An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

Funeral arrangements for Richard Brooks

Ken Barker has kindly provided details of the funeral of long-serving WSR volunteer Richard Brooks.

Richards Brooks funeral will take place on Monday 3rd February at 1200 at Taunton Crematorium, Wellington New Road, Taunton TA1 5NE. The family have requested no flowers but a donation to the WSRA towards a Permanent Way fund/project. The undertakers are E White & Son, 138-139 East Reach, Taunton TA1 3HN.

17 January 2020
Details kindly provided by Ken Barker

A large contribution from the Steam Trust to the Track Appeal

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Chairman, Chris Austin, has presented the West Somerset Railway Chairman, Jonathan Jones-Pratt, with a cheque for £35,000 as a contribution towards the WSR Track Appeal. The Trust has to date donated over £40,000. The contribution is for the purchase of heritage track components, particularly for Blue Anchor and falls within the WSSRT objects and powers.

16 January 2020
Details kindly provided by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Work in progress at the Gauge Museum

WSR

The Gauge Museum has now been scaffolded throughout and the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust will start to get the inside of the museum repainted in preparation for the new 'storyboard' approach that will show the railway and its role within the wider context of the socio-economic, heritage and historical events in West Somerset and Taunton Deane since its inception.

15 January 2020
Details kindly provided by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Tankards awarded to retiring Rally Marshals

WSR

On 11 January 2020 Steam & Vintage Rally Chairman Geoff Garfield presented the retiring Section Marshals with engraved tankards as a 'thank you' for all their hard work. New Marshals are in place for all sections and the Rally Team are gearing up for this year's Rally to be held at Norton Fitzwarren on 1 and 2 August 2020.

12 January 2020
Details gleaned from Facebook page of the Steam & Vintage Rally

Richard Brooks

Ken Barker (recently retired volunteer PW gang supervisor) has some very sad news about our good friend and long serving volunteer Richard Brooks:

It is with great sorrow and shock to report the sudden passing of Richard Brooks whilst walking on the Quantocks on Thursday 9th January at the age of 64. He joined the WSRA in April 1975 and worked virtually continuously up to last Sunday with the Volunteer PW Gang. Our condolences go out to his partner Sandy and his brother and sisters. Funeral details when known will follow.

11 January 2020
Details kindly provided by Ken Barker

Proposals for redesign and reinterpretation of Gauge Museum

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have published the proposals for the redesign and reinterpretation of the Gauge Museum:

Following 12 months of hard work by its Project Team and volunteers, the Steam Trust is pleased to be able to publish the proposals for the redesign and reinterpretation of the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard station. This has been made possible by the National Heritage Lottery fund grant of £40,000 together with a contribution from the Steam Trust's own resources of just over £20,000. There is more work to do but we reached the stage where we want to hear from our Members, volunteers, railway partners and other key stakeholders about the proposals in this document. We look forward to hearing from you.

There will be a further announcement in a few weeks about the arrangements for reopening the Museum and the formal launch.

Download the Proposals document

11 January 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The Railway remembers the Sixties

WSR

The West Somerset Railway's 'Sixties Day' special event on 4 July 2020 plans to include a classic 60s vehicle display; a vintage fair; a screening of the Beatles film 'A Hard Day's Night'; a recreation of some of the famous scenes filmed at Crowcombe Heathfield Station; and a dance at Minehead with the 'Upbeat Beatles'. Look out for more details soon...

Beatles on the Branch The Upbeat Beatles

8 January 2020
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

Saturday openings for Bishops Lydeard Station Shop

WSR

Kate Beard, Retail Manager of the Station Shop, Platform Two, Bishops Lydeard Railway Station, writes:

The Station Shop on Platform Two, Bishops Lydeard will be reopening on Saturday 18 January from 9.30am to 2.30pm and every following Saturday while there are no public service trains on the WSR.

As you know there has been a press release from Hornby with all the new 2020 items as it is Hornby's centenary year; there are a lot of limited editions being produced in low volume numbers so if any customers would like to preorder, please contact the shop as to the above opening times or by e-mail on kate.beard@wsrail.net. Also we are hoping to receive the new Hornby centenary catalogues as soon as they are desptached. Also if you would like to order any other items inc model railway, books and diecast you are more than welcome to contact us.

7 January 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

A time for repair and a time to look forward

WSR

Over the next month or so, there is much work to do the track, bridges, stations, locomotives, carriages, training, marketing and so on. Just time for the folks at the Railway to say:

And that's the 2019 season over! Our next operating day will Saturday 21 March 2020. A huge thank you to everyone who travelled with us in 2019, we are really looking forward to seeing you again in 2020. As well as the regular train services, we also have lots of exciting events planned...

