An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

Two Tidy Trains to run in December


Volunteers are needed for two Tidy Trains to be in December, one train on 10 December and the second on 11 December. Each train starts at Bishops Lydeard at 9am, and aiming for a 4pm finish. Any staff with PTS and safety footwear would be gratefully welcomed. Anyone wishing for volunteer for this task should contact Rhiannon via email or leave a message on 01643700400.

17 November 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

An update on progress with Autotrailer no 169


John Wood of Locomotive 5542 Ltd has kindly provided an update on progress with the rebuilding of ex-GWR Autotrailer no 169 at Williton.

Work on Autotrailer no 169 continues steadily at Williton with recent progress on the floor and roof. Hoops and stretchers are now fixed in position along half of the carriage and the next of the repaired galvanised sections is ready to be fitted in the next few days. 25mm Plywood flooring has been fitted along with assembly work on the side panels. Section 3 of the main framework is well advanced in our workshop with the 150mm (6 inches) square entrance door jambs being the next major component receive attention shortly. An interesting find was made when removing the hinges of the old doorposts where the carpenter tasked with fitting the original door hinges some 90 years ago appeared to be short of some thin packing so used a Players cigarette packet instead.

GWR Autotrailer no 169 GWR 2-6-2T no 5542

18 November 2018
Details kindly provided by Locomotive 5542 Ltd

Recruiting for a Community Engagement Manager


The West Somerset Railway has won a funding grant from Hinkley Point C Community Fund to deliver a Community Cohesion Project as part of the drive to mitigate the impact of the construction of Hinkley Point C on the local Somerset Community.

The Railway is now recruiting for a Community Engagement Manager to manage and deliver the project as the West Somerset Railway Association explain:

The role of Community Engagement Manager is key to the success of the project and we are looking for somebody able to operate effectively at all levels, including board level. The ideal candidate will be a confident self-starter able to manage and organise their own workflow and deliver the project objectives.

The Community Engagement Manager will work on behalf of the railway to forge closer links with the community and meet the community cohesion criteria set out in the project. They will seek out and develop relationships with new and potential partners for community benefit and enrichment. The role will reach beyond the timescale of this project and has the potential to deliver a lasting legacy.

Full details

16 November 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Dates for WSR special events in 2019


The Railway's Gala Planning Team have reported the following on their Facebook page:

We have now finalised our 2019 gala dates and plans and we are pleased to be able to give advance notice of these here as follows:

Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June 2019 - 40th anniversary of reopening to Bishops Lydeard. Mixed steam and diesel event.

Thursday 20 to Saturday 22 June 2019 - 'Vintage diesels to the seaside' - diesel gala and beer festival. Please note amended date.

Sunday 23 June 2019 - Mixed traction day.

Thursday 3 to Sunday 6 October 2019 - 'Western steam' - Autumn Steam Gala.

Sunday 29 and Monday 30 December 2019 - Winter Steam Festival.

Planning is now underway to bring these events together and updates will appear on this page as things develop.

16 November 2018
Details gleaned from Facebook page of the WSR Gala Planning Team

Lots of trains on West Somerset Railway in December


There are lots of trains on the West Somerset Railway during December. Santa trains, Carol trains, Dunster-by-Candlelight trains, Winter Steam Festival and lots more after Christmas. And don't forget the Christmas Market at Minehead Station on 1 December.

Events page

16 November 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Good reasons to visit Stogumber Station after Christmas


Stogumber Station will be open as usual from 27 December 2018 to 1 January 2019 inclusive, with a welcoming warm fire and festive fare. Come along for a hot drink with mince pies and shortbread. The two day Winter Steam Festival with at least three steam locomotives in service is on 29 and 30 December 2018. Use the link below to find out more and book tickets.

Winter Steam Festival Stogumber Station

15 November 2018
Details gleaned from the website of Stogumber Station

The WSR Plc Chairman writes to staff, volunteers and supporters


Jon Jones-Pratt, WSR Plc Chairman, has written to staff, volunteers and supporters of the Railway, on recent matters and forward plans.

In the light of our recent ORR (Office of Rail & Road) inspection visit, I am writing to you all again in order to explain a number of key changes that have been made, or will be made, following our most recent Board meetings and how these significant changes will affect our Railway to the overall good of the WSR over the coming months and years. This letter is going to all who are employed, volunteer or support the WSR plc in helping us to run the railway.

The full statement can be read by tapping or clicking the button below.

