An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway
80 mile diagram for Hymek no D7018 on Saturday next
The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group's Class 35 diesel hydraulic locomotive no D7018 is rostered for an eighty mile diagram on Saturday 24 August 2019. No D7018's passenger duties for the day start with the 9.25am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead, then the 11.45am from Minehead back to Bishops Lydeard; another round trip starts from Bishops Lydeard at 1.20pm, with the return leaving Minehead at 5.25pm. With stops at intermediate stations there will be ample opportunity to experience the power of the classic Hymek.
Latest WSR Association Board Meeting documents published
The West Somerset Railway Association have published the agreed Minutes of the Board Meeting of 8 July 2019 and a synopsis of the more recent Board Meeting held on 12 August 2019. Click or tap the buttons below to load the documents from the Association's website.
Early analysis of survey data collected on the Taunton shuttles
Chris Austin, Chairman of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, who has been leading the Taunton shuttle project on behalf of WSR Plc, has kindly provided a summary of early analysis of data collected so far during the Taunton shuttle trains:
The first surveys of passengers on the GWR shuttles show a high proportion of passengers coming to visit from beyond Taunton. Over the three shuttle days, over half the passengers arrived from stations beyond Taunton, with journeys originating from 50 main line stations around the country, from Penzance to Newcastle. On Saturday 17 August 2019 around two thirds travelled on to Minehead. Along with those on Saturday's Paddington - Minehead charter train hauled to Bishops Lydeard by LMS 4-6-2 no 6233 Duchess of Sutherland, it is clear that the Railway continues to boost the Minehead economy.
Around 13% of those surveyed had never been to the WSR before, while almost half (46%) are infrequent visitors. More detail will come as the team continue to monitor passengers travelling to the railway and from Minehead to Taunton.
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust has announced the appointment of Steve Williams as its first Vice Chairman. Steve will combine this role with his existing responsibilities as Company Secretary, in leading on implementation of the Trust's Business Plan and as project lead for the Gauge Museum project with its £40,000 contribution from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
Steve has been a volunteer with the WSR for 10 years and was formerly the Plc's Business Planning Director until he stepped down in June 2017.
Welcoming him to the new post, Steam Trust Chairman, Chris Austin said:
The growing workload of the Trust and the scope of the business and fundraising plans, together with the determination to make them a reality, means that there is a real need for a vice chairman to share the work. Steve is ideally qualified for this role, and I am delighted to welcome him to the post.
The Trust's role in supporting the railway through the new education and learning opportunities it offers, through the museums and through historic carriage restoration has brought more visitors and more volunteers, so increasing our capability as a management team is now essential.
Popular Pannier no 6412 booked for the Autumn Steam Gala
Chairman of the Gala Planning Team, Don Bishop, is pleased to announce the first visiting loco for the Autumn Steam Gala held 3, 4, 5 and 6 October 2019:
Courtesy of our friends at the South Devon Railway we will have a visit from old WSR favourite and stalwart GWR Pannier no 6412. The smart BR lined green loco was of course based on the WSR between 1976 and the early 2000s when it was sold to the SDR as it was no longer suitable for regular use on the WSR which requires more powerful locos for its heavier trains and gradients. The loco is expected to work on some of the 'local trains' planned for the Gala theme of 'country railways'. It will be good to see the loco return to the WSR in the 40th anniversary year of reopening through to Bishops Lydeard in 1979.
Another different attraction we are planning at this years autumn event is the carriage of parcels, luggage and light goods between stations on our passenger services. In scenes that were once common place at country stations as passengers luggage in advance and local produce was loaded onto passenger trains and porters were seen wheeled trolleys of goods and parcels around stations in anticipation of the next arrival. We hope to recreate these scenes to add interest to our wonderful stations in between trains at the gala. More details will be announced later as these are confirmed.
Work continues on finding a few more visiting locos to visit the line that fit the theme and we have a couple of enquiries active and details will be given in due course.
All the Stations say Station 2,567 is Bishops Lydeard
'All the Stations' paid a visit to the West Somerset Railway, taking advantage of the GWR shuttle trains on 3 August 2019 which, for that day only, included a stop at the WSR's Norton Platform. As ever, the journey is filmed and the edited video is uploaded to YouTube. Here is part of the description on the YouTube page:
For seven Saturdays this summer of 2019, GWR are running a shuttle service between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard - meaning it's station number 2,567 .. right? Or not?! We went down to tick it off, and then ride the brilliant West Somerset Railway all the way to Minehead, and Vicki finds a castle too! The Saturday GWR service is running on: July 27th, August 3rd, August 17th, August 31st, September 7th, September 21st and October 5th.
