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WSR News from March 2006
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• Park Royal DMU to move on...
A new home found for Class 103 Park Royal DMU. Following a decision taken in 2005, the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group sought invitations of interest and the Helston Railway Diesel Group have been selected as preferred bidders. The Helston Railway Diesel Group will be moving the DMU to the old cattle dock at Gwinear Road for full restoration and eventual use on the restored line which will run from Nancegollan to Helston. Folks on the WSR will be pleased with this news, as the Unit has a long association with the West Somerset Railway being purchased in the 1970s from British Railways and used extensively between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard.

19 March 2006 
Details from DEPG
• After the Gala...
No 53809
Following problems with leaking tubes, the visiting Somerset and Dorset Railway Class 7F 2-8-0 no 53809 will now return to Butterley for attention. The loco will not now appear at the special event at Washford on 8-9 April alongside resident sister engine, no 88. On 1 April, two visiting locos nos 45440 and 76009 travelled up to Taunton to head a railtour to Plymouth and back. The big Class 9F engine, no 92203, was noted passing through Taunton on 31 March by road en route for Toddington. Ex-GWR engines, somewhat sidelined during the recent weeks, have returned from various stabling sidings to Minehead and the WSR will begin to assume its Great Western air once again...

1 April 2006 
Details from various correspondents
• A great chance to see how it was...
Nick Jones will present The Early Days of the West Somerset Railway at the next meeting of the WSRA Taunton Group on Monday 3 April. Nick has been able to accumulate quite a quantity of early and rare archive WSR material - including some particularly evocative scenes. This particular presentation has already attracted considerable interest so expect a well-attended meeting - get there early! The usual time and venue - the Snug Bar at GWRSA in the north west corner of Taunton Station - at 7.45pm.

29 March 2006 
Details from WSRA
• A great Gala and a quiet Pearl anniversary...
After two weekends of Gala activity - over 9000 passengers travelled on the Gala trains - the West Somerset Railway is gradually recovering. Hired-in locos and rolling stock are returning home, although at least one visiting loco, SDJR 2-8-0 no 53809, is staying on the line and due to appear with sister engine, no 88, at a special event at Washford on 8 April. Re-live the Gala with the growing numbers of images now online at the Spring Steam Gala 2006 Galleries. Meanwhile, the Railway celebrated thirty years of railway operation on 28 March, with a simple standard service, although we understand a series of events in April will mark this significant milestone in the history of the West Somerset Railway.

29 March 2006 
Details from local correspondent
• Gala update...
With the second half of the Spring Steam Gala about to start, the computer that powers the platform webcam at Bishops Lydeard has failed. This will deprive distant observers the chance to watch the weekend events via the Internet. Nevertheless, everything else is well and truly lined-up for a fantastic weekend of steam - all on a Somerset & Dorset Railway theme. Visitors coming by car may care to note A39 will be closed for repair between Williton and St Audries from Thursday 23 March for seven days -closed overnight from 7pm to 7am. Car parking at Bishops Lydeard remains limited and car-borne visitors are advised to use the Park and Ride at Silk Mill and use the free bus service to the WSR. More about the Gala and Gala in pictures...

22 March 2006 
Details from local correspondent
• Replacement 9F is secured for the Gala...
No 92212
Thanks to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and Mr David Shepherd, BR 9F 2-10-0 no 92203 will be attending the Spring Steam Gala in place of sister loco no 92212 as originally listed. No 92212 will not now be appearing at the Spring Steam Gala on 17-19 & 23-26 March as repairs to the engine at the Mid-Hants Railway are unlikely to be completed in time. No 92203 is expected to arrive at Bishops Lydeard soon and - thanks to the efforts of Mr Steve Latham at LNWR Crewe and WSR engineers - a replacement cylinder cover will be fitted to the loco at the WSR before it enters service on Saturday 18 March. It is now expected that the 9F will work all the diagrams originally planned to be worked by no 92212 over the duration of the Gala. The WSR are very grateful to everyone who has made this happen to ensure, all being well, that a 9F - a classic Somerset and Dorset loco - will be working at the Gala.

15 March 2006 
Details from SEPT
• Win a Footplate Pass...
A Footplate Pass has been kindly donated by WSR to Watchet Carnival Club. The voucher is to be auctioned on 17 March 2006 at the Star at Watchet as part of a fund raising evening with all proceeds going to Watchet Carnival. The voucher entitles the holder to a round trip MD-BL, on the footplate of a WSR steam locomotive during the 2006 season.

15 March 2006 
Details from local correspondent
• Crossing Hut damaged...
Leigh Wood
Sometime in the last few days, vandals have damaged the recently-restored crossing hut at Leigh Wood Level Crossing. Smashing down the door and frame, the contents have been wrecked and the level crossing name board ripped off its posts and left some distance away. No further information is avaliable at this stage.

12 March 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• Somewhere to stay during the Gala...
Marston Lodge
The website has some ideas for those looking for somewhere to stay during the Spring Steam Gala on 17-19 March and 23-26 March. Have a look at Exmoor Accommodation or try this list...or again, the Marston Lodge (pictured left) has last minute availability from 15-23 March. This hotel has superb views of the WSR all the way from Minehead to Blue Anchor! More about the Gala...

