Latest news

Upholstery work underway for GWR BCK no 6705

The first class compartment seatback and a selection of headrests and armrests from West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's GWR BCK no 6705 are being re-upholstered in Abingdon. The work will take several weeks to complete the task after which the items will be returned to Williton for fitting in the coach.

26 July 2017
Details kindly provided by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Two nearby events this weekend - get there by train

There are a couple of special events along the route of the WSR this coming weekend. Bishops Lydeard neighbours Quantock Brewery are holding their Summer Beer Festival between Friday 28 July and Sunday 30 July and holders of WSR travel tickets will be able to claim a free half-pint.

On Sunday 30 July it is the annual Watchet Carnival which features an aerobatic display, the Carnival Parade,and plenty of family enertainment. Proceedings get underway at 1.00pm. The town centre will be closed to traffic but Watchet Station is right in the heart of it so why not go by train? Train times for Sunday 30 July.

25 July 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

The Steam Rally - a wonderful way to spend a day

Enjoy a great day out for all the family at the Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally on 5-6 August 2017 at Norton Fitzwarren. Mighty steam engines; trusty tractors; vintage cars and motorbikes; military tanks and displays; shire horses, go-karts and miniature railway. Take a trip along the old Barnstaple branch line in a brake van hauled by a steam locomotive. Or try working a pump trolley along the rails. Lots of other railway exhibits to view. Enjoy arena parades, children's entertainment, market, food and craft stalls. There's a large refreshment tent selling real ales and ciders. Get there by train - free parking at Bishops Lydeard Station for the free shuttle train service between Bishops Lydeard and the Rally site. Also, an early train from Minehead (9.15am) calling at Blue Anchor, Watchet and Williton at discounted price of £25 per adult and £7.50 per child to include Rally entry (for this train and special offer, please book at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or buy your tickets on the train). For full details of the Rally and to buy online Rally Day Tickets (both days for the price of one) please see www.steamrally.org.uk

25 July 2017
Details kindly provided by the Rally Team

Hymek no D7017 has star role at Great Central's Diesel Gala

Class 35 'Hymek' no D7017 is to appear at the Great Central Railway's Diesel Gala in September. D7017 is owned by the Williton-based Diesel & Electric Preservation Group. The Great Central say:

Hymek for GCR September Diesel Gala! D7017 will be the star guest at our Diesel Gala on 9th & 10th September 2017. More details are being finalised for another exciting diesel event. For the latest news see www.gcrailway.co.uk/special-events/diesel-gala-9-10-september

24 July 2017
Details gleaned from Facebook

WSR folks sponsor WSR volunteer - with one proviso

WSR volunteer Lynda Fleet took part in the Cancer Research 5K 'Muddy Race for Life' at Westpoint, Exeter on 22 July 2017. Lynda was sponsored by a number of WSR colleagues who made one proviso - a picture of Lynda at the event must appear on wsr.org.uk. Other friends from outside of the Railway stipulated a 'Minnie Mouse' style costume. See the full picture of Lynda and her team. Well done, Lynda.

23 July 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

See how things have changed with Spy Viewer...

The amazing mapping folks at the National Library of Scotland have come up with yet another helpful online map viewer. Called Spy Viewer it provides an easy way to view old maps with new map imagery. Useful for many applications of course and especially for those interested in railway geography and history.

22 July 2017
Details provided by local correspondent

Ten years since the trial service between Bristol and West Somerset

Ten years ago on 20 July 2007 for the first time for over thirty years regular trains began to run on and off the Minehead Branch with the start of the Butlins Express service between Bristol Temple Meads and Minehead. Here is a news item from that time:

