An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway
News from June 2019
Special 2019 Steam Rally invite for WSR volunteers and staff
The Rally Team say:
Our annual Rally will take place on the 3rd and 4th August 2019at Norton Fitzwarren. We have a bigger and better Rally again this year, and would like to invite you to join us. Volunteers and staff with WSR ID cards get in free, and you can buy tickets for guests on the gate, or in advance on www.steamrally.org.uk (two days for the price of one)
The event is open from 10.00 to 17.00. There is free parking on site, a shuttle bus from Bishops Lydeard, or a shuttle bus from Taunton. More details of times will be published shortly
We would also like to invite volunteers, staff & their guests to join us in the bar on Friday 2nd August 18.00 to 23.00. We have:
A great range of real ales, craft ciders and other drinks
Food available from our range of caterers
Free parking on site
The event is free, but we would like to know how many are coming. Our bar manager is anxious not to run out of beer! So please would you register for the free evening with Keith Sandford on firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how many in your party.
We look forward to seeing you at the Rally
30 June 2019 Details kindly provided by Rally Team
Young musicians entertain on the Minehead Branch platforms
On 29 June 2019 the Railway hosted a visit by the High Park Community Music Group from Wiveliscombe. These talented youngsters visited several stations on the line and played impromptu concerts on the platforms. The trip was organised jointly by Catherine Dance, the Association's Community Engagement Officer, and Helen Anson, the Steam Trust's Learning Officer.
Despite problems in the lead-up to the event the June Diesel Gala on the West Somerset Railway proved to be successful with plenty of passengers travelling and fares revenue exceeding the budget target by 10% with over 2,900 passengers. Sunny and pleasant weather added a nice note to the theme of 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside'.
Axle loading restrictions between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead meant that early planned guest engines 'Peak' no 46010 and a Class 50 had to be cancelled and lighter substitutes found. These included Class 31 no. 97205 (31163) but sadly the 31 was declared failed before the June 20th - 22nd event and more work had to be done to find a substitute.
In the end the guests turned out to be a pair of Class 25s D7535 and D7612, courtesy of the South Devon Diesel Traction group, Class 37 D6948, courtesy of the Growler Group at Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Rly, and a pair of GBRf Class 73/1s 73107 and 73136.
These were joined by locos from the Williton based Diesel and Electric Preservation Group, with a particular high spot being the return to traffic of Class 35 'Hymek' no D7018 which returned to action after a gap of 24 years following a disastrous engine failure. It was joined by classmate no D7017, giving the rare sight and sound of a pair of these popular diesel hydraulics in action. Another pairing was Class 33s nos D6566 and D6575 with Class 14 no D9526 also working trains. The WSR Gala Planning Team would like to thank all the loco owners who helped to make the three days a success and also thank the owners of locos whose visit had to be cancelled for their understanding.
Another successful part of the event was the Beer and Cider Festival staged at the Washford museum and restoration base of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust which was run and staffed by volunteers from the Somerset Branch of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale). Some 2000 pints were sold, with supplies running out on Saturday evening and the profits were added to the takings from the Gala days.
Together with the successful weekend of June 8th and 9th which marked the 40th anniversary of trains running between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead the June Special Events have made a most useful funding contribution towards the future of the WSR.
News of the Peter Barnfield exhibition at Bishops Lydeard
Drawings, paintings and models by Peter Barnfield (1942-2018) at the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard Station on the West Somerset Railway from 13 to 28 July 2019. Open daily from 10am to 4pm. Admission free. Click or tap the button below for more information at www.peterbarnfield.co.uk
Chris Austin has kindly provided an update on the plans to introduce a shuttle between Taunton and the West Somerset Railway.
The West Somerset Railway has been successful in securing a grant of £60,000 from Great Western Railway's Customer and Communities Improvement Fund to provide connections between the heritage railway and the national rail network this summer.
After many years of planning and preparation, a regular link to the main line at Taunton is about to become a reality as the Exmoor Gateway project. The scheme is expected to run later in the summer and through the Autumn, with a service on Saturdays and Sundays between Bishops Lydeard and Taunton. Trains will be timed specifically to connect with steam trains to and from Minehead at Bishops Lydeard, Five return trips are planned for Saturdays and four for Sundays (the Sunday late morning slot on Platform 2 at Taunton is taken up by the Torbay Express.) Details are still being worked on with GWR, and an announcement will be made as soon as dates are confirmed.
