Latest news

The WSR Association joins easyfundraising

If you shop online then do it through easyfundraising.org.uk and raise a free donation for West Somerset Railway Association every time you shop. The Association say:

Visit our easyfundraising page and sign up, then when you shop online do it via easy fundraising and generate donations for the WSRA. We are raising funds to help us complete the overhaul of Small Prairie 4561 to run again on the West Somerset Railway.

22 February 2017
Details gleaned from the website of the West Somerset Railway Association

Draft minutes of recent Steam Trust Board meeting now available

The draft minutes of the recent meeting of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Board are now available on the Trust website.

The document reveals a discussion on a wide range of topics of interest to supporters of the Trust and the wider West Somerset Railway community.

22 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Volunteers wanted for WSR Mechanical Engineering Dept

The Mechanical Engineering department of the West Somerset Railway is looking for new volunteers to help in all aspects of locomotive, carriage and wagon maintenance and restoration.

The West Somerset Railway has an endless supply of exciting projects from steam locomotive overhauls to wagon restoration, so if you have any of the skills or experience listed above and would like to be involved then the Railway want to hear from you!

More details and contact information.

21 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

An update on the visit of Flying Scotsman to WSR

The West Somerset Railway is planning a special event with a Scottish theme around the visit of Flying Scotsman in September. The unique locomotive will be making an initial visit to the WSR in May, bringing in a railtour on Tuesday 23 May. It will then spend two days on shed with the platform at Minehead open to visitors before departing on Friday 26 May. For the main visit it will arrive on Monday 4 September, operate trains on the railway on 5, 6, 7, (not 8), 9, 10, 11 and 12 September before departing on Wednesday 13 September 2017.

During the September visit, trains will operate to a special timetable, with Flying Scotsman heading a non-stop train from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead, twice a day. A normal service of stopping trains will also operate on these days.

All travel behind Flying Scotsman will be on a special train with limited accommodation and all tickets purchased in advance. These will go on sale on the West Somerset Railway website in March. A series of options will be available, which will include one way travel along the 20 mile route behind Flying Scotsman and the other behind another visiting loco with a significant Scottish connection - details of this second loco are currently under negotiation, and it is hoped to announce this shortly. It is also expected to offer some evening dining train options, with a Scottish flavour, during the September visit.

For more information please see the official WSR press release.

16 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News from the Steam Rally folks

An update from the Steam Fayre and Vintage Rally website:

Plans for the Rally in August are going well. Entry forms are being sent out just now, but please be patient if you have not yet seen yours - the section marshals have to contact more than 800 exhibitors and traders so it can take some time! They do a brilliant job though and we thank them all.

If you would like to help us put on our magnificent show, do get in touch via the volunteering page. We welcome those who could support the section marshals; help prepare the rally site in the week before; ensure we keep visitors & exhibitors safe by marshalling traffic on site; and sell tickets and programmes at our entry gates.

15 February 2017
Details from The Rally Committee

The 'Southern Gateway' consultation process launched

The WSR Plc has, in conjunction with its stakeholder partners (West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, West Somerset Railway Association, Taunton Deane Borough Council and Friends of Bishops Lydeard Station who together form the Project Board) launched the consultation process for major developments at Bishops Lydeard Station. Known as Southern Gateway, the Programme sets out ambitious and far-reaching proposals to be achieved over the next ten years and beyond to enhance operational, heritage and customer facilities and services together with the customer experience at Bishop Lydeard.

For full details and links to the supporting documents please visit the announcement page on the official WSR website. Also see a useful document with maps and illustrations on the WSRA website.

Members of the WSR Association might like to note that they can respond via the Association if they would prefer. Mike Sherwood, Vice Chair of WSRA Trustees, adds "There will be an article on this subject in the next edition of the WSR Journal. We will consolidate all members responses into a single report for the Project Board. Members are welcome to e-mail me direct."

13 February 2017
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc and West Somerset Railway Association

WSR seek a full time Signalling Inspector

The WSR Plc have a vacancy for a Signalling Inspector. This is a full time post.

We are seeking a suitably experienced individual to ensure that effective staffing of signalmen both in numbers and registered for WSR railway operations. You will need a passion and enthusiasm for railway signalling, backed by with a good knowledge of the rules and regulations and interest in developing them. Responsible to the Head of Operating, you will ensure the satisfactory rostering of staff and their competence training, including rules and regulations examinations. You will ensure the selection, training and examination of new staff.

