Latest news

Minehead Station is all lit up for the next six weeks

Minehead Station is now floodlit in a way not seen before. The Friends of Minehead Station hope that those attending the Christmas Market and the various events between now and 4 January will appreciate the spectacle.

The Christmas Market takes place at Minehead Station on 26 November 2015 between midday and 6pm with a wide variety of stalls selling local produce and much more; meet Father Christmas; listen to Minehead Male Voice Choir and the Fire Brigade Pipes & Drum Band; treat yourself to a glass of mulled wine in the Turntable Cafe.

26 November 2015
Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station and Minehead's Station Master

Christmas trains are proving very popular

The programme of Festive Trains is proving very popular with many of the dates closer to Christmas already sold out or approaching sell-out. Check the website via for availabilities and bookings.

On Sunday 29 November there are still spaces available on the Santa Express trains from Bishops Lydeard at 10.10am, 12.25pm and 2.45pm and seats for the Sherry and Mince Pie working at 10.10am. Bookings and enquiries can be made via 01643 704996 until the morning of Friday 27 November. After that, please check via the phone number to see if tickets are available to be bought on the day.

There are still some vacancies on all the trains for Dunster by Candlelight on 4 and 5 December and one Carol Train, on 7 December, still has some seats left.

25 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Hot meals at Minehead Station's Turntable Cafe

The menu of lunchtime hot meals at Minehead Station's Turntable Cafe for the next week is as follows...

  • Wednesday: Beef or Turkey Roast Dinner
  • Thursday: Tuna Pasta Bake
  • Friday: Cottage Pie
  • Saturday: All Day Brunch
  • Sunday: Roast Dinner
  • Monday: Chilli
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti Bolognese

The hot meals are available between noon and 2pm with the Cafe itself open between 10am and 2pm. Sandwiches, hot snacks, cakes, sweets and hot and cold drinks are also available. The Cafe is located on the platform adjacent to the main coach park in Minehead. It will open for longer hours on Thursday 26 November in conjunction with the Christmas Market at the Station when the Cafe will also offer minced pies and mulled wine.

25 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The Association establish a Management Development Group

The West Somerset Railway Association Trustees have established a Management Development Group, which is tasked with preparing a new five year Development Plan, new Business Plan and new Fund Raising Plan. Members will be fully consulted over the development of these detailed operational plans, the final versions of which will be presented at the Annual General Meeting next July. These plans will reflect, as appropriate, the findings of the Review Group, which has been examining options for the future direction of the Association. They will also take account of the published plans of the West Somerset Railway Plc.

In addition the Group will undertake a full review of Association governance and financial management matters, and changes may be introduced through the year leading up to the Annual General Meeting. This is necessary to reflect the many developments in legislation and best practice and to make sure the Association is fully prepared to take on new possibilities in the twenty first century. Should it be seen necessary to review any aspects of the current Association Articles, then these proposals will be presented to the members at the Annual General Meeting.

The group will be chaired by Frank Courtney, and include Jacquie Green, Michael Rowe and Simon Stretton. Together these individuals have extensive business, charity and West Somerset Railway experience. The Chair and two Vice Chairs will be ex-officio. Other individuals will be joining the group as specified work is defined.

24 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

A nearby attraction for Bishops Lydeard Station on 12 December

Passengers going to Bishops Lydeard Station on Saturday 12 December 2015 to travel on the West Somerset Railway's Santa Trains and Sherry & Mince Pie specials will find another attraction in the adjacent Broad Gauge Business Park. A couple of minutes walk from the Station is the home of Quantock Brewery who are holding an open day between 10.30am and 5.00pm. For more information please click here.

20 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Loco allocations for the 2015 Winter Steam Festival

The loco allocations for the two day Winter Steam Festival are as follows...

