Latest news

6695 Loco Group and WSR agree long-term deal

The West Somerset Railway is pleased to announce that agreement has been reached with the owners of ex-GWR 56XX class 0-6-2T no 6695 to take the locomotive on long-term loan for a period of 25 years upon completion of its current 10-year overhaul. Owned by the 6695 Locomotive Group since 1995, she is now undergoing a 10 year overhaul at Williton. David Horton, Head of Mechanical Engineering at the WSR said:

As a powerful tank engine (GWR power class 'D' or BR classification '5MT' - equivalent to a Manor), 6695 will be well-suited to the West Somerset Railway and helps us to secure our long-term locomotive future.

Nigel Clark, Chairman of the 6695 Loco Group said:

The Group is pleased to have reached agreement with WSR for the long term hire of 6695. We believe the WSR is an appropriate home for our engine, just across the Bristol Channel from her sheds in the Swansea area and her last shed of Radyr, and a line which can make ample use of a large ex-GWR tank engine. We look forward to a long mutually beneficial partnership.

29 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station

Sad to report that at an EGM held on 24 April 2017, the special resolution to wind up the fundraising group 'Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station' (FoCHS) with immediate effect, was carried. Paul Conibeare, General Manager of the West Somerset Railway Plc, adds:

The West Somerset Railway's General Manager attended the EGM at Crowcombe Heathfield on Monday, and acted as Chairman for the special resolution, which was carried unanimously to wind up FoCHS. Although we are saddened to see it fold, and not continue, the Station will remain in good hands by the large number of volunteers that help keep it running.

26 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News update concerning SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 53809

The West Somerset Railway have provided an update:

SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 53809 is reaching the end of some challenging boiler repairs but unfortunately we are not quite there yet. Standard Class 4 2-6-0 no 76017 will therefore run in place of 53809's advertised turns throughout the Gala but as soon as 53809 is deemed fit for traffic we will be putting her out on double-heading turns wherever possible. The current target is to have 53809 back into traffic by mid-Friday afternoon (1500 ex-MD with sister 7F no 53808). Please keep an eye on our website, and Facebook page for further details.

26 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Changes to consultation arrangements for Southern Gateway Project

Following the staff engagement event for WSR staff last weekend, a public meeting for residents of Bishops Lydeard has been arranged for Saturday 6 May 2017 at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall and beginning at 2pm and ending at 4pm. WSR staff are also invited. The public meeting will be led by members of the Southern Gateway Project Board. As a consequence, the consultation period on the Southern Gateway proposals has been lengthened such that the closing date for comments is now Friday 26 May 2017.

25 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Quantock Belle Restaurant Car Service at 2017 Spring Steam Gala

A reminder from the Quantock Belle team:

Full English Breakfast and a warm welcome with good coffee awaits at Bishops Lydeard for those boarding the 9.20am and 10.30am departures on Friday 28 April, the 9.35am and 10.45am on Saturday 29 April and the 9.50am on Sunday 30 April.

More information

24 April 2017
Details kindly provided by the Quantock Belle team

The Steam Trust at the Spring Steam Gala

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust write:

The museums at Blue Anchor and Bishops Lydeard will be open throughout the gala on all four days, as will the GWR sleeping car at Bishops Lydeard.

The model railway in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard will also be open each day and our young volunteers here are looking forward to welcoming visitors.

There are some new displays at the Bishops Lydeard museum to look at, and on Saturday and Sunday the model railway will running trains to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of steam on the Southern in 1967.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to open coach 6705 at Williton during this gala, on which work is proceeding well.

24 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

A chance to see behind the scenes at West Somerset Restoration

The workshops of West Somerset Restoration at Williton railway station are not normally accessible to the public but on 29 and 30 April the doors will be open to give a chance to see the projects currently being worked on. These dates are part of the West Somerset Railway's 2017 Spring Steam Gala which takes place from 27 April to 30 April.

The workforce at West Somerset Restoration is a mixture of paid staff and volunteers. It includes apprentices, part of the work of the West Somerset Railway Association whose remit includes the training of engineers in traditional skills and for the future. One of the restorations currently in hand is the overhaul of Great Western Railway 'Small Praririe' tank engine no 4561. The WSRA, which owns the locomotive, looks forward to seeing it at work again between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead and taking part in future Galas.

Visitors will also be able to see other locomotives in various states or repair plus wagon and coach restoration. The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's GWR carriage no 6705 is approaching completion as part of the Trust's 'Heritage Carriages Project'.

