News from June 2009...
Tornado at Lydeard © Steve Huddy
A Blessing at Bishops Lydeard Station
There will be a short afternoon service at Bishops Lydeard Station on Sunday 7 June. During the service, to be held on Platform One, the Vicar of St Mary's Church at Bishops Lydeard, Michael Wishart, will bless the Railway, Bishops Lydeard Station and visiting steam locomotive Tornado. Please note Platform One will be reserved for the service for about an hour from 2.20pm.

31 May 2009 
Details from Bishops Lydeard Station
Mineral Line Bridge © Graham Anderson
Repairs needed for the Mineral Line Bridge
A recent inspection indicates the Mineral Line Bridge at Watchet will need some attention during the coming winter season. Mineral Line Bridge was constructed when the line was extended westwards over 135 years ago and as the name suggests it carried the new railway over the existing West Somerset Mineral Railway tracks which led from the Brendon Hills to the Harbour at Watchet. The stonework is generally in good order and requires some re-pointing and replacement of damaged blocks. The inspection suggests the wrought iron girders and crossbeams will require attention, the extent of which will not be fully understood until the track is lifted. The Railway plan to carry out the work in the winter of 2009-2010. Facing a possible six figure bill, naturally, the Railway are seeking donations from supporters.

31 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc
WSSRT
Heritage Carriages Project moves into next phase
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is pleased to announce that the first phase of its flagship Heritage Carriages Project is complete. The Trust has now acquired sufficient ex-GWR coaches to enable restoration to begin. The first phase of the project was master-minded by Robin White and the Trust directors are very grateful for Robin's enthusiastic help in achieving this task. The second phase of the project will see the Trust, in cooperation with the West Somerset Railway Plc and the West Somerset Railway Association, begin restoration of the coaches. The full story is on the Trust website...

31 May 2009 
Details from WSSRT
WSRA
More news about the Founders Day
Thirty years ago a dedicated group of people watched the first steam train run from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. Enthusiasm ran high on that day, and a small group of people, realising the Railway's potential, led the West Somerset Railway to become the premier tourist attraction in the South West. To honour the 30th anniversary of the founders, the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) is sponsoring a reception, and special dining service on 6 June. Over 30 of the original volunteers, plus their guests, will gather in the Bishops Lydeard Museum on Platform 1 for a celebratory drink, and board the WSRA's own special dining train, the Quantock Belle, for a journey to Minehead. And even better, a special visiting engine, Tornado, the brand new A1 Class Pacific no 60163, will take them on this nostalgic trip. The full story is on the WSRA website...

31 May 2009 
Details from WSRA
Norton Platform
Good news for Norton Platform
Taunton Deane Borough Council has granted Planning Approval for the four coach platform at Norton Fitzwarren allowing the WSR Association to start work on the project. Time is tight and the WSRA's contractors John Luffman Trading - have accepted the challenge and hope to have the platform finished and ready for use for the Steam Fayre and Vintage Rally in August. Final approval to use the platform will be required from the Office of Rail Regulation.

28 May 2009 
Details from WSRA
Tornado
Footplate rides aboard Tornado on the WSR
Tornado footplate rides on offer at the West Somerset Railway. The Railway is pleased to announce that the owners of Tornado have agreed that a limited number of footplate rides can be offered to members of the public during the locomotive's stay on the Railway. The footplate rides available are from Williton to Minehead, from Minehead to Watchet and from Williton to Bishops Lydeard. The cost for each journey will be £125.00 Dates available to first come, first served enquirers are
Wednesday 3 JuneAfternoon only
Thursday 4 JuneAfternoon only
Friday 5 JuneMorning only
Saturday 6 JuneAfternoon only
Sunday 7 June Morning and afternoon
Monday 8 June Afternoon only
Tuesday 9 JuneMorning and afternoon
Wednesday 10 JuneAfternoon only
Thursday 11 JuneMorning and afternoon
Purchasers will be sent the necessary documents and the details of where they need to be at the start of their journey for this very special offer. Enquries to 01643 704996 9am to 5pm allowing at least three working days to get paperwork to the traveller.