General information
Job Description

13 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The '10.15 from Minehead' by Anorak Communications

Colin Mayes, from Anorak Communications and Director of '10.15 from Minehead' explains:

Making '10.15 from Minehead', a film about the West Somerset Railway, was enormous fun and included some exciting moments. We met many railway staff and volunteers and experienced the thrill of riding on a locomotive footplate. We hope you enjoy our film as much as we enjoyed making it.

The members of Anorak Communications was formed in 2007 becoming a group with Crewkerne U3A making films mainly featuring social history "to as high a standard as our equipment and amateur status will allow." DVD copies of the film are available at £5 each from Anorak's Alan Keene at alankeene@tiscali.co.uk

13 February 2017
Details kindly provided by Anorak Communications

Take a High Speed Train to Minehead in May

Take a High Speed Train to Minehead in May on the Somerset Explorer organised by Great Western Railway in partnership with VISIT Somerset, WSR and Buses of Somerset. The organisers say:

GWR, Visit Somerset and Buses of Somerset invite you to a special charity event to celebrate the life and work of Bob Smart, the former chairman of Visit Somerset who sadly passed away last year. Bob was the driving force in helping visitors and residents to explore the wonders of Somerset by highlighting tourism, heritage and realising projects to increase Somerset's profile. We at GWR will always be thankful for the strong relationship Bob built with us at GWR and the work he did.

On Saturday 13 May 2017 The Somerset Explorer will offer three separate options for the traveller, ranging from a fun filled land cruise across Somerset to a classic train journey from London Paddington to Minehead via Frome. The special service will be formed by a pair of 1976 HST power cars hauling our classic Mk3 carriages and will run via Frome on the outward journey before returning to London Paddington via Weston Super Mare

This charter aims to raise as much money as possible for The Weston Hospice in memory of Bob Smart, former Visit Somerset CEO. There is no profit for any parties involved.

Full details

London to Minehead poster
Round Robin poster

13 February 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent and West Somerset Railway Plc

Award for WSR's Special Events Planning Team

Members of the WSR Special Events Planning Team (SEPT) received an award at the annual Heritage Railway Association Awards evening for their planning leading to the successful S&D Gala in March 2016. WSR's Andy Forster, Don Bishop, James Mills and John Cronin (SEPT Chair) were there to receive the award.

12 February 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Combined workforce tackle lineside clearance at Kentsford Crossing

Once again, the Minehead loco department have joined forces with the volunteer cutting back gang to clear the lineside vegetation at Kentsford Farm Crossing. Passed Fireman Pete Chilcott organised the working party. The aim is to improve the sighting by clearing the lineside and then allow and reinstate 25mph running over the crossing. Situated between Watchet and Washford, the crossing at Kentsford is busy with walkers and farm traffic, and a popular location for photographers.

12 February 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Half term opening hours for station shops


The Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard opens again to welcome passengers to the 2017 season on the West Somerset Railway. The Railway is running the special brown timetable this week and the shop and cafe will be open between 9.30am and 4pm when trains are running on 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19 February 2017. Drop in for a hot drink and a pasty and see what's new in the shop...

Even though the trains are not going as far as Minehead this half term, the shop and cafe at Minehead Station will be open every day. Opening hours for the Minehead shop are 10am to 3.30pm, and the Turntable Cafe at Minehead will be open between 10am and 2.30pm.

11 February 2017
Details gleaned from websites of West Somerset Railway Association and West Somerset Railway Plc

The next WSR stakeholder meeting

Please note there will be a stakeholders meeting held on 25 February 2017 at 2pm. The meeting will be held at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall. The agenda for the meeting includes '2016 performance', Flying Scotsman; 'Antiques Roadshow' and an update on the 'Southern Gateway' project. A Q&A session will also take place. Everybody is welcome please arrive at 1.30pm for a 2pm start.

10 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Time extended for job applications for Head of Operating Department

A new closing date of 10 March 2017 has been announced for applications for the the post of Head of Operating Department. The job holder will be based in Minehead, Somerset and will have responsibility for the strategic management of the Department which includes ensuring that trains and associated services are planned and run to the legal standards of safety and efficiency and in accordance with the timetable. They will also be responsible for the operational workforce, ensuring that adequate staff are rostered and available to run the train services.