Comprehensive data will be kept on passenger loadings to allow a judgement to be made on whether or not such a service could be run commercially in future years. A major communications campaign is planned to promote these services and to encourage new visitors to come to see the railway by public transport rather than by car.
GWR already offers through tickets to the WSR from its staffed stations, available for use on the 28 bus between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard, and these tickets will also be valid on the shuttle train. Alternatively, passengers will be able to buy tickets on the shuttle train to any station on the WSR.
Further details of this exciting development will be made widely available as soon as possible.
27 June 2019 Details kindly provided by Chris Austin
The latest WSR Journal has been issued
Members of the West Somerset Railway Association are now receiving their copy of the West Somerset Railway Journal number 165. The quality of design, print, photographs and written content seems to have reached new heights - congratulations and thanks to the editorial team. Membership is very reasonable - click the button below for details.
The West Somerset Railway Association has updated the blog detailing the final stages of the overhaul of the unique WSR 2-6-0 no 9351. Pictures show the loco standing in Williton's North Yard. Click the link below to load the Blog page.
This event was a sun-bathed sell-out success causing the Festival to close down three hours ahead of schedule, the 2000th and final pint being poured at 7pm on Saturday afternoon. We were delighted to serve many past customers of the erstwhile WSR/CAMRA Minehead festivals. Our hosts, the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust made us very welcome and arranged some spot-on entertainment. Some folk considered that we had managed to recreate the special atmosphere of those early Minehead events. We very much hope to have the opportunity to work together with the S&DRT again next year.
23 June 2019 Details kindly provided by Somerset CAMRA
Amended timetables for the 2019 Diesel Gala
Slight alterations to some afternoon timings to allow for the additional station calls of the midday limited stop services. The loco roster remains the same and is subject to availability/change for operational reasons.
19 June 2019 Details kindly provided by the Gala Planning Team
Crompton no D6575 withdrawn from Diesel Gala
Martin Howard, Chairman, Diesel and Electric Preservation Group, writes:
We have a disappointing bit of news. One of our drivers has been taken ill and is currently in hospital recovering. We have not been able to get a replacement driver in the time available and as a result we have had to take the decision to withdraw Crompton no D6575 from the bulk of the Diesel Gala programme. We are naturally disappointed that one of our billed locomotive pairings will not now take place but we hope our visitors will understand the reason behind our decision. Our thoughts are with our driver and we wish him a speedy recovery back to full health.
Barrie Childs, Chairman, CAMRA Somerset Branch, has provided a timely update.
The beer has all arrived on site and is racked ready to serve from tomorrow (Thursday 20 June). There have been a couple of last-minute changes to our line-up. Clcik or tap the button below to view the final confirmed list of 25 beers and 6 ciders.
There is no entry fee and beers/ciders are all priced £1.75 per half or £3.50 per pint.
The festival is open from midday to 8pm on Thursday, and midday to 10pm on Friday and Saturday.
On Friday and Saturday evening at 9pm a free bus will depart from Washford, calling at Watchet, Williton, Bishops Lydeard and Taunton Railway Station. Buses of Somerset route 28 towards Minehead departs just a few minutes later.
West Somerset Railway train services continue until 5.49pm towards Minehead and 6.09pm towards Bishops Lydeard each evening. These train departures will be announced at the bar in good time.
This information updates that to be found on www.somerset.camra.org.uk
Evening bus service from the Real Ale and Cider Festival
The West Somerset Railway have announced:
On Friday 21 June and Saturday 22 June, Crosville Motors will be providing an evening bus service from Washford Station to coincide with our Washford Beer Festival and Diesel Gala. The Bus will depart Washford at 9pm and will drop off at Watchet, Williton, Bishops Lydeard and Taunton Railway Station. Those with tickets for travel on those dates will be permitted to travel on the bus free of charge.
The Steam Trust publish the Minutes of recent Board Meeting
The Minutes of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Board Meeting held on 22 May 2019 have been published. These were approved as a correct record with one amendment to Minute 311:
The railway will be closed for possession purposes between Watchet and Minehead from October 2019 until March 2020 to undertake vital infrastructure improvement work. The exception to this would be during half term in February 2020 when the full line will be open to visitors. Scheduling of work in this way will enable the PLC to ensure that the line is fully operational for the 2020 season and particularly during the peak periods.