Also, the adjacent depot and heritage centre of the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group will also be open.

22 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

WSR appoints Richard Jones as new Head of Operating

Richard Jones, currently Operations Officer at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and a former General Manager of both the Swanage and Bodmin & Wenford heritage railways, has been appointed to the new post of Head of Operating at the West Somerset Railway (WSR). Richard - who has been actively involved in the heritage railway movement since 1973, and celebrates 40 years as a volunteer at the WSR this year - starts his new role from 1 June.

The newly-created role of Head of Operating completes a review of its senior management structure by the WSR plc Board, which has seen previous appointments made to similar posts with overall responsibility for Customer Services, Mechanical Engineering, Infrastructure and Finance. As Head of Operating, Richard will be responsible for providing leadership and a strategic review and overview to the work of the Operating Department, and for managing all the operational workforce of around 200, some paid staff but the majority of whom are volunteers.

Read the full joint WSR/KWVR press release.

19 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Model railway sale at Watchet Railway Station on 29 April

The Friends of Watchet Station write:

Please donate your unwanted model railway equipment to our Station to be sold to help us raise funds for repairs and maintenance of the Station. We require engines, coaches, wagons, track etc anything you don't need anymore! Our next sale day is on Saturday 29 April from 10am to 3pm in the pagoda waiting room. Contact Steve Sutherland on 01984 633425 or bring your unwanted equipment to the Station. Thank you.

19 April 2017
Details kindly provided by Friends of Watchet Station

Kinlet Hall long-term commitment to WSR reaffirmed

The owners of ex-GWR Hall class 4-6-0 no 4936 Kinlet Hall and the West Somerset Railway are pleased to confirm that the locomotive will return to the WSR upon completion of its current heavy overhaul at Tyseley Locomotive Works. Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Chairman of Kinlet Hall and Thornbury Castle Ltd, said:

I am very pleased to confirm that we will bring 4936 back to the West Somerset, a railway that is very close to my heart. We are looking forward to working with Dave and his team. Our commitment is well beyond our current hire agreement and we have a long term vision that sees us being at the WSR far beyond 2020. Kinlet Hall has always been a popular engine both with crews and passengers, having a proven positive track record, we look forward to again serving the WSR community along with providing a resident flagship mainline engine. We aim to be able to serve the WSR well on this busy line, as she has done over the past three years of use.

19 April 2017
Details gleaned from Facebook

Standard Class no 76017 for 2017 Spring Steam Gala

The WSR's Head of Mechanical Engineering, Dave Horton, has announced on Facebook:

Very pleased to announce that we have an additional visiting loco for our Spring Steam Gala on 27-30 April, it is BR Standard Class 4MT 2-6-0 no 76017, courtesy of the Mid-Hants Railway.

18 April 2017
Details gleaned from Facebook

Promotions at Bishops Lydeard Shop during Spring Steam Gala

Kate Beard, Retail Manager at WSRA Promotions writes:

At our Spring Gala the Bishops Lydeard Station Shop will once again have its Book Promotion tables in use, featuring a selection of new titles at about half normal prices as well as a good range of out of print and secondhand titles, including some scarce items.

We shall also have available many back numbers of quality historical railway magazines, including a long run of the well-regarded 'Great Western Railway Journal' from Wild Swan and numerous copies of 'Locomotives Illustrated'.

On Sunday 30th April we are pleased to welcome back Freddie Huxtable, author of the well-received recent book 'The Taunton to Barnstaple Line, Volume 1', who will be signing copies of his book and will be able to update you on publication of the second volume.

Our Model Railway Department will be offering an extra 10% off marked prices. We have also expanded our range of model accessories.

Come and visit our shop for the best of the latest books, DVDs, diecasts and model railway releases. The shop will be open from about 30 minutes before the first train departure each day of the Gala and will remain open until at least 6.00 pm - or longer if we have the stamina!

18 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

The webcam at Bishops Lydeard Station

In response to several enquiries about the return of the popular Bishops Lydeard Station webcam, our own enquiries suggest the matter is part of a wider review of information technology along the line. At the time of writing, we cannot advise when that review will be completed by the WSR Plc or indeed if a webcam will figure in the list of actions resulting from the review. We do know of at least one initiative seeking to provide an interim solution. Meantime, we are confident that in due course viewers will once again be able to see live pictures from Bishops Lydeard Station. This website is not directly involved with any of the WSR webcams and we are grateful to the webcam operators for permission to include the imagery on our pages.

