Latest news

The November Newsletter from the Friends of Minehead Station

The latest newsletter from the Friends of Minehead Station has been published and reveals the Friends have been very active in their efforts. There is mention of the floodlighting works, still ongoing; a Readers Halt report including the effects of the Antiques Roadshow and Flying Scotsman events; an update from the Gardening Team and the Works Team; and much more. And it seems long-serving FoMS Chairman Martyn Snell is to step down after six years in that post. Martyn writes to FoMS members:

I have made your committee aware that I feel it is a good time for me to consider standing down as your Chairman.

Martyn also reminds everyone about the Christmas Market on Saturday 9 December 2017 on the platform at Minehead Station.

17 November 2017
Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station

A successful 2017 Rally and now looking forward to 2018...

An update on the Rally website from the Chairman of the Steam and Vintage Rally committee, Geoff Garfield, which starts and ends with these words:

Our annual Rally took place on the 5th & 6th August this year, and was again very well attended. Over 6000 visitors came through the main gate.

We look forward to working again with our volunteers, exhibitors and traders to deliver an equally successful Rally on 4th and 5th August 2018.

Read the full update...

15 November 2017
Details kindly provided by the Steam and Vintage Rally

Go by train to Minehead Station Christmas Market for £5 return

Gleaned from the Minehead Station Christmas Market page on the official WSR website:

We will be running a DMU service [on Saturday 9 December 2017] from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead return on the day of the market for pre-booked passengers only. The DMU shows panoramic views whilst travelling through the countryside to our Christmas Market. The DMU will leave Bishops Lydeard at 12.45pm and return from Minehead at 4.30pm. The cost will be £5.00 per adult, £2.50 per child and £12.00 per family. Tickets for the DMU will be available soon.

14 November 2017
Details by local correspondent and West Somerset Railway Plc

Summer Saturday diesel delights on the WSR in 2018

We understand a diesel-hauled diagram is included on 'brown' days in the as-yet-unpublished 2018 timetable.

The dates are all Saturdays:
5, 12, 19, 26 May
16, 23, 30 June
7, 14, 21, 28 July
4, 11, 18, 25 August
15, 22 September.

Departures from Bishops Lydeard at 11.15am and 3.15pm, and from Minehead at 1.15pm and 5.15pm. These are 80 mile diagrams.

14 November 2017
Details kindly provided by Diesel and Electric Preservation Group

An update on the rebuilding of GWR Auto Trailer no 169

John Wood, the Chairman of Locomotive 5542 Ltd, has provided an update on the rebuilding of their GWR Auto Trailer no 169:

Whilst progress on droplights and toplights continues steadily some of our workers have had a chance to turn out attention to doors and floors with the outer tin 'skin' cut 'dimpled' and fitted to the driver's right hand door, and the kindly donated 25mm marine ply has been resized and given a coat of protection ready for laying in the front seating area. Many thanks for the kind offers of hardwood we've received, there's plenty more required for other components so please 'keep them coming'. We hope to be staging some 'Open Days' at our Williton workshop during the WSR Christmas Gala period, so watch out for more details and an opportunity to see behind the scenes of our operation.

14 November 2017
Details kindly provided by Locomotive 5542 Ltd

Dates published for the WSR 2018 Steam Engineman courses

The West Somerset Railway's 2018 'Steam Engineman' courses are now available to book. Check the dates and details.

The West Somerset Railway offers a range of one day and two day courses to realise ambitions and make long held dreams become reality. Experience the feeling of working steam locomotives. Join the team on the footplate, shovel coal into the firebox, blow the whistle, open the regulator and feel the power. Treat someone special (even yourself) to the thrill of a lifetime learning what it feels like to be a real fireman and engine driver. A really special present or excellent corporate hospitality.

13 November 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

A welcome overhaul for the station yard at Williton

The car park in the station yard at Williton has been completely overhauled by civil engineering contractors from Minehead who have dug out all the old dirt and gravel, levelled the surface, compacted it, and then laid a deep covering of tarmac. This will provide a much better area for visitors to park and access the station's facilities, especially those with limited mobility or with a pushchair.

12 November 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Lighting work gets underway at Stogumber Station

Phase 1 of the lighting changes at Stogumber Station was carried out on 9 November 2017. The new lamp was installed on the corner of the station building to light the car park. This was the lamp for which Minehead Loco manufactured the bracket. The two non-railway lamps have been disconnected. Phase 2 of the work is to dig out the two non-railway lamps and install the new GWR pattern lamp on the crossing down side. This is due to be carried out on Sat 25 November and some more help with the labour would be appreciated.

