Latest news

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

BBC Antiques Roadshow to visit WSR's Minehead Railway Station

Next year, BBC One's much-loved Antiques Roadshow will celebrate 40 years of touring the country, valuing family treasures, car-boot sale bargains and charity shop finds. On Wednesday 28 December 2016, Antiques Roadshow announced the spectacular list of venues it will visit in 2017.

Antiques Roadshow was first recorded as a pilot show at Hereford Town Hall on 17 May 1977, presented by Bruce Parker with antiques expert Arthur Negus. To mark the historic year, the team will begin recording its 40th series, 40 years from the date of its first recording, on 17 May 2017, at Minehead Railway Station, home of the West Somerset Railway, the longest heritage railway in England.

28 December 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Additional parking areas needed during Flying Scotsman visit

The West Somerset Railway plc recently announced that iconic world-famous locomotive LNER 4-6-2 no 60103 Flying Scotsman will be hauling passenger trains on West Somerset metals in September 2017. Following agreement with the National Railway Museum, Flying Scotsman will arrive in West Somerset on Monday 4 September and run public services from 5 to 12 September, with a rest day on Friday 8 September. Details of ticket sales and how to see Flying Scotsman will be announced in January, with tickets on sale from 16 February 2017. In view of the large number of visitors likely to be coming to Taunton Deane and West Somerset, the organisers are keen to identify supplementary parking in the area.

If you own any land, which has the potential for safe, dry car parking, the West Somerset Railway would love to hear from you. This could include parking at a disused office block or factory. For further information or to discuss the possibilities, please contact Colin Howard, Head of Commercial Services at the West Somerset Railway on 01643 700383 or colin.howard@wsrail.net

28 December 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

First section of the Steam Coast Trail opened from Dunster Beach

The 'Steam Coast Trail' Chairman Harry Singer addressed the assembled cyclist, walkers and supporters on the occasion of the 'Community Opening' of the first section of the Steam Coast Trail from Dunster to a point about 300 metres west of Blue Anchor Station at 10am on 27 December 2016. The WSR was represented at the opening by Paul Conibeare and Colin Howard. The last 300 metres to Blue Anchor awaits agreement with the owners of the chalets at Blue Anchor West Beach. Until then, this section is not suitable for wheelchairs or those for whom a rough pebbly surface is a challenge. The Trail provides excellent views of the Railway as it crosses Ker Moor.

28 December 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondent and WSR Plc

Synopsis of latest WSRA Trustee Board meeting

A brief synopsis of the West Somerset Railway Association Trustee Board meeting held on 12 December 2016 is now available on the Documents page of the Association website. The document reveals much discussion about fundraising and membership, and it contains details of progress by the Fundraising and Membership Committee.

23 December 2016
Details gleaned from the website of West Somerset Railway Association

A statement about the WSR and Thomas

The WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare has issued the following statement:

For several years the West Somerset Railway has hosted a very successful Thomas the Tank Engine event, with the agreement of the Thomas franchise holders, HIT Entertainment and more recently Mattel. Over the years some thousands of visitors have enjoyed the event, with very positive feedback from adults and children. HIT Entertainment and Mattel acknowledged the success by awarding the West Somerset 'Best Themed Event' for the 2014 event and 'Best Overall Event' for the 2015 event, judged on a national basis. However, to our regret Mattel have now indicated that they do not wish to renew our contract for a variety of reasons. Amongst reasons we have been given are that they wish to focus on events with a greater financial profit, and those taking place at sites larger than the platform at Minehead station. We therefore much regret that Thomas will not be visiting the West Somerset Railway for the foreseeable future.

The statement appears here with kind permission of the WSR General Manager.

23 December 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Brunel at Williton

Partner organisations on the West Somerset Railway have come together to form a Project Board to take forward some exciting new developments at Williton which have two main themes. There is overwhelming support for the creation of a new strategic engineering centre together with the opportunity to sustain the station at Williton as a prime example of a Brunel country branch line passing station. The overall project is being developed with the working title of 'Brunel at Williton'. Further details.

22 December 2016
Details gleaned from website of West Somerset Railway Plc

West Somerset Railway Plc announce new lease flexibilities

The WSR Plc has developed a formal Commercial Negotiation Programme which is reviewing and negotiating both existing and new agreements with railway partners. Somerset County Council have agreed that the Plc can enter into licenses, leases and memoranda of understanding up to the term of the current head lease which, in 2016, has 74 years to run. It had also been hoped to secure an extension to the term of the head lease with the County Council but this has not proved to be commercially achievable at this point in time. In 2017, the Company will intensify its discussions with railway partners to update existing agreements and enter into new ones where required. More information.

21 December 2016
Details gleaned from website of West Somerset Railway Plc

Renewed protection for heritage carriages stabled at Dunster Marsh

Eight volunteers from the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust formed a working party on 27 November 2016 to replace damaged covers on Collett BTK no 5131 which had been damaged by the wind in this exposed spot on Dunster Marsh. Serious damage was also discovered to the cover on the adjacent coach, Toplight TK no 2578, which will have to be dealt with in the closed period in January. Invading undergrowth was also cleared to prevent damage and improve access to the coaches.