18 April 2017
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Book tickets online for the 2017 Spring Steam Gala

The four day 2017 Spring Steam Gala - from Thursday 27 April to Sunday 30 April inclusive - will see no less than four visiting steam locomotives. Nos 43924, 78018, 5199 and 1501 will join four locos from the home fleet nos 6960, 44422, 53808 and 53809.

Multi-day tickets and day tickets can be purchased online in advance of the event.

Feel free to save the 2017 Spring Steam Gala poster image and re-post on social media.

14 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSRA progresses restoration of GWR 'Small Prairie' no 4561

The West Somerset Railway Association is continuing to raise money for the ongoing overhaul of Great Western Railway 45xx Class 'Small Prairie' 2-6-2T no 4561.

The locomotive is being worked on at the Williton workshops of West Somerset Restoration where the workforce includes the apprentices funded by the WSRA as part of its remit to train the engineers of the future and to keep traditional skills alive. The next phases of the overhaul include the blower ring, costed at around £900 and work on the cylinders, costed at £12,500. Firebox stay funding, at £25 per stay, is also being raised.

For more information about helping with donations, please see the Association's full press release.

14 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

The Gruffalo comes to Minehead Station on Saturday 15 April

Come and see The Gruffalo on Saturday 15 April 2017 at Minehead Railway Station. The Gruffalo will be making personal appearances at intervals between 10am and 4pm. Entertainment on the day will include a Woodland-themed Easter Egg Hunt, free vintage bus ride trips round Minehead and sea front from Minehead Station, free face painting, crafts, an entertainer on the platform, helter skelter and bouncy castle (additional charge applies, subject to weather), the Buffer Stop Shop and the Turntable Cafe. Plus, of course, the train trip to Minehead and back.

For more details please visit the Gruffalo at Minehead Station page.

13 April 2017
Details gleaned from the official West Somerset Railway Plc website

Young persons £2 Sunday ticket for Spring Steam Gala

Young persons aged between 5 and 17 who are accompanied by an adult or senior citizen will be able to travel on the West Somerset Railway for a flat fare of £2.00 on Sunday 30 April 2017 - the last day of the WSR's Spring Steam Gala with an hourly train service over the 20 miles of line between Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) and Minehead, giving plenty of chances to explore the railway and places of interest along the way. This fare applies to all journeys including day rover tickets.

For details please visit the Spring Steam Gala page.

13 April 2017
Details gleaned from latest monthly newsletter from West Somerset Railway Plc

Footplate rides during the Spring Steam Gala

The West Somerset Railway are offering footplate rides on GWR 4-6-0 no 6960 Raveningham Hall over the four days of the Spring Steam Gala at £50.00 each.

For details please visit the Spring Steam Gala page.

12 April 2017
Details gleaned from Facebook page of West Somerset Railway Plc

An update on the 2017 Diesel Gala

The Diesel & Electric Preservation Group have issued an update on the Diesel Gala on 9 June to 11 June 2017:

This year Friday and Saturday will be all diesel and we are very grateful to the WSR for allowing us out to operate what will be an intensive and exciting diesel hauled service. On the Sunday there will be a single steam diagram out as well as the diesels.

A new attraction in 2017 is a 'Real Ale Trail' offering good ales at Bishops Lydeard, Stogumber and Minehead during the event. The three stations will be home to 24 brewers in all.

The line-up of visiting locomotives is impressive and reflects feedback from previous years - Class 26 no 26043 from the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway and Class 20 nos 20059 and 20188 from the Severn Valley Railway (subject to final confirmation we understand from the Special Events Planning Team). The visitors will be supported by four locomotives from our fleet - nos D7017, D1010, D6575 and D1661. On display at our Williton Depot will be Class 14 nos D9526 and D9518, Class 33 no D6566 and Hymek no D7018

Online tickets and more details.

12 April 2017
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

Interesting pairings at the forthcoming Spring Steam Gala

The Spring Steam Gala promises the sight and sound of both of the currently serviceable 4F 0-6-0s plus the pair of surviving S&D 7Fs. However there is possibly another reunion, of a sort, due to take place. In 1965 BR(W) 0-6-0PT no 1501 was working for the NCB in the Coventry/Nuneaton area whilst BR 2-6-0 no 78018 was allocated to Nuneaton MPD (2B). There must be a chance that they in proximity to each other at times half a century ago in Warwickshire.

