Latest news

Meet author Freddie Huxtable at the Bishops Lydeard Station Shop

Kate Beard, Retail Manager, WSRA Promotions writes:

The Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard is very pleased to announce that Freddie Huxtable, author of the brand new book The Taunton to Barnstaple Line, will be joining us on Friday 30 December, day two of our Winter Steam Festival, to sign copies of his book.

Freddie will be with us from 10.00am to 3.00pm so why not come along to buy your copy before or during your post-Christmas ride on the WSR.

The Taunton to Barnstaple line, also known as the Devon and Somerset Railway, closed just over 50 years ago, and the first few yards of the line now form part of the WSR's Norton Fitzwarren turning triangle. In addition to this connection, the D&SR passed through very similar rolling hills to those on the WSR for much of its length but with the added features of soaring viaducts, tunnels, a classic country junction station and a link to the L&SWR at its western end.

Freddie's new book forms part one of a two volume work with Volume 1 covering the detailed history of the line, the early days and projects and the trials and tribulations of its construction. It traces the decline and closure and looks at what has happened to the trackbed and the station buildings since closure.

Volume 2, due to be published in 2017, will cover a description of the line, its stations, buildings and structures. There will also be chapters on signalling, locomotives and special trains and special events and personal recollections from those who worked on the railway.

Contact 01823 432125 or

9 December 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Opening times for the Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard

The Station Shop and Whistle-Stop Cafe at Bishops Lydeard Station have provided the opening times during December 2016.

Saturday 10 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Sunday 11 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Monday 12 December 5.30pm to 7.00pm
Tuesday 13 December 5.00pm to 7.00pm
Saturday 17 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Sunday 18 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Tuesday 20 December 9.30am to 4.30pm
Wednesday 21 December 9.30am to 4.30pm
Thursday 22 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Friday 23 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Saturday 24 December to be announced
Tuesday 27 December to be announced
Wednesday 28 December to be announced
Thursday 29 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Friday 30 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Saturday 31 December 9.30am to (to be announced)
New Year's Day 20179.30am to (to be announced)

Contact 01823 432125 or

6 December 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Roundabout works causing road delays near Bishops Lydeard Station

Work to construct the roundabout at the Station Road / A358 Junction continues. The A358 is now reduced to a single carriageway past the construction site with 3-way temporary traffic lights. At busy times this is now causing significant delays. Anyone coming to Bishops Lydeard for Santa or other seasonal services should allow a little extra time for their journey.

6 December 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Braunton replaces Princess Elizabeth on Cathedrals Express

Steam Dreams say:

Last weekend, we were told that unfortunately Princess Elizabeth has had to be withdrawn from its Steam Dreams Christmas trips with boiler problems. The trip on 17 December 2016 from London to Minehead, subject to gauging, will now be hauled by SR 4-6-2 no 34046 Braunton with Raveningham Hall taking over for the journey along the West Somerset Railway!

30 November 2016
Details kindly provided by Steam Dreams

Joint statement by WSR Plc and Minehead Chamber of Commerce

WSR Plc and Minehead Chamber of Commerce have issued a joint statement on the issue of regular passenger services on the Minehead Branch.

The Minehead Chamber of Commerce and the West Somerset Railway Plc both wish to see regular services linking to the national network return to the West Somerset Railway, where they are viable and sustainable and are complementary to the heritage and tourist services established during the 40-year history of progress by the West Somerset Railway since the line re-opened in 1976.

The next stage of fulfilling those ambitions is hoped to be a two-year trial of services on a regular basis linking the national network to the WSR's southern gateway terminus of Bishops Lydeard. It is hoped that trial can commence in 2018 so that the results from it can be taken into account in the next round of railway operator franchising on the national network.

For the full statement please click here.