On Monday 28 December 2015 from Minehead: 4160 (9.50am and 1.45pm), 4936 (10.45am and 2.45pm), 7828 (11.45am and 3.45pm), 6960 (12.45pm); and from Bishops Lydeard: 7828 (10am and 1.45pm), 6960 (10.45am and 2.45pm), 4160 (11.45am and 3.45pm), 4936 (12.45pm)

On Tuesday 29 December 2015 from Minehead: 6960 (9.50am and 1.45pm), 4160 (10.45am and 2.45pm), 4936 (11.45am and 3.45pm), 7828 (12.45pm); and from Bishops Lydeard: 4936 (10am and 1.45pm), 7828 (10.45am and 2.45pm), 6960 (11.45am and 3.45pm), 4160 (12.45pm)

19 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

'Mayflower' due to visit the Minehead Branch on 26 November

The intended motive power of the train from London Victoria to Minehead on Thursday 26 November 2015 is LNER B1 4-6-0 no 61306 Mayflower. It seems the locomotive will work through to Minehead being assisted over the gradients of the Minehead Branch by a West Coast Class 47 attached to the rear. This will be the first time that Mayflower has visited the line and will be the second 'B1' to appear on the WSR after classmate no 61264 which appeared as a Gala guest engine.

18 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Just over a week until the start of the Festive Trains

Christmas lights and decorations are appearing in the shops and along the main streets and the West Somerset Railway's programme of Festive Trains is booking up fast with a number of trains already sold out and others approaching sell out, especially dates closer to Christmas Day itself.

The first operations are Santa Express and Sherry and Mince Pie trains on Sunday 29 November 2015. There are seats on all of these except the 2.45pm Sherry and Mince Pie train from Bishops Lydeard which is full. The trains do a round trip from Bishops Lydeard to Williton and back giving a 20 mile round trip through the Quantock Hills. On the Santa trains children receive a present from Santa as he makes his way through the train and there are seasonal refreshments for the adults. There is a licensed buffet car on the train which is made up of carriages designed in the 1950s and steam heated.

There are also vacancies on the Dunster by Candlelight trains on 4 and 5 December and the Carol Trains on 7 and 8 December.

Vacancies can be seen and tickets can be purchased now either from or call 01643 704996 with card details (all are taken except AMEX)

18 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

News from the Friends of Minehead Station

The latest newsletter from the Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS) is, as ever, packed with news and updates. Martyn Snell, Chairman of FoMS, describes one particular project:

It is also an exciting time as we approach the 40th Christmas since the West Somerset Railway line opened between Minehead and Blue Anchor. To this end, your committee have agreed to 'light up' the station in memory of those of our number who have died, as a celebration of the past 40 Christmases and to show off all the hard work that has been done by various folks and FoMS since the station re-opened. Thanks to the hard work of station master Pam Hawkins and in consultation with the Company, it is planned to light the station in a way not seen before in time for the Christmas Market on Thursday 26th November and to continue right through to the New Year. I have little doubt that many photographs will be taken but, if you do have the chance, pop down and soak up the atmosphere.

Other items of interest include some good news about the promenade railings and some FoMS funding for internal alterations at the main building at Minehead Station. The results of the ongoing work of the Friends of Minehead Station continues to delight the many thousands of annual visitors to the seaside terminus.

17 November 2015
Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station

Christmas Market at Minehead Station on 26 November 2015

The times have been finalised for the special diesel railcar service on 26 November 2015 in connection with the splendid Christmas Market being held at Minehead Station. The diesel car will run between Williton and Minehead calling at intermediate stations (please note Doniford Halt is a request stop). A flat fare of just £3 per person, single or return, and tickets will be sold by travelling ticket inspectors on the trains (no concessions will be available). Trains leave Williton at 11.15am and 3.20pm, and leave Minehead at 2.30pm and 5.30pm - click here for full times of these trains. And remember - step off the train at Minehead and the Christmas Market is right in front of you! Update: we now understand an additional diesel railcar service will run, leaving Minehead Station at 10.35am and will call at all stations to Williton.

16 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Notes from the recent meeting of the Southern Gateway Group

The Southern Gateway Group met at Brunel House on 29 October 2015 to continue the discussions and development of the plans for Bishops Lydeard Station including the car park and the Station Farm area. Amongst topics discussed were the delayed roundabout on the nearby A356 and the impact of works on the Railway's visitors; increased use of Platform 1; the option of a subway at the southern end of the platforms; alternative accommodation following the departure from Brunel House in 2017; and inward investment. The Group consists of representatives from the West Somerset Railway Plc, West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, West Somerset Railway Association, Friends of Bishops Lydeard Station and Taunton Deane Borough Council. Here is a link to the full minutes of this meeting.

16 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

No Real Ale and Cider Festival on WSR in 2016

We understand there will be no Somerset CAMRA event at Minehead Station in 2016.