Visitors to Butlins Minehead, or anyone heading for Exmoor this summer, can climb aboard the new Butlins Express service from Bristol Temple Meads to Minehead, for a relaxing start to their summer holiday or a great day out every Friday, Saturday and Monday. The service, which resumed on 20 July after a 30 year break, runs until the end of August and has been made possible thanks to a partnership between ECT Mainline Rail, Butlins Minehead, West Somerset Railway and Victa West Link Rail. ECT Mainline Rail is providing the locomotives, rolling stock and maintenance services and underwriting the costs of providing the service. Butlins are supporting the service and promoting it to their guests as an ideal way to start their holiday. West Somerset Railway (WSR) is providing train stabling, use of the West Somerset line and stations and on train ticketing staff. Victa Westlink Rail is the train operating company (TOC) which operates the service over the WSR and Network Rail lines. Up till now Butlins guests and visitors to the area, wanting to use public transport had to rely on buses from Taunton. Now they will have an opportunity to travel through the beautiful Somerset countryside, on an air conditioned diesel hauled train service utilising topped and tailed Class 31 locomotives and Mk2 coaches stopping at stations beautifully restored by West Somerset Railway. 'We are delighted to be able to work with Victa West Link Rail, Butlins and West Somerset Railway to re-open this service as a gateway by rail to Exmoor. Not only will passengers be able to have a relaxing start to their holiday, but they will be able to do their bit for the environment, by letting the train take the strain.' says Martin Sargent ECT's Mainline Rail Director.

For a variety of reasons this particular service has not run since 2007.

20 July 2017
Details originally provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

BBC's John Craven visits the West Somerset Railway

John Craven of 'Newsround' and 'Countryfile' fame journeyed on the West Somerset Railway on 18 July 2017 in connection with a BBC West feature, to be screened in September, regarding the closure of the Minehead Branch by British Rail in January 1971 and plans to reopen the line to Taunton. John was welcomed to the Railway by the General Manager, Paul Conibeare, and later chatted to Driver John Gibbons on the footplate of GWR 4-6-0 no 6960 Raveningham Hall.

18 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News from the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have added two documents to their website. The first is a copy of the minutes of the most recent Trust Board meeting held on 13 July 2017. The second is a statement of the next steps in the 'Museum Making' project following useful feedback at a recent meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund's Development Officer, who encouraged the Trust to resubmit a revised bid. Read the documents in full at the Trust website

17 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The 2017 Minehead Toy and Train Sale

Now in its 35th year, the annual Toy & Train Sale at Minehead is still proving as popular as ever. The event moved to a new and excellent indoor venue at the Minehead Eye just a stone's throw from its previous home at the WSR's Minehead Station. Organizer Chris Dyer said:

The Minehead Eye is now established as our 'home' but we are still very near to the Railway Station and patrons who love to visit Minehead by train will still be able to do so and can easily make the two minute walk across the car park to the Minehead Eye.

The Minehead Toy and Train Sale is held on Sunday 30 July 2017 between 10.30am and 3pm at the Minehead Eye adjacent to Minehead Railway Station.

14 July 2017
Details kindly provided by Chris Dyer Fairs

The Watchet Afternoon Explorer

Here's an idea. The West Somerset Railway explain:

Visit the beautiful and historic harbour town of Watchet for a nice, gentle afternoon stroll for £9 (adult) return from Bishops Lydeard with our Watchet Afternoon Explorer!

The Watchet Afternoon Explorer offers passengers a chance to leave Bishops Lydeard by the 14.35 steam train, arriving at the old harbour town at 15.20.

The return is by the 17.03 steam train due back at Bishops Lydeard at 17.45 (or if preferred the 17.56 when the yellow timetable is in operation due back at 18.36).

More information.

14 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Chris Tucker

We were saddened to learn of the passing of long-serving volunteer Chris Tucker who died at home in Taunton on 3 July 2017. Chris was a WSR Fireman and latterly seemed always on hand at Minehead loco shed. A service will be held at Taunton Crematorium, Wellington New Road, Taunton TA1 5NE on Wednesday 19 July at 12.30pm. Family flowers only please, but donations if desired may be sent to Cancer Research UK c/o E White & Son, 138-139 East Reach, Taunton, Somerset TA1 3HN. Taunton Crematorium, Wellington New Road, Taunton TA1 5NE. Members of the Railway especially welcome - could those intending to attend please contact Robin White by email robin215white@btinternet.com or phone 01984 656 423 or 07710 336 807.

12 July 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

On this day in 1856 it was agreed to build a Railway...

A meeting was held at the Egremont Hotel, Williton on Wednesday 9 July 1856 at '11 o'clock in the forenoon, for the purposes of promoting a Railway connecting Williton and the West Somerset Mineral District with the Bristol & Exeter Railway'

Local landowner Sir Peregrine Fuller Palmer Acland Bt.took the chair and outlined the purpose of the meeting was to consider the building of a 'Railway from the West Somerset iron-fields and coast, to the Bristol & Exeter Railway'. The great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was present and had much to say. He had already had a preliminary look at the area, and described the valley of 'a little brook called Donniford (sic) Brook' as being of prime importance to any route. Brunel considered two routes - to Taunton and to Bridgwater - and described the advantages and disadvantages of both. His conclusion and recommendation was for the route from Watchet to Taunton which, of course, was eventually built as the 'West Somerset Railway'.

