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WSR News from December 2007
• Five in steam for the Winter Steam Festival...
No 88

The Winter Steam Festival on 29 December will see no less than five steam locomotives at work on the Minehead Branch. Nos 88, 662, 1450, 3850 and 5553 will be hauling passenger trains to an interesting and varied timetable, including the Southern Local Passenger Train and the Great Western Auto Train. See news item below for details of linking bus services between Taunton and the WSR station at Bishops Lydeard. Tickets for this special event are pegged to standard fares which, with the rich cast of steam engines hard at work, will make the Winter Steam Festival the ideal excuse for getting the whole family out of the house after Christmas...

27 December 2007 
Details from SEPT

• A must-have companion book is relaunched...
Book cover

News of the relaunch of a favourite West Somerset Railway book. "The West Somerset Railway a Past and Present Companion" by John Stretton - is part of the popular Nostalgia Collection from Silverlink Publishing and retails at £15.99 or £17.50 including postage and packing. The book is currently out of print but will be reprinted with a new rear cover in time for the 2008 Spring Gala and as a prelude to a new book Volume Two which will be launched at the 2009 Spring Gala. Advance orders are being taken at the Buffer Stop Shop, Minehead on 01643 700387 or by post or email. The book will be relaunched at a signing by the author during the 2008 Spring Gala on Minehead Railway Station. "The West Somerset Railway a Past and Present Companion" will initially only be available from the WSR shop at Minehead.

27 December 2007 
Details from WSR Plc
• Buses to the Winter Steam Festival...
No 88

Catch a bus to the Winter Steam Festival at the West Somerset Railway. Cooks Coaches special bus services will depart from Taunton Railway Station (bus stop under the bridge on the booking office side) at 8.40am, 9.40am, 10.40am and 11.40am and then at Silk Mills Park and Ride ten minutes later. Afternoon Cooks departures from Bishops Lydeard station will be at 4.00pm, 5.00pm and 6.00pm. First Bus services run from the down side of Taunton station at 10 past and 40 minutes past the hour to Bishops Lydeard Station from 7.10am onwards. Departure times from Bishops Lydeard Station to Taunton station are at 11 minutes and 41 minutes past the hour. Full details of the Winter Steam Festival...

27 December 2007 
Details from WSR Plc
• Latest WSR Journal published...
Journal © WSRA

Landing on doormats in thousands of homes at the moment is the latest WSR Journal. In Number 120, the Editor, David Williams, has packed with all the latest news on turntables, triangles and much more. Meantime, Philip Horton's excellent series on the Beeching Legacy in the West Country reaches the 1967 to 1975 period. Lots of detailed reports from the various departments, groups and stations, along with a good number of photographs in black and white and in colour, make the 80 page Journal a good read at this time of the year. The WSR Journal is free to members of the West Somerset Railway Association. Are you a member yet?

26 December 2007 
Details from West Somerset Railway Association

• Heyday of the Somerset and Dorset...
Front cover © Alan Hammond

Spring Steam Galas on the West Somerset Railway are traditionally a time when Alan Hammond launches his new book with signing sessions in the Minehead Station Shop and the 2008 event will be maintaining the tradition. "Heyday of the Somerset and Dorset Railway" is being published by Millstream Books of Bath and has been compiled by Alan and his wife Christine from the latest batch of memories about the line which closed just before the end of the steam era in 1966. In fact the S&D was a steam line to the very end and the last part of the Western Region to see regularly timetabled steam services, so it fits very nicely with the theme of the Gala. The book will retail at £20 and the official launch date is 8 March 2008. Christine’s skills with current computer technology and its ability to revive "box brownie" photos will also mean yet more previously unpublished Somerset and Dorset pictures will be seen for the first time. Colin Howard and team in the Minehead Shop will be happy to take mail orders for "Heyday" by post or by phone (01643 700387). Cost including postage and packing is £22.50 and oders will be sent out as soon as the books are to hand.

19 December 2007 
Details from WSR Plc and Alan Hammond

• Carriage cover-up commences...