12 November 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Bronze for West Somerset Railway in Bristol Bath & Somerset Award

At the recent Bristol Bath & Somerset Awards, the West Somerset Railway received a bronze award in the 'Large Attraction of the Year' grouping. The winners were judged by a panel of experts. Laura Rawlings from BBC Radio Bristol announced the winners, and the WSR representatives were joined on stage by Marcus Trescothick MBE. WSR General Manager, Paul Conibeare said:

Becoming a finalist in the Bristol Bath and Somerset Awards is a wonderful achievement for the railway, so we are thrilled to accept the bronze award on behalf of the team at the West Somerset Railway. This award highlights the fantastic efforts made by every staff member and we are very proud of this achievement.

Read more...

10 November 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Apprentice sought for WSR Mechanical Engineering Department

The WSR Plc are offering a three year apprenticeship within the Mechanical Engineering Department at Minehead. The successful applicant will undergo training in a wide variety of aspects relating to the maintenance, repair and restoration of locomotives. Closing date for applications is Thursday 30 November 2017. Full details.

10 November 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Dates released for the 2018 Diesel Engineman courses

The West Somerset Railway have just released the 2018 Diesel Engineman dates. Experience the feel of a working Class 33 diesel electric locomotive and join the Driver in the cab to take the seat and drive the heritage diesel locomotive along the Minehead Branch. Book a place or two online. Great for Christmas presents.

8 November 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

'Flog It' episode filmed at WSR to be broadcast on 22 November

The episode of BBC TV's 'Flog It' programme filmed at West Somerset Railway - when presenter Paul Martin rode from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard on the footplate of LMS no 44422 during filming on 11 May 2016 - will be broadcast at 4.30pm on 22 November 2017.

8 November 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

All change for station lamps at Stogumber - help needed

Earlier in the year, Station Master Bob Preston carried out a review of the lighting at Stogumber Station and concluded that there should be changes. These are: mounting an additional lamp on the corner of the station building overlooking the car park; removing the two non-railway lamps in the car park and on the down side of the foot crossing to the platform; and planting a new GWR lamp on the down side of the crossing to match the lamp from St Ives which has stood on the up side for some time.

This work is being carried out during November and help is needed on Saturday 25 November, to dig out the old posts and dig a hole for and plant the new lamp. This physical labour is a bit beyond the normal Stogumber volunteers who man the station and provide the public with the cream teas and other refreshments for which Stogumber station is now known. It is hoped that some younger, fitter WSR supporters can offer and hour or two on the day to help. Ample supplies of tea, coffee and bacon rolls will be on hand!

If you can help, please e-mail Robin White at robin215white@btinternet.com. She will be co-ordinating the working party under Bob Preston's management. The working party will start at 10am on Saturday 25 November.

6 November 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent and Friends of Stogumber Station

Members of the Institute of Railway Operators visit for third weekend

Members of the Institute of Railway Operators were guests of the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group at Williton on 4 November 2017 to learn about the restoration, maintenance and operation of heritage diesel locomotives. This was the third of four organised visits to the West Somerset Railway; the earlier sessions covered signalling and operating.

5 November 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Carriage heating role for the line's smallest steam loco

To ensure passengers are kept nice and cosy on the festive trains in December, and to reduce the number of extremely early starts for our regular loco crews, local brothers Ryan and Liam Pope will be manning their diminutive ex-Caledonia Works Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219, normally based at Washford, to pre-heat carriages at Bishops Lydeard throughout December. The locomotive will be positioned inside the loco compound effectively as a 'stationary boiler' with a pipe connecting it to the carriages stabled in the platforms. And will hopefully provide a bit of interest too. Dave Horton, WSR Head of Mechanical Engineering, adds "Well done Ryan and Liam for coming up with this nice idea!"

4 November 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Synopsis of WSRA Board Meeting held on 23 October 2017

The West Somerset Railway Association have published a synopsis of the latest Trustee Board meeting on 23 October 2017. Topics covered include Network Rail Carriage Shed, the Journal Editorship, membership subscriptions, Board membership and the future of West Somerset Restoration.

3 November 2017
Details gleaned from the website of the West Somerset Railway Association

No 9351's boiler passes steam test at LNWR Crewe

On 3 November 2017 the boiler of WSR 2-6-0 no 9351 passed its steam test at LNWR Crewe. It seems this contract will be the penultimate contract boiler overhaul to leave the company, as the company (as part of the Hosking group) will soon focus solely on its own fleet.