Click here for full details.

10 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Half term specials get the 2017 season underway

Starting this Saturday, the West Somerset Railway are running a heritage diesel service on selected dates during the February Half Term offering travel between Bishops Lydeard and Watchet, with a special price of £9.00 per adult and £4.50 per young person on the following dates - 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19 February 2017.

More information.

9 February 2017
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR 'Online' newsletter is now available

The February 2017 edition of Online - the newsletter of the West Somerset Railway and associated support organisations - is now available on the official WSR website. Topics covered this month include reports from the Footplate Standards Panel, the Gauge Museum Model Railway and the Infrastructure Engineering Department.

Go to the newsletter page on the official WSR website.

9 February 2017
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc

Vacancy for Shedmaster at Bishops Lydeard

Here is an opportunity to join the WSR's Mechanical Engineering Department as Bishops Lydeard Shedmaster. The Shedmaster's role is to manage the Bishops Lydeard loco compound in a safe, secure and orderly fashion, taking responsibility for the volunteers and staff working on site assisting with locomotive maintenance, operation and fitness to run exams as required, and helping to develop better facilities (for example, coaling).

More details and contact information

4 February 2017
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc

A newly refreshed official website for the Railway

The Railway has released a very fine fully refreshed website which can now be found at the usual web address www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk. The new design works well on any device - laptop, tablet or smartphone.

It is very much geared towards the visitor who can quickly find out how to plan a visit, check times and book tickets, check out the shop, get information about events and experiences, learn more about the Railway, and how contact the Railway. There is also a news section and a search facility. All in all, visitors will find it is the best place on the web for information about how to enjoy the West Somerset Railway.

3 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Vacancy for Head of Operating Department

WSR Plc have announced a vacancy for the post of Head of Operating Department. The job holder will be based in Minehead, Somerset and will have responsibility for the strategic management of the Department which includes ensuring that trains and associated services are planned and run to the legal standards of safety and efficiency and in accordance with the timetable. They will also be responsible for the operational workforce, ensuring that adequate staff are rostered and available to run the train services.

Click here for full details.

3 February 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Accessing the official WSR website

The WSR Plc advise the official WSR website is currently not accessible. Sam White, WSR Marketing Officer, says:

We are working on this issue and will update everyone as soon as its been updated. Any queries we can take over the phone on 01643 704996.

1 February 2017
Details kindly provided by WSR Plc

Synopsis of the recent WSRA Trustee Board meeting

The West Somerset Railway Association have published a synopsis of the recent Trustee Board meeting held on 16 January 2017.

  • The WSRA will publicise the proposed Southern Gateway Project so that members may comment before the response deadline of mid-April.
  • The move from Brunel House by mid-February will require interim accommodation for staff at Bishops Lydeard Station.
  • A draft budget for 2017 was considered.
  • The Board noted that all former local groups had been laid down.
  • The date of the 2017 AGM was agreed for Saturday 30 September.
  • The Board agreed to arrange car parking at the Norton Rally site for the visit of Flying Scotsman in September.

31 January 2017
Details from local correspondent and WSRA website

Visiting locos confirmed for 2017 Spring Steam Gala

Dave Horton, WSR's Head of Mechanical Engineering, has confirmed the following guest steam locomotives for the 2017 Spring Steam Gala.

BR(W) Class 1500 0-6-0PT no 1501(from Severn Valley)
LMS Class 4F 0-6-0 no 43924(from Keighley & Worth Valley)
BR Standard Class 2 2-6-0 no 78018(from Great Central)
GWR 51XX 2-6-2T no 5199(from Llangollen)

In addition the home fleet is anticipated to be nos 6960, 44422, 53808 and 53809.

28 January 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Trust's plans for the Gauge Museum take a step forward

Following the transfer of management of the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard to the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, work is progressing on a grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The current plan is to submit the application around the end of February. If the application is successful, work to improve the displays will be carried out over the winter period 2017/18, for a relaunch of the museum in March 2018. The plans also involve recruitment of a Learning Officer to work with local schools and the local community, and development of the collection to include oral history. The plans are described in more detail in the 'Museum making' leaflet.