29 November 2016
Details gleaned from website of West Somerset Railway Plc

New approach to investment approved by WSR Plc board

At its November meeting, the WSR Plc Board approved recommendations from the Planning Director and Finance Director that will significantly change the way in which the Company raises money for major projects and new investment in order to deliver its medium and long-term plans. The Plc will now pursue a programme of fundraising, alongside traditional methods such as shareholder appeals and joint work with railway partners on the WSR. John Irven WSR Plc Chairman said:

The Plc has an ambitious and wide-ranging programme of new projects, locomotive restoration and infrastructure renewal requirements which require significant investment in the railway. Whilst continuing to work with railway partners and other organisations to raise money, traditional ways of fundraising will not be enough to achieve meet the needs of the railway over the next 5 to 10 years. This new policy will enable the Plc to adopt a more flexible approach to new investment and allow more control over timing and application in relation to our development agenda. Our contemporaries in the heritage railway sector have demonstrated how successful they have been in securing large sums of money for specific projects and there is no reason why the West Somerset Railway cannot do the same.

Read the full recommendations.

28 November 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Raveningham Hall to haul Cathedrals Express over Minehead Branch

Steam Dreams say:

Our Christmas tour to The West Somerset Railway is now confirmed to be hauled by not only LMS 4-6-2 no 6201 Princess Elizabeth, but also GWR 4-6-0 no 6960 Raveningham Hall! On top of that, a special Christmas Market will be held at Minehead Station with more than 25 stalls selling a variety of Christmas Gifts, including a bagpipe welcome! If that doesn't take your fancy, don't forget that we have organised a special carol service in Dunster for an additional £10pp, including a coach transfer to and from the station. Our rostered steam locomotive for Saturday 17 December, Princess Elizabeth, is too heavy for the turntable at Minehead, which means that she will leave us at Bishops Lydeard to be serviced in time for the return journey. The West Somerset Railway are kindly providing us with one of their resident steam locomotives, Raveningham Hall, for the journey along the heritage line! Join the train at London Paddington, Maidenhead, Twyford, Reading or Newbury.

25 November 2016
Details kindly provided by Steam Dreams

Volunteers required for Steam Trust museum at Blue Anchor

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust are looking for volunteers to assist with the staffing of its Museum on Blue Anchor Station. This is not an onerous task and requires a person to open up the Museum and then to be available during the opening hours to answer any queries. Full training and crib sheets will be available. The Museum is usually open on Sundays from April to October between the hours of 10.30 am to 4.30 pm. The volunteers can spend an enjoyable day talking to enthusiasts and watching the trains go by. Anyone interested in helping should contact David Baker on or 01392 851752.

23 November 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

West Somerset Railway to host Flying Scotsman in 2017

Three heritage railway companies - Bluebell Railway, Keighley and Worth Valley and West Somerset Railway - are today announced as hosting the world's most famous steam locomotive LNER 4-6-2 no 60103 Flying Scotsman in 2017. After weeks of judging, the heritage railways selected were informed on Friday 18 November after a selection process undertaken by the National Railway Museum in partnership with Riley & Son (E) Ltd.

Paul Conibeare, General Manager at West Somerset Railway, said:

We're proud to have been selected as one of only three heritage railways to host Flying Scotsman in 2017 and are looking forward to promoting a successful and safe event.

Read the National Railway Museum's full press release.

We understand the WSR's operating dates for Flying Scotsman will be 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 September 2017, subject to contract.

23 November 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The Winter Steam Festival 29-30 December 2016

At the end of the 50th year since the closure of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, the Winter Steam Festival will have an appropriate line up of locomotives with nos 44422, 53808 and 53809 in action with Raveningham Hall holding up the Swindon flag.

The first trains will leave Minehead and Bishops Lydeard at 10.00 with subsequent departures at 10.45, 11.45, 12.45, 13.45, 14.45 and 15.45. The Museums at Bishops Lydeard Station and Washford Station should be open, along with the Williton base of the DEPG, and the Taunton Model Railway Group's club room at Bishops Lydeard Station.

Normal fares and discounts apply including the combined package with GWR and Buses of Somerset. WSR Rover tickets can be bought at 10% discount via 01643 704996 or

21 November 2016
Details gleaned from official leaflet by a local correspondent

It's the Christmas Market at Minehead Station this Thursday

Don't forget the Christmas Market at Minehead's Railway Station on Thursday 24 November 2016 between 11am and 5pm. The poster says:

A very large variety of market stalls including some Minehead farmers market stalls; treat yourself to a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie in the Turntable Cafe; visit the Buffer Stop Shop; meet Father Christmas between 3pm and 5pm; enjoy the music of the Pipes and Drums, and the Kings College Swing Band.

