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The 2015 West Somerset Railway calendar is now available...

WSR

Nicely in time for the Spring Steam Gala, the 2015 West Somerset Railway Calendar has now arrived at Minehead Station Shop and will no doubt be finding its way to the sales counters along the railway. The Calendar follows the usual design of a page to a month including January 2016 and the picture for the month can be subsequently torn off and used as a postcard. Make a purchase call 01643 700387 between 10.30am and 3.30pm on Fridays or travel down by train on a Saturday or Sunday to buy one. Cost is £5 over the counter or £6 by post. There is even a nice envelope to post it in if being bought for a present.

28 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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A great time expected at next WSRA Taunton Group meeting...

WSR

Just a reminder that David Oldham is presenting his 2013 DVD clips at the WSRA Taunton Group meeting on next Monday evening at the Great Western Sports and Athletics Club Taunton at 7.45pm. This event is sure to be a brilliant evening for all lovers of steam trains and covers steam specials throughout the British Isles last year and will be an evening to celebrate that steam on the main line is still alive in a big way. Why not come along for a superb evening. For more details about the Taunton Group please see click here.

28 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Association WSR
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Looking for somewhere to stay during the Spring Gala...

WSR

With just under four weeks to the Spring Steam Gala, visitors may be looking for accommodation for a night or two. Many providers in the Minehead and Blue Anchor area are filling up or already full. The best guide to finding somewhere for one or more nights to stay is to talk to the local experts in the Tourist Information Centres. The local contact phone numbers are Taunton 01823 336344, Watchet 01984 632101 and Porlock 01643 863150. If staying in Taunton the half hourly bus service - Buses of Somerset number 28 - runs Mondays to Saturdays from the town centre Bus Station via Taunton Railway Station directly to a stop outside the Booking Office at Bishops Lydeard Station. Note that on Sundays it is an hourly service. For more accommodation ideas, please see click here.

28 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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An update from the Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard...

WSR

Since New Year, the Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard has been through something of a transformation to give a lighter, brighter look. Kate Beard, Retail Manager with West Somerset Railway Association reports "Thanks must go to John Baines and the RAMS team, Harry Kirkland, Keith Sandford, Norman Barker, the Wednesday crew and the numerous WSRA volunteers who have helped out with this to ensure we were ready in time for the start of the new retail season last month." For the full update, including detals of a limited edition 00 gauge wagon, sale promotions, book signings, discounts for staff, new offerings in the Cafť, please see click here.

28 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Association WSR
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After sponsor a block, it will be sponsor a slate...

WSR

The Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station say the response to their 'sponsor a sandstone block' for the proposed Goods Office rebuild has exceeded expectations. Of 220 'blocks' on offer, only 25 remain. In addition, the appeal has received donations of £860. Never to let the grass grow under their feet, the Friends are planning a 'sponsor a slate' at £5 a slate - the new appeal will follow once all blocks are duly sponsored. The drawings of the Goods office showing all the sponsors are on show in the Station Waiting Room. For more about this inspirational Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station project, please click here.

24 February 2014
Details from Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station WSR
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Southern Echoes: West Somerset Railway Gala Night Shoot

WSR

David Williams has announced a Photographic Night Shoot at Williton Station on Friday 28 March 2014. The distinctly Southern Railway flavour to this year's Spring Steam Gala on the West Somerset Railway will see Southern Railway 2-6-0 no 31806 as one of the guest locomotives. No 31806 will feature in the Shoot and will arrive at Williton Station at around 6.15pm on Friday 28 March, at the head of a ballast train and a Southern Region brake van. The loco and its train will then be posed in various locations for the participating photographers. Here is the link to the full details and booking form (link opens in new window)

24 February 2014
Details from local correspondent
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The 2014 Autumn Steam Gala begins to take shape...