3 November 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News from the WSR's Mechanical Engineering department

Dave Horton, Head of Mechanical Engineering, has announced:

It is my pleasure to announce the appointment and promotion of several staff in the Mechanical Engineering department.

Following a review of the organisational structure in early 2017, and subsequent consultation with paid staff, one of the outcomes was that a greater delegation of responsibilities was required in order to (a) spread the workload more evenly in the department, (b) develop the management and leadership abilities of each individual, (c) provide greater focus to overhaul and restoration activities and (d) create a more nurturing environment for volunteers

As such, Gary Brown joins the team as of 1 November 2017 as 'Lead Engineer - Locomotives'; Richard Hiscox is promoted to 'Maintenance Team Leader'; and Colin Henderson takes up the voluntary role of 'Project Engineer - Overhauls and Restoration'.

I am sure you will join me in welcoming all three into their new roles. Some minor adjustments of job titles have also taken place and the new structure of the ME team is illustrated in this chart

More details can be found in this document.

2 November 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The recent WSR Stakeholder Event presentation released for viewing

The West Somerset Railway Plc have made available a powerpoint document from their presentation to attendees at the recent Stakeholders Meeting. Please note the abridged document rightly lacks certain financial information. It has also been converted to PDF format by this website. Read the presentation

1 November 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Foxcote Manor to spend 2018 on the West Somerset Railway

Dave Horton, WSR's Head of Mechanical Engineering, is pleased to announce:

The WSR is very pleased to announce that we and the 7822 Foxcote Manor Society have signed a deal for the locomotive to operate on the WSR for the whole of the 2018 season. This and the S160 will significantly help to bolster our fleet for next year. We welcome 7822 and its members and supporters to the West Somerset Railway.

31 October 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSRA consults on changes to its membership subscriptions

The Chairman of the WSRA, Paul Whitehouse, has written to the Association's membership about proposed changes to subscriptions.

The last 18 months has allowed stability to return to the Association, but it has taken a great deal of time and effort. We recognise that the Association has not been supporting the railway as it ought, and we are working hard to change that. We need to increase our income, and reduce our costs, and we shall be reporting to you as we move forward.

Read the full details on the Association's website

29 October 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Quantock Belle breakfast and luncheon during Winter Steam Festival

Barrie Childs, Manager of the Quantock Belle writes:

For the very first time, the Quantock Belle is to operate a gala-style 'walk on' breakfast and luncheon service during both days of the forthcoming Winter Steam Festival. 31 seats will be available on each service on a 'first come, first served' basis.

We will offer Full English Breakfast on the 9.35am departure from Bishops Lydeard and the 11.30am from Minehead each day.

A choice of hot luncheon will be available on the 1.30pm from Bishops Lydeard and the 3.30pm from Minehead.

We are delighted to now be involved in this 'feel good' event and hope we will prove successful enough for the QB to become a regular component of Winter Steam Festival. Rest assured, neither turkey nor mince pies will appear on the menu! We will though upgrade our breakfast offer by using sausages hand made by Thorne's Butchers of Wiveliscombe, the QB's regular meat supplier for many years.

28 October 2017
Details kindly provided by the Quantock Belle

News of two of the Heritage Carriages Project's vehicles

Chris Austin, Chairman of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust reports that the recent storm 'Brian' stripped off parts of the protective sheet covering Toplight coach no 7740 stored at Dunster West. No 7740's classic lines are revealed to passing passengers until the Heritage Carriages team can replace the covers. Meanwhile, a milestone in the restoration of BCK no 6705 at Williton. The new floors in each compartment have now been completed with protective fireboard. The side panels can now be fitted and then the linoleum is laid and the seats go back. More information and pictures on the Steam Trust website.

28 October 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

An update from Bishops Lydeard Station Shop

Kate Beard writes:

Over the winter period the Station Shop will be open when the Christmas season trains are operating, right through until 1 January as well as on Saturdays in November from 10am to 3pm. We shall be taking a break in early January but will be open again on Saturday 20 January 2018 (times as above), and on subsequent Saturdays until the new season commences.

We like to think our stocks of Diecast, Model Railway, Railway Books and DVDs are amongst the best in the locality. If you are a railway modeller, it is always best to pre-order forthcoming releases from us as many items are produced in strictly limited numbers and quickly run out.

After a couple of successful Galas in terms of shop sales, our stock of donated books and magazines needs to be replenished. If you are clearing your shelves of transport books over the winter, or are aware of friends and relatives disposing of a such a collection, please bear us in mind as the proceeds of these sales represents a good source of fund raising for the WSR's main supporting charity. Please do let me know if you can help us by contacting me on (01823)432125 or by e-mail to shop@wsra.org.uk.