12 March 2006 
Details from various corresondents
• Free bus service to the Gala...
Bus link
The WSR Spring Steam Gala Free Bus Service will also now call at Silk Mill Park and Ride making it even easier for visitors. A special free bus service - provided by Cooks Coaches will operate from Taunton Railway Station near the Ticket Office, calling at the new Park and Ride at Silk Mill (free to park and easily found from the A38 or A358) and then direct to Bishops Lydeard Station on all Gala days except Friday 17 March. This half-hourly service will start at 9.00am on each day. The last departure from Bishops Lydeard will be at 7.00pm. There will be plenty of seats available. Please note there will be very limited parking available at WSR Stations over the weekend. More...

11 March 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• Not one but two 7Fs...
Two times 7F
Subject to its successfully passing a test run on 9 March, SDJR 7F no 53809 will be working service trains on the West Somerset Railway on Saturday 11 March and Sunday 12 March together with sister locomotive number no 88. This will be the first time in a great number of years that two SDJR 2-8-0 locomotives will be action on the same day on the same section of railway. In addition ex-Templecombe LMS 0-6-0 no 44422 will be in action on a Steam Engineman Course, so visitors will be able to get an early sight and sound of things to come during the Spring Steam Gala. Another addition to the Gala is "Somerset & Dorset Ale", a long-established favourite from the Cottage Brewery which will be on sale on draft in the buffet cars together with a range of bottled beers from other Somerset Brewers.

8 March 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• Turntable news...
Turntable in the old days
 Old turntable
The prospect of a railway turntable at Minehead was outlined recently at a public meeting. The second public consultation meeting on the Minehead market site development was held in the Queen's Hall on Monday 6 March. The railway was well represented and Chairman Chris Austin gave a short presentation on the benefits of the turntable, including some video clips of one in operation. Allocation of space for this was confirmed by Somerset County Council, and the views of the meeting gave overwhelming support for the WSR’s plea for adequate car parking on the site and bus/coach interchange at the front of the station. A lightweight covered structure to allow market or craft stalls or exhibitions was suggested for part of the site, and this could also be used for car parking when not otherwise in use. Detailed plans will now be drawn up by the County Council.

8 March 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• Big day for WSR Chairman...
Chris Austin
Following his award of an OBE in the New Year honours list, WSR Chairman, Chris Austin was invested as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Thursday 2 March for services to the railway industry. The picture shows Chris at Buckingham Palace after the investment.
Bigger picture...

7 March 2006 
Details from the WSR Chairman
• Here is the Gala menu...
A Somerset and Dorset Breakfast, a Pines Express Brunch and Traditional Cornish Pasties are on the on-train menu during the forthcoming Spring Steam Gala. Dine in style aboard the First Class Quantock Belle Restaurant Cars which will run on selected services during the Spring Steam Gala.. For those with a taste for sweet things will enjoy Blackberry & Apple Pie served with Custard or perhaps Blackcurrant Cheesecake and Cream! For more details have a look at the Spring Steam Gala page..

7 March 2006 
Details from the Quantock Belle team
• Photographic exhibition...
Oiling up
Starting on Saturday 18 March and for the next three weeks, two well-known WSR photographers will be showing their railway pictures at an exhibition at the Crescent Gallery in Taunton. The top-quality photographs by Malc Stacey and Don Bishop will be for sale . The Crescent Gallery can be found at 9 Bath Place in Taunton. The event coincides nicely with the Spring Steam Gala.

6 March 2006 
Details from Malc Stacey
• All day long during the Gala...

The famous Quantock Belle Gala All Day meals will operate during the Spring Steam Gala.
· 18 March 10am and 3pm ex Bishops Lydeard
12.15pm and 4.50pm ex Minehead
· 19 March 10am and 2pm ex Bishops Lydeard
12.15pm and 4pm ex Minehead
· 24 March 10am and 2pm ex Bishops Lydeard
12.15pm and 4pm ex Minehead
· 25 March 10am and 2pm ex Bishops Lydeard
12.15pm and 4.50pm ex Minehead
· 26 March 10am and 2pm ex Bishops Lydeard
12.15pm and 4pm ex Minehead
Full Gala details...

5 March 2006 
Details from WSR Plc
• The Railway takes on a Somerset and Dorset hue...
No 44422

With the Spring Steam Gala just two weeks away, the locomotive roster for the first March weekend is very much Somerset and Dorset themed. Subject to availability, Saturday will see SDJR 2-8-0 no 88, beautifully finished in S&D Prussian Blue livery, hauling a special Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust charter, whilst a typical S&D workhorse, ex-LMS 0-6-0 no 44422, shares the standard steam service with ex-GWR 0-6-0PT no 6412, a type often seen on the S&D in the final years. No 44422 starts the day with the 10.25am from Bishops Lydeard. On Sunday 5 March, nos 88 and 44422 share the scheduled services, with no 88 starting from Minehead at 10.15am. Full Gala details...

2 March 2006 
Details from WSR Plc

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