WSR

The Special Events Planning Team at the West Somerset Railway is beginning to get plans in place for the 2014 WSR Autumn Steam Gala which will take place between 2 and 5 October. The first engines to augment the home fleet are GWR 4-6-0 no 4936 Kinlet Hall and GWR 2-6-2T no 5542. The Gala will be taking as its theme the 50th Anniversary of the closure of Taunton locoshed (83B in BR days) to steam in October 1964 which also saw the ending of steam trains on the Taunton-Barnstaple line that closed altogether two years later. Other locomotives of types familiar at Taunton in the early 1960s are being sourced. SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 88 will feature on Sunday 5 October - it is scheduled for withdrawal for general overhaul and this event will be its last appearance at a WSR Gala until 2016.

21 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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First ever Ladies Day on the West Somerset Railway

WSR

The West Somerset Railway will be holding its first ever Ladies Day on Saturday 10 May 2014 which combines a steam train ride with a series of attractions for the lady passenger at Minehead Station. Organised by Lynda Fleet and Judy Hall of the WSR's Retail Department, visitors will find at Minehead Station between 10am and 4pm a fashion show (courtesy of the Minehead retailer Hobbs Woman), cocktails, afternoon teas, and alternative therapies including reflexology. Lynda and Judy are planning to keep the first event small scale to make sure that all runs smoothly and to showcase the often-overlooked fact that whilst the West Somerset has an evocation of the great days of railway travel as the core of its business, much more can be offered during a day out. For more about the Ladies Day event please click here.

21 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Three steam engines in action on 26 March 2014

WSR

One of the guest steam engines hired-in for the 2014 Spring Steam Gala will be working services on the railway on Wednesday 26 March. The locomotive in question will be Southern Railway West Country Pacific 4-6-2 no 34007 Wadebridge which will be heading trains alongside GWR Modified Hall 4-6-0 no 6960 Raveningham Hall and one of the WSR's home-based locos. Here is the timetable for Weds 26 March. For more about the Spring Steam Gala please click here.

21 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Drive a steam loco for a fiver at the Spring Steam Gala

WSR

The Driver for a Fiver feature at the 2014 Spring Steam Gala is planned to operate for two days at Minehead Station, Friday 28 March and Saturday 29 March. The locomotive to be used will be Peckett 0-4-0ST no 1766 Kilmersdon built in 1929 and now in the care of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust at Washford. The engine has a particular place in the history of Somerset as it was the last steam engine to work in industry until Kilmersdon Colliery closed in 1972. For more about the Spring Steam Gala please click here.

21 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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The Crowcombe Heathfield Goods Office Sandstone Block Sponsorship

WSR

The Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station (FoCHS) have excellent progress by the 'sponsor a sandstone block' scheme. Each block already sponsored is shown on a detailed poster-sized architect's drawing of the Office which is now on display on the wall of the Waiting Room. Just a few of the back wall and one whole side elevation remain for would-be sponsors. So don't leave it any longer folks - get your name on one of the remaining blocks as soon as possible! More...

19 February 2014
Details from Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station WSR
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Diesel hydraulics arrive at Bishops Lydeard after dark

WSR

Class 42 Warship no D821 Greyhound and Class 52 Western No D1015 Western Champion are currently at Bishops Lydeard Station after running together from Kidderminster to West Somerset. D821 will move to the DEPG at Williton for attention before appearing at the Mixed Traction Weekend in June; D1015 is not staying and will return to mainline duties before appearing at that event. For more about the Mixed Traction Weekend please click here.

19 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Spring Steam Gala literary event update

WSR

Railway author, Julian Holland, will be signing copies of his new book 'Railway Day Trips' at Minehead Station on the Saturday and Sunday of the Spring Steam Gala. The book, usual price £14.99, will be available at a special price of £12.00 for the days of the signing. The History Press will no longer be attending the Literary Festival. For more about the Spring Steam Gala please click here.

19 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Lots to see at Washford Station during the Spring Steam Gala

WSR

Examples of rolling stock restored by the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust will be on display at Washford Station during the West Somerset Railway's Spring Steam Gala (27-30 March 2014). First class six-wheel coach no 4 will be exhibited alongside an un-restored third class coach to illustrate the immaculate exterior restoration of no 4 completed last year. Two wagons recently overhauled by Trust volunteers will also be on display, a LMS 12-ton 7-plank mineral wagon dating from around 1936, fitted with a tarpaulin cover, and a London & South Western Railway brakevan (or road van), built in 1900 and vacuum fitted for traffic from Southampton Docks. The Trust's SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 88, taking a break from hauling trains on the line between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead, will be in steam at Washford, providing token exchange demonstrations using the Whitaker automatic apparatus. Elsewhere, a second loco in SDJR blue livery, the Trust's Peckett 0-4-0ST Kilmersdon will be in use at Minehead for shunting demonstrations and the 'driver for a fiver' experience. For more about the Spring Steam Gala please click here.

14 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Come see the Powderham Signal Box exhibit during the Spring Steam Gala

WSR

The Powderham Signal Box exhibit, located at the Gauge Museum, Bishops Lydeard Station, will be in action on Saturday 29 March and Sunday 30 March with regular signalling demonstrations. Experience the sights and sounds of a busy signal box during the 1950s, and find out more about the mysteries of signalling from our knowledgeable guides. For more about the Spring Steam Gala please click here.

13 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Two visiting unrebuilt Bulleid Pacifics for Spring Steam Gala

WSR

The guest locomotive line-up for the West Somerset Railway 2014 Spring Steam Gala has been completed with Bulleid West Country 4-6-2 no 34007 Wadebridge joining fellow 'unrebuilt' Manston (no 34070) for the four day event between 27 and 30 March 2014. The other pair of visitors will be GWR Mogul 2-6-0 no 5322 and Southern Railway U Class 2-6-0 no 31806. They will work train services alongside resident steam engines GWR 2-6-2T no 4160, GWR 4-6-0 no 6960 Raveningham Hall and GWR 4-6-0 no 7828 Norton Manor. GWR 2-8-0 no 3850 is the designated spare engine whilst SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 88 will join Peckett 0-4-0ST Kilmersdon at the Washford base of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust.

12 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Statement by WSR Plc on Council's decision to sell the WSR freehold

WSR

Following the decision of Somerset County Council on Friday 7 February to sell the freehold of Englandís longest heritage railway, the West Somerset Railway Plc, one of the two bidders for the freehold, has issued the following statement: "Somerset County Council has confirmed that a decision has been taken by the delegated cabinet member to sell the freehold of the West Somerset Railway. Their officer's report confirms that SCC must go through a full due diligence review of whom to sell to of the two interested parties before any decision can be taken. Any proposed solution must meet all the requirements that have been laid down to the Council by the Office of Rail Regulation who advises the Secretary of State for Transport, and their full approvals for any transfer and sale will have to be obtained. SCC has also confirmed that because of its importance to the local economy, nothing will be done to jeopardise the ongoing success of the West Somerset Railway. In order to avoid any possibility of closure during the transfer process orders for operating the railway must be in place at all times. The Light Railway Order currently vests the powers to operate a railway only with the County Council or the West Somerset Railway plc, so if the land was sold to any other third party, unnamed in the existing order, the West Somerset Railway would be closed for the running of trains until statutory powers were obtained by the new owner/operator. It would not reopen until powers were obtained. As the current operator of the railway WSR plc is already holder of the statutory operating rights and a transfer to the plc would avoid this problem. Because objections to an application for a new order by a third party would lead to uncertainty, and with a public enquiry incurring very high costs, the report stipulates that the purchaser must pay all such resulting enquiry costs. We look forward to working with SCC and all our partners during the due diligence process to show how the plc option provides the solution."

10 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Make tracks for the 2014 Minehead Winter Festival

WSR

The Minehead Winter Festival is once again being held at the seaside town between 18 and 22 February 2014. Several events are easily accessible from Minehead Railway Station and the West Somerset Railway are running steam trains between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead on the 15, 16, 18, 19, 22 and 23 February. For more information about the Festival call Minehead TIC on 01643 702624 or click here or try the West Somerset Railway website. The first steam train from Bishops Lydeard departs at 10.25am and reaches Minehead at 11.43am. The last train of the day (steam) leaves Minehead at 4.15pm and reaches Bishops Lydeard at 5.31pm.

