An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway
WSRA & WSSRT welcome appointment of Jonathan Jones-Pratt
In a joint statement, West Somerset Railway Association and West Somerset Steam Railway Trust say:
The WSRA and WSSRT welcome the appointment of Jonathan Jones-Pratt as West Somerset Railway Plc Chairman on an acting basis, ending the hiatus and accompanying uncertainty since the departure of the previous WSR plc Chairman. We acknowledge his thanks for our past support and look forward to working with the WSR plc under his Chairmanship in moving the whole Railway onto a more stable footing.
Jon's association with the Railway and wider steam preservation, and his business background, mean that he immediately brings useful skills to the table to move the railway forward in conjunction with the supporting groups.
We also welcome the announcement by the WSR plc that an open and rigorous process will be used for the appointment of a permanent WSR plc Chairman.
Changes to the loco rosters during the Autumn Gala
Here are the changes to the loco rosters during the Autumn Steam Gala as described by Don Bishop, Gala Planning Team Chairman:
Just to advise that due to no 80072's last minute journey to the WSR, on 27 September the 9.05am ex Bishops Lydeard train will be hauled by 73082 and the 9.55am ex Bishops Lydeard by 34052 alone. The 1.45pm ex Minehead will be 7820 instead of 80072. As the S160 no 6046 is not taking part in the Gala the 9.55am ex Minehead will be 7822 alone, the 10.55am ex Minehead will be 6960, 2.10pm ex Bishops Lydeard 73082 alone, 3.40pm ex Minehead 7822 alone, 3.45pm ex Bishops Lydeard class 33 diesel. It is hoped that 80072 will be available for the 4.45 ex Bishops Lydeard as planned.
On Friday 28 September, 7820 covers for the S160 on 10.55am ex Minehead and 1.10pm ex Norton Fitzwarren, meaning the 11.55am ex Minehead and 2.10pm ex Bishops Lydeard are 7822 alone rather than double-headed Manors. The 3.45pm ex Minehead will be a Class 33 diesel.
Saturday 29 September, 9.55am ex Minehead and 12.05pm ex Norton Fitzwarren are Class 35 Hymek hauled rather than the S160.
Sunday 30 September, 9.55am ex Minehead and 1.10pm ex Norton Fitzwarren are hauled by 7820 rather than the S160, and the following 11.55am ex Minehead and 2.10pm ex Norton Fitzwarren are 7822 alone. The 3.45pm ex Bishops Lydeard is Hymek hauled. Add 7820 to the front of 6960 on 4.40pm ex Minehead.
Information for wheelchair users during the Autumn Gala
Passengers who are wheelchair users and planning to use the trains during the Autumn Steam Gala (27 to 30 September 2018) might like to note there will be no wheelchair access on the set of coaches incorporating the Quantock Belle vehicles...
9.05am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
10.55am from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard
1.45pm from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
3.40pm from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard
All other sets of coaches are accessible for wheelchair users during the Gala. Please check on the day to ensure there have been no changes to the coaching set roster.
'Holding The Line: How Britain's Railways Were Saved' by Chris Austin and Richard Faulkner describes how plans to remove more of the railway network beyond even the well known 'Beeching Cuts' were defeated. Chris will be signing copies of the book at Minehead Station on Saturday 30 September 2018 during the West Somerset Railway's Autumn Steam Gala. Chris was for many years the Parliamentary Liaison representative for the railway industry and has many senior contacts who helped with source material. He is a former Chairman of the West Somerset Railway and is currently actively involved with the work of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust.
WSR Plc appoints Jon Jones-Pratt as Acting Chairman
The Board of the West Somerset Railway Plc met yesterday (Monday 24 September) and appointed Jonathan Jones Pratt unanimously to become the company's Acting Chairman for the next three months. Jonathan Jones-Pratt comments:
I am both pleased and honoured to accept this position as WSR plc Acting Chairman and will readily embrace the role and the evident challenges which the railway faces.
The communication also records the resignation from the WSR Plc Board of Bill Knell for personal reasons. For more details and comments, please click or tap the button below.
Resident magician Don announces like-for-like replacement
Don Bishop, Chairman of the WSR's Gala Planning Team, has managed to work his magic and arrange a loco to replace BR 2-6-4T no 80104 which is now unable to attend the Autumn Steam Gala. Don explains:
After much effort and many phone calls I'm pleased to be able to advise that I have secured another BR Standard tank to replace no 80104 which became unavailable at late notice. The loco is sister Class 4MT no 80072 from Llangollen Railway. So - a huge thank you to our friends at Llangollen Railway and the loco owning group for pulling out the stops and getting the loco back fit again in their workshops to help us out and testing the loco out on their line this morning. Also Reid Freight Services who are going to move the loco for us at very short notice, having dropped no 70013 at Quorn, GCR, this afternoon they are then diverting to Llangollen to collect no 80072 tomorrow morning. So, no 80072 is expected to arrive at Bishops Lydeard late on Wednesday, maybe not until Thursday morning.