Work is now well underway to get the Heritage Carriage Project vehicles around the country protected from the weather and fit to move to the WSR. Collett BCK no 6705 at Crewe has been sheeted over by Steve Lord and Walt Denning pending works to be carried out to the carriage by LNWR Heritage Ltd. Alan Anstee and Mike Dunse have started work to strengthen Collett BTK no 5131 at Bodmin ready for sheeting and transport. Graham Anderson is leading a team to do a similar job on Toplight BCK no 7538 at Chinnor. Carriage care supremo John Wood has designed and ordered the first a new style of tarpaulin (in several pieces roped together) which it is hoped will form the template for tarpaulins for the other coaches. This first one should be available by the end of January and will be applied to Toplight TK no 2578 which is now residing in the spur siding adjacent to Minehead signal box. Help with these working parties would be very welcome as would donations towards the cost of tarpaulins. Good quality ones cost several hundred pounds and are vital to protect the carriages during movement and the period until they reach the head of the restoration queue. If you can offer practical or financial help the Trust can be contacted at

17 December 2007 
Details from WSSRT

• WSR Coast Walk...

A date for your diary - 16 November 2008 - the WSR Coast walk. The WSR Company have agreed that there can be a sponsored line walk along the track of the (closed!) WSR in aid of the Heritage Carriages Project. More details will be available in the New Year but it is likely that the walk will be from Williton to Minehead (just under 10 miles) to ensure that it can be started and completed at a reasonable time on a short late-autumn day. A DMU will run from Minehead to Williton and then from Bishops Lydeard to Williton to get walkers to the start of the walk and at the end of the day will run Minehead to Bishops Lydeard to get everyone home. Do get this date in your diary. The WSR is becoming increasingly busy and days on which such a walk can be arranged get rarer and rarer. There is no certainty that the walk can be repeated in future years. The walk is being organised by WSR engine cleaner Mike Webber, a keep-fit enthusiast. If anyone would like to assist with the organisation and admin for the walk, please be in touch

17 December 2007 
Details from WSSRT

• WSR Assocation seek full time manager...
Bishops Lydeard



The West Somerset Railway Association has decided to employ a full time manager at their Brunel House, Bishops Lydeard offices. This is a new full time salaried post created to undertake the day to day management of the West Somerset Railway Association. The successful candidate must be a strong team leader with proven managerial ability and be able to demonstrate good interpersonal skills and foster good working relations with all members of the Railway organisation, both retained and volunteer. The Association Manager will work from the Brunel Building in Bishops Lydeard and will report to the board of directors of the WSRA and will manage the day to day business of the WSRA, which is the charitable support body of the WSR, and will be responsible for co-ordination of such activities as volunteer recruitment and fund raising as well as being the first point of contact along with the WSRA administrator who will work under the direction of the new manager. The vacancy is open until 31January 2008 and applications should be sent with CV to WSRA Secretary, The Railway Station, Bishops Lydeard, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 3BX.

14 December 2007 
Details from WSRA

• Steam replaces diesel...
No 3850 © Martin Southwood

Steam stands in for diesel. On 12 December, the third day of a week-long series of daily ballast trains from Norton Fitzwarren to Minehead, the train was hauled, to great delight of photographers and onlookers, by GWR 2-8-0 no 3850, possibly the first steamer to traverse the new formation at Norton. The steam locomotive was substituting for the rostered Class 25 no D7523 which had failed the previous day at Norton. After dropping ballast between Dunster and Minehead, the heavy goods engine took the empties back to Norton, stopping at Williton to collect Class 47 no D1661. No 3850 was then shunt released before running light to Bishops Lydeard, leaving the Class 47 to take over ballast train duties. Pictures...

13 December 2007 
Details from local correspondents

• Seats going fast...
Carol Train © Mike Dunse

Up to the minute seat availability information for seasonal trains just in. As of 12 December the position regarding Santa Trains is as follows - from Bishops Lydeard the only Santa Train with any space is the 1.05pm Santa Special on Saturday 22 December. Advance telephone booking for this will close at lunchtime on Monday 17 December to allow tickets a reasonable chance of getting through the Christmas post. Costs of travel on this train are £10 for each adult and £10 for each child. From Minehead there is a bit more choice - plenty of room on the 3.35pm Santa Special on Sunday 16 December and these can be purchased in advance by telephone up to midday on the previous Friday. Tickets for this train should also be available on a walk-up and pay on the day basis as well. On Christmas Eve there are tickets on the 12.05pm, 1.55pm and 3.35pm trains. These can be purchased by phone up to midday on Friday 21 December although any ordered after Monday 17 December will not be put in the post but will need to be collected from Minehead Station Booking Office on Christmas Eve. Cost of tickets on these trains is £7 for each adult and £7 for each child. The Carol Trains have completely sold out. Meanwhile, there are a few seats left for the Fish and Chip Train on New Years Day but these are selling out fast...

