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WSR News from April 2008
• A bit of a cover up at Minehead...
Tarpaulin © Brian Hart

Another of the heritage carriages is covered up. On Saturday 26 April, four members of the Heritage Carriages Project, who also form the Autotrailer 169 restoration team, visited Minehead to fit the recently purchased "experimental" design tarpaulin sheet to ex-GWR Toplight Coach no 2578. The job was successfully completed in about 4½ hours but not without some testing moments. The sheets were made to measure and supplied in two sections sufficiently long to allow an overlap of about 5ft and possibly allow re-use on other length vehicles at some future date. With three of the Heritage Carriages Project stock now afforded some protection from the worst elements of the British weather and a further two or three carriages urgently requiring covering for protection and transport, the design will now be suitably modified to make future fitting exercises a little easier particularly where space and mechanical assistance is limited.

30 April 2008 
Details from WSSRT

• Award for WSR-based model railway...
Taunton Model Railway Group © Adam Ashford

The Taunton Model Railway Group are delighted to have won a prestigious award. The readers of the "Hornby Magazine"have voted TMRG’s 4 mm scale model of the Somerset and Dorset/Midland Railway station at Bath Green Park their "Layout of the Year" and the Cup will be presented at the Thornbury Model Railway Exhibition on Saturday May 3rd. Anyone who has seen the layout which represents the station in the 1950s/1960s will know that the prize is very well deserved. If you haven’t seen the model for yourself and would like to do so the next public opening of the TMRG Club Room at Bishops Lydeard Station will be during the Mixed Traffic Weekend.

30 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc

• Additional Bank Holiday Weekend trains...
DMU

The chance to travel on the Norton Fitzwarren section over the Bank Holiday Weekend. The 11.25am from Minehead Diesel Multiple Unit service after calling at Bishops Lydeard will leave again at 12.50pm and continue to Norton Fitzwarren on Saturday 3, Sunday 4 and Monday 5 May. A reminder that passengers cannot leave the train at Norton Fitzwarren. Upon arrival back at Bishops Lydeard at 1.25pm the DMU will run to sidings for service before the next booked duty, the 3.15pm to Minehead. The good news is that standard day rover tickets will include this extra trip. Return tickets are also available, for example from Watchet to Norton Fitzwarren and back will cost £12.20 (adult), £10.40 (senior), £6.10 (child); and from Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren and back will cost £5.40 (adult), £4.60 (senior), £2.70 (child).

29 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc

• Take a Coach to see the Carriages...
Heritage Carriages © WSSRT

Just a few seats left for the forthcoming coach trip to the Severn Valley Railway. At the invitation of the Severn Valley Carriage & Wagon Department at Kidderminster, the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have arranged a visit to the SVR on Saturday 10 May 2008. A coach will leave Minehead station at 7am, picking up at Bishops Lydeard Station, Williton Station, Bridgwater Station and Gordano M5 Services near Bristol. The invitation extends to a private tour of the Kidderminster Carriage Works, which is not normally open to the public, and which is very well set up for the maintenance of vintage carriages. Several equivalents of the carriages which will be part of the WSR Heritage fleet will be available for inspection. The usual delights of the SVR will then be available for the rest of the day, including the newly-opened "Engine House" at Highley. Book early as this is bound to be a popular trip! Full details...

29 April 2008 
Details from WSSRT

• Open day at Washford...
No 88 © Lois Cope

The Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust are holding an Open Day at their Washford Station Museum on Sunday 27 April and there will be two steam engines on site. One is the Trust’s 7F 2-8-0 no 88 whilst the other is the Peckett 0-4-0ST no 1788 "Kilmersdon" which was the last steam engine to work in industry in Somerset. Visitors should also have the chance to see the ongoing work on wagon and coach restoration carried out by Trust members, including the ongoing work on Coach no 4 which was built at Highbridge as long ago as 1886. The replica of Midford signal box lets you try your hand at working an interlocked frame and the Museum houses a splendid array of S&D artefacts and relics both large and small. Car Parking at Washford is very limited so by far the best way to get to the Open Day is by WSR train...

26 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc

• Dartmoor trip is cancelled...
Bay Road

The WSR Assocation Taunton Group trip to Dartmoor has been cancelled. The trip was arranged for Bank Holiday Monday 5 May to the Dartmoor Railway and/or the Devon Railway Centre. The reason for this withdrawal is that the Dartmoor Railway has recently ceased activities. Furthermore, it would appear the numbers likely to visit the Devon Railway Centre are too low for the Centre to operate trains. The next meeting of the WSRA Taunton Group is now to be on Monday 2 June when the excellent photographer Ed Hurst is due to give a talk entitled "Mainline Steam in Medium Format".

25 April 2008 
Details from WSRA

• The Bay Road is reinstated...
Bay Road

Rails are being re-instated at the end of the Bay Road at Minehead. This activity, carried out by the WSR Plc Permanent Way Gang, is a clear signal of the start of the final phases of the turntable project. The way is also being prepared to connect the turntable to the Bay Loop line. Further evidence of good progress is the installation of the substantial buffer stop at the turntable site.

24 April 2008 
Details from local correspondent

• Lots going on over the May Day Weekend...
Bus

Watchet

Extra May Day attractions make a trip on the train even better. On Sunday 4 May and Monday 5 May the Railway will be operating a vintage bus link (using a vehicle from the Quantock Heritage Fleet) to carry passengers between Dunster Station and Dunster Village. Good if you catch a train to Dunster Station and then want to enjoy Dunster itself. And if you are in Dunster Village use the bus to the Railway Station for a train ride. WSR passengers can obtain a very generous discount on admission to Dunster Castle and its Gardens by showing your train tickets at the entrance gates. Meantime, Sunday 4 May sees the start of a new venture, regular Craft Markets on the Esplanade at Watchet, all of two minutes from Watchet Station, and open from 10am to 4pm, featuring a range of products from local crafts folk. It is also worthwhile exploring the remainder of Watchet with its selection of small shops and places to eat and drink. On Monday 5 May there is a May Fayre in Minehead between 10am and 4pm at St Andrew’s Church and in Wellington Square (10-15 minutes walk through the town centre from Minehead Station). There will be a display of vintage motorcycles, children’s games, musical entertainment, a Fair Trade Produce stall and all the other stalwarts of May Fayres including raffle, cake and preserves stall, bric-a-brac and tombola. Other places to visit include Washford with Cleeve Abbey and Torre Cider Farm or, if the weather turns terrific there is the seaside at Blue Anchor or Minehead. Train Times...

24 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc

• Marshalls and Sweepers wanted...
Line Walk

Wanted - volunteers required to assist with coast walk along the WSR on Sunday 16 November 2008. Volunteers are required to be marshalls to supervise the walkers, and sweepers to ensure that the line is clear after the last walker. A meeting to get the team together will be held on Friday 20th June in Brunel House, Bishops Lydeard at 7.45pm. Alternatively ring Mike Webber on 07795 95 88 18. The Coast Walk is being organised by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust to help raise funds for the Heritage Carriages Project. A poster giving full details is available for download...

19 April 2008 
Details from WSSRT

• Warship arrives on the Minehead Branch...
D832 © Malc Stacey

The first visiting locomotive booked for the Mixed Traffic event in June has arrived. On 18 Apri 2008, diesel-hydraulic Class 42 Warship no D832 Onslaught arrived by road from Lancashire. D832 is here courtesy of the Bury Hydraulic Group who are based on the East Lancashire Railway. Currently the locomotive is awaiting repair of a cylinder head gasket exhaust blow. The Bury Team have no spare resources to repair the problem this year because of other priorities and have agreed for the repair to be carried out by the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group experts at their Williton workshops. Onslaught was towed from Bishops Lydeard to Williton by Class 33 no D6566. Everyone is confident the Warship will take a starring role at the Mixed Traffic Weekend...

18 April 2008 
Details from local correspondents and DEPG

• The main gate is open again...
Gate

The main entrance gate at Minehead Station is open again. During the extensive refurbishment works on the whole of the area next to the Station, access to the platforms, shops and offices has been gained by way of temporary gates and pathways. Following completion and approval of the paved areas around the Booking Office, the padlock to the main gate was somewhat ceremoniously removed by WSR General Manager, Paul Conibeare on Friday 18 April 2008. David Rees from South West Regional Development Agency, who co-funded the whole regeneration project, was on hand to congratulate the General Manager.

18 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc

• District Council consider needs of railway...
Vulcan Road

Vulcan Road

At a meeting on 16 April 2008 the West Somerset District Council began the process to develop Vulcan Road car park in Minehead. That is the site behind Minehead Signal Box. WSDC needs to raise significant sums to balance its books following the financial straits the Council has found itself in over the past few years. By 19 votes to 5 the Councillors endorsed the preferred option for the site which includes a medium sized supermarket, plus further retail outlets and affordable housing. However, the Council has not forgotten the railway. The recommendations include "It is recommended that as part of the process to identify a viable scheme the developer is required to consult with the West Somerset Railway regarding the provision of land for new covered sidings." West Somerset Railway Association Chairman, Robin White, who has been asked to lead negotiations over the Vulcan Road site on behalf of the railway, said "We are grateful to Keith Ross (Leader of WSDC) and Adrian Dyer (Head of Paid Services) who came to meet myself and Paul Conibeare at Minehead Station at short notice before the vote on Wednesday to listen to the railway's aspirations, should the Vulcan Road site be redeveloped. Keith and Adrian visited the site, the signal box area and Minehead C&W works, where Andy Hurley and his team work wonders on the Company's coaching stock. The inclusion of the recommendation shows that WSDC has listened to the railway's needs. A relatively small strip of land on the edge of the Vulcan Road site would provide for covered carriage sidings to protect a significant proportion of the Company's carriage stock. This would be of immense help to the railway in slowing down the repair cycle of vehicle which presently stand in Minehead's marine climate." The Council's development consultants will now examine a number of options to produce a viable scheme for the site to produce a significant monetary return for the Council.

18 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc

• The Minehead Marauder cometh in May...
HST © First Great Western

First Great Western is running a special excursion train from stations in Wiltshire and the Bristol area for a day out in Minehead on Saturday 10 May. 100% of the ticket price goes to The Railway Children charity and all staff are giving their time for free. There will be entertainment for children on board, and a raffle. The HST special will leave Westbury at approximately 9am, and pick up passengers at Trowbridge, Bradford-on-Avon, Bath Spa, Keynsham, Bristol Temple Meads, Nailsea & Backwell, Yatton, Worle (for Weston-super-Mare), Highbridge & Burnham, Bridgwater and Taunton. It will then leave the national network and travel over the heritage West Somerset Railway to the seaside resort of Minehead, arriving at approximately 12.30pm. Full details...

15 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc and First Great Western

• No 5542 completes latest West Somerset tour...
No 5542 © Mike Dunse

No 5542 has now completed its current spell of duties on the WSR. Its final appearance was on Saturday 12 April when it hauled a special train for 240 friends and supporters ot the locomotive and associated projects. Many had travelled from other preserved railways as guests of the loco owners. The train, followed by an evening pig roast buffet with live music was given as a "Thank You" for those involved in last winters' overhaul work which was completed in record time and to an extremely high standard. This has allowed the loco itself to perform duties on 27 days since arrival, covering 1920 miles without incident. Following a washout and completion of a couple of outstanding maintenance issues the loco will depart in about 10 days time for the remainder of the year to be spent on the G&WR with a visit to the SVR Autumn Gala planned in September. A further visit to home metals is hoped for sometime in 2009.

15 April 2008 
Details from Locomotive 5542 Ltd

• Pretty in Pink...
No 31601 © Ian Stone

The Minehead Branch has enjoyed a visit by the Network Rail Ultrasound Test Train (UTU3). In the evening of 8 April, top and tailed by Class 31s nos 31601 and 31223, the UTU3 ran from Taunton Station right through to Minehead Station. The centre test coach is the same vehicle that was originally formed between two DMU vehicles that visited the line last May. A full ultrasonics test of the rails and Ground Penetrating Radar survey was undertaken and all testing was reported as successful. No 31601's rather interesting livery seems to have been the top subject of discussion.

15 April 2008 
Details from local correspondents

• No 88 is back on home metals...
No 88 © Phill Berry-Roper

SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 88 returned from the Severn Valley Railway on 9 April. The visit to the West Midlands was courtesy of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust, the West Somerset Railway and Allelys Heavy Haulage. The return of the loco and tender was spotted on the Bishops Lydeard webstreaming camera by a regular website visitor from the USA who noted "It was interesting to catch a view of two flatbed trucks carrying a locomotive on the road, parallel to your station". A by-product of the journeys which will not be lost to photographers is that the locomotive now faces Taunton...