Don Bishop, Chairman of the WSR's Gala Planning Team, writes:
Sadly BR Standard Class 4MT 2-6-4T no 80104 from the Swanage Railway is now unable to make the Gala as they have suffered an engine failure (the T9) leaving them a bit short of locos so they are unable to send it. Along with WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare I am actively looking for another loco, but of course time is very tight.
Make tracks for the Model Railway Sale at Watchet Station
Watchet Secondhand Model Railway Equipment Sale will be held on Saturday 29 September 2018 in the pagoda waiting room from 10am to 3pm. There will be engines, coaches, wagons, track, books and so on. Come along to help raise funds for the maintenance of Watchet Railway Station which is run entirely by volunteers. Steve Sutherland adds:
Have you any unwanted model railway equipment that you could donate to help us? The Station is open all this week and we are all looking forward to next weekend's Gala.
23 September 2018 Details kindly provided by the volunteers at Watchet Station
New Director appointed to WSR Plc Board
The Board of the West Somerset Railway Plc (WSR) met last week (Thursday 13 September), and agreed unanimously that Jonathan Jones-Pratt be co-opted as a director with immediate effect.
Mr Jones-Pratt is already well known on both the WSR and within the heritage railway sector through his ownership of two ex-GWR steam engines Kinlet Hall and Thornbury Castle. He also has strong local commercial credentials via his business interests in JJP Holdings which operates a number of commercial transport activities through North Somerset and Somerset. The full announcement can be read by using the button below.
Latest WSRA Trustee Board meeting documents now available
The approved minutes from the July and August meetings of the West Somerset Railway Association Trustees are now available for viewing on the Association's website along with a brief synopsis of the September meeting.
The Souvenir Gala Guide will be available on the day from the booking offices along the line. Or maybe purchase the guide in advance through the website, where it will be posted to you so you can plan your day.
Quantock Belle Breakfasts during Autumn Steam Gala
The very popular Quantock Belle Gala Breakfasts are available to pre-order via the official website (see link below). The breakfasts will be served on the 9.05am Bishops Lydeard to Minehead service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the 2018 Autumn Steam Gala.
Historic Somerset peatland Lister loco fired up at Washford
At Washford on 15 September 2018, Ryan Pope from West Somerset Restoration managed to start up the Lister petrol 2 foot gauge locomotive for perhaps the first time in several years. The loco once worked the busy Eclipse Peat Works tramway systems on the Somerset Levels. The Somerset & Dorset RailwayTrust is understood to be giving thoughts as to how this interesting narrow gauge exhibit could be better promoted and developed, given its clear local heritage. During its recent brief running the little locomotive drew quite a crowd, it seems.
20 September 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Successful first 'Forties' event along West Somerset Railway
The West Somerset Railway supported the 'Forties' event, organised by Robin Wichard from the Mobile Living History Museum, with help from a number of volunteers, including Andy Norman and other volunteers associated with the railway. Paul Conibeare, WSR General Manager, reflects on a busy weekend:
We were delighted with the turnout. All of our trains were busy throughout the weekend. Re-enactors travelled up and down the line, including 'Winston Churchill', 'King George VI' and
'Charles De Gaulle'!
The West Somerset Railway wishes to say a big thank you to Robin Wichard for his dedication in organising the event, and Andy Norman for his part in making the event happen. In addition to
all of the activities up and down the line, we operated an authentic military train hauled by an S160 USA steam locomotive.
Bishops Lydeard Station Shop during Autumn Steam Gala
Kate Beard, Retail Manager reports:
The Model Railway team will be offering 15% off the RRP of all locomotives currently in stock as well as 20% off the marked price of any 3 or more coaches and wagons on our shelves, with attractive clearance prices on several locomotives from Hornby and Bachmann while stocks last. Our Book department will also have a wide selection of second hand and out of print railway titles and a range of new books at around half the publisher's price. If you are looking for back numbers of historical railway magazines, we shall have many available.
On Saturday 29th September, we shall be holding a 'Meet the Author' session with longstanding WSR volunteer Richard Derry, who has written or co-written many titles on locomotive classes, including his latest 'The Book of the Stanier 8F 2-8-0s'. We shall have many of Richard's books available to purchase, and Richard will be very happy to sign your copy and to reminisce about the great days of working steam. Richard will be with us from 10 am to 3 pm.
The shop will be open from 9.00 am on each of the four days and will close at 6pm each day, apart from Sunday when we shall close at 5.00 pm. The cafe will open at the same time as the shop, but will close at 4.30 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 4.15pm on Sunday to allow our staff to undertake cleaning duties.