28 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc
No 60163 © Dr Peter Darke
The imminent visit of Tornado
The visit to Minehead of the celebrated brand new steam locomotive edges ever closer. On 30 May, LNER 4-6-2 no 60163 Tornado will bring the excursion from Gloucester onto the West Somerset Railway at Norton Fitzwarren Junction at around 6.15pm, arriving at Minehead at 7.47pm. The locomotive will then remain on the WSR for a couple of weeks - Tornado Fortnight and a starring role at the Mixed Traffic Weekend. The return Gloucester excursion on 30 May will leave at 8.40pm, diesel hauled, with the resident diesel locomotive Class 47 no D1661 North Star as pilot as far as Bishops Lydeard.

27 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc and local correspondent
Quantock Belle
The Quantock Belle, Heritage Diesels and Tornado
The details of the all-day hot meals services at the Mixed Traffic Weekend have been confirmed. The Quantock Belle restaurant car service offers its popular breakfast and other hot meals together with a bar and buffet service on every day of the Mixed Traffic Weekend event. On Friday 12 June and Sunday 14 June, the service will run on the 9.15am from Bishops Lydeard, the 10.57am from Minehead, the 12.40pm from Bishops Lydeard and the 2.40pm from Minehead. On Saturday 13 June, the service will run behind Tornado departing Bishops Lydeard at 11.00am and 2.30pm, and departing Minehead at 12.47pm and 4.35pm. Details on the Mixed Traffic Weekend page.

20 May 2009 
Details from Quantock Belle
No 60163 © Dr Peter Darke
Tornado tours to Cardiff and Minehead in May
Two special excursion trains starting from Bristol on 30 May will bring 21st century steam to Cardiff, Gloucester and Minehead. The two "Severn Coast Express" trains have been organised by Pathfinder Tours. The first train, diesel hauled, departs Bristol Temple Meads at 7.30am on Saturday 30 May picking up passengers at Bristol Parkway and Cam & Dursley. At Gloucester, the brand new steam locomotive Peppercorn A1 4-6-2 no 60163 Tornado replaces the diesel locomotive and takes the train to Cardiff via Chepstow and Newport. After a two and half hour break, the train returns to Bristol Temple Meads via the Severn Tunnel. The second train, departing diesel hauled from Gloucester at 3.45pm calling at Cam & Dursley and Bristol Parkway, is timed to leave Bristol Temple Meads at 5.05pm now with Tornado in charge for a trip to Minehead via Taunton and the West Somerset Railway. Full details about these two excursions from Pathfinder Tours. And of course, the WSR's Tornado Fortnight starts on 1 June...

19 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc
No 6705
News from the Steam Trust
A record turnout for the recent West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Annual General Meeting. The turnout possibly reflects the current interest in the Trust's high profile Heritage Carriages Project. Chairman of the Trust, Chris Dowrick, outlined where the Project had now reached. See the Trust website. The first phase of the Project - collecting suitable vehicles - is now over and the second phase, the actual restoration, could begin. In order to manage this, the Trust has formed a sub-committee which has representatives from the WSR Plc, the WSR Association and the WSSRT. Chris also announced that Ian Coleby had been appointed chairman of the sub committee. The first priority of the Project is to return ex-GWR BCK no 6705 to traffic.

19 May 2009 
Details from WSSRT
WSRA
Founders Day
A new initiative will celebrate the pioneering attitude of the founding members of the West Somerset Railway Association. Plans are being finalised for a special train - using the Quantock Belle stock - to be run for limited number of invited guests to celebrate "Founders Day" on the evening of 6 June. The guest list is now completed and invitations have been sent to those members who were around in the early days and who laid the foundations for the successful Railway we see today.

Updated: 21 May 2009 
Details from WSRA
Crowcombe © Jon Tooke
Crowcombe Heathfield Station Open Day
The Crowcombe Heathfield Station Group have announced a major fund rasing event for the summer. On 30 July, the Group will be holding a "Station Open Day". Attractions will include visits to the working Signal Box; guided tours of the Station and Track Exhibition; display of "O" Gauge Hornby Tinplate Trains; railwayana display and a visual history of the Station. Admission will be by Souvenir Platform Ticket at £1 each. Parking will be limited so please travel to Crowcombe Heathfield by train. Refreshments will be available including morning coffee, Plateplayers Lunch and cream teas. Raffle tickets are also available now and the draw will take place on the day at 3.45pm. Please support this event at the award-winning Crowcombe Heathfield Station.

