Latest news

A day out on the WSR courtesy of BBC Somerset

BBC Somerset say:

Want a day out on the West Somerset Railway? Make sure you're listening to us on 95.5 FM, 1566 AM and Digital Radio on Monday July 25th!

We've got two tickets to give away for the West Somerset Railway.

Listen to Claire Carter at Breakfast on Monday 25 July to find out how you can get your hands on them.

24 July 2016
Details gleaned from BBC Somerset's Facebook page

The West Somerset Railway introduce Brunel K Beagle

The folks who run the wonderful West Somerset Railway wish to remind us:

Don't forget, all through the summer we will be issuing children passengers with a free children's activity sheet - featuring Brunel K Beagle - and pack of crayons. These will be handed out at the booking office when you buy your ticket.

If you have bought your tickets in advance, don't worry, just show your ticket at the booking office when you get here or show them to the buffet car staff and they will have activity sheets for you.

We hope you all have a great summer and are able to spend some time with us.

22 July 2016
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Plc External link

News about new GWR-style benches for WSR stations

Word reached the Railway a short while ago that a supplier of castings in the north of England had a quantity of good-quality reproduction GWR bench seat supports with he was prepared to sell at a reduced price. Negotiation ensued and it appeared that, for a quantity, a price of £75 per casting was possible, around half the normal price. Several stations, in particular Dunster, Watchet and Stogumber, were interested, but the offer was only available for a short time and most stations could not go through the necessary internal processes in time. At this point WSR Plc Finance Director, Chris Bolt, (who recognises a bargain) stepped in and authorised the purchase of 21 supports. It should be noted that they come in threes, to support a ten foot long bench. The GWR only supplied three-support, ten foot benches. The two support, six foot bench is a modern creation for the enthusiast garden. Now the WSR Association stepped in and made their van available. Normally used to a potter round the West Somerset lanes, it never the less performed faultlessly on the 370 mile round trip to Nottinghamshire. The bench supports are now in the care of the RAMS team at Bishops Lydeard, who will now supply the matching woodwork (to a GWR specification) and paint the benches as required by the stations.

If any WSR supporter would like to sponsor on support (£75), all three for a bench (£225) or the necessary woodwork (around £100 per bench), then please be in touch with WSR Stations Co-ordinator Lesley Farthing or the relevant Station Master. It is also likely that this process will release some ex-Southern Railway benches in use at WSR stations (obtained from Chatham and North Devon in the 1980s). If any other heritage railway project or private enthusiast would like to make an offer for those, please also be in touch with Lesley.

22 July 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

All change at Stogumber Station

A new Station Master for Stogumber. The WSR Plc has asked Alan Bines to take over the position following Tom Usher who leaves to devote more time with Locomotive Services on the main line. This means Alan cannot continue as Chairman/Treasurer of the Friends of Stogumber Station, as Alan explains:

Following changes, which will be ratified at the AGM to be held during the Autumn Gala. The new Chairman will be Peter Cox, who needs no introduction from me, being one of the most senior and respected volunteers on the Railway. Those of you with PTS passes will know Peter as the PTS Instructor/Examiner. The new Treasurer will be Colin White, our Friday volunteer, Colin is a Cambridge University Test Paper setter and marker with Mathematics as his speciality so we should be in good hands. The Secretary role will be Gil Cox who has served unofficially in this role at the AGMs for several years now. Finally as Station Master, I have asked Bob Preston, our project manager responsible for all the beautiful upgrades of the last three years, to be the Assistant Station Master. I believe this makes for a great team and look forward to keeping Stogumber the best loved Station on the line.

21 July 2016
Details kindly provided by the Friends of Stogumber Station

One day sale at Bishops Lydeard Station Shop

Retail Manager Kate Beard tells us that on Saturday 30 July she is holding a one day sale of bus and tram themed books, including some specialist works on European Light Rail. Most of these are in 'as new' condition and will be reduced in price by up to 50%. There will also be a number of reduced maritime books. Kate says:

Don't forget we stock a wide range of rail and transport books, model railways and diecasts. Why not combine a trip to our shop with a mid-summer day out on the WSR and enjoy the beautiful Somerset scenery from the train. We are always happy to look after customers' purchases until the end of the day to avoid the need to carry around heavy bags

19 July 2016
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Association External link

'West Somerset Steam Express' scheduled for 23 July is cancelled

The Railway Touring Company has advised the WSR that unfortunately due to a lack of available steam locomotives they have had to cancel the next West Somerset Steam Express due to run on Saturday 23 July 2016.

