 June in St. Margaret's Hospice in Taunton. To lose her so soon after her husband John died is a real blow to her family and our thoughts are with them at this very sad time.

Janet was a great supporter of the railway and more recently could be seen cutting grass and keeping some of the gardens tidy at Minehead Station. She was assisting Colin Harris in this task only three or four weeks ago. She also helped in the past at Dunster with similar duties and, over the years, has popped up in many places along the line keeping the railway looking smart. She was a great supporter of the Friends of Minehead Station and was on the committee as the 'Gardening Rep'. Always a supporter of our Fund Raising efforts, her absence will be noted in so many ways over the next few weeks and months.

No details of any service have been announced as yet but I will keep you updated in order that there is a proper memorial to this wonderful lady."

25 June 2015
Details provided by the Friends of Minehead Station

A statement by the WSR Plc/WSRA Intermediary Group

The Intermediary Group have issued the following statement "This statement is written following discussions we have held with the West Somerset Railway PLC and the West Somerset Railway Association (including WSRA Promotions Ltd) in the last few days. We believe that both organisations recognise the importance of constructive collaboration in the development of the success of the West Somerset Railway, including also involvement of other important stakeholders. It is clear that over the last few years there have been a number of issues which have militated against harmonious working. Both organisations are continuing to work to resolve outstanding commercial issues, using where it is helpful the services of the Intermediary Group. They recognise that commercial success as a heritage railway must be the overriding priority, and recognise also that individual organisational aspirations should meet this overall objective. (The West Somerset Railway PLC and the West Somerset Railway Association have agreed that we issue this statement.)"

Frank Courtney, Michael Rowe, Tim Stanger 24 June 2015

25 June 2015
Details provided by the Intermediary Group

Report on first meeting of the WSRA Review Panel

Robin Coombes, Chairman of the WSRA Review Panel reports "I am happy to report that the first meeting of the WSRA Review Panel took place on the evening of Thursday 18th June 2015 where we took the opportunity to meet informally to introduce ourselves and to discuss the review process. I will shortly announce the full panel, as not everyone was able to attend or as yet respond to the invitation.

All I can state at this stage is that I travelled as an ordinary passenger along the line on the previous Sunday, which was one of the most delightful and enjoyable experiences I have had for a long time. No doubt helped by beautiful lush green countryside, gentle rolling hills and a sparkling sea along the coast. Everyone was smart, courteous and welcoming, the engine brasses gleaming in the sun, the coaches were clean and stations immaculate. There was a fete on the platforms at Minehead, it was alive and active and full of bustle. My only conclusion is that the railway is getting something very important very right, I therefore do not doubt the dedication and commitment of the permanent staff and volunteers and they can be justly proud of their achievements.

On the flip side I spent a few minutes, which anyone can do on Google, and looking at a few past editions of various railway magazines and it is clear that the railway has an interesting past with many larger than life characters. It is clear that the Review Panel will have no shortage of material to read and analyse and questions to ask. I would stress however the review is about creating a better future, the past cannot be changed but lessons can be learnt. I will shortly be announcing the details of how everyone can give their views to the Review Panel, and I believe that the Association plans to publish these in the forthcoming Journal.

Even from my very brief background research and involvement of just over a week I would urge everyone that this may be a good moment for a little calmness and reflection and suggest that nobody yet makes any snap decisions or a rush to judgment while the Review Panel has only just started to understand what appears to be a very knotted and tangled ball of threads in order to map out a clear way forward."

Robin Coombes
Chairman, on behalf of the WSRA Review Panel

24 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

West Somerset Railway Association has a solution for the Williton site

WSRA Chairman Peter Chidzey has announced "We have been developing a plan for the past couple of years which will now be brought to the fore. The Association leases a significant amount of land adjacent to the shed. Over the coming months, we will pursue planning permission and install a shed on this property which will provide another covered space to suit the requirements of the Railway. I look forward to providing this capability for the West Somerset Railway, and working with all of the groups across the wider Railway family to make the best use of the facilities at Williton." For the full statement, see the WSRA website.