16 May 2009 
Details from Crowcombe Heathfield Station Group
D1010
Campaigner will miss the Mixed Traffic event...
It has been confirmed that Western no D1010 will miss the Mixed Traffic event in June. Progress continues at Williton on the rebuild of the MD655 engine for Class 52 Western D1010 Western Campaigner. However, despite an excellent effort, the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group team will not achieve a working locomotive in time for the Mixed Traffic Weekend which will be a great disappointment for Western fans.

15 May 2009 
Details from SEPT
No 169 © Ian Grady
Autocoach no 169 progressing nicely...
With regular working parties of up to six helpers, good progress on GWR Autotrailer no 169 at Williton has been made in the last few months. The experience gained in the early stages of the Auto 169 Project is now really beginning to bear fruit; production of the various major components is more efficient with a range of updated formers and templates in use. Discussions on the overhaul of the main frame and chassis are underway with West Somerset Restoration. The Auto 169 team welcome anyone interested in assisting the project. Working parties usually take place on two days each week and there is a whole range of work for all abilities available. Watch out for more major news soon.

13 May 2009 
Details from Locomotive 5542 Ltd
D1010
Campaigner may miss the Mixed Traffic event...
Progress continues at Williton on the rebuild of the MD655 engine for Class 52 Western D1010. However, the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group team may not achieve a working locomotive in time for the Mixed Traffic Weekend which will be a great disappointment for Western fans. However the team continue to progress the many other jobs outstanding on the locomotive including a full set of batteries which allowed full electrical testing to commence. When and if we get definite news (the Special Events Planning Team seem unable to communicate), we will update these pages.

Updated 14 May 2009 
Details from local correspondent
1940s event
News from the Quantock Belle...
The themed dining train planned to run to the 1940s Event at Minehead on 6 June has been cancelled. The event itself will not go ahead. Meantime, plans are being finalised for a possible evening Quantock Belle to be run for invited guests to celebrate "Founders Day" on 6 June - close to the 30th anniversary of the line being fully opened to Bishops Lydeard and Crowcombe Heathfield. And the Belle team are invited, along with other WSR volunteers, to a special WSR Plc train for volunteers on the evening of 11 June behind Tornado.

Updated 16 May 2009 
Details from local correspondent
Tornado © Peter Darke
Limit on advance tickets for Tornado...
As mentioned below, the forthcoming visit of a brand new steam locomotive seems to be attracting a lot of interest from folks wanting to ride behind the engine. LNER A1 4-6-2 no 60163 Tornado is due to visit the West Somerset Railway at the end of May for a long fortnight running on the Minehead Branch - the Tornado Fortnight. Interest is very high with advance tickets selling very well. Already no more advance tickets are available for 7 June to allow for passengers turning up on the day.

12 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc
Proposed platform at Norton © David Holmes
Norton Platform news
The original planning application for the platform at Norton Fitzwarren was withdrawn due to objections raised by the county highway authority about the increased level of car access. The WSR Association have now re-entered the application with the potential for overspill car parking from Bishops Lydeard during busy days removed and trust that the revised form will be acceptable to Highways. If the application is successful then the platform should be ready for the Steam Rally in August, although the concrete may still be curing...

12 May 2009 
Details from WSRA
Watchet Footbridge © Chris Osment
Watchet Footbridge to be renovated
West Somerset Council is preparing to work on the repair and repaint of Watchet Footbridge over the next twelve months. Although this will mean the erection of scaffolding and the closure of the line for an agreed period during the winter months this can certainly be viewed as good news at last, as although legally the bridge is not part of the WSR's maintenance responsibilities the general public inevitably assume that its condition is down to the Railway.

12 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc
D7017 © Jon Tooke
Diesel delight...
A successful loaded test run for Hymek no D7017 on the Minehead Branch.The owners of the Hymek, the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group, report an excellent test run on Saturday 9 May. The diesel hydraulic locomotive hauled a test train in excess of 350 tons from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and back. On the return journey, the Hymek restarted the train with no difficulty, during planned stops on Washford Bank and near Stogumber. No D7017 was accompanied throughout by Class 33 no 6566 which was added in case of problems, but not called on to assist. A great success for the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group who carried out the four year overhaul of the Hymek.