The next West Somerset Steam Express is scheduled for 13 August 2016.

18 July 2016
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Rails again for Stogumber's Cattle Dock

Sunday 17 July 2016 saw the volunteer Permanent Way Gang at Stogumber Station laying a short section of track alongside the former Cattle Dock.

There are long term plans to restore the Cattle Dock to its former self, complete with cattle pens, and possibly have a suitable railway vehicle stabled alongside.

18 July 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

Space at the Rally now full for exhibitors and traders

The Rally Team have announced:

All of the available space for exhibitors and traders for the 2016 Rally is now full, so we are unable to accept any more applications for this year. We will start planning for the 2017 Rally in January 2017

Don't forget Day Tickets purchased online - just £10 per adult and £8 per senior- are valid for both Rally days.

18 July 2016
Details kindly provided by the Rally Team External link

WSR-based DEPG's diesel locomotives in demand...

The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group's Class 33 no D6575 has been withdrawn from service so that the Crompton can be properly prepared for her appearance at the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway's Gala at the end of July. No D6575 will then appear at the Steam Fayre & Vintage Vehicle Rally at Norton Fitzwarren.

Meanwhile the DEPG plan to withdraw Class 35 no D7017 from service on Monday 25 July ahead of axle ultrasonic tests. This is ahead of the Hymek's possible visit to the Mid Norfolk Railway in early September.

In other news, Class 52 no D1010 Western Campaigner is due to work the diesel diagram on Saturday 13 August and then appear at the WSR's Late Summer Weekend event on 3 and 4 September. And for 'Teddy Bear' fans, Class 14 no D9526 will work the diesel diagram on 30 and 31 July.

15 July 2016
Details kindly provided by the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group External link

The 2016 Toy & Train Sale will be held close to Minehead Station

Now in its 34th year, the annual Toy & Train Sale at Minehead is still proving as popular as ever but from last year, major changes have taken place and the show moved to a new and excellent indoor venue at the Minehead Eye but which is still just a stones throw from the previous home of the event until 2014, at the WSR's Minehead Railway Station. Getting there by train is clearly the best way! The event is held on Sunday 31 July 2016.

14 July 2016
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Plc External link

News of a Somerset & Dorset Railway exhibition at Blandford

There will be an exhibition to mark the 50th Anniversary of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset at the Museum of Blandford Forum between July 18th and August 17th. Opening times are 10.30 to 16.30, Mondays to Saturdays. This is part of the rolling programme of events during 2016 organised by the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

13 July 2016
Details kindly provided by the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust External link

Scots Guardsman for West Somerset Steam Express on 16 July

The Railway Touring Company have announced:

We are pleased to announce that due to other steam locomotives having issues at present...our West Somerset Steam Express tour on Saturday 16th July will now be hauled by 46115 Scots Guardsman.

Some spaces available so if you would like to book to travel behind this locomotive please follow the link below to our website in order to place your booking.

Book for the West Somerset Steam Express.

12 July 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

A new Commercial Director for the West Somerset Railway

The West Somerset Railway Plc have announced the appointment of a new Commercial Director

It is with pleasure that we can announce that as from 1st July 2016 Ian Harrison has been appointed to the WSR plc board, with the portfolio of Commercial Director.

This follows the retirement of David Baker, who continues as share registrar, and after advertising and interviewing candidates for the vacant position.

Ian brings a wealth of experience to the role, with a background as mechanical engineer who moved into senior commercial and financial management in industry, consulting and the health service. Ian has been a volunteer on the West Somerset Railway for some years and is currently a passed fireman. Our chairman John Irven said 'I am very pleased that Ian will be joining us to provide invaluable support to the commercial and management team of the WSR as we continue to develop existing and exciting new commercial activities for the railway. Please wish Ian every success in his new role.'

12 July 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Take a look at this...

The Rally Team have booked a fine advertising space in Castle Bow, Taunton for the 2016 Rally banner. An excellent spot right in the middle of the busy town centre.

Why not book your tickets online now, and get two days for the price of one.

12 July 2016
Details kindly provided by the Rally Team External link

An update from the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Claire Sheppy, WSSRT Trustee, has provided an update of recent Trust activity:

Work on GWR BCK no 6705 continues apace with much work being done on varnishing of the internal compartments. We have also seen a rise in the number of volunteers, and at the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust board meeting held on 4 July 2016, after balloting the various volunteers for their views, have decided upon the recommencement of work on the toplight third coach number 3639, which has been sitting under a tarpaulin at the one end of the Swindon shed for some time.