18 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

Ever thought about volunteering at the Rally...

Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally Committee member and volunteer Diane Charlton writes "We have opportunities that can take just a little of your time, for example selling programmes on the day, or a longer term involvement such as helping to publicise the rally. For example, Rally Chairman Ian, Vice Chair Wendy and volunteers Richard and Diane were busy over the last weekend at the Bristol Classic Car Show promoting the Rally, and the Railway, to the 7,000+ enthusiasts who visited the Bath & West showground." More information

18 June 2015
Details provided by the Rally Committee External link

Stogumber Station's 'Livestock by Rail' project needs an artist

Volunteer Robin White writes "I have been asked by Tom Usher, the Stogumber Station Master, to write the proposal document for a project to restore the cattle dock, Goods Office and a GWR cattle wagon at Stogumber Station. The project will be called something like 'Livestock by Rail - a country story' and tell the tale, now increasingly forgotten, of animals being moved by rail, which ended in the early 1960's. It is hoped to attract grant funding from charities associated with the farming community and elsewhere. A project meeting will be called shortly, and if you are interested, please register your interest with me by e-mail. The project would be greatly assisted by an artist's impression of how the restored cattle dock, goods office and wagon would look when complete. An easily-reproducible black-and-white line drawing might be best. Much of the original survives, and there are good photographs to work from. If you think you can help with that, please be in touch."

17 June 2015
Details provided by local correspondent

A Valuation Day event at Minehead Station on Saturday 20 June

There will be a valuation day at Minehead station on Saturday 20 June 2015 for railway and other models, railwayana and collectables. This will be hosted by Greenslade Taylor Hunt, the Taunton auctioneers and will be staged on the platform between 10am and 4pm. There will be no charge for the valuations but if anyone attending is pleased enough by what they hear and wish to sell Greenslade Taylor Hunt will be happy to sell the items through their auctions held in the Octagon Saleroom in East Reach Taunton.

17 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

West Somerset Railway is runner-up in the 2015 Group Travel Awards

The West Somerset Railway is pleased to have been awarded a runners-up spot in the annual Group Travel Awards for 2015. In the results announced at the Park Lane Hilton on 5 June 2015, the WSR came second in the voting to the Severn Valley Railway in the 'Preserved Steam Railways' category, ahead of other prestigious heritage railway lines (the Ffestiniog, Swanage, Bluebell, Isle of Wight Steam Railway, Dartmouth Steam Railway and North Yorkshire Moors.)

The awards are voted for by Group Travel Organisers and therefore reflect the opinion of the most important people on any heritage railway, the customers. Overall 20 categories of award are voted for and include coach operators, hotels (both chain and independents) and attractions amidst others.

WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare commented "Group Travel is an important part of our business so it is great to learn that our customers are voting for us in an important national trade award. It reflects the work we do in attracting business by attending trade shows and keeping in touch with people, the way in which the Commercial Office at Minehead handles enquiries and bookings, the efforts of the Catering team and above all the actual on the day experience when passengers arrive at our stations and travel on the trains. We aim to get as much right as we can and when we learn of receiving an Award we know that we are reaching our targets in this area."

Group travel information for the West Somerset Railway can be seen at the website www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or can be obtained by ringing 01643 704996

16 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Special child rover prices for Sunday of Autumn Steam Gala

After a successful introduction on the Sunday of its Spring Steam Gala the West Somerset Railway will be offering a £2.00 Day Rover ticket for children aged 5 to 15 on Sunday 4 October. This will be the Sunday of the WSR's Autumn Steam Gala. The children must be accompanied by at least one full fare paying adult or senior and the special tickets plus other Rover tickets can be ordered online via www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or by calling 01643 704996. The offer only applies to travel on Sunday 4 October 2015. The Railway is looking to increase the number of younger visitors to its steam gala events bearing in mind the age demographic of many of the regular Gala passengers and the potential attractiveness of a large line-up of steam engines plus extra events along the line as a way of bringing youngsters who are past the 'Thomas' age for an enjoyable day out.