Somerset CAMRA say

With great sadness there is a need to report that there will be no more CAMRA festivals held on the West Somerset Railway. The WSR will in future be one of the few heritage railways in the UK without such an event. Our festival had for some time been widely considered as market leader by fans of real steam and real ale.

It seems several alternative options were tabled during the negotiations with WSR Plc but an agreement between the Railway and Somerset CAMRA could not reached.

We note the WSR Plc made these comments to the Somerset County Gazette on 17 Novermber:

We have met with CAMRA and proposed that the festival become a bolt-on event, like many of our others, with a marquee outside the station. The event is so successful that it has outgrown the platform and there are more people than we can safely hold, however CAMRA decided not to go forward with this arrangement.

15 November 2015
Details kindly provided by Somerset Campaign for Real Ale and also gleaned from Somerset County Gazette External link

First list of target guest locos for 2016 Spring Steam Gala

The West Somerset Railway's Special Events Planning Team has announced the first information about the proposed line-up of guest engines for the 2016 March Steam Gala which will mark the 50th Anniversary of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset lines as through routes in March 1966.

The quartet includes the two surviving Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway 7F 2-8-0s - nos 53808 (being overhauled at Minehead) and 53809 (under overhaul) and LMS 4F no 44422 (under overhaul) which was based on the Somerset and Dorset for many years in the 1950s and 1960s working both freight and passenger trains and so is very appropriate to the event. The final proposed guest is BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T no 80072 - the largest of the classes of BR Standard tank engines were the mainstays of the remaining services on the S&D between 1963 and closure after the through trains between Bath (Green Park) and Bournemouth (West) had been diverted to other routes. Classmate no 80043 worked one of the special trains on the last day of operation. Other guest engines are also being sought.

The 2016 event will be in two parts - 5 and 6 March 2016 will be a commemoration weekend, marking the actual 50th Anniversary of the closure of the S&D, with the usual Spring Steam Gala event continuing the Somerset and Dorset theme between 10 and 13 March 2013.

Discounted advanced price rover tickets for the event are on sale via or 01643 704996.

13 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Special diesel railcar service for Christmas Fayre

The West Somerset Railway will be running a special diesel railcar service between Williton and Minehead on Thursday 26 November 2015 in conjunction with the Christmas Fayre taking place at Minehead Railway Station between midday and 6pm. The morning train will leave Williton at 11.15am, call at Doniford Halt by request, Watchet at 11.24am, Washford at 11.30am, Blue Anchor at 11.38am, Dunster at 11.44am and will arrive at Minehead at 11.50am. After the Fayre the railcar will leave Minehead at 5.30pm, once again calling at all stations and arriving in Williton at 6.05pm. It is also planned to run an afternoon round trip from Minehead leaving at around 2.30pm and Williton around 3.15pm but the precise timing of this will depend on the arrival time of a steam excursion train from London Victoria - ring 01643 704996 or see the WSR website to check closer to the time. The WSR is awaiting final timing details of this from Network Rail and tour organisers Steam Dreams but this is expected arrive at Minehead around 2.15pm. A flat fare of £3.00 (single or return) will be charged on the special diesel railcar train for all journeys from all stations and tickets will be sold on the trains. There will be no reductions or free travel on these trains.

The Fayre will feature a wide array of sales stands featuring crafts, gifts and local produce to tempt visitors into some pre-Christmas shopping. The Railway's own Buffer Stop Shop will also be open together with the Turntable Cafe and more hot food will be served alfresco courtesy of Dunster's Yarn Market Hotel. There will be music from the Minehead Male Voice Choir and the Pipe & Drum Band of the Fire Service. Any visiting children will be able to say hello to Santa and leave a letter for him in his special letter box. Admission to the Fayre is free and the organiser Stationmaster Pam Hawkins is hoping for another well-attended event following the initial success in 2015.

13 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Dunster by Candlelight trains will again stop at Dunster Station

The West Somerset Railway will be running its special trains for the Dunster by Candlelight event on Friday 4 December 2015 and Saturday 5 December 2015 and after some doubt can confirm that the trains will run non-stop from Bishops Lydeard to a stop at Dunster Station before continuing to Minehead.

Pre-booked passengers will be able to alight from and board trains at either station with the option of walking to and from Dunster village for the event, or taking one of the special shuttle coaches from Minehead Station to Dunster village. The inclusive fares cover both options leaving the choice to the passengers on the night..