The Railway's Infrastructure Engineering Team say:
We're looking for a project manager to work on a level crossing renewal in Minehead over the next nine months. The planning stage will require one or two day per week, up to November when the job will require up to five days a week. This is a paid position for someone with signalling, level crossing, CDM and civil engineering experience. Please contact email@example.com or call 01643 700400 (leave a message)
An update from the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group
The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group have issued an update:
Class 35 'Hymek' no D7018 is having final preparations for the Diesel Gala starting on Thursday 20 June 2019, marking a full return to revenue earning service over the event, a significant achievement and the culmination of years worth of work by the Group.
The Diesel Gala visitor line up is excellent including two visiting Class 25s from the South Devon Railway, two Class 73s courtesy of GBRF and the Class 37 from the GWR which has been on the Railway for a little while now on a welcome extended visit.
Click or tap the button below for the official WSR event page for the working timetables and loco allocations; and to buy tickets in advance. Also details of the very popular Real Ale and Cider Festival at Washford Station during the event thanks to the Somerset branch of CAMRA.
Our new 'Hymek D7018' booklet has just arrived in stock, straight off the press, and we will have plenty of copies for sale at £10 per copy starting from this weekend. The A4-sized booklet is a hefty 64 glossy pages and includes background information on the Hymeks as well as detail about the working life and restoration of D7018. We will have a sales stand on the Railway either at Minehead, Bishops Lydeard or Williton.
The Gauge Junction Model Railway featured on YouTube video
Videographer Andy York has produced an informative video interview with Matt and James who are members of the thirty-strong volunteers who look after the Gauge Junction model railway which can be found at the Gauge Museum on Platform One at Bishops Lydeard Station. Click or tap the button below to watch the interview and find out more about this fabulous model railway.
17 June 2019 Details kindly provided by the Gauge Museum Model Railway Team
The 2019 Steam and Vintage Rally - 3 and 4 August
Geoff Garfield, Chairman of the Rally Team, writes with great news about the 2019 Steam and Vintage Rally:
Tickets for the 2019 WSRA Steam and Vintage Vehicle Rally at Norton Fitzwarren are now available on the Rally website.
If you book in advance on www.steamrally.org.uk each ticket is valid for both days 3rd and 4th August, for the price of one day. Click or tap the button below for the online ticket page.
This year we are offering a new opportunity: cab rides in a diesel shunter, as well as steam-powered brake van rides. There will be all the usual favorites: steam road vehicles large and small, vintage cars, motorbikes, tractors, military vehicles, commercials, trade , craft and artisan food stands, refreshments, children's entertainments...
There will be a special train leaving Minehead for the Rally site at 9.30 each morning.
WSR ID card holders get in free, but for your friends and guests, why not book tickets now.
With entries from every corner of the UK already in excess of 500 for a weekend of spectacular cycle racing, the town centre at Minehead looks set for an exciting mid-summer sporting festival on 22 and 23rd June 2019. The West Somerset Railway is offering lots of trains to get folks to and from Minehead over the weekend. Use the links below for the train times.
17 June 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondents
D7018 due to return - a quarter of a century later
On Thursday 20 June 2019 Class 35 Hymek no D7018 will be working - subject to availability - part of the Diesel Gala diagram that includes the Quantock Belle dining car set. This is a piece of neat symmetry as the Class 35 was heading an evening Quantock Belle when it suffered the major engine failure which has kept it out of action for just short of a quarter of a century.
D7018 was built by Beyer Peacock at Gorton Foundry, Manchester and was completed on 18 January 1962 (ten days after D7017) and was initially allocated to Bristol Bath Road. It was withdrawn twelve years later and after purchase by the DEPG was originally based at the Great Western Railway Society depot at Didcot before moving to Williton.
14 June 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
'Tales of the West Somerset Railway' - a must for the bookshelf
Ginny Barnfield writes about the new book 'Tales of the West Somerset Railway' recently published by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust and also reminds us of the huge volunteer effort made by the Barnfields all those years ago:
When you visit the WSR, look out for this fascinating account of volunteering by 29 of us who, 40 years ago, helped to make the railway the tremendous success it is today, Better by Miles, the strapline coined by Peter when we were responsible for the railway's publicity. It is indeed the longest heritage line in the country. Where else could you travel over 20 miles each way in a 14 coach train hauled by doubleheaded Manors? Yes, that was a very special 40th Anniversary occasion, a one-off, but on most days except during diesel galas you can expect steam haulage! Yes, of course I'm biased. Peter and I created Blue Anchor Railway Museum for GW150 in 1985 and most of our display work, photographs, captions etc., is still in evidence, to my surprise and delight. Open Sundays and Bank Holidays from Easter to September. Do visit!
14 June 2019 Details kindly provided by Ginny Barnfield
A small timetable amendment for the 2019 Diesel Gala
A posting on the Facebook page of the Railway's Gala Planning Team:
A small amendment to the timetables for the Diesel Gala (20-22 June). Following feedback we have decided to amend the 12.03 ex Minehead and 13.18 ex Bishops Lydeard limited stop services to stop at Crowcombe, Williton, Watchet, Washford (for the beer festival) and Blue Anchor to enable those passengers who are trying to get maximum haulage variety and mileages the chance to change trains/direction at the crossing stations. Overall times are unaffected.
Also the 10.59 ex Minehead will be extended to Norton Fitzwarren and return from there at approx.13.15 to take up its booked working the 13.57 from Bishops Lydeard.
The 10.59 ex Minehead will have the restaurant car serving breakfasts, along with the 09.20 ex Bishops Lydeard, so and extra opportunity to indulge yourself on the extended journey to the mainline junc. Breakfasts can be booked online in advance or just turn up at the restaurant car on the day.
13 June 2019 Details kindly provided by Gala Planning Team
All-day breakfast during the 2019 Diesel Gala
Sure to interest a good many visitors to the forthcoming Diesel Gala - 20-22 June 2019 - who are keen to enjoy the Quantock Belle dining cars, the Railway's Gala Planning Team have announced:
The Quantock Belle will be offering an All-Day Breakfast service throughout the event. The menu summary now appears on the official webpage for the event (see button below)
Following feedback from would-be passengers it is agreed that the daily (lunchtime) limited stop service will now call at Blue Anchor, Washford, Williton and Crowcombe Heathfield in both directions during the event.
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust (WSSRT) has published a new 40th Anniversary book chronicling some personal memories and momentous events of the last four decades. The WSSRT hosted a book signing to launch the new book on the evening of Friday 7 June in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard. Despite the pouring rain and strong winds approximately 70 guests braved the wintery conditions to attend the event. The guests were not only rewarded by being able to meet the three authors they were also able to visit the museum model railway, Gauge Junction and watch the simulated operation of Powderham signal box on a busy summer's day as happy holiday makers travelled westwards by train along the Exe Estuary. Quantock Brewery were also present providing guests with the opportunity to try tasters of the new 'Quantock Steamer' ale, brewed in commemoration of the WSR 40th Anniversary.
The 40th Anniversary Weekend Souvenir Booklet and Ticket
As part of the 40th Anniversary celebrations a full colour commemorative booklet has been produced which will be sold with a commemorative Edmondson ticket (purely a souvenir and not valid for travel). The cost for the combination is £4 and they will be sold on the day at the shops at Minehead and Bishops Lydeard. The shops will also be happy to take orders by phone or e-mail. The print run of booklet and ticket has been limited to 500. And don't overlook the other 40th Anniversary publication, 'Tales of the West Somerset Railway' which is being launched by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust on Friday 7 June and will be on sale over the weekend.
7 June 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
New beer to celebrate WSR 40th Anniversary
Over the weekend of 8 and 9 June, the West Somerset Railway (WSR) will be holding a special 40th Anniversary event to mark it becoming England's longest heritage railway forty years ago in 1979. As Quantock Brewery is one of the closest businesses to Bishops Lydeard Atation, Quantock have brewed an exclusive new beer to mark this special occasion. They say:
The new beer is called 'Quantock Steamer' which is a light amber ale at 3.8% ABV, brewed with light roasted malts and two great English hops. These combined give fantastic notes of orange and citrus, plus a hint of spice. This new brew will only be available via the WSR's train buffet cars, the Turntable Cafe on Minehead Station and the Quantock Brewery Shop and Taproom at Bishops Lydeard. The 'Quantock Steamer' will sit well alongside 'Gold '76', another beer brewed by Quantock just for the WSR to mark the line's initial 1976 reopening.
7 June 2019 Details kindly provided by the WSR Plc and Quantock Brewery
Timetables available for the 2019 Diesel Gala
The timetables and loco allocations are now avalable for the 2019 Diesel Gala 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' on 20 to 22 June 2019. The usual caveats apply for loco availability at the last moment and times of some trains may be adjusted slightly before the actual event for operational reasons. Rover Tickets are now available for purchase in advance from the WSR Plc website (see button below)
6 June 2019 Details kindly provided by the Gala Planning Team
A second Class 25 for the 2019 Diesel Gala
A news update from the Gala Planning Team's Chairman, Don Bishop:
I am very pleased to be able to announce that I have managed to procure a replacement loco for the 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' Gala on 20-22 June 2019. This is to replace the class 31 (no 31163) that we had booked but now withdrawn from the event due to a suspected turbo fault.