  • 23 to 26 April 2020 - Spring Steam Gala
  • 4 to 7 June 2020 - Diesel Gala
  • 4 July 2020 - 1960s Day and Dance
  • 1 & 2 August 2020 - Steam and Vintage Rally
  • 12 & 13 September 2020 - 1940s Weekend
  • 1 to 4 October 2020 - Autumn Steam Gala
  • 29 & 30 December 2020 - Winter Steam Festival

Please keep an eye out on our website and facebook page for more details of these events in the future - www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk.

2 January 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The former Taunton Engineer's Inspection Saloon

WSR

By arrangement with the West Somerset Railway Plc, the GWR-designed 'Hawksworth Saloon' no W80976W - once used for line inspections by the Taunton Engineer - has been in use during the 2019 Winter Steam Festival for invited guests of the West Somerset Railway Association, which organisation owns the Saloon.

Robin White's picture above shows Alison and Colin, who normally volunteer at Stogumber Station are awaiting the departure of the 4.10pm service from Minehead on 29 December 2019 and the spectacular views of the West Somerset scenery the Saloon affords.

The Saloon can be hired for private parties - contact the Railway on 01643 704996.

30 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

The Winter Steam Festival 29-30 December 2019

WSR

A nostalgic day out just before New Year riding in a warm sixty year old railway carriage behind a steam locomotive whilst enjoying changing views of the Quantock Hills and the Exmoor Coast on the West Somerset Railway. There will be an enhanced timetable of trains over the twenty miles of line between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead. Subject to availability the steam engines in action will be GWR 0-6-0PT no 7752, GWR 4-6-0 no 7828 Odney Manor, WSR 2-6-0 no 9351 and SDJR 2-8-0 no 53808. Normal fares and discounts apply for this event.

Full details

28 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Calling all model railway fans...

WSR

Kate Beard, Retail Manager of the Station Shop, Platform Two, Bishops Lydeard Railway Station, writes:

Is your Christmas gift money burning a hole in your pocket? If so you might like to know about some of the recent arrivals in the Bishops Lydeard Station Shop. We have supplies of:

  • Hornby's beautiful little Ruston & Hornsby diesel shunters
  • Bachmann's stunning SECR-liveried C Class 0-6-0 loco
  • Hornby's 3-pack Railroad series LMS 'Coronation' coaches in blue and silver
  • Hornby's 'New Century Bar' Pullmans
  • Bachmann's ex-SECR birdcage stock in SR malachite green
  • Three different types of Bachmann's Baldwin 10-12-D tank locos in 009 scale
  • Three different Heljan Lynton & Barnstaple 009 locos

Plus we still have stocks of Hornby's Collett corridor and suburban coaches in GWR livery and Bachmann's Warflat bogie wagon with tank load.

We shall be open whilst trains are running up to and including Wednesday 1 January 2020.

Note from wsr.org.uk: The commercial activities of the West Somerset Railway Association, including the shop and cafe at Bishops Lydeard Station and the West Somerset Restoration engineering works at Williton, have recently been transferred to the West Somerset Railway Plc, in line with the recommendations of the Coombes Report (led by Robin Coombes, this work looked into the structure and purpose of the Association and was published several years ago.).

24 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The latest WSR Journal has been issued

WSR

Members of the West Somerset Railway Association are now receiving their copy of the West Somerset Railway Journal number 167. Membership is very reasonable - click the button below for details.

Membership

23 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

The Railway purchases historic woodland at Stogumber Station

WSR

With the aid of funding from Stogumber Station, the West Somerset Railway has announced the purchase of a strip of historic woodland flanking the rear of the tea garden at Stogumber Station.

As well as being a natural haven for wildlife, the land contains many mature oak trees thought to date back to 1862 when Stogumber Station first opened to passenger traffic, and forms a very important backdrop to the picturesque Station garden

The purchase - only made possible by fund raising activities at the Station - safeguards the unique character of this popular country station for the enjoyment of its many visitors and for future generations to come.

The Stogumber Station website

18 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Association establishes new fund to protect heritage carriages

WSR

Look out elsewhere for more details of the exciting news that the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) Trustees have established a new fund aimed clearly at providing covered storage space to preserve and protect the Railway's most valuable historic carriages.

To achieve this aim the Trustees are exploring a number of options including the possibility of building a new shed or re-locating an existing heritage shed, currently on the national network, to the West Somerset Railway. All of this will take time and is subject to external factors. Therefore the Trustees want to start raising funds now to take advantage of any opportunities that arise.

The 'Preserve and Protect Fund for Heritage Carriages' will be a restricted fund in the WSRA accounts.

Keep an eye open for a much more detailed description from the Association of this new fundraising initiative and hopefully, if you can, chip in towards a much needed resource.

18 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

An update on the recent WSR Annual General Meeting

WSR

West Somerset Railway Plc have provided a brief summary following the Annual General Meeting held at Minehead on 14 December 2019.

There were 128 shareholders present. All four directors were elected and the accounts accepted.