Passengers intending to use Dunster Station are advised that although the road from the station towards the village is quiet it is not illuminated by street lights so walkers should bring a torch and wear some lighter coloured clothing to aid visibility. The walking time is between 15 and 20 minutes and the final part of the walk includes the inclined Dunster Steep pavement.

West Somerset Railway General Manager Paul Conibeare commented:

The Dunster by Candlelight train operations has been a very popular part of our annual programme for many years and there is something rather special about the atmosphere of a station platform on a December evening with smoke and steam visible in the station lights. Traditionally some passengers also enjoy the walk between the station and the Candlelight event in the village itself as evoking the age of steam and the traditional village station.

12 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

West Somerset Railway Plc publishes Three Year Business Plan

The West Somerset Railway Plc has published its three year business plan up to the end of 2017. This sets out the operational, development and commercial agenda for the Company and builds on the Ten Year Corporate Plan published in 2014. Steve Williams, Plc Planning Director said:

The Plan is the product of a lot of hard work both within the Plc and with our principal supporting organisations along the railway. It is deliberately ambitious and brings with it a challenging implementation schedule. However, much of the Plan is already underway and there is more of it that we can achieve to further grow the business and sustain our role as one of Somerset's premier heritage and tourist attractions. The Plan will be updated again in spring 2016 as part of our annual business planning and budgeting cycle

Download the Three Year Business Plan.

10 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

West Somerset Railway Association keeps traditional skills alive

A Somerset charity - the West Somerset Railway Association - is preventing traditional restoration skills from dying out by training young people to refurbish and renovate steam engines and heritage carriages by taking on apprentices to help with its vital work. Peter Chidzey, WSRA Chairman, said:

We support a team at West Somerset Restoration in Williton, which is dedicated to keeping traditional engineering skills going. It carries out heavy engineering work, particularly on steam locomotives. It also trains apprentices in the skills required to restore and maintain the trains and associated equipment - everything from precision machine work on the engines, to painting and decorating the carriages to the very highest of finishes. All the skills our apprentices learn are transferable to other walks of life and we're very proud of all they achieve in helping keep our engines and carriages in such good order, and saving these skills from dying out.

West Somerset Restoration currently has five apprentices working in its workshops helping to refurbish and preserve the WSRA's engines and the livery and interiors of its rolling stock.

The full story is featured on the Somerset County Gazette website.

10 November 2015
Details gleaned from Somerset County Gazette External link

Restoration of GWR BCK no 6705 is finished externally

On 5 November 2015 varnishing was completed on the sides of GWR BCK no 6705. The vehicle is lettered and lined out, using the exact livery carried when it rolled out from Swindon Works in 1938. Chris Austin, Chairman of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust comments:

Duncan Hensley's steady hand and good advice to the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust restoration team has produced a real quality job for the railway.

The remaining windows were also put back into position on the same day.

10 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

Don Spencer

We have received the sad news of the passing of WSR pioneer Don Spencer who was the Guard on the very first WSR train back in 1976. Don's son Mark Spencer explains...

Don and I both became involved on that first day on the 2nd January 1976, when access was initially allowed, with Don subsequently becoming the Guard on the first public service. Don died unexpectedly on 1 November 2015 at the age of 88. He had been living in residential care in Alton, Hampshire for several years. He still retained an interest in railways, and lived very close to the Watercress Line where he could clearly hear the trains climbing the bank out of Alton. The funeral will be held at Basingstoke Crematorium on Monday 16th November at 12:30.

Steve Martin, WSR's Operating Superintendent, has written a fine tribute.

7 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A successful steam test for Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219

The boiler of Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219 had the steam test at Williton on 6 November 2015 and passed. Ray Waldron of West Somerset Restoration adds:

Now the work starts to re-fit the boiler. The next milestone will be for the engine to move under its own steam for the first time in 45 years.

The loco was built by Andrew Barclay in 1910 with works number 1219 and then worked at the Clydeside steelworks of Stewarts and Lloyds. After spending over forty years in preservation, it was purchased by a WSRA apprentice in 2012 and moved to Williton for restoration.

6 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Restoration External link

Hein Burger receives his much deserved Significant Achievement Award

We have received a lovely report from the General Manager's office

The much revered Hein Burger received his much deserved Significant Achievement Award at Minehead from Colin Howard, Acting Head of Commercial Services. In his time, from 1979 to present, amongst his many roles and duties, he has produced the working timetable, designed tickets , been a TTI, Sales & Marketing Manager and more recently Cashier. Suffice to say, the WSR is hugely indebted to Hein without whom the railway may well have not survived into 21st Century and be the flourishing concern it is today.