17 August 2019 Details kindly provided by local corresondent and All the Stations
Limited edition of 105 00 gauge Dapol Fruit D wagons
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust have just released a limited edition of 105 00 gauge wagons made by Dapol Ltd. These depict the 1956 Swindon-built 'Fruit D' van, which was restored by the Trust last year and is on show in Washford.
The wagons come boxed with a numbered certificate priced at £21.00 if bought from the shop in Washford station. There is a £3.75 p&p charge for mail order via the Trust website www.sdrt.org or by post to The S & D R Trust, Washford Station, Washford, TA23 0PP.
At the Extraordinary General Meeting of the West Somerset Railway Plc held on Saturday 10 August 2019, the Motion to revise article 53 of the Plc's Memorandum of Articles & Association was passed with an overwhelming majority of the 102 shareholders present. There was one vote against the motion and one abstention.
This will defer publication of the Plc accounts until a later date, probably early December, so that this summer's trading figures can be looked at by both the directors and auditors alongside last year's 15-month loss-making accounts in order to demonstrate that the business can go forward as a going concern.
After the resolution was clearly passed, the meeting also received presentations over a two and a half hour period from all of the directors and advisors about what was being done to help get the railway 'back on track' in their areas of responsibility, especially infrastructure, plus the Chairmen of the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) and the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust (WSRRT) outlined what both support organisations were doing to help, including an update for the Rail Renewal appeal which now stands at £80,000 of the £250,000 target set for this year.
The Plc Chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt outlined the very serious financial situation the WSR was in last year which put it at risk of insolvency, and that the 2018 accounts would make for dismal reading when published. But the threat to the WSR is now diminishing thanks to some drastic cost-cutting measures and prudent management of resources, and the railway had not had to use its overdraft facility.
Jonathan Jones-Pratt said the vote to defer publication of the accounts was, in effect:
The start of the recovery process and that the Board and management at the top had to get everything right throughout the railway and its constituent parts.
Mr Jones-Pratt added:
After analysing and identifying the peaks and troughs of WSR train services this year, the train timetables will be different in 2020 going forward so that we avoid being busy fools running empty trains. A budget is being created to generate a surplus to invest back into the railway, and the end result will be a better railway which allows for both steam and diesels to operate, but the WSR will always be a core steam railway operation.
WSR Plc Vice Chairman Mark Smith told the shareholders before the vote to amend the company's Memorandum of Articles & Association that they were facing a stark choice because the 15-month accounts were so poor that publication now could kill the railway off as a going concern. He told shareholders:
If we get it right today, then we will have a railway going forward. But if we get it wrong, then we'll have a cycle track - it's that simple.
The whole meeting was conducted in a calm, professional and amicable manner throughout with plenty of questions from shareholders and answers from directors and advisors.
The Chair of Somerset West and Taunton District Council, Councillor Hazel Prior-Sankey, visited the ever popular annual Steam and Vintage Rally held by the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) at Norton Fitzwarren on 3 and 4 August. She spent the Sunday afternoon taking in the varied sights and sounds of a host of traction engines, vintage military and commercial vehicles and cars, plus craft and trade stalls. And the Councillor couldn't resist an offer from West Somerset Railway Plc Chairman, Jonathan Jones-Pratt to take a ride on the footplate of his GWR locomotive no 9466 which was on site giving short brake van rides to visitors. Jonathan Jones-Pratt said:
It was great to see so many West Somerset Railway volunteers working together to give folk a great day out at the Association's rally and getting another generation involved with steam and heritage. Our community connections are very important to us, so I was pleased to welcome Hazel and her partner to the rally.
The West Somerset Railway now operates steam and diesel train services almost every day until the end of October and the Railway's next big event is the Autumn Steam Gala from 3 - 6 October. See: www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk for details.
On 27 July 2019, the first ever timetabled, public GWR Shuttle Summer Saturday services commenced from Taunton with some 250 passengers using the new services to the WSR that day, but with an estimated 750-800 travelling the following week on 3 August on the shuttle trains, including stops at Norton Fitzwarren for the WSR's annual weekend-long Steam and Vintage Rally.
During the Rally Weekend, the WSR also ran its own three-car DMU services to and from Norton Fitzwarren from Bishops Lydeard, and a similar number of people travelled on these trains too
The introduction of these new GWR services to the WSR was the first time the new Norton Fitzwarren station has been served by a train from the national rail network, so another milestone reached.
The next GWR shuttles from Taunton to Bishops Lydeard run on Saturday 17 August and again on the following Saturdays - 31 August, 7 and 21 September, and finally on 5 October during the WSR Autumn Steam Gala.
The Rock Choir perform at WSR stations on 10 August
The Rock Choir from Clevedon, Weston-super-Mare, Burnham-on-Sea, Bridgwater and Taunton, will perform at some of the stations along the West Somerset Railway throughout the day on Saturday 10 August 2019.