The meeting was good natured and ran smoothly with a good Q&A session after the formal business to discuss concerns and flesh out where we are going. Once again, the common theme was openness and transparency going forward and the mistakes of the past are done, but we naturally learn from them.

The WSR is a going concern moving forward and there are some good green shoots of recovery already this year with the figures from April to October showing a surplus of £160K above the budget set and significant increase in income, and reduction in costs. We expect to see a modest profit to the end of March 2020 if the Santa season performs to budget too.

The Rail Renewal appeal is now at £160K so a good way towards the £250K target by end December.

18 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Drive a steam engine on the Minehead Branch

WSR

Jusr released are the details and dates of the Railway's popular 'Steam Engineman Course' for 2020.

The West Somerset Railway offers a range of one day and two day courses to realise your ambition and make your long held dreams become reality.

Experience the feeling of working steam locomotives as you join the team on the footplate, shovel coal into the firebox, blow the whistle, open the regulator and feel the power.

Treat someone special (even yourself) to the thrill of a lifetime learning what it feels like to be a real fireman and engine driver. A really special present or excellent Corporate Hospitality.

Full details

17 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Vacancies for Board Directors at WSR Plc

WSR

West Somerset Railway Plc is looking for three non-executive Directors to cover Finance, People and Partnerships and Business Development. For more information please click or tap the button below:

More information

13 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Latest WSR Association Board Meeting documents published

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association have published the agreed Minutes of the Board Meeting of 11 November 2019 and a synopsis of the more recent Board Meeting held on 9 December 2019. Click or tap the buttons below to load the documents from the Association's website.

Minutes Synopsis

12 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

WSRA seeking folks who donated to 9351 fund

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association say:

The WSRA trustees are contacting everyone who gave to the 9351 fund earlier this year with an invitation to join them at the upcoming Winter Steam Festival. However there are a small number of donors for whom we have names but no contact details. Did you make a donation? Have you received an invitation? If your answers are 'yes' followed by 'no' then please contact Robin White for your invitation - robin.white@wsra.org.uk

10 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Steam locomotives leave for pastures new

WSR

Two steam locos have recently left West Somerset. On 2 December 2019 LMS 4F 0-6-0 no 44422 was loaded onto a road trailer at Minehead before setting off for the Churnet Valley Railway in Staffordshire after five years in Somerset. A few days later, GWR 0-6-2T no 6695 was moved by road from Williton, where it was undergoing repair and overhaul, to the Swindon and Cricklade Railway at Blunsdon Station.

10 December 2019
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

James is through to the Finals

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust report:

Some very good news to update last week's post as James Pearson has passed through the preliminary rounds in the HRA competition and is now going forward to the final round to be held in Birmingham on February 8th, 2020. Tracker Tom Shaw who volunteers in the shop and café at Bishops Lydeard has also got through to the final round. Well done to you both and our best wishes for the final round in February.

10 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

News of a very generous donation

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is delighted to be able to recognise the generosity of Jeremy Hooper who has donated £20,000 through the Trust to this year's WSR Track Appeal. With Gift Aid, this takes the donation to £25,000. Mr Hooper, who lives in West Sussex, has been thanked by Chris Austin, Trust Chairman for his contribution. This takes the current Steam Trust contribution to the Track Appeal to over £30,000 in total.

7 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Turntable Cafe open during Dunster by Candlelight evenings

WSR

Just to let everyone know the Turntable Cafe at Minehead Station will be open at 4.00pm on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th December for Dunster by Candlelight. We will be serving pork and stuffing baps, soup, mulled wine and mince pies. Also our wonderful choices of coffee, tea, hot chocolate and various cakes. All available to take away or have in. Look forward to seeing you all.

5 December 2019
Details gleaned from Facebook page of the Turntable Cafe

James Pearson nominated for HRA Award

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Board have nominated James Pearson as the Trust's young representative for this year's Lord Faulkner Award hosted by the Heritage Railways Association for 'significant achievement' to Heritage Railways by a young person under the age of 26. The Trust add:

Joining the Gauge Junction team in January 2016, James quickly discovered his talent for scenic creation and has completed much of the current scenery enjoyed on our model layout. James has made a very valuable contribution to our efforts as a team. In the Autumn of 2017 James was awarded the Young Tracker of the Year Award by the WSR. Our best wishes to James and hope that you make it through to win at the finals held in Birmingham February 2020.

2 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

End of season message from the WSR Plc Chairman

WSR

Jon Jones-Pratt, Chairman of WSR Plc, has issued an end of season message to all who work on the Railway. Click or tap the button below to read the full message. Of special note is Jon's penultimate paragragh:

I am so impressed by what you all have individually done to get the railway to this stage, and how we have collectively overcome the obstacles we faced. The West Somerset Railway is alive and very much kicking. I am so proud to be part of this railway. Thank you again for all you have done this year. I hope like me you can now look forward with real hope to 2020.

Chairman's message in full

1 December 2019
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

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