Congratulations, Hein. You know, if they ever bring in a "Most Significant Contribution Award", you would be the first on the list.

5 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The 2016 Diesel Engineman Course dates are now available

The dates for the Diesel Enginemen Courses in 2016 are now available via and online bookings may now be made to help secure a place. There are four places on each course and some have sold already. These one day courses are run by the West Somerset Railway in partnership with the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

5 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A 'Day Out with Thomas' in the summer of 2016

The plan for 2016 is to run the 'Day Out with Thomas' event over one long weekend of a Friday, Saturday and Sunday (1, 2 and 3 July). The Railway believe the Friday will provide the opportunity for grandparents to be able to fill a summer weekday when they are looking after pre-school children, and also the possibility of an offer to pre-school and infant school groups. Advertising and pre-booking for the event will start shortly after Christmas.

3 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Hot lunchtime meals at the Turntable Cafe at Minehead Station

During November and December the Turntable Cafe at Minehead Station will be offering the following hot meals at lunchtime. The cafe is open between 10am and 2pm every day of the week.

  • Monday: Sausages with mash and red onion gravy and peas £6.40
  • Tuesday: Steak and Kidney Pie with mash and peas
  • Wednesday: Mid week roast dinner of pork or beef and vegetables £7.90
  • Thursday: Lasagne with a choice of salad or crusty baguette £6.40
  • Friday: Cottage Pie with vegetables and gravy £6.40
  • Saturday. Turntable brunch special with bacon, 2 sausages, 2 eggs, tomato and beans £5.50 (optional extras 70p each: mushrooms, black pudding, hash browns) plus toast and mug of tea and coffee
  • Sunday: Roast dinner as per Wednesday

The cafe can be contacted via 01643 700404.

3 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

An update on scoping paper for Taunton to Bishops Lydeard link

The draft scoping paper for the Taunton to Bishops Lydeard link is due to be completed in by the end of December having been discussed by the working group which will include representation from GWR and Network Rail. The WSR met with SCC officers on Thursday 15 October to review the proposal in the context of the forthcoming County Rail plan. SCC offered to send a letter of support, in principle, to the proposal provided that it did not compromise the objectives of the Peninsula Rail task force. In addition, they offered access to their economic development unit in relation to potential sources of funding and are also providing more contextual information in support of the case for change (eg Hinkley C). Similar conversations are planned take place with West Somerset Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council. [as reported to a recent WSR Plc Board Meeting]

3 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A change to the fare structure for 2016

The West Somerset Railway has been decided that from 2 January 2016, the half-price fare for children will be extended in terms of age range from the current five to fifteen to cover five to seventeen reflecting the fact that in view of the raising of school leaving age, sixteen year olds are not now 'economically active'. As the top end of the age range may not be too happy at being called 'children', the WSR will now refer to a 'young person' ticket. Please note the ticket will still say 'Child' pending new plates being produced. Family tickets will cover either two adults/seniors plus two young persons or a 'one plus three' division. Also, we understand from 2016, carers and disabled passengers will have a 25% discount.

3 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Significant Contribution Award for WSRA retail volunteer

WSRA volunteer Ron Prickett has received a Significant Contribution Award from the WSR Plc for his work in the Bishops Lydeard shop and cafe and also with the Permanent Way team. Kate Beard, WSRA Retail Manager adds "Ron frequently takes full responsibility for the shop and cafe, allowing the retail manager a much appreciated day off. He is a much valued member of the team and the award is well deserved." Ron was also the WSRA Chairman in the early 1980s. In total, 37 WSR people received the Significant Contribution Award, and 20 received the Long Service Award during the ceremony at Minehead Station on 1 November 2015.

2 November 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

November opening hours for Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard

Kate Beard, the Retail Manager at WSRA Promotions, advises of the opening times for the Station Shop and the Whistle-Stop Cafe at Bishops Lydeard during November 2015.