Full statement

14 November 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The 2018 West Somerset Railway Christmas Ball


The West Somerset Railway are holding a Christmas Ball for staff and volunteers. The ticket-only event is being held at Minehead Rugby Club on 17 November 2018 from 7pm until late. Tickets cost £22 each and includes a welcome drink, a three-course meal and music. Dress code is 'smart'. This is a ticket only event for volunteers and paid staff of the West Somerset Railway. Full details from Sam or Kerry

Full details

12 November 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Important news from the West Somerset Railway Plc


The Chairman of WSR Plc has written to shareholders, staff and volunteers:

Shareholders, staff and volunteers will be aware that the railway recently received an inspection visit from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the government body responsible for maintaining and monitoring safety standards in the railway industry. We have now received a letter from the ORR which outlines the steps they require us to take. The ORR will be publishing their own public statement about the visit, so it would not be appropriate to pre-empt that. However, we can say that whilst we have been allowed to retain our licence to operate we have a significant number of important actions to take. We will be receiving a follow up visit from the ORR inspector in March, next year, to ensure that the various actions have been undertaken.

The Board have taken the view that the railway should close completely from 2nd January until 1st April next year. This will mean that the Spring Gala and the proposed ACE Event will now not take place. There will also be no trains during the spring (February) half terms. The Board consider this short period of closure as essential, both to give infrastructure teams additional time to undertake maintenance but also to allow paid and volunteer staff to focus on qualifications and effective record keeping. It is also clear that from a commercial point of view we need to refocus our operation and business processes. We have already begun discussions on the way forward.

Changes are needed in several fields and the Board are committed to undertake this in the most sensitive and constructive way possible. The Directors are determined to ensure the long-term future viability of the railway, and all the actions we will be taking are focussed on that objective.

Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Chairman

6 November 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Winter opening times for Minehead Station's Turntable Cafe


The Turntable Cafe report:

We will be open throughout November and December everyday 9.30am to 2pm serving our usual menu of delicious food plus a new addition to our menu on days where we aren't running any services. On these days we can now offer All Day Breakfast consisting of 2 Sausage, 2 Bacon, 2 Eggs, Beans, 2 Slices of Toast and mug of Tea or Coffee £6.50. Excitingly we will also be introducing a Giant Yorkshire Pudding with Mash Potato, Sausages, Peas and Gravy later on in the month of November.

The Buffer Stop Shop will also be open everyday 9.30am to 3.30pm (except Thursday 8 November) offering a great selection of toys and gifts.

4 November 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Bishops Lydeard Station Shop: opening times in November


Kate Beard writes:

Now the main season is coming to an end, our regular customers and supporters may like to know that the shop and cafe will be open on Saturdays 10th, 17th and 24th November from 10.00am until 3.00pm. Why not pop in and have a nice warm drink and a cold snack and browse through our extensive range of models, books and toys in readiness for Christmas! Our end of season sale on model railway is continuing until the end of the year with 15% off the RRP of all locomotives

Shop webpage

3 November 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

The inaugural running of the 'Three Chefs Express'


Last Monday, 29 October 2018, was the inaugural running of the 'Three Chefs Express', a unique service on the Quantock Belle Dining Train featuring 3 local Exmoor chefs. With a black tie dress code, six course meal and specially selected drinks menu for the occasion, the night was certainly a jewel in the crown of the Quantock Belle which has been run successfully throughout the year on a number of Sunday lunch and Saturday evening outings.

Claire Lynch, a regular caterer on the train was joined by John Bradley, from the award-winning Dunkery Beacon Hotel and Justin Reeves of Reeves Restaurant to produce a spectacular menu. The courses ranged from a Dunster Elderberry Sorbet, complete with Wicked Wolf Exmoor gin to Vietnamese poached duck leg, all prepared, cooked and served from the train's galley. In addition an experienced and enthusiastic army of volunteers were on hand to efficiently serve, including those behind the bar offering a wine list chosen to suit the menu and a range of beers, liqueurs and soft drinks.

A clear, cold evening became the ideal setting on the train's last voyage to Minehead and back before Christmas Sunday Lunches begin in December. On board a true fine dining atmosphere entertained passengers with one dining pair - former volunteers on the 'QB' themselves for many years - commenting afterwards:

Each of the six courses served was a triumph of taste and presentation, the like of which I never ever expected to witness from a Quantock Belle seat. The experience was further enhanced by every diner adhering to black tie dress code and a well-chosen special beverage menu. Very well done to all those folk involved. Please repeat this 'one-off special' at the earliest opportunity

In addition to a number of Christmas dates, a special Dunster by Candlelight train with catering by Purple Spoon, is taking place on Friday 7 December. Tables of four are still available to book online or by contacting Joe or Nora in the Commercial Department on 01643 700398.

Book online

3 November 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Latest news from the WSR Wagon Restoration Group


The WSR Wagon Restoration Group have issued number 5 of their bi-monthly newsletter 'Plaustra' - tap or click the link below to find out what these folks have doing recently...

Plaustra no 5

3 November 2018
Details gleaned from the WSR Wagon Restoration Group's Facebook page

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 29 October 2018, along with the agreed redacted Minutes of their September meeting. To read more, please click or tap the buttons below.

Synopsis Agreed Minutes

2 November 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

WSR wins grant from Hinkley Point C Community Fund


The West Somerset Railway has been awarded a grant from the HPC Community Fund. The Fund is in place to help address and mitigate against intangible and residual community impacts deriving from the construction of Hinkley Point C. The successful WSR application, led by the West Somerset Railway Association with the full support and involvement of the West Somerset Railway Plc and other members of the WSR Family will enable the railway to increase its engagement with local communities, individuals, organisations and agencies to extend its reach to a wider, more diverse community base. A range of activities have been developed including volunteering opportunities and training and work experience which are all designed to facilitate personal well-being, community cohesion and the training/upskilling of people to help the economic stability for West Somerset and the wider areas surrounding the HPC build.

Read more

31 October 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association and West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR attends Minehead Rail Link Group's public meeting


As a member of a WSR working group, led by the General Manager who have been working with GWR on better links with the national network, Chris Austin was one of the panel answering questions at a meeting arranged by the Minehead Rail Link Group on 30 October 2018. Chris has provided an update on the proceedings:

A packed public meeting in Minehead on 30 October heard WSR volunteer Chris Austin tell the group that a bid was being submitted to the GWR Customer & Communities Improvement Fund to allow a shuttle service to run between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard on peak days next summer. This was widely welcomed and the group promised their support. In a wide ranging discussion, some of the practicalities of linking the WSR with the national network were discussed and the key role of the WSR in the West Somerset economy was underlined. A very few speakers from the town pressed for a regular through service in preference to the wonderful railway that has been created by volunteers and staff over many years, and were effectively answered by the many railway volunteers present. However, the MRLG speakers underlined their wish to work with the WSR in developing their plans through a feasibility study for which they are fundraising.

Chris has also provided an update on discussions with the main line partners:

WSR has submitted a bid to GWR's Customer & Communities Improvement Fund for funding to run a shuttle connecting train between Bishops Lydeard and Taunton on peak days next summer. The bid is in competition with hundreds of others from around the Great Western Network, and the results should be known later this year. If successful, the service would start at the end of May. GWR already offers through ticketing from staffed stations to the WSR, and these would be available on the shuttle, as would the ability to buy tickets on the train.

31 October 2018
Details kindly provided by the WSR working group on better links with the national network

WSRA to appoint a Trustee with a fundraising remit


The West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) Board have agreed the need for an additional volunteer Trustee to join the Board with the specific remit of Fundraising. This is in order to help develop and oversee the WSRA's future fundraising activities. It is an unpaid volunteer position which the WSRA have identified as a key part of their future direction in order to build a robust and comprehensive fundraising solution to help support the West Somerset Railway to develop and grow into the future. Working in partnership with the West Somerset Railway Plc and other members of the WSR family will also play a key part, and as such its importance to the future of the wider WSR cannot be overstated.

Read more & contact details

30 October 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Taunton - Minehead Link - a public meeting on 30 October

© Minehead Rail Link Group

West Somerset Railway's Chris Austin will attend the Minehead Rail Link Group's public meeting in Minehead. Chris will represent the WSR's view and answer questions from the public. The meeting, to be held at the Old Hospital at 7pm on 30 October 2018, promises to be an interesting discussion.

Read more

29 October 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

Memory Walk - a sincere thank you


WSR volunteer Jennie Dunse writes:

Many thanks to all of those people who have kindly sponsored my Memory Walk for the Alzheimers Society. I have just sent off a total of £400 to the Society, far more than I ever thought I would raise. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of folks, be they friends, colleagues and even passengers who heard of my exploits and kindly made a donation. So many people have shared their own experience of dementia, often family members touched by the condition, it really does affect so many people. So, thank you to everyone, you really will be helping to make a difference.

Use the button below to read Jennie's full account of this fine venture...