27 October 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

A great stocking filler for lovers of the West Somerset Railway

The West Somerset Railway shop at Minehead has a great stocking filler for lovers of the Railway. A3 copies of the new WSR poster, designed by Sam White of the Commercial Department. Only £3 collected or £6 posted. Contact the WSR shop on 01643 700 387.

26 October 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

'West Somerset Railway - Revisited' - a talk by Keith Smith

Long serving WSR volunteer Keith Smith continues his presentations about the Railway. Keith writes:

This Thursday evening (26 October 2017) I am giving my 'West Somerset Railway - Revisited' talk to the Mid-Hants Railway Preservation Society (Thames Valley Group) at 19:30. Venue is Church House, 57 - 59 Church Street, Caversham, Reading RG4 8AX - top floor room, next to Waitrose. All Reading Buses pink services go by the door, as well as Arriva's High Wycombe to Reading service.

25 October 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Loco and coaching set news for the 2017 Winter Steam Festival

The Winter Steam Festival on 29 and 30 December 2017 will feature locomotives from the following line-up:

  • GWR 'Modified Hall' 4-6-0 no 6960 Raveningham Hall
  • BR(W) 78xx 4-6-0 no 7822 Foxcote Manor
  • S&DJR 7Fs nos 53808 and 53809

Plans include four rakes of six carriages with refreshment facilities in all of the sets. Discounted Rover Tickets are available now via www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or 01643 704996.

24 October 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Droplights and Toplights for GWR Auto Trailer no 169

The folks from Locomotive 5542 Ltd who are restoring GWR Auto Trailer no 169 at Williton are looking for some help:

Droplights and Toplights. Amongst other things, we are busy converting old conservatories, window frames, and doors into toplight and droplight windows for Auto 169. As you can see by the pictures we are progressing well but we need your help. To allow us to complete the full set of these we urgently need your unwanted hardwood. It doesn't need to be big pieces, almost any hardwood from lengths of 2ft upwards is useable, just so long as it has no woodworm or too many rusty nails. We can reuse most shapes and sizes, so why not help save the world's forests by allowing us to recycle your unwanted timber? Message us with your offers or for more details. Deliveries to Williton on Saturdays or Wednesdays or collection from TA postcodes and surrounding areas for suitable quantities.

24 October 2017
Details kindly provided by Locomotive 5542 Ltd

Dunster Station's Goods Shed is a Grade II Listed Building

In 1981, the former Goods Shed at Dunster Station was designated as a Grade II Listed Building. The designation was revised in 1985 and now described as a 'train shed':

Train shed. Circa 1874. Squared, uncoursed red sandstone, Bath stone dressings, quoins, slate roof, overhanging eaves, sprockets, brick stack left gable end. Plan: Parallel with track sliding double doors on all sides except track elevation which is 3 semi-circular headed openings with voussoirs and rusticated jambs, left return sliding doors below metal joist , single storey gabled office block to left with triple round arched window. Gable end at rear weatherboarded.

In the long term the shed might become a central feature of a long term plan for the Up side area at Dunster 'to be developedas a heritage goods yard' (as stated in the WSR Plc's 2013 Consultation Paper). Meanwhile the Plc's Business Plan confirms the former goods yard and shed 'will continue to be the main Infrastructure Engineering base for the Plc'.

24 October 2017
Details gleaned from britishlistedbuildings.co.uk

A new webcam from railcam.uk for Blue Anchor Station

The progressive folks at railcam.uk have installed a fifth webcam on the West Somerset Railway. Located at Blue Anchor Station and overlooking the level crossing and signal box, the webcam was switched online on Saturday 21 October 2017. In fact, the excellent vantage point shows trains up to a mile away making their way across Ker Moor between Blue Anchor and Dunster. All five WSR webcams are provided by railcam.uk and available on their own website. And also available on wsr.org.uk

Links to the webcam pages can also be found under 'Pictures' on the menu bar at the top of each page.

22 October 2017
Webcams kindly provided by railcam.uk

Dates of main Gala events on West Somerset Railway in 2018

With folks already wishing to plan visits next year, here are the dates of the main Gala events on the West Somerset Railway in 2018.

