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WSR News from February 2007
• The Stock Book cometh...
Stock Book
 
The 6th Edition of the West Somerset Railway Stock Book will be out of the printers within the next few days. With 72 pages full of information on all our rolling stock including over sixty photographs, nearly all in colour, plus all-colour cover, and retailing at only £4.99, deliveries will be made to the WSR in time for the Spring Spring Gala. If you cannot wait, a cheque made payable to WSRA (HCG) for £5.49 (£4.99 plus 50p post and packing) sent to 29 Avington Close, Tilehurst, Reading, RG31 5LW will bring you a copy.

28 February 2007 
Details from WSRA
• Photographic delight in store...
Don Bishop
 
Just a reminder that the next meeting of the WSRA Taunton Group will be Monday 5th March. The speaker will be Don Bishop ARPS, talking about his "Steam Recreations - Roving the UK". The usual time and place - the GWR Staff Association Snug Bar near Taunton Station starting at 7.45 pm. Given the usual high quality of Don's photography, this should be a pleasing evening. We gather that Don may still have places available on the two photographic charters that Don has arranged on the WSR, for Tuesday 13 March and Friday 16 March, both due to start at Bishops Lydeard at about 8 am. The first (Tuesday) charter is booked to be with nos 5051 and 7822, and the Friday is booked for no 5051 and 4160, always subject to availability, of course. Joining in these charters naturally contributes to the WSR. For further details of the charters, please contact Don by email.

27 February 2007 
Details from WSRA
• Mixed Traffic Weekend 15-17 June 2007...
D1010 © Paul Randall
 
An event over the long weekend of 15-17 June 2007 aiming to recreate the changeover years from steam to diesel on British Railways Western Region in the mid-1960s. Heritage diesels will predominate and the event is expected to feature a feast of Maybach music with Western, Warship, Hymek and Class 14 locomotives in action. Two guest locos - D832 "Onslaught" (Warship) and D9520 (Class 14) - are expected to join much of the local diesel fleet including the return of Western no D1010 "Western Campaigner". As a bonus, the visiting Western D1015 "Western Champion" will be in action but only on Saturday 16 June. Yet more interest will be generated by the WSR public debut of Class 47 no D1661 "North Star". more recently named no 47840. All locos are subject to availability of course.

25 February 2007 
Details from DEPG
• Celebrating the Award...
The Award Ceremony © Mark the Photographer
 
An invited group of local notables have gathered at Minehead Station to witness the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Following the award of the prestigious title of "Independent Railway of the Year" title to the West Somerset Railway the plaque was unveiled at the seaside terminus on Saturday 24 February at 2pm. Amongst those attending were Ian Liddell-Granger MP, the County Councillors for Minehead Ian Galloway and Christine Lawrence, Chairman of West Somerset District Council Pam Driver and former leader Barbara Child, the Mayor of Minehead Councillor Ann Foxhuntley and Deputy Mayor Councillor Stephen Dear. It was the second time that the West Somerset Railway had been voted "Independent Railway of the Year" in the last three years, having previously won the title in 2004. In between the Railway was voted "Heritage Railway of the Year 2005". In the citation the independent panel of judges cited amongst the reasons for the award, the Railway’s contributions to the local economy along its route and its high standard of customer care.

24 February 2007 
Details from WSR Plc
• A new buffet coach for Minehead...
No 10235 © Paul Conibeare
 
A WSR liveried coach on the main line. Strange but true. The Railway has recently been donated a Mk3 buffet car from Porterbrook Leasing. It came off lease from Virgin Trains before going into storage. The coach has recently been put through the new paint facility at Oxley and will make the trip to the WSR by rail, hopefully during the next week.It is now painted in Great Western Chocolate and Cream as adopted for the present West Somerset Railway coaching stock. Initially No 10205 will be stabled in the bay platform at Minehead for use during the Spring Steam Gala and then be moved to its new home in the loop headshunt right next to the sea.