Download the poster.

20 November 2016
Details gleaned from WSR Plc's Facebook page

New path completed along with improved signage at Doniford

The new footpath constucted from Doniford village to Doniford Halt now has a hard surface, completed this month by a local contractor. Also, the newly positioned England Coast Path signpost, with fingers towards Watchet and Kilve, now has an extra finger to Doniford Halt. There is also a notice board at the Doniford end, showing the current times of trains from the Halt. All in all, this project provides vastly improved, and much safer, pedestrian access between the village and the Halt. Many thanks to everyone involved.

17 November 2016
Details from local correspondent

News about the Bishops Lydeard Station webcam

We understand Camstreams - who provide the hosting for the Bishops Lydeard webcam - will close on 30 November 2016. With over three million visits it is fair to say that the webcam project was very worthwhile and certainly helped raise awareness of our Railway. Grateful thanks to everyone involved in providing the service over the last ten years. Discussions about a possible replacement are ongoing and we hope to bring news in due course.

16 November 2016
Details from local correspondent

Synopsis of recent West Somerset Railway Association Board Meeting

The West Somerset Railway Association has published a brief and helpful synopsis of the Board meeting held on 7 November 2016.

The synopsis includes news of Trustee appointments to Vice Chairman and Treasurer positions and to the Fundraising & Membership Committee; also decisions affecting the Company Secretary post, the Gauge Museum and West Somerset Restoration.

9 November 2016
Details gleaned from website of the West Somerset Railway Association

Bands announced for the West Somerset Railway Carol Trains

The West Somerset Railway has announced the bands that will be providing the music for the Carol Trains from both Bishops Lydeard and Minehead on the evenings of Monday 12 December and Tuesday 13 December.

The Wellington Silver Band will be on the services from Bishops Lydeard on Monday 12 December and from Minehead on Tuesday 13 December.

The Burtle Silver Band will be on the service from Bishops Lydeard on Tuesday 13 December.

The Wiveliscombe Community Wind Band will be on the service from Minehead on Monday 12 December.

For further information or to book please visit the West Somerset Railway website or phone on 01643 704996.

7 November 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Seasonal services and attractions on the West Somerset Railway

The ever popular Carol Trains run from Minehead and Bishops Lydeard on Monday 12 December 2016 and Tuesday 13 December 2016.

On Thursday 24 November 2016, the Christmas Market will be held at Minehead Station with market stalls, refreshments, Father Christmas and lots of music.

Go by train to the evening Dunster by Candlelight event on Friday 2 December 2016 and Saturday 3 December 2016.

On selected dates in December 2016 join the Santa Express for a trip to Williton and back.

Or join the Santa Special at Minehead for a trip to Blue Anchor to see Santa.

Enjoy a festive ride on the Sherry & Mince Pie Special on selected dates in December 2016.

6 November 2016
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc

News from Crowcombe Heathfield Station

The scaffolding and sheeted fencing has been removed from the Goods Office recently constructed on the Up platform at Crowcombe Heathfield Station revealing a building very close indeed to the long-demolished structure. Well done to the team from the Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station who seem to have a long list of tasks as reported on the FoCHS website:

Tis the closed season; the late bustle of autumn half-term gone, no service trains until brief appearances late December and mid-February, seasonal trains through December for Candlelights, Carols, and Santas. In between there's plenty to be going on with; finishing the goods shed, white lining the platforms, painting station buildings inside and out, weeding the track, seasonal planting and de-planting, drainage works and more.

5 November 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondent and Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station

Remembering Lumber Jack and Jill at Minehead

Colin Harris, a member of Friends of Minehead Station, reports on a fine memorial:

We were given an old bench with rotten slats. Long serving FoMS Volunteers John and Janet Dixon, known by most as Lumber Jack and Jill, and both now sadly passed away, liked to recycle everything, so some good slats were recovered from an old bed. At home, I cut and drilled the slats and made a name plaque. Then back at the Station for painting and assembly and positioning near the lamp hut next to Minehead Signal Box where John and Janet always enjoyed a picnic lunch when working at the Station.

2 November 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondent