An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway
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 It was withdrawn twelve years later and after purchase by the DEPG was originally based at the Great Western Railway Society depot at Didcot before moving to Williton.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 email@example.com
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.
On Sunday 2 June, Class 33 'Crompton' no D6566 will haul services on the West Somerset Railway. D6566 will haul the 11.00am Bishops Lydeard to Minehead service, with an additional 20 miles between Minehead and Williton added to the timetable to boost the mileage.
The additional service will leave Minehead at 1.25pm calling at Dunster at 1.33pm, Blue Anchor at 1.50pm, Watchet 2.40pm and will arrive at Williton at 2.10pm. It will then return back to Minehead, leaving Williton at 2.22pm, Watchet 2.29pm, Blue Anchor 2.50pm, Dunster 2.57pm arriving back in Minehead at 3.05pm. The extra services will not stop at Washford or Doniford. D6566 will then return back to Bishops Lydeard on the 3.25pm service as advertised on the timetable.
Steam services are also available as advertised on this day.
Buy tickets in advance of travel for a reduced rate - click the button below.
Book now for the Quantock Belle 'Taste of the 70s' Special
As part of the 40th Anniversary Weekend there will be a special Quantock Belle dining train leaving Bishops Lydeard at 1.50pm for the round trip to Minehead and back on Sunday 9 June 2019. Diners can travel at the special low inclusive price of £35 and in line with the annivrsary theme the menu will bring back memories of the 1970s. If you are too young to recall that decade here is the chance to experience what your (grand)parents enjoyed on a special occasion. Details can be seen and bookings made via the Events and Experiences section of www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk.
New book launched by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is set to publish on Friday 7 June 2019 a new '40th anniversary' book chronicling some personal memories and momentous events of the last four decades years compiled by three long-serving supporters. The Chairman of the Trust, Chris Austin OBE, comments:
The new book - 'Tales of the West Somerset Railway' - is jointly authored and edited by Ian Coleby, Allan Stanistreet and Ian Tabrett who all have strong, long-standing connections to the WSR and over 111 years of experiences on the line!
This new book, launched to coincide with the 40th anniversary of trains returning to Bishops Lydeard on the weekend of 8th & 9th June and a special event on the railway, fondly recalls the efforts and memories of a few of those who worked so hard to rebuild the railway in that time and help achieve some great things which were once pipe dreams.
'Tales of the West Somerset Railway' can be preordered from the station shops at Bishops Lydeard or Minehead, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The website of the Somerset Branch CAMRA www.somerset.camra.org.uk now has a list of the beers and ciders being lined-up for the Festival at Washford Station during the Diesel Gala Days 20-22 June 2019. They range in strength from some where a couple of lunchtime pints won't slow down the afternoon through to some that should be treated with more caution. All have been sourced from breweries within a 40 mile radius of Washford but are not from an obvious list of local producers. Rover tickets for the Diesel Gala and special returns to the Beer Festival can be purchased online at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or by calling 01643 704996.
26 May 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Event will celebrate 40 years of trains over the whole line
Over the weekend of 8 and 9 June, the West Somerset Railway will be holding a special 'Anniversary Event' to mark it becoming England's longest heritage railway forty years ago in 1979. Having first reopened in 1976 initially from Minehead to Blue Anchor, the WSR's services had reached Stogumber in 1978 and, a year later, trains began to run once again over the summit of the line at Crowcombe Heathfield and down to Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, making the line 20 miles long.
Up to half a dozen steam engines, two vintage diesels and a diesel railcar will be in use over the 40th anniversary weekend, with hourly trains over the 20 mile route. And, to make the most of the daylight hours of early summer, a special double-headed steam train will run non-stop from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and back on the evening of Saturday 8 June. Tickets for this train must be pre-booked via www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or calling 01643 704996.
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust has funded a book of personal memories from people who were involved in the early days of the WSR which is being launched on the evening of Friday 7 June at Bishops Lydeard in the 'Gauge Museum', and it will then go on sale at WSR shops over the weekend. Entitled 'Tales of the West Somerset Railway' it is 130 pages in length, illustrated in colour throughout and very reasonably priced at £8.99. Further information about the book launch will be released shortly.
Normal fares will apply for the WSR's 40th anniversary event and discounted price Rover Tickets, giving the freedom of the line for the day, can be purchased from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or by calling 01643 704996.