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

A brace of Manors to grace the Minehead Branch this summer

With home-based GWR 4-6-0 no 7828 Odney Manor out of action for maintenance, replacements have been sourced by the WSR's Head of Mechanical Engineering. The Railway has confirmed that two Manor Class 4-6-0 locos - nos 7822 Foxcote Manor and 7820 Dinmore Manor- will return to join the home fleet from early Summer to Autumn. In an online statement, the WSR say:

We thank the host railways and the locomotive owners for making the locomotives available to us.

19 January 2017
Details gleaned from website of West Somerset Railway Plc

Date of WSR Association AGM is announced.

News from the West Somerset Railway Association:

The Trustees have decided that Saturday 30 September will be the day for the 2017 AGM. Further details and papers will available in due course.

18 January 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Introducing Brunel K Beagle...

Introducing the WSR's latest recruit...

Like many of the people working on the West Somerset Railway, I'm a volunteer! We give up our spare time to help keep the railway running smoothly. It's a responsible job driving the steam engines, working in the booking offices and in the buffet car. The team do an amazing job and I am so happy to be a part of it all. There are so many exciting things to do and I can't wait to pass on some of the things I've learnt. Enjoy your day on the railway. Mind how you go!

For more information and a link to the downloadable activity sheet, please visit the official Brunel K Beagle page.

17 January 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

2017 Steam Dreams brochure includes several West Somerset trips

The 2017 Cathedrals Express brochure from railtour operator Steam Dreams offers several West Somerset excursions. First on 20 April 2017 is a special to Minehead with LMS Black Five haulage between London and Bishops Lydeard with a locally-based SDJR 7F taking over between there and Minehead. And then, in May, come a series of 'dining ticket only' specials headed by Flying Scotsman starting with an evening tour from Bristol to Minehead and back on 23 May (diesel hauled on return), followed on 26 May by a lunchtime tour of Somerset and Wiltshire from Minehead and a evening tour following the same circular route via Bristol and Westbury from Bishops Lydeard. Full details on the Steam Dreams website at www.steamdreams.co.uk

14 January 2017
Details kindly provided by Steam Dreams

A brief news update on the visit of Flying Scotsman

Frank Courtney, the WSR's Flying Scotsman Project Manager writes:

We will be issuing a full statement in the next seven days, which will outline the train timetable, and give an indication of the very substantial work that is taking place behind the scenes to make this a very exciting event. We are working to secure a second substantial - and relevant - locomotive. We have decided to delay ticket sales until 14 March 2017, when all the appropriate information will be available.

Permits for photographers will be allowed, although in common with other railways hosting Flying Scotsman, photographers allowed trackside will have to already hold a permit, and will also be required to register for the event and will receive special identification (to be finalised). There will be a choice of tickets. If you wish to travel behind Flying Scotsman, you will need to book in advance, and the ticket will be valid for a specific single trip, and then available all day on other trains as a Rover ticket. Other tickets will also be available, in a similar way to a standard gala.

13 January 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Director vacancies in the West Somerset Railway Plc

Following recent retirements and resignations together with internal realignment of existing portfolios, the WSR Plc wishes to fill a number of vacancies on its Board. Those people who are familiar with the Plc will know that, following a process of formal review, the Company restructured its Board in 2015/16 to create a portfolio based system of Director roles which are aligned to the strategic and policy requirements of the Plc as well as being designed to support the key Departmental functions across the organisation.

We now have opportunities for people to come forward to be considered for the following Director portfolios either singly or in combination - Governance, Commercial and Marketing, Mechanical Engineering, Operations, Human Recources.

For more information please see the appropriate page on the WSR Plc website.

10 January 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

2017 Spring Steam Gala visiting steam locos listed

The first two 'guest' locomotives confirmed for the WSR 2017 Spring Steam Gala are GWR 'Large Prairie'no 5199 making a second visit to the West Somerset and a WSR debut for the only surviving Midland Railway (as distinct from LMS) 4F 0-6-0 no 43924. No 43924 was the first locomotive to be purchased for preservation from Woodhams Scrapyard - perhaps Minehead the closest it will have been to Barry since its escape from the torch? The 'home fleet' for the Gala is listed as nos 6960, 44422, 53808 and 53809, along with Kilmersdon plus the S&D six wheel coach listed for shuttles from Minehead Station. The Minehead shed and works and the WSRA Restorations works will be open on the Saturday and Sunday 29 and 30 April 2017.