21 December 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The former ex-ROF Puriton Barclay twins head for Washford Yard

The two Barclay shunters nos 578 and 579 (which formerly worked at Puriton's Royal Ordnance Factory) have been a familiar sight to visitors to Minehead Station for many years. On Saturday 17 December 2016, the two were coupled together and, with no 579 leading, set off in the dark for Washford. As part of an agreement between the Washford-based Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust and the WSR Plc, it seems no 578 will remain and work the yard at Washford, and no 579 will receive a cosmetic overhaul before returning in 2017 to Minehead as yard shunter.

17 December 2016
Details from local correspondent and West Somerset Railway Plc

Christmas goodies at Minehead Station on Saturday 17 December

This Saturday, 17 December 2016, the West Somerset Railway will be welcoming a charter from London Paddington. The passengers of the charter will be greeted on Minehead Station by The North Devon Pipes and Drums. We will also have a variety of stalls on the station selling Christmas goodies. The station will be open to all from 12pm until 5pm so feel free to come and visit.

14 December 2016
Details gleaned from website of West Somerset Railway Plc

The Quantock Belle dining train in 2017

The Quantock Belle dining train comprising beautifully restored and maintained Mark 1 coaches is owned by the West Somerset Railway Association. In 2017 the dining train will be operated and marketed by the West Somerset Railway Plc.

For enquiries and bookings for the Quantock Belle in 2017, please contact the WSR Plc on 01643 704996 or visit www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk

13 December 2016
Details gleaned from website of West Somerset Railway Association

No 5542 added to 2016 Winter Steam Festival loco line-up

The Facebook page of Locomotive 5542 reports:

The eagle eyed amongst our followers might have noticed that 5542 was recently added to the locos appearing in the forthcoming WSR Winter Gala. We have agreed to remain on the WSR until the New Year to help out with Santa trains and those running between Christmas and the New Year. Those needing a 5542 'fix' will need to take their chances as to when and where 5542 might appear. Hopefully, we will be able to post sightings here so keep a watch out and of course we will be pleased to receive any pictures you take. Seasons Greetings from all on the 5542 team.

12 December 2016
Details gleaned from Locomotive 5542's Facebook page

Latest news from the Steam Trust

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have issued their latest newsletter - issue no 7.

To catch up on all the Trust's activities and news, please visit the newsletter page on the Trust website.

11 December 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Meet author Freddie Huxtable at the Bishops Lydeard Station Shop

Kate Beard, Retail Manager, WSRA Promotions writes:

The Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard is very pleased to announce that Freddie Huxtable, author of the brand new book The Taunton to Barnstaple Line, will be joining us on Friday 30 December, day two of our Winter Steam Festival, to sign copies of his book.

Freddie will be with us from 10.00am to 3.00pm so why not come along to buy your copy before or during your post-Christmas ride on the WSR.

The Taunton to Barnstaple line, also known as the Devon and Somerset Railway, closed just over 50 years ago, and the first few yards of the line now form part of the WSR's Norton Fitzwarren turning triangle. In addition to this connection, the D&SR passed through very similar rolling hills to those on the WSR for much of its length but with the added features of soaring viaducts, tunnels, a classic country junction station and a link to the L&SWR at its western end.

Freddie's new book forms part one of a two volume work with Volume 1 covering the detailed history of the line, the early days and projects and the trials and tribulations of its construction. It traces the decline and closure and looks at what has happened to the trackbed and the station buildings since closure.

Volume 2, due to be published in 2017, will cover a description of the line, its stations, buildings and structures. There will also be chapters on signalling, locomotives and special trains and special events and personal recollections from those who worked on the railway.

Read a review of the book

Contact 01823 432125 or wsrashop@btconnect.com

9 December 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Opening times for the Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard

The Station Shop and Whistle-Stop Cafe at Bishops Lydeard Station have provided the opening times during December 2016.

Saturday 10 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Sunday 11 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Monday 12 December 5.30pm to 7.00pm
Tuesday 13 December 5.00pm to 7.00pm
Saturday 17 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Sunday 18 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Tuesday 20 December 9.30am to 4.30pm
Wednesday 21 December 9.30am to 4.30pm
Thursday 22 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Friday 23 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Saturday 24 December to be announced
Tuesday 27 December to be announced
Wednesday 28 December to be announced
Thursday 29 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Friday 30 December 9.30am to 5.30pm
Saturday 31 December 9.30am to (to be announced)
New Year's Day 20179.30am to (to be announced)


Contact 01823 432125 or wsrashop@btconnect.com

6 December 2016
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Roundabout works causing road delays near Bishops Lydeard Station

Work to construct the roundabout at the Station Road / A358 Junction continues. The A358 is now reduced to a single carriageway past the construction site with 3-way temporary traffic lights. At busy times this is now causing significant delays. Anyone coming to Bishops Lydeard for Santa or other seasonal services should allow a little extra time for their journey.

6 December 2016
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

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