More on this update can be found on the Trust's website.

9 July 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust External link

The Summer issue (No 153) of the WSR Journal

The WSR Journal Editor, Richard Jones, writes:

The Summer issue (No 153) of the WSR Journal - the quarterly magazine representing all of the West Somerset Railway - has just been published, and Association members will very shortly be receiving their copy in the post. This issue has very much a fresh 'new look' to it, and contains a wide range of articles, news, features, reports and photographs.

The copy date of the Autumn issue (No 154) is 1st August, and contributions (including photographs) for possible inclusion therein are very welcome - please send to

8 July 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

Change of meeting date for the Partnership Development Group

The meeting of the Partnership Development Group (PDG) scheduled for 14 July has been postponed to 8 September. The reason is that there are several development group meetings due in July, the outcomes of which will impact on further discussions at the PDG.

8 July 2016
Details kindly provided by the Secretariat of the Partnership Development Group

WSRA announce a Consultation Paper and a Consultation Day

The West Somerset Railway Association Chairman Frank Courtney writes in a recent email newsletter:

I am pleased to invite you to a Members Consultation Day on Sunday 24 July 2016. The objective of this day is for the Trustees to gain the opinions of the members on the way forward for the WSRA. You will shortly receive in the mail a Consultation Paper, which we strongly urge you to read before you come on 24 July. The paper can also be downloaded here.

Members are requested to ensure their comments on the Consultation Paper are returned by 1 August 2016

6 July 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

Potential timetable changes over the next few weeks

An announcement by WSR Plc states:

Over the next few weeks, the 11.05 departure from Bishops Lydeard and 16.20 departure from Bishops Lydeard may need to be retimed. Please ensure you check the website news stories, phone the office on 01643 704996 or check Facebook or Twitter before travelling for updates. Details of affected days will be advised shortly.

6 July 2016
Details gleaned from Facebook

The new 'Freedom of the Line' ticket is a bargain

In a new initiative to encourage folks to make more use of the Minehead Branch, the West Somerset Railway have introduced a new ticket covering up to seven days. The ticket is called "Freedom of the Line"

This new ticket aims to encourage holidaymakers to use the trains for more than one day. The ticket is valid for unlimited travel for up to seven days and sold in three classes only - adult, young person or family.

It is very attractively priced at £25 per adult, £12.50 per young person and £60 per family.

The ticket is not valid during Special Events and cannot be used with any other discount, voucher or pass. No further reductions

6 July 2016
Details kindly provided via local correspondent

Go by heritage train to Watchet Carnival on Sunday 31 July

Watchet Carnival - always a popular and colourful event - will be held on Sunday 31 July this year. An enjoyable way of getting to and from the Carnival is by train - the railway station is right in the centre of the town near the harbour. A poster on Facebook lists a few of the attractions:

Traditional fete from noon to 6pm; Aerobatics display over the hrbour at 12.30pm; Carnival Parade at 1pm; BMX stunt team, Falconry display; Street entertainment; plus lots more for everyone to enjoy.

The best times for trains to Watchet Carnival from Minehead leave at 10.15am, 12.30pm, 1.20pm and 2.25pm, and in the other direction, trains leave Bishops Lydeard for Watchet at 10.25am. 11.05am, 11.45am, 12.35pm and 2.35pm. For more details about train times, please see this page.

5 July 2016
Details gleaned from Facebook

A Review of the WSR's Operations Department

WSR volunteer Robin White writes:

Staff will be aware that I have been asked to conduct a review of all aspects of the Operations Department with a view to recommending changes to strengthen our Operations function for the years ahead. Any changes I suggest will first be considered by the Operating Executive Committee, and, then, where necessary, by the WSR Plc Board before they are implemented. I am very much at the information gathering and thinking stage, and would welcome thoughts and comments from all Operating Department staff and volunteers, and all WSR supporters. The easiest way to contact me is by e-mail at All comments will be treated as confidential.

5 July 2016
Details gleaned from a recent Operating Notice and reproduced with permission by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

Volunteers needed for the 2016 Steam Rally

During the first weekend in August every year, the West Somerset Railway Association run a very successful Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally held at the Norton Triangle fields just to the west of the village of Norton Fitzwarren near Taunton. The event attracts well over 5000 visitors over the weekend.