12 December 2007 
Details from WSR Plc

• The Gauge Museum...
The Gauge Museum

After many years service, Norman Hawkes has relinquished his appointment as Curator of the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard. The WSR Association would like to thank Norman for all he has done and wish him well in the future. Ian Coleby, Archivist of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, will now take on the task of cataloguing the exhibits in the Museum and any offers of assistance will no doubt be welcome - these should be channelled through the WSR Association's Administrator Keith Sandford on 01823 433856. Ian is also reviewing existing procdures and policies and looking at how these can be brought up to the Museum Library and Archives Council (MLA) Museum Accreditation scheme which is a minimum standards scheme against which a museum can be assessed in all areas of its operation.

12 December 2007 
Details from WSRA

• Busy at the Swindon Shed...
Swindon Shed © Geoff Evens

There seems to be a lot going on at the Swindon Shed at Williton. A quick glance inside the two-road buidling reveals the West Road contains three locomotives - nos 6695, 6412 (boiler) and 34046 - all being worked on. The East Road contains the tender frames and tank for Braunton, Auto Coach no 178 and one of the Steam Trust Toplight carriages. Meantime, the team is looking for someone with clerical and computer skills, who is computer literate and interested in volunteering to come and spend some time with the team at Williton to help with the processing of the clerical support work now crucial to the smooth running of the Workshop. The quality and complexity of the engineering work now being undertaken by the West Somerset Restoration team requires a proportional level of clerical effort to help record and verify the quality of materials used, the processes undertaken and the standards being followed. If you are interested or for more information please contact Gareth Winter or Geoff Evens or look at the website or telephone 01984 633547 or email:

12 December 2007 
Details from West Somerset Restoration

• Readers Halt runs out of space...
Readers Halt

No room at the Halt. The success of the Book Stall on Minehead station which raises money for ongoing improvements relies on the generosity of local people donating their unwanted books as well as the hard work of the FOMS staff who run the stall during the West Somerset Railway’s operating season. However, due to the major work being undertaken at Minehead station installing a turntable, storage space for stock is very much at a premium. Frances Bristow, FOMS retail manager, said "We will need new stock for the 2008 season but would ask that all contributors store their donations until we get some storage space built on the platform. This is not likely to be ready until next February at the earliest. Even then, I would ask donators telephone the railway station (01643 704996) before they bring us their much needed books." Meanwhile the work on the turntable together with much other work continues apace and the railway station is noticing an increase in the number of visitors coming to see how the work is progressing. Paul Conibeare, the railway’s General Manager said "There are two ideal viewing areas on our platform for people to come and see the exciting developments not only for the railway but also for Minehead and West Somerset. We are open 7 days a week and will make viewers most welcome"

12 December 2007 
Details from WSR Plc

• Minor flooding at Cottiford Bridge...
Flood © Martin Southwood

Heavy rainfall caused minor flooding on the West Somerset Railway. The line under Cottiford Bridge near Woolston became flooded on Saturday 8 December. Following heavy rainfall, water was gushing onto the track from adjacent slopes, and running down the gradient to the bridge. The line becomes level at this location and the flood reached the tops of the rails. Local WSR staff were mustered and following remedial work the flooding subsided.WSR 2-6-0 no 9351, running light engine form Minehead to Bishops Lydeard, was the first to traverse the floods, before being allowed to continue. By the time the through Birmingham to Minehead "Dunster by Candlelight" special arrived at Cottiford Bridge, the waters had lowered further.

8 December 2007 
Details from local correspondents

• TA postcodes get Star Cards...

Half price travel for local residents. At their November meeting the Board of the Plc agreed that with effect from 1 January 2008 the eligibility to obtain the local residents’ half-price travel card will be extended to all areas with a TA postcode. This will reduce the confusion that has arisen in the past over eligibility for the cards in areas where Sedgemoor or South Somerset District Councils border West Somerset and Taunton Deane.

5 December 2007 
Details from WSR Plc


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