The four day 2015 Autumn Steam Gala will run from 1 to 4 October and will mark the 40th Anniversary of the West Somerset Railway recommencing train services after the closure of the Minehead line by British Rail in January 1971. Passenger trains actually first ran on Good Friday 1976 but as the Spring Steam Gala in 2016 will be dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset, the 2015 Autumn Gala will mark the works trains movements in 1975. Locomotives being invited to appear at the Autumn Gala will be machines that have operated between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead during the last four decades.

16 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

More details about the 'Village Green' at the Steam Fayre in August 2015

New for 2015 is a Village Green area where you will see traditional crafts such as a blacksmith, willow basket making, wood turning, and wool spinning. You can also enjoy donkey rides or a delicious cream tea from a charming vintage caravan. The renowned Craft Tent is now full to capacity, you will find something for everyone there so make sure that you pay us a visit. Don't forget you can buy Rally tickets online and get two days entry for the price of one.

16 June 2015
Details provided by the Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally Team External link

A statement on current issues by West Somerset Railway Plc

Geoff Pateman Company Secretary of West Somerset Railway Plc has issued a statement about current issues in particular concerning the Plc's engagement with the West Somerset Railway Association. The statement starts with "The Board of the West Somerset Railway PLC, which met on 23 May, discussed a number of issues relating to engagement between itself and the West Somerset Railway Association. In particular, the PLC Board considered an invitation from the Chairman of the Association to nominate a director to be co-opted onto the Association's Board." For the full text of the statement please click here. The Plc have also issued a copy of a letter sent to the WSRA which adds further insight into current issues.

15 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Lots of trains during the Late Summer Weekend at end of August

The timetable for West Somerset Railway's Late Summer Weekend has eight train departures from Bishops Lydeard and from Minehead on both Saturday 29 August and Sunday 30 August with steam and diesel traction alternating. The locomotives heading the trains will come from the Minehead based steam fleet (GWR/Western Region nos 3850, 4160, 4936 Kinlet Hall, 6960 Raveningham Hall and 7828 Odney Manor) and the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group's machines from their Williton Depot. On both days the WSR's three car diesel multiple unit will work the 9am from Bishops Lydeard and the 1.40pm from Minehead. The Saturday Dunster Castle Express working will be the 9.45am from Bishops Lydeard. Normal fares including all vouchers, privilege and other travel discounts will apply. Vouchers etc can be used for 'On the Day' purchases but discounted rover tickets can be purchased in advance from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or via 01643 704996.

Apart from the train service the railway museums at Bishops Lydeard, Washford and Blue Anchor will be open on both days along with the Taunton Model Railway Group's room at Bishops Lydeard Station. The DEPG will have their Depot and Heritage Centre open on both days where visitors will be able to see those locos from the Group's fleet which are not in service or under restoration. The turntable at Minehead and the turning triangle at Norton Fitzwarren should be in use and some trains will go forward from Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren (please note that there is no public access to Norton Fitzwarren platform.)

15 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Jeff & Wendy Cousins to stand down as Readers Halt managers in 2016

Martyn Snell, Chairman of the Friends of Minehead Station (FOMS) reports "At a recent FOMS committee meeting, Jeff and Wendy Cousins (pictured left) made us aware that they wish to step down as 'Managers' of the Readers Halt bookstall effective from the FOMS Annual General Meeting next February. They have done sterling work in this role for the last seven years and the amount raised, thanks to their efforts together with their team and the wonderful folks who donate items to sell is well into six figures (the total amount raised under their stewardship will be announced at the AGM in 2016.) They will continue to volunteer for their day(s) but no longer want the tie of all the admin and organising this major FOMS money raiser brings with it. Needless to say, we are starting the search for their replacement, not any easy task, and thank them most sincerely for giving us the time to so find and for their incredible work over the last seven years. Anyone interested should contact Jeff and Wendy or Martyn Snell via Minehead Station."