The Rally Team need help at the event with public car parking; exhibitors gates; public ticket offices; arena marshalling; on-site exhibitor traffic marshalling; directing visitors on the Rally site; admin assistance and 'runners'; refreshment tent assistants; programme sellers; and help before and after the event setting up fences, tables, chairs, road signs, on-site signage and so on. Please see the Steam Rally website for more details and the application form which is also available here.

5 July 2016
Details kindly provided by the Rally Team External link

Gearing up for the 2016 Steam Rally at Norton Fitzwarren

The 2016 Rally will be held at Norton Fitzwarren which will echo to the sight, sound and smell of many mighty steam engines as they gather for what will be our 29th Rally. A glittering array of superb machinery will be in action and 2016 looks like beating all records with some of the country's finest examples of vintage transport on display. Rally Day Tickets bought online are valid on both days so buy now!

3 July 2016
Details kindly provided by the Rally Team External link

Join a four mile walk along the former trackbed of the S&D Railway

News from the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust:

There will be a four mile walk along the former trackbed of the Somerset and Dorset Railway on Saturday 30 July. Using what is now the North Dorset Trailway and led by Jonathan Edwards of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust it will start at Spetisbury station (with drinks and home made cakes courtesy of the group restoring the station) at 11.15am and finish at the site of Blandford Forum Station. En route there will be talk about the history of the line and local anecdotes concerning it. For more information or to express an interest contact Jonathan via 0208 864 8332 or

3 July 2016
Details kindly provided by the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust External link

Floral display wrecked following theft of plants at Bishops Lydeard

The floral displays are much admired by visitors to Bishops Lydeard Station on the West Somerset Railway. Sadly, a thief has stolen 19 mature plants, all top quality from Bower Flowers of Bridgwater, from the famous and much photographed 'train' feature created by Head Gardener Clive Goddard and his team. The theft took place over the weekend and we understand it may be possible to identify the culprit. Meantime the gardening team are working hard to re-arrange plants to ensure visitors can continue to enjoy the wonderful floral display.

Update 1 July 2016: The Head Gardener reports the display is back to its glorious state thanks to the hard work of the gardening team and donations from well-wishers.

29 June 2016
Details kindly provided by local corrspondent

From London to West Somerset behind 'Lizzie' in August

Steam Dreams announce an excursion from London to West Somerset on 23 August 2016. Steam express locomotive LMS 4-6-2 no 6201 Princess Elizabeth is rostered (subject to the usual caveats). The special departs form London Victoria and calls at Hounslow, Virginia Water, Ascot, Reading, Newbury Racecourse and Castle Cary, then non-stop to the West Somerset Railway. For full information please visit the Steam Dreams website.

28 June 2016
Details kindly provided by Steam Dreams External link

News from the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

News from the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust:

Mike Beale is giving two talks about the Somerset and Dorset this weekend. On Friday July 1st he will present 'The Legacy of the S&D' at the Village Hall, Burtle Road, Burtle, Bridgwater, TA7 8NB. Steph Gillett will also be signing copies of 'The Somerset and Dorset Railway Through Time' Start time is 7.30pm. Then on Saturday 2nd Mike will talk on 'The End of the Line' at The Hub, Station Road, Stalbridge , DT10 2RG at 10.30am. All are welcome to come along to either event.

28 June 2016
Details kindly provided by the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust External link

A new Station Master for Crowcombe Heathfield Station

From a news item on the Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station website:

Following the resignation of Station Master David Bartin this week, Station Co-ordinator Lesley Farthing advises that she has appointed Deputy Station Master Geoff Cross as Acting Station Master.

28 June 2016
Details gleaned from the Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station External link

The day 98 children and staff made a trip by train to the seaside

On Tuesday 21 June 2016, local schoolchildren enjoyed a day out on the WSR when a trip by train was arranged for 98 children and staff from Crowcombe & Stogumber CofE Primary Schools. The group enjoyed a sandcastle competition on the beach with ice lollies. The trip from Stogumber to Minehead and back was sponsored by Butlins and the WSR's Andy Norman, John Williams and Angie Scutt (who, along with Steve Bailey) had visited the schools to explain their railway jobs, were on hand to answer the many questions raised by the children who clearly had an enjoyable day of fun and education.

This lovely story comes courtesy of Julie Norman, Headteacher for Crowcombe & Stogumber CofE Primary Schools, via the WSR's Robin White.