Lots more about this meeting and its conclusions, and background information about Sir Peregrine can be found on our The first West Somerset Railway page.

9 July 2017
Details kindly provided by a number of local correspondents

Restoration of the Station Master's house at Stogumber

Readers may be interested in the private restoration, by its current owner, of the former Station Master's house at Stogumber, along with its garden. The house was authorised in July 1906 and built in 1907 to a standard GWR design and replaced the former dwelling purchased by the Bristol & Exeter railway in 1870 at which time, as described in Ian Coleby's excellent book The Minehead Branch 1848-1971, was a delapidated thatched cottage with the roof clearly in need of urgent attention. After the cottage had burnt down, the 1907 house was built for £346 by local builder Pollard.

9 July 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

Travel from Minehead to the Steam Rally in early August

The West Somerset Railway Association will be holding their annual Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally at Norton Fitzwarren on 5 and 6 August 2017. The West Somerset Railway will be running a dedicated service from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard in the morning, and will also provide shuttles between Bishops Lydeard and Norton Fitzwarren linking with the Rally. The Railway explain:

Along with normal services for this day, we will be providing a DMU service that will leave Minehead for Bishops Lydeard at 9.15am stopping at Blue Anchor, Watchet, Williton and Bishops Lydeard. The DMU will then provide FREE shuttles all day between Bishops Lydeard and Norton Fitzwarren. The last service out of Norton Fitzwarren will be 17.10 and will make up our last service of the day from Bishops Lydeard. Combined tickets for entry to the rally and your travel from Minehead can be purchased online in advance.

Colin Howard, Head of Commercial Services, adds:

The West Somerset Railway are pleased to run a service connecting with the Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally at Norton to enable easy travel to this fantastic annual event.

The Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally raises money for the West Somerset Railway Association and contributes to the funding that the railway receives throughout the year.

To book your combined rail/rally tickets and for further information please visit the official WSR website.

6 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Career opportunities with the Mechanical Engineering Department

There are exciting opportunities for suitably qualified and experienced people to join the growing, dynamic Mechanical Engineering team at the West Somerset Railway - one of the foremost tourist attractions in the South West and in the premier league of UK heritage railways.

The Railway is looking for a Lead Engineer (Locomotives), a Maintenance Team Leader and a Lead Engineer (DMU and Diesel Plant).

These are full-time permanent posts within the revised department organisation structure.

Click here for full details

5 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Resignation of Steve Williams as Director of WSR Plc

Ian Coleby, Acting Chairman of West Somerset Railway Plc, has announced:

It is with regret that the WSR Board has accepted the resignation of Steve Williams as a director due to an increase in his personal workload.

Steve's time on the board has been of great value to the company. He has introduced a robust planning process that is better than we have had in the past and given us a strategic outlook. He has spent many hours liaising with outside bodies such as the council which has paid dividends and overseen strategic projects such as Southern Gateway, Williton and Bishops Lydeard to Taunton link. These are pieces of work that few people ever see, yet consume a great deal of effort. Steve has been instrumental in introducing new commercial agreements with our support bodies which has replaced the time-expired arrangements that previously existed. And latterly, it was Steve who got the momentum behind the PDG and has turned that into an effective and respected body.

The board would like to thank Steve for his contribution and wishes him well in the future.

4 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Only five weeks until the 2017 Steam Fayre and Vintage Rally

A West Somerset Railway Association tweet reminds us that the 2017 Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally is just five weeks away.

Tickets for the 2017 event are now available to purchase online. As last year, these are 'print-your-own' tickets. After purchase, just print the tickets and bring the paper copy along to the Rally gate in the day. A quick scan of the paper copy and once validated, the Rally awaits you. And remember, tickets purchased online are valid for both days of the Rally weekend.

The Rally is held at the Association's Norton Triangle to the west of Norton Fitzwarren on the weekend of 5-6 August 2017 between 10am and 5pm. Lots of information at www.steamrally.org.uk.

1 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

@WizzerTweet