15 April 2008 
Details from local correspondents

• HOBCs continue to call at Norton...
HOBC © Malcolm Anderson

Little activity has occurred at the WSRA Norton Fitzwarren site over the winter due to the damp conditions. It is hoped to restart construction work in late April. The HOBC continues to call and on 14 March ventured a little further around the West Chord to a position just short of the Barnstaple Branch. This gave the driver of an up Cross Country Voyager a bit of a shock as he cleared Victory crossing and discovered a Freightliner 66 in his line of sight straight in front of him where no Class 66 had been before...

15 April 2008 
Details from WSRA

• A good start to the year...
No 45110

Passenger figures are holding up well. Around 6,300 visitors enjoyed an excellent array of steam power at the six day Spring Steam Gala, quite a bit down on last year's figure of over 10,000. The fall is partly explained by a very early date forced by an exceptionally early Easter, and coupled with some dire weather forecasts. The Easter Weekend also suffered from cold and often wet weather and the school holiday arrangements that vary greatly from area to area across the country. Despite all, it is good to be able to report that at the end of March the year-to-date passenger number stood at 17,863, compared with 17,962 at the same point of 2007.

15 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc

• The Mixed Traffic Weekend 2008...
Hymek

This is the second year of the West Somerset Railway Mixed Traffic event and this year promises to be the best yet. This year's theme is Diesels in the South West 1968 featuring a mix of diesel electric and diesel hydraulic traction with two steam locomotives thrown in for good measure. The current list of diesel locos includes D1661, D832, D6737, D7017, D6566, D7523, D7612, D9520, D9526 - subject to availability of course. There will also be a variety of static locomotives along the line for you to see and enjoy. The Mixed Traffic Weekend will be held on 13-15 June 2008. More...

7 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc

• Strong support for Trust plans...
WSSRT

Exciting proposals for a new museum and carriage shed at Bishops Lydeard station on the West Somerset Railway have just been boosted with strong support from Bishops Lydeard Parish Council. At a meeting on Wednesday 2 April 2008, the Council voted by a resounding 10 votes to 2 to support the West Somerset Railway's planning application for new facilities adjacent to Bishops Lydeard station. The proposed new facilities centre on a Museum and Display Building for heritage railway carriages dating from the 1920s and 30s. The proposals also involve much needed tourist facilities such as a cafe, and inn or restaurant; some road safety improvements, including a much needed roundabout at the A358 junction, plus some enabling development in the form of housing, including affordable housing for local people. West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's (WSSRT) Heritage Carriages Project Director, Robin White said: "This vote is a great boost to the project. It shows the depth of feeling of local people in favour of the West Somerset Railway's plans for top class facilities for our visitors and local people alike. The Parish Council wanted to see closer ties between the railway and the village, and we will be delighted to work with them to see how that might be achieved. We look forward to working with respected local builders Gadds of Taunton to put the plan into effect. All of these proposed facilities will also help bring jobs, affordable homes and greater prosperity to the village, but without damaging its essentially rural nature."

5 April 2008 
Details from WSSRT

• No 2874 arrives...
No 2874 © Andy Knock

A new arrival has produced a remarkable find. Before newly-acquired GWR 2-8-0 no 2874 was loaded onto the road trailer at Bleanavon loose rust from the cab floor area was knocked onto the ground. On arrival at Minehead what looked like the thread of a pipe fitting was noticed in amongst the remains of the rust. Investigation revealed this to be a GWR steam heat "Masons" valve. No 2874 was not steam heat fitted, being strictly used for goods traffic. This is truly a remarkable find and being almost entirely non-ferrous is in excellent condition.

5 April 2008 
Details from WSR Plc

• A Day for New Volunteers...
WSRA

Come and find out about volunteer work on the award-winning West Somerset Railway. For prospective volunteers, the West Somerset Railway is holding another New Volunteers Day on Sunday 6 April as the twenty mile long heritage line between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead looks towards further expansion of its business in the future. The day will begin in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard at 11am with registration and tea and coffee, followed by an introductory talk. The ensemble then join the 12.40pm train to Minehead for a visit to the signal box and loco shed, before heading back to Bishops Lydeard on the 4pm from Minehead. The day will introduce those interested in working on the WSR to railway work, and how to get started. Members of the Railway will introduce themselves and explain what tasks and work are available. If you are interested in coming along, please contact the WSR Association on 01823 433856 or by Email...

1 April 2008 Updated 3 April
Details from WSRA

WSR

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