10 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Somerset County Council decide to dispose of WSR freehold

WSR

The freehold of West Somerset Railway could be sold after a decision by Somerset County Council earlier today. A decision was taken by Councillor David Huxtable, Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Resources, to dispose of the freehold - subject to necessary consents and approval by the Secretary of State. The move is in line with the council's policy of reducing its property portfolio to save money and reduce liabilities. As the heritage railway line is of economic and social importance to the county, a sale will only go ahead if certain criteria are met. Councillor Huxtable said "We have always said that the council is not in the railways business and it makes sense to consider selling the West Somerset Railway to a dedicated group who can completely focus on maintaining and improving the line." More...

8 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Association WSR
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New membership cards for West Somerset Railway Association

WSR

The Trustees are pleased to announce that the West Somerset Railway Association is in the process of a complete re-issue of membership cards. The new system will include a membership card (two for joint or family memberships) as well as a travel warrant(s) valid for the free Day Rover on the West Somerset Railway. The travel warrant can be exchanged for a ticket at a booking office, or given to the Travelling Ticket Inspector on the train. More...

6 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Association WSR
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Good progress with fundraising for the Goods Office

WSR

The Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station (FoCHS) have today reported £1500 has already been raised by the 'sponsor a sandstone block' scheme. FoCHS say ""The plan showing all the blocks sponsored, with the sponsor names, and the blocks still available for sponsorship, should be on display when we open on 15 February 2014. We need lots more sponsors!" More...

5 February 2014
Details from Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station WSR
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Another sales stand due at the Spring Steam Gala

WSR

Colin Howard, the WSR Plc retail manager reports that another information and sales stand will be found at Minehead on two days of the four day Spring Steam Gala. On 29 and 30 March, a team from 71000 Duke of Gloucester will be found with their sales and information stand under the canopy at Minehead. Colin is also pleased to say that the Railway and Transport Literature Festival is now fully subscribed with attending publishers. Update: John Cowlishaw will again be at Minehead selling his wooden replica nameplates, number plates and shed plates, on 27, 28 and 29 March. In addition the admission charge to the model railway exhibition which will be sharing the marquee with the Literature Festival on the 28-30 March will only apply to those who arrive without WSR travel tickets. Admission to the Literature Festival is free for all. More about the Spring Steam Gala can be found here.

4 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Somerset and Dorset Railway Musuem at Washford open in February

WSR

The Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust Museum at Washford Station will be open on 15, 16, 18, 20, 22 and 23 February. The Museum houses a large number of artefacts from the line which once linked Bath (Green Park) and Bournemouth (West) with branch lines to Burnham-on-Sea, Wells and Bridgwater. Torre Cider Farm is about 25 minutes walk from the station and will be open on all of these days. More about the Trust here.

4 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Plc WSR
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Drive a classic diesel loco on the West Somerset Railway

WSR

The West Somerset Railway in partnership with the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group offer a one day course to realise ambitions to drive a Heritage Diesel Locomotive and so make long term held dreams a reality. Join the driver in the cab to take the seat and experience the feel of a working Class 33 diesel electric locomotive. Full details here.

2 February 2014
Details from local correspondent
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Making way for the Crowcombe Heathfield Station Goods Office

WSR

The ground has been prepared for the relocation of the Lamp Room, presently standing on the foundations of the original Goods Office. For pictures see here and here. The Station folks give thanks to the WSR's S&T and Permanent Way departments for the donation of materials for the sleeper wall. The next stage will be to install the base and then move the hut so the foundations of the Goods Office can be cleared. More...

2 February 2014
Details from Friends of Crowcombe Heathfield Station WSR
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News about the freehold of the West Somerset Railway

WSR

Officers from Somerset County Council, who currently own the freehold of the West Somerset Railway (WSR), have formally recommended that the freehold should be sold. The Director of Business Support at Somerset County Council (SCC) has put a formal recommendation to SCC's Cabinet concerning the disposal of the freehold of the WSR. A recommendation about purchasers will be made at a later date.The full paper can be read here.

1 February 2014
Details from West Somerset Railway Association WSR
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