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WSR News from March 2004
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• 5542 Ltd acquire Auto Trailer no 169...
Auto no 178 © Stephen Edge
5542 Ltd say "The opportunity to restore Great Western Railway Autotrailer no 169 to accompany our locomotive has proven too tempting an opportunity to miss, so we now invite you to become a 'Founder Member' of the latest restoration project associated with the West Somerset Railway. Whilst we are aware that the project to rebuild 169 is no small task, we are confident that we can source the nessecary skills, funds and manpower to ensure a successful outcome. We are now keen to hear from anyone who wishes to assist the project in any way".

30 March 2004 
Details from 5542 Ltd

• Turntable plan moves closer...
Signing © Steve Guscott - Somerset County Gazette
The rather controversial plan to develop the area adjacent to Minehead Station moved a step closer with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Somerset County and West Somerset District Councils. A Mark I coach standing in the Main Platform at Minehead provided the setting for the ceremony. The current proposal includes space for a railway turntable and improved landscaping around the station entrance. Interestingly, one of the drawings shows the proposed turntable beyond the existing buffer stops - if built, would this be an extension to the longest heritage railway in Britain?

30 March 2004 
Details from local correspondents and Somerset County Gazette

• That was the Gala that was...
3 Prairies © Stephen Edge
With many volunteers and staff recovering from a four day bash which saw eleven steam locos in action and hundreds of miles covered by scores of trains, the Railway has settled down to the more normal routine - see News Pix page. More detailed facts have yet to be compiled but it certainly looks like it was a great success. Gala and website visitors will be torn between the many highlights, whether the extensive Auto Train service; the naming "Taw Valley" as "Exmoor" and the overnight further identity swop to "Braunton"; the J15 enjoying some spirited runs and a goods turn; or the GWR 55xx triple-header which livened up an already lively Sunday. More facts will appear here when available...

30 March 2004 
Details from local correspondents

• WSRA unveils plans for Norton Fitzwarren...
No 6412 © Roger Bailey
Ambitious new proposals to boost tourism and further develop the southern end of the Minehead Branch have been announced today by the West Somerset Railway Association which has just bought a large area of land at Norton Fitzwarren. Subject to planning authority approval, the WSRA hope that the 33-acre site would not only eventually provide vitally needed new railway servicing facilities, but also would lead to new engineering jobs for the area. CLICK HERE for the story in more detail...

24 March 2004 
Details from WSRA

• Caring for the J15...
Recent experience with the GER J15 no 65462 have given the Railway a better idea on appropriate loadings for the veteran locomotive. When working alone, the J15 will be limited to three coaches - which may create problems with overcrowding - and when double-heading, no 65462 will be lead the train. The Railway sincerely hope all understand these moves are in the best interest of the guest engine, the footplate crews and timekeeping over the busy weekend.

23 March 2004 
Details from WSR Plc

• One Million Miles...
Preliminary details of the commemorative train to celebrate One Million Miles of service by GWR 2-6-2T no 5542 are now available. The date to reserve in your diary is Saturday 1 May 2004. Tickets priced 7.50 are now available with big savings for groups of 9 or more people travelling together. Departure from Bishops Lydeard is at 11.30am with 4 hours at Minehead to enjoy the May Day festivities.

17 March 2004 
Details from 5542 Ltd

• Full of Eastern Promise...
The Great Eastern Railway J15 0-6-0 no 65462 has arrived on the Railway ahead of the Spring Steam Gala. The loco - in British Railways black livery - arrived by road and was later seen in platform one. Photographers will note the loco faces London. The appearance on the Minehead Branch of the J15 is eagerly awaited and many interesting scenes will doubtless appear over the next few weeks...

13 March 2004 
Details from local correspondent

• Automatic for the Photters...
A photographic session featuring No 5542 and the Auto coach no 178 will take place early on on the morning of Sunday 14 March. The pair will leave Bishops Lydeard at 7.45am for a number of runpasts at various locations around Bishops Lydeard and the Crowcombe/Roebuck area. The train will return to Lydeard by 10.20am in time for the 10.25am ex-Lydeard service train to run. The cost is just 10 per head and any interested photographers are welcome to turn up on Sunday morning and see John Wood (Chairman of 5542 Ltd) to take part. An excellent opportunity for some rare shots and to help keep no 5542 in good order...

13 March 2004 
Details from local correspondent

• Developments at Bishops Lydeard...
Bishops Lydeard
Contractors have started digging up part of the lower car park to lay tarmac to create a coach, bus, disabled and staff lane. A one way system will operate with the entrance for these groups by the Broad Gauge Park sign and the exit through the gates by the compound. A sloped set down point is also being created so passengers alighting from coaches have a hard standing to alight on to. Signs have been purchased to clearly mark the eight disabled bays opposite the shop in the lower car park. The upper main car park for passengers is not affected. [We also understand the new booking office will be officially opened on Thursday 25 March]

10 March 2004 
Details from WSRA

• The Log Train - David Holmes reports...
No 7820 © Malcolm Anderson
Fifty four volunteers signed on for the Log Train on Saturday 6 March, with eleven more volunteers acting as loco crew or signalmen. The train left Bishops Lydeard at 9.20am behind no 7820 "Dinmore Manor", loading logs on the way and stopping at Stogumber to unload some timber. An estimated 40-50 tons of timber was still on board as Dunster was reached at 3pm. It took three quarters of an hour was spent unloading the logs ready for later collection and sale. More on this story...

8 March 2004 
Details from David Holmes

• No 34022 "Exmoor" for Gala
No 34027 © Alan Meade
The Railway and Exmoor National Park Authority are sponsoring new nameplates and numberplate to change visiting loco "Taw Valley" to long lost Southern Railway Pacific no 34022 "Exmoor" for the Spring Steam Gala weekend. There will be a small unveiling ceremony at Bishops Lydeard on Thursday 25 March with representatives from the Park and WSR. This is the Railway's participation in the 50th anniversary of the Exmoor National Park - celebrations are going on all year. More...

8 March 2004 
Details from WSR Plc and local correspondent


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© Stephen Edge