An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway
Support the 'Rail Renewal 2019' project with a donation
The West Somerset Railway track uses 53,000 sleepers and well over 40 miles of rail. The rail has a life of between 50 and 100 years. Much of the track is at the very end of its life and urgently needs renewing. Funds are urgently needed to keep the work on schedule this coming winter. Click or tap the 'Rail Renewal 2019' button below to find out more and please consider making a donation towards this project to renew the very foundation of the Minehead Branch. Other fundraising appeals are ongoing - see below.
Additional Trustees and a Curator sought by the Steam Trust
Additional Trustees are sought by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust who are also looking for a Curator at their Blue Anchor Railway Museum.
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is looking to co-opt to additional Trustees to its Board. One of the Trustee positions will take a lead on volunteer development whilst the other will initially be a generic Trustee role supporting an increasingly wide range of activities across the Trust.
Also, the Trust is looking to appoint a volunteer Curator for Blue Anchor Museum. This is a small Museum on the platform at Blue Anchor Station but with potential for development helping to tell the story of the West Somerset Railway, local social and economic history and maintaining the heritage around a Great Western Railway seaside branch line.
Friends of Minehead Station present £100000 cheque
The Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS) has stepped up to the mark during the last few months to play their part in helping to keep the much loved West Somerset Railway running. Since Christmas, FoMS has provided or will provide in the region of £100,000 to the WSR Company for several much needed projects including:
Replacing rail along the line
Repairs to the bridge over the River Avill near Dunster Station
Repairs to and repainting of the very long canopy on Minehead Station
Overhaul of the Lorna Doone disabled carriage
FoMS chairman Martyn Snell said:
We raise money primarily for the upkeep of our Grade II listed building at Minehead, but we have realised that the railway as a whole needed our support during the last few difficult months. We are so grateful to everyone who helps with our fundraising efforts, especially to those people who donate items to sell through FoMS 'Readers Halt' outlet on Minehead Station, and to those wonderful volunteers who run the stall in all types of weather. This is our main source of income.
WSR plc Chairman Jon Jones Pratt said:
This is a fantastic effort and massively important donation by the Friends of Minehead Station to the WSR. They have readily stepped forward to support our railway in its hour of need and readily grasped the importance of us all being one railway and working together! On behalf of everyone on the WSR, we owe FoMS a huge debt of thanks, and all power to the elbow of 'Readers Halt' for the future too!
FoMS was formed just over 20 years ago with 'Readers Halt' opening some three years later. Anyone wishing to become a member of FoMS or help in running 'Readers Halt' is asked to contact FoMS on 01643 704996.
16 May 2019 Details kindly provided by Friends of Minehead Station
Synopsis of recent WSR Association Trustee Board Meeting
The West Somerset Railway Association has published a brief synopsis of the Trustee Board meeting held on 13 May 2019. To read more, please click or tap the button below. We also provide a button link to the full minutes of the April meeting.
16 May 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
An extra turn for Class 37 no D6948
The Railway write about an extra turn for the popular visiting Class 37 diesel electric locomotive no D6948:
This Sunday 19 May, our diesel service will be hauled by Class 37 no D6948. To maximise the mileage, we have added an extra 20 miles to our timetable for your enjoyment! To see the timetable click the button below.
Really enjoy the day, buy your rover tickets in advance of travel to receive a discount. Click the button below...
The Steam Trust publish minutes of latest board meeting
West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have published the Minutes of the meeting of Board of Trustees held on Wednesday 24 April 2019 at 10am in the Meeting Room, Bishops Lydeard Station. The document includes a full note of a session with the PLC Chairman, Jon Jones Pratt - reading is recommended to folks interested in WSR's current affairs.
The 40th Anniversary Weekend: enjoy an evening excursion
Some more information about the evening train on Saturday 8 June, which will round off day one of the 40th Anniversary Weekend. The fares for the train, due to be headed by no 7802 Bradley Manor and no 7828 Odney Manor and loading to 14 coaches are priced at a bargain £10 return for 40 miles of non-stop travel over the WSR, travelling from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and return. With the sunset at Minehead on that day being 9.26pm this will be a great evening out on the West Somerset. Tickets for the train can be purchased online now via the Events and Experiences 40th Anniversary section of www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or 01643 704996. Rover tickets will not be valid for travel on the train.
10 May 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
The 40th Anniversary Weekend: an update and timetables
Don Bishop, Chairman of the WSR Gala Planning Team has provided an update and timetables, with loco allocations, for the Railway's 40th Anniversary Weekend on 8 and 9 June 2019.
We will be using steam locos GWR Pannier no 7752, GWR Manor Class nos 7802 Bradley Manor and 7828 Odney Manor along with diesels Class 37 no D6948 and Class 35 'Hymek' no D7017. Please note that the hoped-for GWR Pannier no 6412 may not be available, work is ongoing to try and secure this visit by both the WSR and our friends at South Devon Railway. More updates will be given as and when available. SDJR 7F no 53808 will be on display at Washford where saddle tank no1219 will be shunting.
The star turn is the Saturday evening train with double headed Manors nos 7802 and 7828 on a 14 coach train from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and return. Tickets for this special working will be available separately from the official WSR website. Please note Rover Tickets will not be valid on this train.
Somerset County Council continue with level crossing upgrade
Seaward Way Level Crossing in Minehead has reached the end of its serviceable life and no longer fits the standards required for the volume of traffic on this road. Somerset County Council is responsible for maintaining the asset through the West Somerset Railway and is investing £1m to upgrade the facility to comply with modern regulations.
On 30 April 2019, works to the highway continued with stop-go boards in place between 6pm and 11pm allowing works to take place safely. Works to replace the barriers will take place at a later date to be agreed with West Somerset Railway. A spokesman for Somerset County Council said:
The West Somerset Railway is one of our best loved tourist attractions so we're working closely with them in planning this essential maintenance work.
Paul Conibeare, General Manager of the WSR, said:
This investment by Somerset County Council in Seaward Way level crossing at Minehead is very welcome indeed and will help the railway to prosper and grow. We are very grateful for this large investment in our future and to keep the traffic flowing smoothly and safely.
Vandals sadly struck the West Somerset Railway on the evening of 29 April 2019 at around 9pm with an attack on a railway coach stabled overnight at Bishops Lydeard in sidings. The damage caused to no W4449 was mainly broken glass with three large carriage windows and two droplight windows in doors being smashed in the attack which is estimated will cost £1,000 to replace and repair. A kind member of the public contacted the WSR about the damage, and General Manager Paul Conibeare attended the scene and informed the Police. Although the Police did not attend the incident, it has been logged with the following Crime number 5219 093628, and anyone with any information about the attack is asked to please call them on 101.
The coach has now been moved to Minehead for repairs in the workshops there which will hopefully take just a few days to complete if replacement glass is in stock. WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare said:
This sad, senseless and costly attack on us is bad news, especially coming at a time when we are all working so hard to build the railway back up again. Suffering £1,000 worth of damage represents a big loss to us at any time, but I'd like to thank the member of the local Bishops Lydeard community who called the railway on the night and reported it to us. Mindless vandalism obviously hurts the railway, but we are determined to keep the WSR running and so providing a major tourist attraction in Somerset.
Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust Annual Special Train
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust have announced details of their Annual Special Train running on Sunday 7 July 2019:
Now that the West Somerset Railway is running to Minehead again, why not book our Special Train? It's due to be hauled, as usual, by 53808 and with adult fares at just £12 (children £6, family £25), it's great value. Departing Bishops Lydeard at 11.40am and returning from Minehead at 5.25pm - with stops at Washford for SDRT Museum and Dunster for the Castle. Click or tap the button below to book online.
Plus, you can also order a Railwayman's lunch (outward journey) and a cream tea for the return at the time of booking. All are welcome, not just S&DRT members. But remember, last bookings are on 26 June!
The Annual Special Train is provided as part of the hire agreement for 53808 so all proceeds are retained by the Trust, supporting our restoration and conservation work.
Minutes of WSRA 2019 Annual General Meeting are available
Now available on the West Somerset Railway Association's website, the Minutes of the 24th Annual General Meeting held at Crowcombe Village Hall on Saturday 13 April 2019. Click or tap the button below to read the document:
The West Somerset Railway (WSR) has been undergoing a complicated track relay around Blue Anchor throughout the start of 2019 as part of a major infrastructure improvement programme on the line.
This work proved to be more involved than first thought and resulted in the railway only being able to operate a train service from Bishops Lydeard to Watchet initially for its first few weeks of this season's services, and with a bus connection to Minehead. But this truncated train service proved to be extremely successful and saw visitor numbers to the historic Harbour Town of Watchet rise dramatically for the time of year.
The Blue Anchor works was largely completed in order to allow services run through to Minehead again on 19 April in time for Easter, however, a small amount of further work is still needed to complete the project. As a result, it is necessary for the Blue Anchor stretch of the line to close again but for only for a short, three-day period between Tuesday 7 May and Thursday 9 May inclusive.
Whilst this part of the line will be closed, the railway will again operate its successful train services between Bishops Lydeard and Watchet, but with an onward bus connection to Minehead kindly provided by Buses of Somerset on their public service bus number 28. West Somerset Railway Minehead return and rover tickets will be valid on this bus service, and thanks go to Buses of Somerset again for their support.
This vital work will mean that the line can open again properly, allowing the use of the two WSR running lines through Blue Anchor Station, and this will then enable the railway to implement its publicised timetables and with all of the appropriate crossing points once more in use. WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare said:
Our staff have been working extremely hard over our early season closed period. These last few days of altered running are vital to ensure that the railway operates to its full potential, and we are looking forward to the completion of this project next week.
The support that the railway has received from far and wide through this time has been overwhelming, and we are looking forward to offering our visitors and passengers reliable and enjoyable train services in 2019 and the years to come.
The timetable for the Bishops Lydeard to Watchet services between Tuesday 7 May and Thursday 9 May can be found on the West Somerset Railway's website at: www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk
A comprehensive news roundup covering recent events and future plans has been issued. Interesting news snippets include the full line reopening celebrations on Good Friday; plans for three GWR 'Manor' locomotives on the line during the summer which could see a 'Hall' for a 'Manor' swop; and mention of the temporary reduction of the line's axle weight limit. Click or tap the button below for the full article on the official WSR website.
Celebrate Somerset Day on the West Somerset Railway
On 11 May 2019 the West Somerset Railway will be celebrating Somerset Day. Bishops Lydeard and Minehead Stations will be hosting local craft stalls with representation from Community Groups across West Somerset. There will be entertainment on the stations and education activities at Bishops Lydeard in the Gauge Museum. Brunel the Dog, the West Somerset Railway's very own mascot may even make an appearance. Visitors will be able to board the trains to Minehead and discover other stalls at the rural stations along the whole line. To travel on the trains between stations please purchase a Rover Ticket (see button below). It will be a fantastic day - come and celebrate at one of the County's most loved heritage attractions. Something for all ages!
Class 37 diesel electric locomotive no D6948 is due to arrive on 29 April 2019 from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway for a brief visit to the Minehead Branch. Planned running dates for D6948 have been released:
Sun 5 May (works the 40 mile DMU mile diagram)
Mon 6 May (works the 40 mile DMU mile diagram)
Sun 19 May (works the 60 mile DMU mile diagram)
Sun 6 July (works the 60 mile DMU mile diagram)
Additionally, D6948 will work services on 8-9 June during the WSR's 40th Anniversary event, and also during the WSR Diesel Gala on 22-23 June. D6948's last day on the WSR is 6 July and it will depart on 8 July.
The 40th Anniversary Weekend - 8 and 9 June 2019 - marks the re-opening of the line between Stogumber and Bishops Lydeard back in 1979. It is shaping up to be quite a mini Gala event going some way to compensate for the loss of this year's Spring Gala. The Railway has recently announced the visit of a former WSR favourite in the shape of GWR 0-6-0PT no 6412 from the South Devon Railway and the possible return of the popular GWR 4-6-0 no 7802 Bradley Manor from the Severn Valley Railway which the WSR would like to hire. Two other visitors planned to be in use are GWR 0-6-0PT no 7752 which is here for the summer season and Class 37 diesel electric no D6948 from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.
Working along the visiting locomotives will be two home-based machines - one diesel and one steam. Class 35 diesel hydraulic 'Hymek' D7017 - which was working trains over the weekend in 1979 - and the impressive Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway 7F 2-8-0 no 53808 (the 7F will be on static display at Washford). All locomotives are subject to availability, of course. For more information please click or tap the button below to load the official webpage for this event.
During a very productive meeting on 24 April 2019 between the Trustees of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust and the West Somerset Railway Plc Chairman, a cheque for £5,000 as a contribution from the Trust towards the rail replacements at Blue Anchor was handed by the Trust Chairman, Chris Austin to the Plc Chairman Jon Jones-Pratt.
'Beside the seaside' say the folks behind the Minehead Bus Running Day on Sunday 12 May 2019 run in association with Quantock Heritage. The event will be based in the centre of Minehead and the plan is to run a few routes in and around this picturesque area of Somerset. All services start and finish at the West Somerset Railway Station - bus departures from 10am until approx 4pm. Timetables and vehicle schedules will be available on the day.
23 April 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Blue Anchor Railway Museum
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's Museum at Blue Anchor Station will not be open during the present period as all trains and passengers are currently using the Up line through the station. This is due to the ongoing repairs to the Down line. Further information on the museum's opening times will be made available once the trackwork is completed.
Class 37 diesel electric locomotive no D6948 is expected to move from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway to the West Somerset Railway in the next two weeks to begin a period of hire working on the Minehead Branch. It will undertake a variety of work including scheduled passenger services, gala events and charters. Here is a provisional list of workings, with the usual caveats regarding timetable changes and loco availability.
Monday 6 May
11.00am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
4.10pm from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard
Sunday 19 May
11.00am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
1.20pm from Minehead to Williton
2.20pm from Williton to Minehead
3.25pm from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard
Saturday 9 June and Sunday 9 June
WSR 40th Anniversary Gala
Thursday 20 June, Friday 21 June, Saturday 22 June and (possibly) Sunday 23 June
WSR Diesel Gala
Friday 5 July
Growler Group Members Day
Saturday 6 July
11.00am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
1.20pm from Minehead to Williton
2.20pm from Williton to Minehead
3.25pm from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard
Updates will be posted as and when new information comes in.
The 2019 WSR Classic Car Run takes place on 2 June
Classic cars will gather at Bishops Lydeard Station from 9am on Sunday 2 June 2019 and then depart at 11am on a 35 mile pre-arranged route through the lanes and byways of West Somerset, ending at Minehead Station from 12.15pm where the cars will be parked for the afternoon.
See the cars pass close to WSR locations at these estimated times: Crowcombe Heathfield Station (11.10am), Stogumber Station (11.20am), Williton Station (11.35am), Watchet Station (11.40am), Washford Station (11.45am), Blue Anchor Station (11.50am), Dunster Village (11.55am).
Make a day of it - see the cars gather at Bishops Lydeard Station, then catch the 10.15am steam train to one of the above locations to see the cars pass and then catch a later train to Minehead.
The Classic Car Run is open to all pre-1980 Classic Cars. Further details cad entry forms from the Run Organiser, Robin White email@example.com 01984 656423.
19 April 2019 Details kindly provided by the Run Organiser
Celebrate Somerset Day at the Gauge Museum
If you are visiting Bishops Lydeard on Somerset Day on 11 May 2019, don't forget to join the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust team in the Gauge Museum on Platform One for some family fun! Based around the concept of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) the Trust are planning to offer a range of exciting activities to help learn more about both the historical and engineering past of the railway. The Trust add:
The museum is free to enter and, in addition to our family learning activities, we also offer an exciting collection of objects celebrating the glorious past of the WSR including our beautiful 1890s Sleeper Carriage, reproduction signal box and working model railway.
It is the 'Paw Patrol Meet and Greet' special event on the platform at Minehead Railway Station on Friday and Saturday this weekend - 19-20 April 2019. An added attraction to the event is a vintage bus service taking passengers from the station around the town. An open top Bristol Lodekka will operate over the two days between the hours of 11am and 4pm. The bus has kindly been donated by Crosville Vintage, part of JJP Holdings South West Ltd collection.
The West Somerset Railway Association has updated the blog detailing the final stages of the overhaul of the unique WSR 2-6-0 no 9351. Click the link below to load the Blog page. And listening to the Claire Carter morning programme on BBC Somerset Radio it was also very encouraging to hear WSRA Chairman Paul Whitehouse talking about this work and the recent successful fundraising efforts aimed at a return to service on the line at the end of May this year. See link below to listen again - Paul's interview starts at around 1 hour 56 minutes in.
The Gauge Junction folks at Bishops Lydeard Station say:
Easter holiday weekend will soon be here and if you plan to visit the railway at the weekend, why not pay us a visit at Gauge Junction? We are situated on the upper floor of the Gauge museum on platform 1 at Bishops Lydeard station and will be open every day from Wednesday 17 April until Monday 21 April from 10am to 4pm.
Gauge Junction is a display which is being developed and operated mainly by the younger generation of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust and the West Somerset Railway itself. During the Easter period our operating team will be displaying varied displays of mainly steam era models running a frequent service around our scenic exhibition standard layout.
See the Steam Trust news page for more details and a selection of fine photos of the layout.
We understand the WSR team have secured GWR 0-6-0PT no 6430 to operate on the Minehead Branch - starting this Saturday. The Pannier will join resident steam locomotives SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 53808 and GWR 4-6-0 no 7828 Odney Manor. More details later...
16 April 2019 Details gleaned from Facebook
GWR approves WSR's 'Exmoor Gateway' bid
Regular train services on the West Somerset Railway are a step closer after a scheme to trial weekend shuttles between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard has been awarded funding from Great Western Railway. Designed to help boost the local economy, GWR invited bids from its Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF) last Summer, and on 16 April 2019 three Somerset area winners have been revealed including the WSR's bid 'Exmoor Gateway' which has been awarded £60,000 and will fund trial summer weekend shuttles between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard on the West Somerset Railway. By providing a scheduled (seasonal) rail link between the national rail network at Taunton and the existing West Somerset Railway (from which trains already run to Watchet and Minehead), it will reduce peripherality and encourage more people to use the link as an alternative to driving on the congested A358 and A39 roads.
Responding to the award win, West Somerset Railway Chairman, Jon Jones-Pratt:
We welcome the chance to work with our colleagues on GWR to bring more visitors to this lovely part of Somerset, and to enjoy the sight and sound of steam trains to the seaside. What better way to start a holiday or have a great day out.
Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow said:
Linking Taunton railway station to the West Somerset Railway makes perfect sense. It will encourage more people to travel to the start of the route by rail as opposed to by car. I am delighted that GWR is supporting this initiative. As a local myself I have enjoyed many happy trips on this heritage railway and I hope that many others will be able to take advantage of this wonderful experience by benefitting from this new rail link. The West Somerset Railway really is one of the jewels in Somerset's crown.
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:
We at GWR recognise only too well the vital role that rail plays in local and the national economy, and I am delighted that we have been able to continue to support the communities we serve with this funding.
All the proposals were presented to a panel of representatives from GWR's Customer Panel (made up of local customers), the Advisory Board (made up of local stakeholders), and the executive management team. Final recommendations were then put to the Department for Transport (DfT) for approval. Supported by the DfT, the Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF) was established to recognise and back projects identified by the communities where GWR operates, with projects requiring local authority match funding. With match funding, the total investment being made in the Somerset community will top £144,000.