WSR Plc Director Ian Coleby writing in his personal blog, 'Steaming Along' gives a big thank you to everyone involved in this successful event:
Wow, what an event! The 1940s weekend is now packing up after a truly fantastic couple of days. Throughout the entire railway, everybody got into the spirit of the time and there was a real buzz of enthusiasm and excitement everywhere. I am sure lots of lessons were learned for next year, but this year was outstanding.
A huge amount of effort had been put in everywhere, the displays at Bishops Lydeard, land girls encampments, the timber corps, military vehicles...and of course the whole event at Watchet where the entire town seemed to be out with displays and entertainment. Thank you to everybody who helped make this a such a success.
A massive thank you from me to Robin Wichard who oversaw the event and to everybody who took part. I appreciate how much effort goes into this sort of thing and how much dedication is required. Well done, you should be proud of what you achieved. The railway looked at its best and everywhere i heard only positive comments. Well done and thank you.
18 September 2018 Details kindly provided by Ian Coleby
Ten engines for the Autumn Steam Gala
The West Somerset Railway's Autumn Steam Gala is always a major event, attracting visitors from all parts of Britain and some from further afield. This year's event, being held between September 27th and 30th promises to be another popular occasion.
Taking as its theme 'Cross Country Trains in the Days of Steam', the four days will recall such trains as The Cornishman (Wolverhampton to Penzance following the tracks of the Great Western Railway), The Devonian (Bradford to Paignton) and The Pines Express (Manchester to Bournemouth, including the Somerset and Dorset line). Ten steam engines will be in action, all bar two from classes of locomotives that headed those trains and other similar services.
Organisers report the 1940s Weekend was a great success
Andy Norman writing in an online discussion group has reported:
It has been an overwhelming success. The Saturday night 1940s Dance on Minehead platform saw everybody getting very involved and enjoying themselves. We don't know the numbers yet but advance tickets sales exceeded other events and busy days this year and Minehead Cafe had its busiest day ever by far (even exceeding the Flying Scotsman event takings wise), others along the line reported the same and every train was full with seats difficult to find. Most importantly there were a lot of existing and new faces on the WSR smiling and enjoying themselves. Thanks to all who played a part, it is all about people working together and getting involved for their own enjoyment. I'm happy to say that we have the 2019 event in the calendar and confirmed as 14-15 September 2019.
Some interesting news for all followers of the WSR's 2018 Autumn Steam Gala preparations. The BR Standard Class 5 no 73082 Camelot from the Bluebell Railway will be arriving in light steam at the West Somerset Railway next Tuesday afternoon (18 September) by rail, towed by a West Coast Railways diesel in a single move from East Grinstead. Arrival is currently expected at Bishops Lydeard at 3.56pm.
The West Somerset Railway have made available the Working Timetables for each of the four days of the forthcoming Autumn Steam Gala on 27-30 September 2018. Use the buttons below to download or view the train times. Please note the loco allocations are not included with these files but they are shown in the Souvenir Programme for the event.
The Military Goods Train is scheduled for haulage by USA Transportation Corps S160 2-8-0 no 6046 during the 1940s Weekend. On Saturday 15 September 2018 the train will depart from Minehead at 11.15am and from Bishops Lydeard at 1.15pm - please note the loco will probably be tender first out of Minehead and smokebox first from Bishops Lydeard. Then next day, Sunday 16 September, leaving Minehead (smokebox first this time) at 11.15pm and, then after the loco is turned on the Norton Triangle, from Bishops Lydeard at 3.10pm. Please note the turning of the loco may be subject to change.
And news of another special train - folks making their way by train to the 1940s Dance at Minehead Station in the evening of Saturday 15 September might like to note the special train for dance ticket holders only will leave Bishops Lydeard at 6.35pm (arriving Minehead at 7.55pm) and return from Minehead at 10.30pm (arriving Bishops Lydeard at 11.45pm). Travel tickets are £10 return in advance please and available only to dance ticket holders.
Travelling Ticket Inspector Jennie Dunse swapped her normal smart uniform for hi-vis, sturdy walking boots and a Memory Walk T shirt this week to undertake a sponsored walk on behalf of the Alzheimer's Society on a stretch of WSR track this week. Having seen the TV ad promoting the concept of a Memory Walk for the Society Jennie was keen to do something, having lost both her mum and her dad to dementia. Her husband, Mike, a WSR Track Patroller, came up with the idea of accompanying him on a track patrol, which would provide a different type of sponsored walk. The plan was kindly supported by Andrew Young, Head of Infrastructure Engineering, who gave permission for the walk to take place, and the appeal to potential sponsors started.
I found it quite a challenge to walk from Washford Station to Williton along the track on an operational day. I was spurred on by the support I have received from friends and colleagues across the railway. I thought I might achieve a modest sum for the Alzheimer's Society, but people have been very generous...