Sunday 1 November 9.30am to 6.00pm
Saturday 7 November 11.00 to 3.00pm
Saturday 14 November 11.00 to 3.00pm
Saturday 21 November 11.00 to 3.00pm
Saturday 28 November 11.00 to 3.00pm
Sunday 29 November 9.30am to 5.00pm

Contact details 01823 432125 or

31 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

Minehead Station's Turntable Cafe in November & December

The Turntable Cafe at Minehead Station will be open between 10am and 2pm Monday to Sunday in November and December with longer hours during the Christmas Market (26 November), Dunster by Candlelight (4 and 5 December) and Santa Trains from Minehead (19, 20, 22, 23, 24 December). It will also be open for its normal hours 27 December to 1 January including the Winter Steam Festival (28 and 29 December).

And starting on Monday 2 November there will be hot meals on sale at lunch time. If there are any coach parties or groups in the area who would like to eat in the cafe which is adjacent to the coach parking in Minehead they will be welcome but please call 01643 700404 to advise that you are planning to come in if you are bringing a group.

30 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The latest draft minutes from the Partnership Development Group

The Secretary of the Partnership Development Group has kindly provided the draft minutes of the meeting ot the Group held on 15 October 2015. Along with the standing items the Group, Cllr Jean Adkins was unanimously elected as Vice-Chairman; also Steve Williams presented the Plc 3-Year Business Plan (which will appear on the Plc website and on the unofficial WSR website). The minutes are available as a downloadable PDF document.

28 October 2015
Details kindly provided by Partnership Development Group Secretariat

West Somerset Railway Plc appoints new Board Directors

Following a formal recruitment process, West Somerset Railway Plc has appointed four new Directors to the Board. They are

  • Ian Coleby-Volunteer Development
  • Geof Cox-Human Resources
  • Ken Davidge-Safety Audit
  • Richard Lillis-Marketing, PR and Communications

John Irven Plc Chairman said:

I am delighted to be able to announce these appointments to our Board which completes the process of corporate restructuring of the Board begun in 2014. The four new Directors who combine both direct experience of the railway and others who are completely new to the PLC, bring a number of skills and abilities to complement and strengthen the already extensive range of expertise within the existing Board Directors. The new appointees will now be inducted to the railway and will attend their first Board meeting in November

28 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

David Baker relinquishes WSR Plc Vice Chairman role

David Baker stepped down as Vice Chairman at the PlcLC October Board meeting but remains as a Director of the Company with specific responsibilities as Share Registrar and lead Director on commercial matters. David has been associated with the railway for many years and has been Vice Chairman since October 2013.

John Irven Plc Chairman said:

I would like to pay tribute to David in his role as Vice Chairman and particularly for his leadership and commitment during my absence through illness earlier in 2015. David has extensive experience on and knowledge of, the railway and we wish to retain that as we move through a period of development and change particularly in relation to improving the commercial operation of the PLC.

A process for selection and appointment of the new Vice Chairman will be considered and agreed at the Plc Board Meeting on 21 November 2015.

28 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

News of vacancies for the Steam Rally Chairman and Secretary

From the Chairman and Secretary of the Rally Committee...

Ian & Wendy have had to step down from these key roles due to a number of personal and family reasons. We are looking to fill these voluntary posts in the near future to allow a handover period before they leave in the spring.

The Chairman's role includes coordinating the event itself and the committee, chairing the monthly meetings, ordering resources (marquees, toilets, public address system etc.) and liaising with WSR plc and other relevant parties to enable this fantastic show to go ahead.

The secretarial role includes taking and distributing the minutes of the monthly meetings, coordinating the online ticketing, answering emails and monitoring the website and Facebook accounts. If you are interested in part or all of these roles please contact Wendy at for more information.

The Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally is an important event in the WSR calendar showcasing the railway as a whole and this year was extremely successful with record numbers and profits.

28 October 2015
Details kindly provided by Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally External link

Three WSRA Trustee resignations and one new appointment

The WSRA announces the appointment of one new Trustee and the resignation of three WSRA Trustees, Ian Coleby, Nigel Adams and Barrie Childs.

The press release continues...

Mr Frank Courtney, who is a well-known and respected figure up and down the railway, has agreed to join the board as a co-opted Trustee and Director. Frank is the Managing Director of an International Consultancy and has had many roles on the West Somerset Railway, including that of guard, Project Manager for the Thomas the Tank Engine Events and most recently as mediator in negotiations between WSR organisations. His appointment will be put to the members at the next AGM.

Ian Coleby leaves to take up another appointment on the West Somerset Railway and we wish him well in that.