23 February 2007 
Details from WSR Plc and Taunton Trains
• A brief reunion...
No 5521 © Norman Hawkes
 
In bright sunshine, two of the Barry Three met briefly at Bishops Lydeard Station. GWR 2-6-2T no 5521 - one of the star guest locomotives booked for the Spring Steam Gala - arrived by road on 22 February. No 5521 has recently been restored at the Dean Forest Railway following a lengthy restoration. The loco was rescued by the WSR Association in 1975 from the famous scrapyard at Barry along with two other "Small Prairies" - nos 4561 and 5542 - and all three were brought to Bishops Lydeard. In the early 1980s, nos 5521 and 5542 were sold. The remaining WSRA loco, no 4561, was the first of the three to be restored, in 1989, to full working order and spent ten years in active service on the WSR before withdrawal. Briefly coupled together with the visitor, no 4561 was loaded onto the same low loader that delivered no 5521 and taken to Williton for major overhaul. The third of the trio, no 5542, was triumphantly returned to steam in 2002, worked on the WSR for a few years, before going on an extended tour of other heritage railways.

22 February 2007 
Details from WSRA
• No Black Nine at the Gala..
No 92203
 
The Black Nine will not be appearing at the Spring Steam Gala. Bit of bad news brought to us by the Railway's Special Event Planning Team (SEPT), the BR Class 9F 2-10-0 no 92203 "Black Prince" will not appear at the Spring Steam Gala due to a shortage of locos at its home base at the Gloucestershire-Warwickshire Railway. SEPT are now busy sourcing a replacement but it is proving difficult at this late stage. However, SEPT are expecting nos 34007 and 5521 to arrive quite soon and a little running-in may well be done by each before the Gala itself.

18 February 2007 
Details from SEPT
• Waiting for the boat...
No 6705 at Pier 9A, Halifax. © Colin Conrad
 
On the pier in Nova Scotia waiting for the boat. The Collett-designed GWR BCK carriage no 6705 is now safely on Pier 9A in the docks at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada awaiting MV Fairlift which should collect the carriage on 9 March. There were some trials and tribulations along the way from Steamtown, Scranton, including driving through a couple of snowstorms and an escort vehicle going into a ditch and having to be pulled back on the road by the truck carrying no 6705. The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust continue to be grateful for the professionalism of those involved with the move. Meanwhile, media interest is growing. The move has featured in articles in the Scranton Times-Tribune and the Western Daily Press, so both sides of the Atlantic have been covered. The Trust now have 20 days in which to raise the shipping costs and say "Please keep those donations coming in". More...

18 February 2007 
Details from WSSRT
• A shining example of cooperation...
Fairwater Yard
 
The West Somerset Railway - a leading heritage railway - is right up to date. Network Rail have built a specially designed operations base in Taunton to house the High Output Track Relaying System and High Output Ballast Cleaner. The High Output equipment, worth over £50 million, will bring a major improvement to the railway in the West Country over the next few years. This world class, award winning equipment works three times faster than conventional renewals systems. As part of the project, Network Rail is also working closely with the West Somerset Railway. Used ballast is being provided by Network Rail as construction material for the building of additional West Somerset Railway facilities at nearby Norton Fitzwarren, avoiding the need for many lorry movements in the local area. Paul Conibeare, General Manager of the West Somerset Railway Plc, said "We are delighted to be working with Network Rail in this unique partnership - re-using the ballast to construct the triangle for turning locomotives and coaches, enabling Steam hauled charter trains to visit Somerset as a new and exciting destination."

16 February 2007 
Details from WSR Plc
• An outbreak of publications...
No 9351
 
The Spring Steam Gala could see the launch of several new West Somerset Railway books. Local authors Alan & Christine Hammond and Richard Derry will be on hand to sign copies of their latest book "Return Ticket to Minehead", which will be published just in time for the Gala. Also lined up for release is the very latest version of the WSR Stock Book, ably compiled by Keith Smith of the WSRA's Home Counties Group - and possibly also to appear on the bookshelves is the long awaited update of the WSR Stations and Buildings Book.

15 February 2007 
Details from local correspondents and WSR Plc
• A busy time...
Flail © Peter Darke
 
Even on a weekday in mid February there is much activity along the line. The Dingle Bros lineside flails have again been hired-in and have been seen at work near Washford and Dunster. Meanwhile, the ballast keeps arriving at Norton Fitwarren, brought in by the lengthy High Output Ballast Cleaner trains top and tailed by Class 66 locomotives. Near Yard Bridge, the mini-digger is engaged in trenching in company with the rail-based roadrailer machine which has been slicing back the banks to make a path for the mini-digger. Of course, a whole host of other activities continue behind the scenes. Meantime, the Williton Up Distant signal has been repositioned and now stands just south of Doniford Halt.

15 February 2007 
Details from local correspondents and WSR Plc
• A most generous legacy...
No 7828
 
A generous legacy will speed the overhaul of a much needed locomotive. In 2004 the West Somerset Railway purchased BR(W) 4-6-0 no 7828 "Odney Manor" and set about an extensive overhaul. The combined cost of the purchase and the overhaul were estimated to amount to some £600,000 and with this in mind the Railway has been seriously fund-raising. Now the project has been greatly assisted by the unexpected receipt of a most generous legacy of £174,000 which has virtually completed the process. "We are very grateful to the late Mr Derek Stephens" said WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare, "and a little moved that he should think of us when making his will. Mr Stephens was not a volunteer on the West Somerset Railway but we have learned that he travelled on the line and found his visits enjoyable and impressive enough to wish to make a major gesture of support towards our future."

13 February 2007 
Details from WSR Plc
• FoMS is 10 years old...
FoMS
 
The Friends of Minehead Station has completed ten years of successful operations. The latest FoMS newsletter takes a look back to January 1997 at a time when the Friends were considering litter bins and lighting for the platform, actively painting railings and the platform white lines, and collecting books and magazines to be sold at the forthcoming Gala. Today, the membership stands at around 150, the station gardens and wildlife area have been transformed, litter bins and lighting are in place, the Readers Halt Bookstall has replaced the original barrow, not forgetting FoMS have been central to the refurbishment of both canopies and replacement of the station building chimneys. Next, a new stationmasters office is to be built under the east end of the main canopy with the Readers Halt due to be moved in that direction. Also due for removal is the FoMS workshop, along with other nearby offices, to make way for the turntable. All being well, work for this major WSR Plc project will start in the spring...

8 February 2007 
Details from FoMS
• No 6705 is on the way home...
No 6705
 
The exiled ex-Great Western Railway Brake Coach no 6705 is on the way home to Britain. No 6705 was sold out of service in 1967 to an American private collector and shipped across the Atlantic. It passed between several US museums ending up at "Steamtown" in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Recently the WEST SOMERSET STEAM RAILWAY TRUST - the Trust is concerned with the historical and educational aspects of railway preservation in West Somerset - announced the HERITAGE CARRIAGES PROJECT. The Project aims to acquire and restore a number of authentic GWR coaches for use on the West Somerset Railway. Hence we find the Trust arranging for No 6705 to make a 900 mile road journey to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a long sea voyage to Britain on or around 23 March. The coach left Scranton on 6 February on the first leg of the journey.

7 February 2007 
Details from WSSRT
• Getting home after the Gala...
DMU
 
Once again the West Somerset Railway is providing an after-the-event special train on the Mondays after the Spring Steam Gala weekends. The West Somerset Railway's class 115 Diesel Multiple Unit is nearing the end of a four year restoration and subject to completion will run a service on the Monday after each weekend of the SPRING STEAM GALA to get visitors home. Over the last four years the railway has run a class 117 Diesel Multiple Unit on loan from the Army which has recently been returned to them. If theWSR Unit is not finished then the train will be diesel hauled. Travel from Bishops Lydeard to Taunton Railway Station will be by bus. Email us with a convenient time by clicking here. The cost of this single journey will be free to those with a Rover ticket from the SPRING STEAM GALA.