Exmoor Rail Model Railway Show to be held on 3 August
Exmoor Coast Railway Modellers write:
We are offering an exciting day for all railway enthusiasts on Saturday 3 August, by presenting EXMOOR RAIL. This annual show takes place at a new, bright, and disabled-friendly venue - The Minehead Eye, Mart Road, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5BJ - right next door to the West Somerset Railway's Minehead Station, situated on the seafront.
There will be a selection of high quality layouts attending plus demonstrations and wide trade support. Extensive parking is available opposite the venue(Pay & Display) and free parking in adjoining roads, plus visitors can enjoy a selection of delicious refreshments all day. Or maybe travel to Minehead by train...
All in all, a terrific day for anyone remotely interested in railways! Opening times: 10.00am - 4.30pm. Admission: Adult £6.00: Child £2.00: Family (2+2) £13.00.
25 May 2019 Details kindly provided by Exmoor Coast Railway Modellers
Latest newsletter of WSR Infrastructure Engineering
A good set of illustrated reports about the many and varied works carried out over the winter by the Railway's Infrastructure Engineering team has been made available for all to read. Click the button below to download the newsletter.
The WSR infrastructure winter works was more of a challenge this year due to a funding gap. But, thanks to
the goodwill of many station groups and our support organisations, funds started coming through in January
to allow us to order materials and services and get underway. A huge Thank You to all our staff and
supporters across the Railway! Other departments and stations mobilised help on the ground and it was a
substantial team effort to get the line ready for operating again.
Our volunteers put in many extra turns to their normal working days and our paid staff, many hours beyond
their contracted hours, to see the work completed. We reopened in two stages, methodically working the
gangs along the line - firstly to open between Bishops Lydeard and Watchet for the initial period from 30
March - then fully opened to Minehead in time for Easter.
Much remains to be done and the Railway family has just announced a campaign to raise £250000 to help fund the work. Click the 'Rail Renewal 2019' button below to load the donation page.
In June 1979, the revival of the West Somerset Railway (WSR) finally saw train services extended from the temporary terminus at Stogumber through the next station at Crowcombe Heathfield and to Bishops Lydeard, close to Taunton, making the WSR the longest heritage railway in England.
Today, one of the businesses close to Bishops Lydeard station is the award-winning Quantock Brewery and, to mark the anniversary, Quantock will produce a new bottled ale which will be sold in the brewery shop and also from the buffet cars on West Somerset Railway trains.
In addition the new beer will be available, along with other local beers and cider in the Turntable Cafe at Minehead Station. Quantock also produced a commemorative bottled ale in 2016 to mark the beginning of the re-opening of the West Somerset (between Minehead and Blue Anchor at Easter 1976), and which is still available.
The launch of the new beer, which will be called Quantock Steamer, will coincide with a special event on the WSR over the weekend of 8 and 9 June. The 40th Anniversary weekend will feature both steam and vintage diesel trains and the line -up of locomotives will hopefully feature two that were in action two generations ago. It is hoped that Great Western Railway Pannier Tank no 6412 will return for the event from its current home on the South Devon Railway, whilst 'Hymek' no D7017 will represent the Diesel and Electric Group who have been based at Williton since the early days of the WSR.
Three other steam locos and a visiting diesel no D6948 will be in action. Fuller details can be found at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk and discounted Rover Tickets, giving the freedom of the line between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead for the day, can also be purchased from the WSR website.
Trains to Watchet Wheelbarrow Race on Sunday 26 May
Catch a West Somerset Railway train to the wonderful wacky Watchet Wheelbarrow Race on Sunday 26 May 2019. The railway station is right in the middle of the town; the train journey from either Minehead or Bishops Lydeard is around 40 minutes and the race starts at 2pm.
On Sunday 26 May, trains depart Bishops Lydeard near Taunton at 9.25am, 10.15am, 11.00am, 12.40pm and 1.20pm; and depart Minehead at 10.05am, 11.00am and 12.30pm
Two steam locomotives are expected to be in use, along with the three car diesel unit.
22 May 2019 Details gleaned from websites of WSR and Watchet Carnival
Bradley Manor heads south for a working holiday
The Erlestoke Manor Fund say on their Facebook page:
7802 Bradley Manor is moving to the West Somerset Railway this week until early October as part of a locomotive exchange with 6960 Raveningham Hall allowing this former SVR resident to renew her acquaintance with Severn Valley this summer.