Through the kind help of the South Devon Diesel Traction team we will now have a visit by a second of their Class 25s. No D7612 will join D7535 (the latter has already arrived at the WSR).
The WSR Gala Planning Team would like to extend their thanks to the SDR team for agreeing to the visit and thanks also go to the Epping and Ongar Railway who have agreed to release D7612 early from a hire period there. The 25s were versatile machines that found work all over the British Rail network until the move to heavier train loads made them redundant. In the 1970s and1980s they could often be found double-heading holiday trains to the coast from the Midlands and North West England.
We plan to offer some double-headed 25 turns at the gala, and indeed this will be the 4th pair of locos of the same class we have for this years event, joining 2 x 33s, 2 x 73s and 2 x Hymeks. Class 37 no D6948, from Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, and home-based Class 14 no D9526 will also take part.
Finally - we now have the special souvenir '40th Anniversary' gala programme and celebration ticket for this weekend's gala available for £5 on the day at Bishops Lydeard and Minehead booking offices.
5 June 2019 Details kindly provided by the Gala Planning Team
Lorna Doone heads for the Swindon Shed at Williton
Just posted on Facebook by the Friends of Minehead Station(FoMS):
After a patient wait of nearly six months, it is time for FoMS next project to move forwards. Brake Saloon no 80736 Lorna Doone (former BG converted for wheelchair-using passengers) left Minehead sidings on 4 June 2019 for West Somerset Restoration at Williton where it is planned to change four wheel sets, remove the electric lift, repaint the roof and body (perhaps a new colour?) and provide steam heating in the passenger area. It is hoped it will be back in running order by the end of July/beginning of August.
Whilst appreciating there are many demands for money within the WSR family at the moment, any donation towards this expensive restoration and repair would be welcomed by the FoMS Treasurer at Minehead Station.
4 June 2019 Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station
Barclay to power brake van rides during 40th Anniversary event
Something a little different for the weekend. Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST no1219 will, subject to availability, be operating brake van rides at Bishops Lydeard Station on 8 and 9 June 2019, as part of the Railway's '40th Anniversary' event. A rather unusual opportunity to travel by brake van and steam along part of the Norton section.
3 June 2019 Details kindly provided by the Gala Planning Team
Donations to Steam Trust for Rail Renewal Project
The Chairman of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, Chris Austin OBE, writes:
A letter sent to WSR shareholders invites purchase of new shares for the Rail Renewal Project and also invites donations via the Association or the Trust. Unfortunately the e-mail address given for the Trust Treasurer is wrong and should read firstname.lastname@example.org
The Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust's 'living museum'
The Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust have been working to make their base at Washford Station into more of a 'living museum'. Jobs carried out to this end includes inviting visitors to try their hand at operating two signals adjacent to the new cycle path, installation of new screens and the adaptation of the Fruit D van into a cinema coach shoiwing S&D footage. Why not call in at Washford during next weekend's 40th Anniversary Weekend or have a look around before attending the Beer Festival later this month?
2 June 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Watchet Station secondhand model railway equipment sale
Steve Sutherland of Watchet Station writes:
Watchet Station's Secondhand Model Railway Equipment Sale is on this Saturday 8th June in the Watchet pagoda waiting room from 10am to 3pm. We will have engines, coaches, wagons,track,books in OO N and HO gauge etc. Come along to help us raise funds for the maintenance of Watchet Railway Station which is all run by volunteers. Have you any unwanted model railway equipment that you could donate to help us? Contact Steve Sutherland for further information on 01984 633425
2 June 2019 Details kindly provided by Watchet Station
Class 31 no 31163 not available for 2019 Diesel Gala
The Gala Planning Team have announced:
I am sorry to announce that Class 31 no 31163 (97205) is now unable to attend the WSR's forthcoming 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside II' Diesel Gala on 20 - 22 June due to a suspected turbo fault being discovered whilst running under test yesterday at the Severn Valley Railway. The owners took the decision as a precaution against further damage risk and we fully understand their position.
We are now in pursuit of another guest loco to fill the diagrams originally allocated to the Class 31 and will advise if/when we are successful at finding a suitable replacement.
Many of you have been asking about the loco rosters, and we thank you for your patience whilst these have been finalised. We expect to publish these later today and will show the turns due to have been covered by the 31 as a mystery. Some small adjustments may be necessary if/when we have a replacement loco.