9 May 2009 
Details from DEPG
D832
Getting ready for the Mixed Traffic event...
The four visiting locomotives for the Mixed Traffic Weekend have been confirmed. Class 42 Warship no D832 Onslaught is already on the line on loan to the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group from the Bury Hydraulic Group based on the East Lancashire Railway. The next arrival will be newly built steam locomotive A1 Pacific no 60163 Tornado due to arrive with a Pathfinder tour from Gloucester and Bristol on the evening of Saturday 30 May. Diesel hydraulic Class 14 no D9520 should arrive by road from the Nene Valley Railway during the week before the Gala. Finally Class 52 Western no D1062 Western Courier arrives by rail from Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway courtesy of First GBRf on 10 June if all goes to plan. Some doubt remains on the completion in time for the event of the overhaul of home-based Western no D1010 Western Campaigner. Full details of the event can be found on the Mixed Traffic Weekend page.

8 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc
Thomas © Kevin Weston
Thomas returns to Minehead in July...
The little blue tank engine will return to Minehead in July for a weekend of fun. On 4 and 5 July, meet Thomas, his friends and "Sir Topham Hatt, the Fat Controller", each day at Minehead from 10.30am. Look out for Henry, Daisy, Mavis's Cousin Maud and many others. Short train rides with Thomas, Bill and Ben. "Mrs Kyndley's Tea Shop" will be open. And there are free vintage bus rides through Minehead from 10.30am to 5pm. Full details, train times and booking information can be found on the Days Out with Thomas page...

7 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc
Old Steamer
Old Steamer arrives...
The West Somerset Railway in partnership with Cotleigh Brewery are pleased to announce the arrival of Old Steamer. Old Steamer is a bright golden beer which is smooth and malty with a background honey flavour offering a refreshing citrus smooth finish. Available on the West Somerset Railway this partnership beer will be pleasing customers throughout the 2009 season.

6 May 2009 
Details from WSR Catering Department
Tornado © Peter Darke
Limit on advance tickets for Tornado...
The forthcoming visit of a brand new steam locomotive seems to be attracting a lot of interest from folks wanting to ride behind the engine. Construction by the A1 Locomotive Trust of LNER A1 4-6-2 no 60163 Tornado was completed in 2008 and the locomotive is due to visit the West Somerset Railway at the end of May for a long fortnight running on the Minehead Branch - the Tornado Fortnight. Interest is very high with advance tickets selling very well. One or two of the Tornado days are beginning to approach the "sell out" stage and to allow for passengers turning up on each of the running days, the Railway has placed a limit of 240 tickets in advance per day.

6 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc
Heritage Carriages © Mike Dunse
Two more heritage carriages to arrive...
Plans are in hand to move the two ex-GWR carriages at Buckfastleigh to the West Somerset Railway. The two vehicles are Collett coach no 4546 and Toplight no 3665. A third carriage acquired from the South Devon Railway, Toplight no 3631, has already made the move from Buckfastleigh to Williton. Meantime, the Heritage Carriages working group (consisting of members of WSR Plc, WSR Association and the Trust) continue to progress and manage the Project. Mark Smith, Company Chairman advises that the Company has now reimbursed the developer of the Bishops Lydeard Station Farm site for the costs incurred in obtaining the necessary planning consents and associated legal fees.

6 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc
Cutting Back
Cutting back at Allerford Junction...
The WSR Association Cutting Back Gang will be in action again on 9-10 May. This time, the Gang will tackle undergrowth on the former down formation at Allerford Junction, clearing the trackbed of grass, weeds, brambles. This will make the HOBC driver walking route safer and prepare the ground for a proposed headshunt. Parking will be on the hard standing inside the WSRA Norton site. New members welcome. Later in the month, professional tree surgeons will carry out essential safety work on several trees at Stogumber Station.

2 May 2009 
Details from WSRA
Steam Engineman
Vacant place on Steam Engineman course for 8 May...
A lucky chance for someone to attend a Steam Engineman Stage Six Course. A vacant place is unexpectedly available for the Stage Six course on 8 May. A Stage Six gives the participant who has completed Stages One to Four the chance to Drive, Fire and Shunt the West Somerset Railway's Heritage Freight Train on a recreation of the Pick-up Freight train so typical of the Steam worked freights over many Branch lines. Take the wagons to the various yards on the line on the way from Bishops Lydeard and pick them up on the return to Minehead. A 7.30am start with a 6pm finish. The Cost of this Course is 395.00 including a meal and VAT, but any sensible offer considered...

1 May 2009 
Details from WSR Plc