Read more

25 October 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Road works near Taunton may delay journeys for visitors


According to the Travel Somerset website, until Friday 4 January 2019 there will be significant roadworks taking place on the A358 between the Cross Keys roundabout and Pen Elm. Temporary traffic lights will be in place and delays are expected throughout the period. This will impact many WSR visitors travelling to Bishops Lydeard Station via Taunton.

25 October 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc and local correspondent

New badges to help spread news about volunteering


Part of the ongoing activities designed to help the railway recruit more volunteers is a new badge which will soon be distributed to existing volunteers. The wording proclaims 'I am a volunteer' and then invites people to 'Ask me why'. Starting a dialogue about volunteering often results in folks making further enquiries. More information about volunteeting is available on the official website click or tap the button below...


23 October 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Martin Southwood


I heard yesterday from a good friend of the sudden passing of WSR volunteer Martin Southwood - a man full of enthusiasm for the Railway and a man always willing to step in to help.

In a message to staff, Richard Jones (Head of Operating), says:

It is with great regret, and tremendous sadness, that - having fielded a telephone call from Gill, his wife, this morning - I write to advise you that Martin Southwood has passed away very suddenly, having suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered.

Martin's last turn of duty on the WSR as a volunteer was as recently as Wednesday in Minehead Box.

Martin was a regular and stalwart Signalman in almost all our signalboxes for many years and was a valuable, committed and hard-working member of the Operations team. His passing is a very sad loss, both to the Ops Dept and to the wider railway as a whole.

Our thoughts and sympathies are very much with Gill and the family at this sad time.

RIP Martin - it was a joy to know you, and work with you.

If I may add a few words. Martin was also a keen photographer and kindly ensured a steady supply of topical images of the WSR for this website. Above all, Martin was a very good friend and it was always a pleasure to be in his company. My thoughts are very much with Gill and the family.

We now understand Martin's funeral will be held at St George's Church, Bicknoller on Friday 9 November at 2pm. Please wear colourful comfortable clothing. No flowers please, donations if desired to St George's Church (cheques made payable to Quantock Towers Benefice) and the West Somerset Railway c/o Hedley Price Funeral Directors, Mart Road, Minehead TA24 5BJ. Tel 01643 703111.

Updated 28 October 2018 (original posted 19 October 2018)
Details kindly provided by local friends and the WSR Plc

Latest draft minutes from the Partnership Development Group


The Secretary of the Partnership Development Group has kindly provided the draft minutes of the meeting of the Group held on Monday 8 October 2018. The draft minutes are available as a downloadable PDF document - see link below. The next meeting will be on Monday 7 January 2019.

Draft minutes

19 October 2018
Details kindly provided by the Secretariat of the Partnership Development Group

New lamps for old at Minehead Station


To comply with planning permission from the West Somerset Council, the floodlighting positions and colour of the external lighting along the frontage of Minehead Station's main building have been changed. Another project paid for by Friends of Minehead Station nearing completion.

18 October 2018
Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station

WSR will be represented at rail link public meeting


According to the Somerset County Gazette, West Somerset Railway's Chris Austin has announced he will attend a public meeting arranged by local rail link campaigners due to be held at Minehead Old Hospital at 7pm on Tuesday, 30 October 2018. Mr Austin will represent West Somerset Railway's view on the matter and answer questions from the public.

Somerset County Gazette article

17 October 2018
Details gleaned from Somerset County Gazette

News snippets - D7018, flower bed, 53809


The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group have announced a loaded test run for Class 35 no D7018 has been booked for Wednesday 24 October 2018 covering a full round trip between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead involving a set of coaches with another loco added 'insurance'.

Meanwhile at Minehead, the Friends of Minehead Station report the platform flower bed nearest the canopy has been cleared of plants ahead of full removal and eventual return to an open space allowing for greater flexibility for special events held on the platform.

And good news we understand one time WSR resident SDJR 7F 2-8-0 no 53809 is reported to be back in service, sadly not on the Minehead line, following an extensive overhaul at the North Norfolk Railway.

17 October 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

The Friends of Stogumber Station's 2018 AGM


During the Autumn Steam Gala the Friends of Stogumber Station (FoSS) held its well attended Annual General Meeting. Terry Shipton is now the Chairman of the Friends, Bob Preston remains as Station Master and Projects Manager, Jean Tucker is Membership Secretary, Colin White is Treasurer and Peter Cox is Historian; the food is managed by Gil Cox and Jenny Preston. For more reports, news and information, read the AGM minutes on the FoSS website:

Minutes of the FoSS 2018 AGM

16 October 2018
Details kindly provided by Friends of Stogumber Station

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