7 February 2007 
Details from WSR Plc
• Provisional timings for Voyager Shuttle...
Voyager
 
Virgin Trains have released provisional timings for the Taunton-Bishops Lydeard shuttle trains. Running over each weekend - 17-18 March and 24-25 March - of the West Somerset Railway's SPRING STEAM GALA and using one of the Voyager trains there will be five or six trains each way. And for those wishing to make their way to the Gala by train from Bristol, the Voyager will work down from Bristol to Taunton each morning and return to Bristol each evening. The provisional times are on the SPRING STEAM GALA pages

6 February 2007 
Details from Virgin Trains
• North Star to move West...
No 47840 © Bob Tiller
 
A celebrity diesel locomotive is due to retired to pasture in West Somerset. On 30 April 2007 Brush Class 47 no 47840 "North Star" will be off lease from Cotswold Rail and will be delivered to Brush Traction. There it will receive body repairs and a repaint into two-tone 1965 BR Green with headcode boxes refitted. It will emerge ex-works to haul a special on Monday 28 May 2007 the "North Star Last Mainline Run". The special will run from Derby to Taunton and Minehead, and at Bishops Lydeard will form the 1pm to Minehead. The special will leave Minehead at 5.30pm for Derby. The train will be formed of the Blue Pullman dining stock with Class 45 no 45112 at the back - the Class 45 will take the train back to Derby. At Minehead an official handover ceremony will take place. Actually the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group will become official owners of "North Star" earlier in the month on 1 May 2007. All movements are, of course, subject to availability.

3 February 2007 
Details from DEPG
• The GWR coach move is on...
No 6705 © WSSRT
 
The West Somerset Railway Heritage Carriages Project has got off to a flying start. Following the recent acquisition of an 1907 toplight brake from Sir William McAlpine, the WSR is repatriating a 1939 Collett Composite Brake from Steamtown USA. The formal offer of the coach was made in January and an offer to hitch a ride at a favourable rate on the ship bringing Class 66 locomotives from Halifax in Canada to Newport was gratefully received. But then it was found that the only ship likely to make the trip this year was to leave Halifax on 9 March! So the need to move quickly. The staff at Steamtown, the shippers, road hauliers, crane and paperwork people have been magnificent in setting up arrangements to get the car moved. North America truly retains its "can-do" approach and the special relationships which the UK has with the USA and Canada are alive and well. More details at the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust website - or - in a recent WSSRT press release

2 February 2007 
Details from WSSRT
• The next meeting in Taunton...
British Vintage Steam
 
A cinematic experience for the meeting of the Taunton Group of the West Somerset Railway Association. The Taunton Group will meet at the GWRSA building near the North East corner of Taunton Station on Monday 5 February. The evening meeting with see the return of Terry Nichols, who normally entertains very well, this time his topic is "British Vintage Steam and The GWR 150", in the form of Cine Films. As usual, the meeting is booked to start at 7.45 pm. Members and non-members very welcome...

2 February 2007 
Details from WSRA
• All the way from America...
No 6705 © WSSRT
 
A historic Great Western Railway coach currently in store in the USA is lined up for a return to Britain. GWR Brake Coach no was sold in 1967 and shipped across the water to the "Steamtown" Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Following discussions with the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, the United States National Park Service would be prepared to donate no 6705 to the Trust to be the start of the Trust’s Collett train. For this it is ideal - it is a Guard’s Brake, it provides both first and third class accommodation, a toilet and luggage space. Best of all, it is has not been stripped of its internal fittings. Andy Forster, the WSR Chief Mechanical Engineer has said that the vehicle is worth the transport costs for the fixtures and fittings alone and that the vehicle, while tatty, appears to be "totally recoverable". But it is the wrong side of the Atlantic! There is, for a brief window of opportunity, a solution. Modern diesel locomotives are manufactured in North America and shipped, in several batches each year, from Halifax in Canada to Europe and/or the UK. A shipper of modern diesel locomotives, built in North America and soon due to be shipped to Europe, has very generously agreed to bring GWR no 6705 back to the UK with the next shipment. To raise the necessary funds for shipping. movement from Scranton to Halifax, crane hire, port dues and transport in UK, the WSSRT are appealing for funds of perhaps £20000. The full story and appeal can be found on the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust website...

1 February 2007 
Details from WSSRT
WSR

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