13 June 2015
Details provided by the Friends of Minehead Station

Go by train to a special event at Watchet on 4 July 2015

In addition to being the first day of the WSR's 'Day Out With Thomas' events for this year Saturday 4 July 2015 also sees a special event in Watchet - 'Magna Carta Day', billed by its organisers as marking 800 years since the signing of the Great Charter and 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo. Starting at 10am the event is due to feature live music, Punch & Judy, shanty singers, triumphal pageant parade, market stalls, community groups and historic re-enactments by pupils from pupils from Knights Templar and Danesfield Schools. Best way to get there - by West Somerset Railway of course.

13 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

WSRA serves termination notices on four Association members

The West Somerset Railway Association has released a press release about termination notices served on four members. The press release commences with "The Association Trustees have taken the regrettable decision to give notice of termination of the membership of four members for actions not conducive to the best interests of the charity." For the full press release, please see the WSRA website.

11 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

Robin Coombes announced as independent chairman for WSRA Review

The West Somerset Railway Association has released a press release about the Review. "At the General Meeting of Sunday 10th May, a resolution was passed to conduct a full review of the West Somerset Railway Association's aims and objectives. Since then, the Trustees have moved quickly to appoint an experienced and independent Chairman for the review, and this appointment was confirmed on Monday 8 June 2015. The Review Chairman will be Robin Coombes. Robin is a Chartered Architect by profession. After qualifying from the University ofWales, he joined British Rail's Architects Department in 1980 and was later appointed as a project manager for the launch of Network SouthEast, prior to becoming Rail Marketing Manager for Network North at Euston." The press release also states "The Review will follow the letter of the resolution passed at the General Meeting to form its terms of reference. The Review Chairman will write to invite representatives from the named organisations to form the Review Panel. The Review will be conducted in the style of a 'parliamentary select committee', whereby everyone who wishes to will be invited to make submissions in writing, and then the panel will conduct a series of interviews with key organisations and individuals based on the written submissions received. The Review will include the named organisations in the resolution - West Somerset Railway Association, WSRA Reform Group, West Somerset Railway Plc and West Somerset Steam Railway Trust." For the full press release, please click here.

11 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

The Railway now has a formal Heritage and Preservation Group

It is heartwarming to learn that the Railway's Partnership Development Group (PDG) has agreed to set up a 'Heritage and Preservation Group'. WSR Plc Director Mark Smith, who is also Vice-Chairman of the Heritage Railway Association, will coordinate the Group. In discussion, Chris Austin of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust suggested a clear view was needed on the balance between the preservation of heritage artefacts and the commercial aspects of the Railway. Mark Smith suggested that Chapter 14 of the Plc's Corporate Plan could be used as a baseline template for discussions. Cllr Jean Adkins rightly mentioned further use of continuous rail would remove the 'clickety-clack' sound so typical of heritage railways. A very good suggestion from Mark Smith was that all buildings on the line should be treated as having Grade 2 Listed status (even if they are not) and that eventually all the storage shipping containers should be removed. Membership of the Group is likely to include representatives from most if not all parties.

10 June 2015
Details provided by the Partnership Development Group

New venture for the Quantock Belle is a success

The West Somerset Railway Association report "During Mixed Traction Weekend the QB offered a 'walk-on' three course lunch for gala patrons. This was a new venture for the QB, and it involved the volunteers coming in and making a morning journey to Minehead and back as an attachment to a service train. During this run, the food was cooked, the tables set, and the bar prepared. Diners then boarded the QB when it returned to Bishops Lydeard. A run to Norton Fitzwarren was planned, but as the day was running behind the timetable the service ended up departing Bishops Lydeard directly for Minehead. One diner remarked, 'I am a regular QB patron, and I have seen steady improvement in the QB menus, food presentation and service in the past 2 years.' The QB volunteers were pleased to be able to add this attraction to the gala, and look forward to being invited to provide the service again in the future."