25 June 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

The Wednesday Quantock Belle midweek lunch train

Just a few seats left on the Quantock Belle midweek lunch train on Wednesday 29 June 2016, due to be attached to the service train leaving Bishops Lydeard at 12.35pm, steam hauled, and arriving in Minehead at 1.52pm.

A set menu is offered (see below) and must to be booked in advance (vegetarian alternatives are available). To book please contact the admin office on 01823 433856, Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am to 5.00pm, or email Ticket price is £42.00 per person inclusive of travel and meals. An at-table bar service will be offered.

  • Starter: Chicken Liver Pate with toast and side salad or Orange Juice
  • Main: Steak, mushroom & ale pudding served with new potatoes and fresh veg selection
  • Dessert: Strawberry Cheesecake

The Quantock Belle will depart Minehead at 2:25pm and passengers may either return with the train and enjoy a small afternoon tea on the way, or maybe spend some time in Minehead before making the return trip on the service trains leaving Minehead at 3.25pm or 4.20pm.

23 June 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

The Fat Controller needs your help at Minehead Station

The Fat Controller needs your help at Minehead Station on 1st, 2nd and 3rd July. Travel down in a train behind one of Thomas's friends, from Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) to Minehead.

On the train there will be extra staff to answer your questions and point out interesting facts whilst the on-board Day Out With Thomas colouring activities take place. During your journey you will pass the engine works at Williton and you will get to see trucks being shunted at Minehead Station.

Thomas and his Friends will be at Minehead Station and the Fat Controller will be there to make sure that all engines are being 'really useful'. The Fat Controller needs your help to keep Thomas, Daisy the Diesel and many others running on time. There will be lots of activities taking place here, including free face painting, games and Thomas DVD screenings.

Book your tickets now!

19 June 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

A new manager for the Quantock Belle Dining Train

The WSRA Promotions Board are pleased to announce that...

Barrie Childs has been appointed Quantock Belle Manager. Barrie first started working with the Quantock Belle team in 1994 and has gained valuable experience along the way. Barrie will work alongside the current manager Richard Knight who after many years of loyal service will relinquish some of the more onerous tasks but continue to work alongside Barrie as Deputy Manager.

The Quantock Belle was active during the recent Mixed Traction weekend serving Full English Breakfasts and hot lunches to hungry passengers. This was a very successful enterprise which we hope to continue at future Galas.

Another new venture was the Wednesday lunch yesterday, served on the 12:35 service train from Bishops Lydeard. Devised in collaboration with the WSR Plc this event is designed to be flexible and give customers choices. Pre-booking is advisable but walk-on seats are available if there are any vacancies. Passengers can either return with the tran, leaving Minehead at 14:20 or stay longer and return on a later service train. Likewise walk-ons are welcome on the return trip where afternoon tea is served. This Wednesday lunch service will be repeated on 29th June and there are currently about 12 available seats. For menu details see our Quantock Belle page.

18 June 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association External link

Take a return trip from Taunton to Minehead with GWR this Sunday

An invitation from GWR to join the 'WSR Away Day' product launch charter on Sunday 19 June 2016. GWR say:

Running from Taunton to Minehead and return, you will get the chance to sample the longest preserved ine in the country from one of our green Class 150s.

The trip will include a launch party on arrival at Minehead with special guests in attendance and an on-board trolley service with proceeds going to charity. On the return, subject to conditions on the day, there will be a visit to the start of the former Taunton to Barnstaple branch at Norton Fitzwarren.

The special leaves Taunton at 11.15am, Bishops Lydeard at 11.35am, then arriving Minehead at 12.55pm. The return leaves Minehead at 3.15pm, Bishops Lydeard at 4.30pm, arriving back in Taunton at 5.05pm. (Kindly note the revised time of departure from Minehead from that shown on previous news items)

Etickets, available at £25.99 per person, are available to buy at

17 June 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link

New through ticket from GWR to West Somerset Railway

GWR has today launched an all-in-one ticket enabling passengers to explore the West Somerset Railway, with GWR rail and a local bus service fares included.

Instead of customers having to purchase separate GWR rail, Buses of Somerset, and West Somerset Rail tickets, a single through ticket is now available, offering unlimited travel on England's longest heritage railway for the day.

Supported by Visit Somerset and local traders, the ticket will allow customers unlimited access on the West Somerset Railway which operates between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead; return travel on the bus link between Bishops Lydeard and Taunton; and return travel on Taunton bound GWR rail services.

Full press release

16 June 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc External link