Bradley Manor is no stranger to the West Somerset Railway either having a made previous visits in the 1990s and 2000s. Look out for a number of events at the WSR that will involve 7802 - including double heading with 7828 Odney Manor on a 14 coach special on Saturday 8th June as part of a weekend of celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the WSR - details of which can be found here
This swap has been possible through the good working relationships established between the Erlestoke Manor Fund, West Somerset Railway, Locomotive Services Limited and the Severn Valley Railway
Support the 'Rail Renewal 2019' project with a donation
The West Somerset Railway track uses 53,000 sleepers and well over 40 miles of rail. The rail has a life of between 50 and 100 years. Much of the track is at the very end of its life and urgently needs renewing. Funds are urgently needed to keep the work on schedule this coming winter. Click or tap the 'Rail Renewal 2019' button below to find out more and please consider making a donation towards this project to renew the very foundation of the Minehead Branch. Other fundraising appeals are ongoing - see below.
Additional Trustees and a Curator sought by the Steam Trust
Additional Trustees are sought by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust who are also looking for a Curator at their Blue Anchor Railway Museum.
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is looking to co-opt to additional Trustees to its Board. One of the Trustee positions will take a lead on volunteer development whilst the other will initially be a generic Trustee role supporting an increasingly wide range of activities across the Trust.
Also, the Trust is looking to appoint a volunteer Curator for Blue Anchor Museum. This is a small Museum on the platform at Blue Anchor Station but with potential for development helping to tell the story of the West Somerset Railway, local social and economic history and maintaining the heritage around a Great Western Railway seaside branch line.
Friends of Minehead Station present £100000 cheque
The Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS) has stepped up to the mark during the last few months to play their part in helping to keep the much loved West Somerset Railway running. Since Christmas, FoMS has provided or will provide in the region of £100,000 to the WSR Company for several much needed projects including:
Replacing rail along the line
Repairs to the bridge over the River Avill near Dunster Station
Repairs to and repainting of the very long canopy on Minehead Station
Overhaul of the Lorna Doone disabled carriage
FoMS chairman Martyn Snell said:
We raise money primarily for the upkeep of our Grade II listed building at Minehead, but we have realised that the railway as a whole needed our support during the last few difficult months. We are so grateful to everyone who helps with our fundraising efforts, especially to those people who donate items to sell through FoMS 'Readers Halt' outlet on Minehead Station, and to those wonderful volunteers who run the stall in all types of weather. This is our main source of income.
WSR plc Chairman Jon Jones Pratt said:
This is a fantastic effort and massively important donation by the Friends of Minehead Station to the WSR. They have readily stepped forward to support our railway in its hour of need and readily grasped the importance of us all being one railway and working together! On behalf of everyone on the WSR, we owe FoMS a huge debt of thanks, and all power to the elbow of 'Readers Halt' for the future too!
FoMS was formed just over 20 years ago with 'Readers Halt' opening some three years later. Anyone wishing to become a member of FoMS or help in running 'Readers Halt' is asked to contact FoMS on 01643 704996.
16 May 2019 Details kindly provided by Friends of Minehead Station
Synopsis of recent WSR Association Trustee Board Meeting
The West Somerset Railway Association has published a brief synopsis of the Trustee Board meeting held on 13 May 2019. To read more, please click or tap the button below. We also provide a button link to the full minutes of the April meeting.
16 May 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
An extra turn for Class 37 no D6948
The Railway write about an extra turn for the popular visiting Class 37 diesel electric locomotive no D6948:
This Sunday 19 May, our diesel service will be hauled by Class 37 no D6948. To maximise the mileage, we have added an extra 20 miles to our timetable for your enjoyment! To see the timetable click the button below.
Really enjoy the day, buy your rover tickets in advance of travel to receive a discount. Click the button below...
The Steam Trust publish minutes of latest board meeting
West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have published the Minutes of the meeting of Board of Trustees held on Wednesday 24 April 2019 at 10am in the Meeting Room, Bishops Lydeard Station. The document includes a full note of a session with the PLC Chairman, Jon Jones Pratt - reading is recommended to folks interested in WSR's current affairs.
The 40th Anniversary Weekend: enjoy an evening excursion
Some more information about the evening train on Saturday 8 June, which will round off day one of the 40th Anniversary Weekend. The fares for the train, due to be headed by no 7802 Bradley Manor and no 7828 Odney Manor and loading to 14 coaches are priced at a bargain £10 return for 40 miles of non-stop travel over the WSR, travelling from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and return. With the sunset at Minehead on that day being 9.26pm this will be a great evening out on the West Somerset. Tickets for the train can be purchased online now via the Events and Experiences 40th Anniversary section of www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or 01643 704996. Rover tickets will not be valid for travel on the train.