9 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

Discounted WSR tickets for First Great Western voucher holders

First Great Western Trains customers who download a voucher from the First Great Western Somerset Offers page on the FGW website will be able to purchase discounted Return Tickets to travel on the West Somerset Railway in 2015. The WSR is hopeful that in this way it will be able to welcome more visitors and holiday makers to its 20 mile route between Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) and Minehead and the attractions and places to stay along the line. Locations of the West Somerset's stations can be seen on the website www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk and include the large village of Williton, the old seaside town of Watchet, the medieval village of Dunster and of course Minehead itself. Accommodation provider details can be seen on various websites.

West Somerset Railway return tickets are valid for a month from the date of issue and can therefore be used for day excursions, weekend breaks or longer holidays. The discounted prices are £13.90 for adults/seniors and £6.95 for children and can be obtained by passengers presenting their FGW vouchers at the booking office at Bishops Lydeard station or to a travelling ticket inspector on the train. First Great Western vouchers will only be exchangeable for WSR return tickets. The WSR will not accept them as payment in whole or part for other tickets and in conjunction with other vouchers or offers.

The nearest mainline railway station to Bishops Lydeard is Taunton and from Mondays to Saturdays First Buses of Somerset service 28 runs directly at half hourly intervals between the two stations with a stop at platform 2 of Taunton station and one outside the booking office at Bishops Lydeard. On Sundays the service is more limited but information can be seen on the Buses of Somerset website.

The West Somerset Railway operates a daily train service until 4 October and then on selected dates to November 1st. Once again timetable details can be seen at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk

West Somerset Railway General Manager Paul Conibeare commented "We are looking forward to welcoming First Great Western passengers to the WSR and giving them the chance to start and end their visit to West Somerset and the gateway to Exmoor via public transport. We have superb scenery along our line and throughout the area and plenty of attractions and places of interest to visit and so we think there is much to offer visitors to the area."

9 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Come to the Railway and use the trains to see the Classic Cars

On Sunday 14 June 2015, classic cars will gather at Bishops Lydeard Railway Station from 9am and depart at 11am on a 30-mile pre-arranged route through the lanes and by-ways of West Somerset, ending at Minehead Station where the cars will be parked for the afternoon. See the cars pass close to WSR locations starting at these estimated times - Crowcombe Station 11.10, Stogumber Station 11.20, Williton Station 11.35, Washford Station 11.40, Blue Anchor Station 11.45, Dunster Village 11:55. Make a day of it - see the cars gather at Bishops Lydeard, then catch the 10.25 steam train to one of these locations to see the cars pass and then catch a later train on to Minehead.

8 June 2015
Details provided by the Classic Car Organiser

Problems with Class 56 no 56006 during Mixed Traction event

Due to the failure of Class 56 no 56006, train services will be disrupted for the remainder of the day. The remainder of 56006's turns will be covered by Class 47 no D1661 for the remainder of Saturday and will be replaced by Class 59 no 59003 on Sunday. The West Somerset Railway plc apologises for any inconvenience caused.

6 June 2015
Details provided by WSR Plc

A busy day at Norton Fitzwarren Junction and farewell to a Thumper

The rails at Norton Fitzwarren Junction leading to the Minehead Branch had an extra shine after a busy day. First onto the Branch was a loaded High Output Ballast Cleaner headed by Class 66 no 66599 making a regular visit to the Norton Triangle. Once that train was unloaded and back at Fairwater Yard, another Class 66, no 66522, ran onto the Branch on its way to Williton to collect Class 205 'Thumper' DEMU no 1118 following the latter's refurbishment by West Somerset Restoration. No 66522 became the first Freightliner Class 66 to venture beyond Bishops Lydeard. The Class 66 then hauled the Thumper to Okehampton where the Class 205 will the mainstay of passenger services on the Dartmoor Railway this summer. And then yet another Class 66, no 66763, arrived at the Junction hauling the three visiting locos - nos 59003, 56006 and 45060 - for the Mixed Traction Weekend on 5 to 7 June, as far as Bishops Lydeard. Meantime, the normal WSR service was also busy with GWR 4-6-0 no 7828, BR(W) 2-6-2T no 4160 and the three-car DMU rostered for the day.