  • Spring Steam Gala - Thursday 22 March to Sunday 25 March
  • Diesel Gala - Friday 8 June to Sunday 10 June
  • Late Summer Weekend - Saturday 1 September to Sunday 2 September
  • Autumn Steam Gala - Thursday 27 September to Sunday 30 September
  • Winter Steam Festival - Saturday 29 December to Sunday 30 December

20 October 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Eight trains each way each day at the 2017 Winter Steam Festival

There will be eight trains in each direction in the 2017 Winter Steam Festival comapred with seven in previous years. Departures from Bishops Lydeard will be at 9.35am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm and 4.30pm; and from Minehead at 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm and 4.30pm, on both 29 and 30 December 2017. Discounted rover tickets can be purchased online from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or via 01643 704996

19 October 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent and Gala Planning Team

Resignation of Ken Davidge: a statement by WSR Plc

It is with regret that the WSR PLC has received the resignation of Ken Davidge as a director of the company. Ken has been involved with the railway since the earliest days and has made a significant contribution over the succeeding years in a number of roles. He joined the Board as Safety Audit Director two years ago and has worked tirelessly in the role since. He has been dogged in his determination to guide the railway's safety culture and has made many changes - notably being the establishment of safety reps in each division and the formation of a comprehensive safety log from which the railway can identify and rectify trends in safety issues. He has been central to incident investigation and has gained much knowledge from outside bodies which he has shared with the company.

The Board has recently changed the safety portfolio to create a new Director of Safety which would subsume Ken's existing Safety Audit role. Ken has taken this change of role as a convenient point to retire from the board to enable a new person to take it over. Ken has assured the board that he will assist and advise the new post holder as required.

The Board wish to thank Ken for his work over the past two years as a Board member and look forward to his continuing wider support to the railway.

19 October 2017
Statement kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Chairs for Stogumber Station and news of Somerset Cream Teas

The folks at Stogumber Station have obtained four original GWR office chairs and had them re-upholstered by Thomas Payne of Wiveliscombe.

The Station will be open throughout the forthcoming half-term week serving its famous cream teas.

Find out more about the Friends of Stogumber Station.

18 October 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

News of the next West Somerset Railway Stakeholder Meeting

The West Somerset Railway's Stakeholder Meeting will take place on Saturday 28 October 2017 at 2pm in Bishops Lydeard Village Hall.

The meeting will give all stakeholders with an interest in the railway, the opportunity, to learn how the West Somerset Railway has progressed throughout the year, and how we intend to move forward into 2018. The meeting will be chaired by Alan Nicholson, Chairman of the Board. All are welcome and we look forward to seeing you. The agenda will include

  • An operational overview of the year by Paul Conibeare.
  • An update on the infrastructure by Ric Auger.
  • The chairman's view of his first three months in post and the way ahead.
  • A Q and A session.

17 October 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The Quantock Belle welcomes a very special railway celebrity

Today - Sunday 15 October 2017 - Mary Kelly nee Skelton (also known as Molly) and her family joined the Quantock Belle dining train on the WSR to celebrate her 94th birthday which is tomorrow. Mary was signalman at Littlethorpe Signal Box near Ripon from 1939 to 1945. She is pictured in Bishops Lydeard Signal Box on the West Somerset Railway. Mary chatted with duty WSR signalman Peter Smith and remembers her training at York aged 17 after she had chosen that over factory work or being a railway porter. There was another, older girl called Mary on the course, so she had to choose another name and has sometimes been known as Molly ever since. She said that the male signalman accepted her and one, who was a cobbler, made her a pair of shoes - useful in wartime Britain. She was sad to give up signalling in 1945 and has fond memories of her time on the railway. She now lives in Somerset and her family celebrate her birthday on the Quantock Belle each year.

15 October 2017
Details from a local correspondent

Minehead Station Christmas Market on Saturday 9 December 2017

For the first time since the event's creation the West Somerset Railway will be holding their annual Christmas market on a Saturday.

Over 30 stalls will fill the platform on Saturday 9 December 2017. The official webpage has more details.

Traders interested in booking a stall please contact the West Somerset Railway on 01643 704996 or by email on info@wsrail.net

15 October 2017
Details gleaned from the website of West Somerset Railway Plc

Ex-Southern PMVs to leave West Somerset for the Isle of Wight

We understand the two WSRA-owned ex-Southern Railway PMVs (Parcels and Miscellaneous Vans) - believed to be nos 1458 and 1964 - have been moved from Williton South Yard to nearby Sherring's Yard. Disposal of the two vans was approved by the West Somerset Railway Association membership at their recent Annual General Meeting. It seems the pair will later move by road to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway to help with that railway's fine coach restoration projects.

15 October 2017
Details from a local correspondent

Recent news

@WizzerTweet