Nigel Adams and Barrie Childs were elected by the membership at the AGM in July and have only attended three Trustee meetings. It is a matter of some regret that their resignations deprive both them and those who voted for them of the opportunity to make their points and fight for their particular points of view.

The Articles of Association require a board of between six and ten in number. There are now seven Trustees and no further appointments will be made in the foreseeable future, allowing for a period of consolidation.

28 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

GWR BCK no 6705 enjoys a marathon painting session

With just a week left in the paint shop at Williton before the next coach is due to come in, it was all hands to the paint brushes for the Heritage Carriage Project team to complete the external painting of GWR BCK no 6705 before the end of the month. Those in the picture from left to right are Greg McNelly, Roger Legg, Tim Randle, Ray Clack and John Peach. A larger image can be found here

26 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

Planning permission sought for internal changes to Williton Signal Box

From a document supporting the planning application for internal changes to the historic Willition Signal Box, which is a Listed Building.

The West Somerset Railway is undertaking a scheme to restore the original track formation at Williton Station which will again see the east platform used to its full capacity. As part of this work a large amount of interlocking changes and electrical safety improvements need to be made within the signal box to allow for the realignment of track. The majority of this work will take place underneath the operating floor in the signal box, at ground level; an area not accessible to the public for their own safety and to protect the safety critical apparatus inside. Additional instruments are needed on the block shelf and four levers need to be shortened to comply with ORR operational standards. There will be no partial or complete demolition of the listed building or buildings attached. The highway tarmac and track formation directly outside the building will be relaid from a maintenance point of view but will be reinstated using timber check rails as per the current assembly to reflect the heritage of the site.

The full set of supporting documents can be viewed online.

26 October 2015
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

An update on forthcoming meetings of the WSRA Taunton Group

The WSRA Taunton Group meets on the 1st Monday of the month at the GWSA Club Station Approach, Taunton, Somerset TAI 2EV 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start unless stated otherwise, we do not meet on Bank Holiday Mondays but will meet one week later (see notices). Forthcoming events include on 2 November a slide presentation from the archives by Ian Aldridge 'The WSRA from the early days up to the mid eighties'; then on 7 December a slide presentation by Peter Triggs 'Steam in the West' with the possibility of talks on Tyseley and their Specials, plus the Ffestiniog Railway. The next Photo Competition is 4 January 2016 so get snapping - all photos should be taken in 2015 and submitted preferably on DVD, memory stick, slides or photographs maximum ten pictures per category - 'Steam', 'WSR Steam', 'Landscape', 'Modern Traction and other forms of transport'. More details to follow. Contact Ian Aldridge WSRA Vice-Chairman 01823 430194 or email

26 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

A successful hydraulic test for boiler of Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219

Ray Waldron at West Somerset Restoration sends congratulations to Ryan Pope following a successful hydraulic test for boiler of Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219 was carried out at Williton on Friday 23 October 2015. To the delight of owner Ryan Pope, who is restoring the loco, the boiler held 240 psi without problems. Ryan now has a steam test booked for the first week in November and if successful, Ryan - one of the apprentices at West Somerset Restoration's Williton base- will then be able to fit the boiler to the chassis. Who knows - the little loco might well running by Christmas.

24 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Restoration External link

A productive time for Commercial team at NEC Birmingham

A joint effort by members of the WSR Plc's Commercial Department and Exmoor Tourism attended the recent Group Travel and Leisure Show at the NEC Birmingham. John Simms (Publicity Officer) and volunteer Martyn Snell were joined by Antony Brunt from Exmoor Tourism for the event. Martyn reports the team had a productive time at the show.