10 April 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Two Class 20s for the Diesel Gala in June

The WSR Special Events Planning Team are pleased to announce:

We have now agreed to the hire of two Class 20 diesels from the Severn Valley Railway, nos D8059 & D8188 (20059 & 20188 in TOPS days) both currently in BR Green livery. No D8059 was built by Robert Stephenson Hawthorn at Darlington in 1961 and D8188 at English Electrics Vulcan Foundry in 1967. 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the first of the class entering service so it is particularly pleasing to see the locos on the WSR this year. It is planned to run the two locos together nose to nose as the class so often ran in BR service. We are grateful to the owner David Coombes of Somerset & Dorset Locomotive Company for the loan of the locos for our event. They are expected to be moved by rail by our friends at GB Railfreight.

This will bring the diesel loco fleet for the gala to seven locos, home based Class 33 no D6575, Class 35 Hymek no D7017, Class 47 no D1661 and Class 52 Western no D1010 Western Campaigner plus visitors Class 26 no D5343 from the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway and the two class 20s above. It is also possible that Hymek D7018 will venture out during the gala as a pilot loco after its long repair, but this will not be known for sure until day.

It is perhaps interesting to note that the two class 20s are the 6th pair of locos of the same type to work on the WSR in 2017, with 2 x 4Fs (43924 & 44422), 2 x 7Fs (53808 & 53809), 2 Manors (7820 & 7822), 2 x Hymeks (D7017 & D7018), 2 xamp; Class 33s D6566 & D6575 plus the 20s. The year of the pairs it seems!

8 April 2017
Details kindly provided by the Special Events Planning Team

WSR congratulated on latest wheelchair-accessible carriage

Baroness Sal Brinton, President of the Liberal Democrats, visited Minehead Station on 8 April 2017 specifically to visit the recently outshopped wheelchair-accessible carriage no W4875. Martyn Snell, Chairman of the Friends of Minehead Station adds:

She remarked that she usually gets asked to visit places to show how difficult it is to access for wheelchair bound folks and was delighted with the ease of access to the new carriage and congratulated the West Somerset Railway on the recent conversion.

8 April 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

New opportunities with WSR's Infrastructure Engineering Team

Andrew Young, Head of Infrastructure Engineering, has announced opportunities to help out with some new work the Railway needs to undertake hopefully with volunteer support:

Investigate the Somerset Archive (and beyond - funded trips to Kew, Wiltshire etc) to gain copies of bridge drawings and any other relevant infrastructure information (Volunteer post)

Track Inspection - we are undertaking a rigorous inspection of the permanent way over the next few weeks. (Volunteer post)

Fishplate and Flange Gang- a dedicated team to change fishplates, oil plates and maintain flange oilers. This is a new team we would like to establish that will meet on a weekly basis. We are looking for a person to lead it and staff to carry out the work. (Volunteer posts)

A Technical Assistant (full time post). We are seeking a suitably qualified and enthusiastic individual for a new post in the Infrastructure Engineering Department. Reporting directly to the Head of Infrastructure Engineering, you will provide technical and administrative support, from routine maintenance to large projects, putting health and safety central to work activities.

Further information and contact details.

7 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Tickets for Flying Scotsman special trains now available

Tickets for the Flying Scotsman special trains go on sale at 9am on 3 April 2017.

The iconic Flying Scotsman locomotive will be hauling special trains on 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12 September 2017. Special tickets will be available either for travel from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead behind Flying Scotsman, and return by another special train to Bishops Lydeard, or for travel out by special train to Minehead and return behind Flying Scotsman. Tickets will be available for specific trains and the special trains will only be available to passengers with reserved tickets for that train. Passengers may use their special tickets to travel on normal services that day, with no further charge.

Full details on the official WSR website.

3 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The Southern Gateway Project: a meeting for staff and volunteers

WSRA Vice Chair of Trustees, Mike Sherwood, writes:

There will be a meeting at 2pm on 22 April in the Village Hall in Bishops Lydeard where a member of the Project Board will give a presentation on the Southern Gateway Proposals. There will be an opportunity to ask questions. The meeting is open to all staff and volunteers holding a WSR ID card. If staff or volunteers are unable to attend for operational reasons there is a full set of briefing notes. Staff can submit comments via special WSRA email address or directly to Steve Williams (see briefing notes for contact details)..

1 April 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association