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WSR News from February 2006
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• WSR announce new General Manager...
Paul Conibeare

The West Somerset Railway has appointed a new General Manager. He is Paul Conibeare (42) who lives at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton. Paul is currently the company’s Traction Inspector and is responsible for running the very popular Steam Experience courses. Previously, he was Managing Director of the Bure Valley Railway, a successful narrow gauge line in Norfolk. He moves up to replace Mark Smith who retires after 16 years as Managing Director of the railway from 10 March, and Paul will take up his duties from Monday 13 March, just before the Railway’s Spring Steam Gala. At the same time, Andrew Forster, the railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer will take on broader responsibilities for locomotive policy and procurement and will report to the company’s Executive Group. More...

28 February 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• Lineside timbers put to good use...

Timber from recent cutting back works on the lineside will be put to good use. The great number of logs will be sold to timber merchants and others for fuel, with monies raised being ploughed back into new tools for the next round of cutting back. One or two of the larger oak tree trunks are destined for the demonstration sawbench at the Vintage Rally in August, with the resultant timbers - after seasoning - earmarked for use in the reconstruction of the ex-GWR Autotrailer no 169. Previously, home-grown timbers have been used by the RAMS team at Bishops Lydeard in the repair of sack trucks.

27 February 2006 
Details from local correspondents
• Mark Smith...
Mark Smith

At their meeting of 25 February the WSR Board paid tribute to the work done by Mark Smith as Managing Director. WSR Chairman, Chris Austin said "We are grateful to Mark for his commitment and professionalism which has helped this railway increase its business and its reputation over the last 16 years. His contribution has been significant, and I am pleased that he will stay on the Board as a non-executive director and continue his involvement with the Association, as well as representing the WSR on the Heritage Railway Association." An event to mark his retirement is being planned for 8 April, and details will be made available shortly.

26 February 2006 
Details from WSR Plc Chairman
• Latest on the Minehead Turntable...
Minehead Key Site

Minehead Key Site

A position for the new WSR turntable has been located at Minehead, to the south of Bay Siding 2. This is reflected in plans drawn up by Somerset County Council in consultation with the WSR and Minehead people which were endorsed by the Council’s Executive Board on 8 February. The plans also include car parking space, but the detail, including the number of spaces for rail passengers have yet to be decided. A further consultation meeting, including the railway, will be held on 6 March. The land will remain in the ownership of SCC, and the site would be incorporated into the railway’s lease. WSR will have three years to come up with detailed proposals and funding to install the turntable. The turntable weighs 90 tons, and the locos it would carry could be over 100 tons, so firm foundations will be needed and considerable work is needed to refurbish the turntable and provide the extra components required to allow its installation. The initial estimate of costs is of the order of £450,000. The WSR is working the South West Regional Development Agency and SCC, who have commissioned consultants to establish the economic value of installing the turntable. This would be a first step towards any application for grant to help meet the installation costs.

22 February 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• Getting ready for a SDJR takeover...
SDJR sign © Rodney Greenway

All WSR stations will be renamed during the forthcoming Spring Steam Gala and will bear the names of former Somerset and Dorset Railway stations. The entire Spring Steam Gala - Friday to Sunday 17-19 March and Thursday to Sunday 23-26 March - is based around a Somerset and Dorset Railway theme to celebrate the much-loved which closed in March 1966. Bishops Lydeard will become "Templecombe" and Minehead "Bournemouth West". The picture on the left shows the latter running-in boards being constructed in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard. More Gala information...

22 February 2006 
Details from local correspondent
• Material boost for Norton Triangle...
HOBC © Matt Clarke

The West Somerset Railway has received an approach which may bring, by rail, spent ballast providing core fill for the new triangle banks and to re-build and re-profile the section of the Barnstaple branch as far as the Allerford Bridge. After screening, the material will also yield enough re-usable ballast of an acceptable quality to use under track work on the triangle and "Allerford Spur". As a bonus there should even be enough quality ballast left over for relaying work elsewhere on the West Somerset Railway over the next few years. More...

20 February 2006 
Details from WSRA
• WSRA Taunton Group meeting...
Paul Conibeare

The next meeting of the Taunton Group will be next Monday 6 March. WSRA member Quentin Hawkes will present his medium-format slides on "Freight and Steam - North and South". The following meeting will be on Monday 3 April, when a long-standing member of the WSRA, Nick Jones, will give a fully-illustrated talk on "Early Days on the West Somerset Railway". Both meetings will be held at the usual time and place, 7.45pm at the GWR Staff Association Snug Bar at the north-east corner of Taunton Station.

28 February 2006 
Details from WSRA
• No 34046 restoration makes steady progress...
Braunton © Keith Speller

Braunton © Keith Speller

The boiler of no 34046 should be ready for a hydraulic test by the end of February. After treatment of any leaks work will progress to a steam test. All 1300 replacement firebox stays are now fitted, caulked and headed over. At the moment the team are beading over the 134 smoketube ends in the firebox. All the external boiler fitting flanges have been repaired where necessary, lapped, re-tapped and had new studs fitted. Most of the items such as clacks, safety valves shut off valve, whistle, regulator stuffing box assembly etc have been lapped and fitted to these flanges. The regulator valve has been fitted into position and the steam dome bolted down. The boiler cladding is progressing well. Whilst all this is going on it should be possible to shot blast and paint the boiler with a heat resistant coating. Next comes the fitting and testing the secondary components eg the steam manifold, as they become available. The superheater header is ready to fit having been independently hydrauliced and the superheater element and tube components are being machined and assembled at the moment. As ever, volunteers at Williton in any capacity is welcome as there is still much to do...

21 February 2006 
Details from local correspondent
• The Bishops Lydeard Local Heritage Trail...
Bishops Lydeard © Len Goldstone

A WSRA project to provide better information for tourists on arrival at Bishops Lydeard Station – the Headquarters and Registered Office of the Association – is soon to become a reality. Funding is thanks to The Local Heritage Initiative, a national grant scheme that helps local groups to care for their local landscape landmarks, traditions and culture. The trail will start at Bishops Lydeard Station, and will then take visitors on a journey back in time as they explore the village of Bishops Lydeard before returning to the railway station. More...

19 February 2006 
Details from WSRA
• Statement from the Chairman...
WSR Chairman

The Health and Safety Executive propose to institute charging for their supervision of heritage railways and the time they spend on their safety regulation. They foresee inspection of new works being undertaken in the future by consultants rather than their own inspectors. This change is triggered by new EU regulations designed to cover the main line railways. Our concern on the WSR is that this will increase costs and that it will be difficult (and expensive) to find consultants who are competent to approve schemes involving the use of heritage systems and equipment, that are very different from the requirements of the main line network. [continues...]
Click here for the full text of the Statement...

16 February 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• Double-headed 7Fs to start Gala fun...

The West Somerset Railway Spring Steam Gala starts on 17 March and the first day will feature a first in the history of railway preservation as Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway Class 7F locomotives nos 88 and 53809 double-head a train - with both locomotives facing towards the Somerset Coast. The train concerned will be the 12.00 from Bishops Lydeard, due to run to Minehead with just the one stop at Williton en route. The combination of two 7Fs at the head of a train of passenger stock was very rare throughout the history of the Somerset and Dorset. The late Ivo Peters believed that it had happened less than six times and former S&D railwaymen memories have also highlighted how unusual such a working was. Some interesting front end music should be heard on the climbs to Crowcombe Heathfield and Washford. More about the Spring Steam Gala...

16 February 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• Fulford Grange...
Fulford Grange

No, not an ex-GWR locomotive. Just a few miles from the Bishops Lydeard terminus, Fulford Grange is the ideal base for your visit to the Steam Gala. After a busy day return to a 5 Diamond 200 year old farmhouse and relax, or pop into the village pub to enjoy a meal and relive the day. Mention when booking a double room for special rates on two or three night breaks. Ring Steve Jenkins on 01823 451206 or visit

8 February 2006 
Details from
• Minehead Key Site...
Minehead Developments

Somerset County Council have released new proposals for developing the land adjacent to the railway station at Minehead. The details, including a plan, can be viewed on the Somerset County Council website. This is all good news for the Railway but much work still needs to be done at the planning stage. Funding of most of the developments on the site have still to be resolved including car parking and turntable. The proposal is for a 65' turntable - this will enable any mainline visiting locomotive to be turned in addition to WSR locomotives when required. The GWR modified many of their 55' St Blazey type turntables to 65' and the Railway has all the drawings to do the same. Landscaping of the area around the turntable to enhance the view of the station from the South will form an important part of the development.

2 February 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• All aboard the Log Train...
Log Train © Malcolm Anderson

The Spring Log Train will roll again on Sunday 26 February to clear away the results of the winter cutting back programme in time for the Spring Gala. With the mechanical flails out and about, the lineside is beginning to look its best once again. The Log Train will depart Bishops Lydeard at 10am, pop down to Kingswood to collect a trainload of logs from the lineside and then return to Bishops Lydeard, offload into waiting vehicles and finish about 4pm. Everyone is welcome, don't forget stout shoes (not trainers), old clothes, gloves and lunch. Folks new to this operation will receive a safety briefing before departure.

19 February 2006 
Details from WSRA
• HST visit goes like clockwork...
Cotswold HST

The last High Speed Train vehicles - stored at Minehead for a year and moved up to Bishops Lydeard at the weekend by Class 25 no D7523 - have left the Railway. Cotswold Rail sent two HST power cars nos 43070/43087 down to Bishops Lydeard on 13 February, one in silver livery and the other in the rather startling Hornby red. The coaches and power cars were re-marshalled into the familiar HST formation.

13 February 2006 
Details from local correspondents
• Hein Burger steps down...
Hein Burger

After many years during which the West Somerset Railway has enjoyed a massive growth in trade, Hein Burger has retired from the post of Commercial Manager. From the end of February, Martyn Snell, who joined the team in 2002, will assume the role. Having retired from the post of Commercial Manager does not mean that Hein will retire from the Railway. On the contrary he will remain active as usual in the Commercial Department, apart from managing, doing tasks as before. That's good news indeed.

12 February 2006 
Details from local correspondent and WSR Plc
• Small Canopy renovation is complete ...
Small Canopy

The renovation of the Small Canopy has been completed. The work was being carried out by the contractors Bluestone who refurbished the Main Canopy last winter. The recent works, costing around £33000, was funded by FOMS and completed in early February ready for the first trains of the season - the half term trains between Minehead to Williton. Congratulations to the Friends of Minehead Station for restoring the canopy and presenting our visitors with a superb gateway to our Railway...

12 February 2006 
Details from FOMS
• HST stock moves...
HST stock

First Group is to move the last of its stock – which has been stored at Minehead for some time – away from the WSR on Monday 13 February. At one time, five HST power cars and a full rake of coaches were stored on the line but, more recently, just five Mark 3 coaches remain. The previous day, Class 25 no D7523 will work the stock from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard, where they will be stabled overnight. On the Monday, two Cotswold Rail HST power cars will arrive on the line to collect the trailer cars, which will be formed up into a standard rake - with a power car at each end - prior to departure.

8 February 2006 
Details from WSRA
• No 92212 confirmed...
No 92212

BR Class 9F 2-10-0 no 92212 has now been confirmed as a guest engine for the Spring Steam Gala on 17-19 and 23-26 March. The 9F will be joining nos 88, 53809, 44422, 45407, 76079, 73129, 34067 and, hopefully, no 80136 at the seven-day event, though the intermediate overhaul of the Standard tank remains a little way from completion. In a change to the original proposal, no 92212 will now be moving to the WSR for the event by road from the Mid-Hants Railway - where it is normally based – its proposed certification for operating on the main line being delayed. More...

8 February 2006 
Details from WSRA
• FoMS go forward...
FoMS © Lumber Jack

The Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS) report a very successful few year with canopy repairs and new chimneys, and a host of other improvements to the largest station on the West Somerset Railway. In the latest FoMS newsletter, the Friends Chairman, Hein Burger, quite rightly trumpets the hard-won successes of 2005 and looks forward to possible improvements being proposed by the County Council for the land alongside the station which currently include space for a turntable. Meantime, FoMS have been trimming the tall hedge alongside the Bay Sidings. More about FoMS.

6 February 2006 
Details from FoMS
• Association secures modelling grant...

The West Somerset Railway Association has successfully secured a grant from The Historical Model Railway Society to the value of £1,000. This will enable ten bursaries to be granted, to the value of £100 each, to schools during 2006. The money will be paid directly to the participating schools by the HMRS. The conditions of the bursary are that the schools involved prepare, at the suggestion of the WSR, a project which will be sent to the HMRS. More...

3 February 2006 
Details from WSRA
• No 3850 is back...
No 3850 © Fenton Fouracre

Heavy goods locomotive GWR 2-8-0 no 3850 is now safely resting on West Somerset rails. Following a road journey from Tyseley, Birmingham, the loco arrived after dark on 2 February. The tender from "Dinmore Manor" has now been attached and the loco looks ready for business on Britain's longest heritage railway. The long restoration has been largely completed at Tyseley by the owners, the Dinmore Manor Locomotive Fund. Congratulations to all concerned on the restoration of a much admired locomotive.

3 February 2006 
Details from local correspondent

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