Catch the Rock Choir...
on the beautiful gardens of Stogumber Railway Station at 10am
outside the ticket office at Watchet Railway Station at 11.15am
outside Turntable Cafe at Minehead Railway Station at 12.30pm
outside the iconic building of Dunster Railway Station at 2.50pm
on the platform of Williton Railway Station at 4.30pm and finally
on the platform of Bishops Lydeard Railway Station
It is great to see the front page of the GWR website gwr.com featuring the GWR trains running on selected Saturdays between Taunton and the WSR. Full details of the dates, the times of the trains and the fares for these shuttle trains can be found at gwr.com (click the button below).
Some of the shuttle trains connect at Bishops Lydeard with West Somerset Railway trains that operate over the heritage line all the way to the seaside at Minehead.
Saturdays 17, 31 August and 7, 21 September and 5 October
6 August 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent and gwr.com
An announcement by the Friends of Minehead Station
Some 22 years ago, the then secretary of the Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS), the late David Perry, persuaded the FoMS committee that it was time to have a purpose-built sales outlet on Minehead Station platform to sell second-hand books and other railway memorabilia in order to raise funds for the station's ongoing restoration and maintenance, and so relieve the financial burden on the West Somerset Railway Plc.
Now, after operating for 21 years, the total monies raised by 'Readers Halt' reached an astonishing £500,000 at 10.50am on Saturday 3 August - a truly epicand laudable achievement!
But what is all the more surprising, however, is that all the money raised is due to the kindness of people who have donated their books and other items to be sold, plus the FoMS 'weather proof' volunteer staff who have looked afier the outlet over the years. All of the monies raised have gone back into keeping Minehead Station looking as good as it does today.
A huge number of projects have been undertaken by FoMS at Minehead Station over this period, including:
A new fence around the station
Replacing the chimneys on the Grade ll listed building previously demolished for safety reasons
Tarmacking the platform and locomotive yard car park
Painting the very long canopy at the station (twice)
Refurbishing the station's toilets (twice)
Looking after the flower beds and providing hanging baskets during the summer months
General maintenance around the half-mile long platform and even longer grassed and hedged areas on the site
Funding refits for the Buffer Stop shop and the Turntable Cafe
New tables for customers to use outside the Cafe
Two extensions to the storage space for Readers Halt stock
Very recently, almost £100,000 has also been provided for projects away from Minehead to help the railway's infrastructure with new track and bridge repairs between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard. This was a one off donation by FoMS
Coincidentally, the total money raised by FoMS during its long 23-year history reached £600,000 (including the Readers Halt contribution) a couple of weeks ago! Commenting on this momentous achievement, Chairman of FoMS Martyn Snell, said:
Little did we realise the huge financial tap which David Perry was opening at the time. He would be so proud to have seen what has been achieved in and around the station since 'Readers Halt' first opened for business. Without that first move and the donations of stock plus the hard work of the volunteer staff, the money raised would not have come into our coffers. l am so grateful to everyone who has donated their unwanted items and time to us in any way to help keep the WSR station at Minehead looking spick and span!
WSR Plc Vice Chairman Mark Smith, who was the WSR's Managing Director when FoMS was formed and also gave permission for 'Reader's Halt' to be built at Minehead Station comments:
The well known phrase that 'From small acorns do grow mighty oaks' seerns very appropriate here. FoMS have done a truly magnificent job over the years in not only maintaining Minehead Station, but also supporting the railway in its hour of need too. I, and the whole of the West Somerset Railway family, applaud their fantastic achievement in raising so much money for the good of the railway, and naturally wish them well for the next half million hopefully!"
6 August 2019 Details kindly provided by Friends of Minehead Station
Over 500 enjoy the delights of a Watchet summer evening
On 2 August 2019 the eleven-coach Somerset Coast Express special train headed by a gleaming SDJR 2-8-0 no 53808 carried hundreds of Steam and Vintage Rally participants from Norton to Watchet and back. Here is a posting from the 'We love Watchet' facebook page:
Friday night over 500 visitors came [by train] into Watchet, ate and drank in the pubs and restaurants and cafes, very valued revenue to the area.
The 1940s weekend in 2018 generated somewhere in the region of £1million for pubs, shops, hotels, b+b, cafes, taxis, and the like and it is happening again this year on 14-15 September.2019.
4 August 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
An announcement by West Somerset Railway Plc
On Thursday 1 August 2019 the West Somerset Railway Plc made the following announcement:
The Railway wishes to announce that Mr Paul Conibeare has decided to leave the Railway from Wednesday 31 July 2019. Mr Conibeare started with the Railway in 1983 and has held a number of posts, latterly as General Manager.
Mr Conibeare has decided that the time was right to move on to new challenges and we wish him well.
Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Chairman, on behalf of the WSR Plc Board