9 January 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

News from the Steam Trust

Following an approach from WSR signalmen, the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust agreed last year to establish a new Restricted Fund with the aim of acquiring heritage items for WSR signal boxes. The Trust has now agreed a set of rules which set out how the Fund will be administered. A number of signalmen are already making contributions to the Fund, and have become members of the Trust, but contributions will be welcome from anyone with an interest in signalling heritage.

9 January 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The 2017 West Somerset Railway Classic Car Run



The West Somerset Railway is pleased to announce that its annual Classic Car Run will be held on Sunday 4 June this year. The well-established pattern from previous years will be repeated with cars gathering at Bishops Lydeard Station near Taunton from 9am and setting off at 11am for a 35 mile run to Minehead. The route will take in some stunning West Somerset scenery, little-known by-ways, and medieval villages and towns, looping around the West Somerset Railway's stations and ending at Minehead where reserved parking will be available alongside the station close to the town and the beach. Spectators can see the cars gather at Bishops Lydeard and then take the 10.20am steam service from Bishops Lydeard to get ahead of the cars and watch them pass one of the WSR's nine stations. Run organiser and WSR volunteer Robin White said:

The run has been growing in popularity over past years as word has got out there what a fun day out it is for both the participants and visitors to the Railway. The combination of stunning classic cars, West Somerset scenery and our wonderful steam trains makes for a great spectacle. This year we are hoping to have around one hundred classics participating.

As the event has grown, administration will this year be handled by the WSR's Commercial Office at Minehead. An entry form and information can be obtained by e-mailing info@wsrail.net or calling 01643 704996. As in previous years, participants will be offered a reduced rate ride on the Railway for the driver and up to 3 passengers. Entry costs £10.

6 January 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

February running at the West Somerset Railway



At the beginning of 2017, the West Somerset Railway will carry out extensive maintenance works at the Minehead end of the line.

These vital works mean that we will be unable to run a full steam service throughout the February half term as in previous years. We are therefore offering journeys between Bishops Lydeard and Watchet by Diesel (DMU) only, for a special price of £9.00 for adults and £4.50 for young person on selected dates from 11th to 19th February. This ticket entitles the holder to unlimited travel on the services between these two stations allowing plenty of time to explore the local area

We will also be offering tickets for our Snowdrops Excursions. This ticket entitles the holder to travel on our DMU service from Bishops Lydeard to Williton, then travel by bus from Williton to Wheddon Cross to explore Snowdrop Valley and return to the railway to travel back to Bishops Lydeard. Tickets for this special are on sale now and can be purchased for £20 per adult and £10 per Young Person and £44 for a family. There is an additional charge for the bus from Wheddon Cross to Snowdrop Valley otherwise you can walk. For more details on the way to the valley please visit www.wheddoncross.org.uk/snowdropvalley.htm

Tickets for the DMU half term services can either be bought on the day from the booking office or in advance online through the company's website. Tickets for Snowdrop Excursions can only be brought online in advance or by telephone. To purchase your half term ticket, or for more information, please visit our website www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or contact us by phone on 01643 704996.

4 January 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Webcams at Minehead and Bishops Lydeard

Please note the webcam at Minehead Station will be offline in early 2017 whilst the track infrastructure upgrade is underway. Regular webcam watchers will have noticed the Bishops Lydeard webcam is not functioning; we believe this is due to the hosts, Camstreams, being taken over; discussions about possible replacement arrangements are ongoing and we hope to bring news of developments as and when announced.

4 January 2017
Details from local correspondents

WSR Journal no 155 is published

Members of the West Somerset Railway Association are receiving the latest edition of the WSR Journal, produced by the Association's editorial team, led by Editor Richard Jones. The 78 page Number 115 'Winter 2016-2017' contains, as usual, a great number of fine colour photographs along with lots of WSR news and updates.

3 January 2017
Details from West Somerset Railway Association

News about Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219

This year, Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219 will be returning to the West Somerset Railway - mainly for modifications. 2016 was a good year for the diminutive loco with her first year back in traffic which started at the WSR's Spring Steam Gala in March. She then moved to the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway and what a railway it is - friendly staff; a real nice railway on which she shall return at the end of 2017 all being well. No 1219 will be in steam for all the WSR events in 2017.

3 January 2017
Details gleaned from Facebook

@WizzerTweet