Many sponsors have already paid their contribution but any that have yet to pay can do so by sending a cheque (made out to the Alzheimer's Society) or cash to Jennie c/o Infrastructure Engineering, Bishops Lydeard Station, Station Rd, Bishops Lydeard TA4 3BX, or internally by OCS to BL INFR. If you haven't already offered sponsorship it's not too late to donate to this worthwhile cause, please send any donation as above and your name will be added to the list of sponsors.
Use the button below to read Jennie's full account of this fine venture...
9 September 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
No 80104 is the final guest for the Autumn Steam Gala
The Chairman of the WSR's Gala Planning team, Don Bishop, brings rather exciting news:
I'm pleased to be able to confirm the last loco we have agreed for the line up for our big Autumn Gala. This is Swanage Railway based (owned by Southern Locomotives Limited) BR Standard 4MT no 80104. These locos were often seen on 'cross country' type trains in various parts of the country so fits our theme quite well.
The engine now joins our full line up of BR Standard 5 no 73082 Camelot (Bluebell Railway), Ivatt Class 2 no 41312 (Mid Hants Railway), Bulleid Pacific no 34052 Lord Dowding (no 34046 Braunton in reality), Manors nos 7820 Dinmore Manor and 7822 Foxcote Manor, Hall no 6960 Raveningham Hall, S&D 7F no 53808 and S160 no 6046; and shunting at Washford will be Ryan Pope's little saddle tank no 1219, making a total of 10 steam locos to enjoy over the weekend of 27 to 30 September.
Passenger numbers increase on the West Somerset Railway
The Somerset County Gazette reports a successful summer for the West Somerset Railway thanks to an increase on last year's figures. The number of passengers has increased by nearly two per cent compared to the number of users during 2017. Paul Conibeare, WSR's General Manager, adds:
It's been a very busy summer so far and it is thanks to our team, most of whom give up their time freely as volunteers. Two of our Wednesdays in August broke records, with visitors in excess of 1,600.
For the full story on the Gazette website, please use the button below...
Food rationing is to be introduced in West Somerset
Food rationing is to be introduced in West Somerset - or at least advice on how to cope with feeding yourself and your family in times of shortage.
The exercise actually is nothing to do with poor vegetable and fruit harvests caused by this summer's hot and dry summer but a reminder of what it was like to face a lack of supplies through the Second World War.
It is part of a spectacular 1940s Weekend event being supported by the West Somerset Railway on September 15 and 16 which will involve hundreds of enthusiasts, most of the stations along the line and the whole of Watchet.
Peter Mann from the Railway's Signal & Telegraph team writes:
A small team from S&T, comprising Peter Mann, Bob Birkenhead and Bernie Martin, have successfully installed a new set of lever leads in Williton Signal Box. This was made possible by the funding support from the WSR Association, which was much appreciated. The leads were engraved by Phil Taphouse of P&S Engraving in Carhampton. The job itself turned out to be more difficult than we anticipated as we hit a number of problems. The main issue was that to meet the specification laid down by Signal Engineer John Jenkins, the font on the new leads needed to be as similar as possible to the fonts used on an original set of leads in John's possession, which came from the old Westbury Signal box. It turned out that these exact fonts were not now available in the digital world, so we had to work very closely with the engraver over a number of months to match the fonts, necessitating many trials and test versions. In the end we had to select a variety of fonts for different letters and numerals. We are very grateful for Phil Taphouse's expertise and perseverance. We are pleased with the final result, the leads look very good and they help to complete the Williton loop extension project. The photos attached show the new leads in place.
5 September 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
The WSR's Forties Weekend 15-16 September 2018
The event will centre around the historic harbour town of Watchet, where the majority of the events and attractions take place. Washford and Minehead will also be holding various events and displays for visitors to explore. Throughout the event attractions such as a military train loaded with vehicles to run from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard and back each day; military and civilian vehicles and displays at Minehead, Washford and Watchet; a 'Forties' dance on Saturday evening under the Minehead Station canopy; Land Army, Civilian Life and Home Front displays at both Watchet Station and Watchet Town; uniformed British and American troops who were both stationed in the area during the war. For more information, please see the links below.
4 September 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
A plea for heavy duty polythene to protect Toplight no 7538
A request from Claire Sheppy of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust:
7538, the second oldest passenger coach on the West Somerset Railway, is maintained (ie looked after to try to arrest its further deterioration) on a shoestring, ie a budget of zero pounds. The frames in the window openings on which the polythene is fixed, was all rescued from scrap timber. But I have run out of polythene! What I need is for some clear polythene. It needs replacing regularly - I have used polythene such as that found on protecting new mattresses in the past. The heavier the gauge the better though. If you can help please contact Claire via the email address at the foot of this page.