4 June 2015
Details provided by various correspondents

Exclusive merchandise now available at Station Shop, Bishops Lydeard

A 1000 piece jigsaw featuring the arrival of a train at Bishops Lydeard Station is now available at the Station Shop at the station. BR(W) 2-6-2T no 4160 has the honour of hauling the train. The jigsaw retails at £17.00. Also featuring the same picture, and exclusively available from the Station Shop at the busy southern terminus of the West Somerset Railway, are placemats, coasters and mugs. Model railway enthusiasts and collectors might be interested in another new item - a limited edition Dapol "Sheppy's Cider" six wheel tanker selling at £18.00 from the Station Shop.

1 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Association External link

A Luncheon Service on the Sunday of the Mixed Traction Weekend

The Quantock Belle will be offering a luncheon service on Sunday 7 June 2015 during the Mixed Traction Weekend. This will be a 'walk-on' service (although it will be possible to pre-book if preferred, see below). The Quantock Belle be added at Bishops Lydeard to the 11.57am limited stop service from Minehead to Norton Fitzwarren, then with the 1.45pm Norton Fitzwarren to Minehead, and leaving Minehead at 3.47pm back to Bishops Lydeard. BR Warship Class 42 no D832 Onslaught is the rostered locomotive for these trains. The luncheon menu is Watercress Soup for starter, with a main course of Roast Chicken, Roast Potatoes, Vegetables, following by Ginger Treacle Tart or Ice Cream Sundae. The cost is £41.60 or just £20.00 for those with a *Gala Ticket [*we assume this means a valid Rover Ticket]. The QB team are planning for 50 covers for 'walk-in' customers although seats can be booked in advance by ringing 01823 433856.

1 June 2015
Details provided by the Special Events Planning Team and West Somerset Railway Association External link

The WSRA Reform Group representative for the WSRA Review

The WSRA Reform Group have asked Group member Brian Fraser to be their lead representative on the team carrying out the Review of the Association that the WSRA membership voted for at the recent EGM. Brian said "I understand that the WSRA Trustees have identified an independent Chairman for the Review, I look forward to meeting them at the earliest opportunity to ensure that the Review team carry out the will of the WSRA members as expressed in the review resolution." Brian brings considerable experience to this role and works for a FTSE top 20 company where he has spent the last five years reviewing business finance and operations efficiencies in both UK and global markets. Brian often swaps his business suit for a boiler suit and can be found at Minehead as part of the regular loco cleaning gang. The Reform Group are considering ways to ensure that as many views are respected as possible. Brian can be contacted by e-mail at wsra.egm.action@gmail.com or you can write to him at WSRA Reform Group, Paulet House, Goathurst, Somerset TA5 2DE.

1 June 2015
Details provided by the WSRA Reform Group

Visiting diesel locomotives to travel to the Minehead Branch on 3 June

With the national rail strike still due to go ahead on Thursday and Friday, arrangements have been made to bring the visiting locomotives to the West Somerset Railway on Wednesday 3 June so to ensure they appear at the 'Diesels at Home in the West' event - the three day Mixed Traction Weekend - between 5 June and 7 June 2015. Telephone bookings for discounted Rover Tickets can still be made by telephone 01643 704996 until 1pm on 4 June. Tickets will be sent to booking offices for collection so please state where you intend to start your day at the time of ordering.

1 June 2015
Details provided by the West Somerset Railway Plc External link

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