24 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Ian Grady

Steve Martin, WSR's Operating Superintendent, writes "Supporters of the Railway will be saddened by the news that Ian passed away on Saturday 10 October 2015 after a short illness. Ian joined the WSR around 1979, originally working with the Bristol and Bath Group of the WSRA when they had stewardship of Watchet station. Ian then became a regular volunteer at Minehead working on the locomotive and operating side, passing out as a guard in 1983. He then became a signalman, initially at Blue Anchor and Williton and later at Minehead. On the locomotive side Ian passed out as a fireman, regularly firing Bagnall tanks with the likes of drivers John Green, Don Haynes and David Rouse. Ian also assisted the railway by running the shop and buffet at Minehead for a year before being replaced without the opportunity to build on his initial success. As the railway grew Ian joined the operating department paid staff as guard/signalman with Permanent Way duties in the winter. Many a tale he would tell of working 10 coaches with BR 9F no 92220 Evening Star in 1989 with no TTI and having to sweep the train out the end of the day. Ian eventually left the WSR for a job in the health service before retirement, although over recent years Ian's cheerful face could be seen on the station at Dunster. Alongside his day-to-day involvement with the operating department Ian was a keen supporter of the 5542 loco group and alternated work on the loco with work on their two auto coaches. Away from the Railway, Ian was a strong socialist and served on the local town and district councils. Always proud of his Scottish roots, Ian was always delighted when Rangers were doing well. Ian enjoyed a game of skittles and was part of the railway team which was called away from a game to deal with the great flood of Minehead in 1996 Ian is survived by his wife Myra and daughter Michelle." Our thanks to Steve Martin for his permission to re-use his words first published on the WSR staff website. Ian's funeral will be 12 noon on Thursday 29 October at Taunton Crematorium. There will be a gathering afterwards, details and venue to be advised.

20 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Appeal to raise funds for internal restoration of a rare historic coach

Recent gala events at the West Somerset Railway have been enhanced by the presence of Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway Coach no 4 which has made appearances in a splendidly restored external condition. Initially this was confined to movements in the yard at Washford Station on the West Somerset Railway, home to Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust but more recently it has travelled the line in August 2015 to Norton Fitzwarren to appear at the Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally and to Minehead where it featured in the Autumn Steam Gala. With the 50th anniversary of the closure of the S&D falling in 2016 the SDRT's team of workers would very much like to see the coach able to carry passengers once more, ideally by the start of March when the West Somerset Railway is holding two special weekends to mark the anniversary of closure. However for this to be achieved there is the small matter of £29,000 to be raised, primarily to pay for the costs of upholstery in the compartments. Coach no 4 itself was originally constructed at the Highbridge Works in 1886 and continued in railway service until withdrawal in 1930. It then spent the next 56 years as a sports pavilion at Templecombe before being rescued by the Trust and taken to Washford. Apart from financial help the Trust would also be happy to welcome woodworkers, metal workers and painters to the workforce as it has three more vintage carriages to restore plus various vintage wagons to maintain. Any potential volunteers can reach the Trust via their website or 01984 640869. Cheques in support of the restoration of no 4 (payable to Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust) should be sent to Number 4 Appeal, Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust, The Railway Station, Washford, Watchet, Somerset, TA23 0PP.

20 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Some news about fares at the 2016 Spring Steam Gala

The present level of extra discount for advanced purchases of Rover Tickets for the 2016 Spring Steam Gala will end on 31 October 2015 so if you are looking for some cheaper Somerset and Dorset atmosphere half a century after the line closed there is some extra money to be saved. From 1 November onwards there will be discount to be had by advance booking - but not so much! After 1 November 2015 the Advance fares for the Spring Gala will be as follows: One Day Rovers Adult £25.20 (on day £28), Senior £22.70 (£25.50), Young Person (5 to 17) £12.60 (14.00), Family (2 adult and 2 young persons or 1 +3), £68.40 (£76.00), 2 Day Adult and Senior £38.70 (£43.00) Young Person £19.35 (£21.50), 3 or 4 Day Adult/Senior £54 (£60) Young Person £30 (£27.00), 6 Day Adult/Senior £76.50 (£85.00) Young Person £38.25 (£42.50). The 6 Day will cover both the Commemorative Weekend 5-6 March and the Gala Weekend 10-13 March. For the current advance fares see

16 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Oldham Video Productions DVD of the recent Autumn Steam Gala

As always David Oldham has worked quickly to produce the DVD of the recent Autumn Steam Gala and it will be on sale from The Buffer Stop Shop at Minehead station from Saturday 17 October 2015 priced £17. If you can't make it to the shop it can be ordered for £18 including post and packing by ringing 01643 704996 or if you prefer sending a cheque to West Somerset Railway Plc, The Buffer Stop Shop, The Railway Station, Minehead, TA24 5BG. It might also make a nice Christmas gift for someone.

16 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

The next WSR Stakeholder Meeting

Paul Conibeare, WSR Plc General Manager, writes "Just a reminder that the next Stakeholders Meeting is Saturday 24 October 2015, 2pm at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall. All welcome, and as usual a wide and varied Presentation will take place and the chance for any questions you may have."

16 October 2015
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link