An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

Martin Southwood

WSR

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.

19 October 2018
Details kindly provided by local friends and the WSR Plc

Latest draft minutes from the Partnership Development Group

WSR

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

WSR

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

WSR

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

WSR

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

WSR

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

More about the Minehead Express in October

WSR

The West Somerset Railway have posted the following helpful comment on their Facebook page:

We have recently introduced Minehead Express services, these are coloured orange on our timetable and are additional services to what we had planned to run. These were originally planned as non-running days but we made the decision to add one return service per day (Mondays and Fridays in October) to allow passengers the opportunity to travel from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead to enjoy an hour looking around Minehead and two 1.5 hour train journeys at a discounted price. We chose to start the Minehead Express at Bishops Lydeard as this is where the majority of our passengers start their journeys, Minehead is also a lovely Autumn destination to explore. We are sorry to hear that some of our Minehead based passengers feel they have been excluded from this offer, this was definitely not our intention. We work very hard to be as inclusive as possible but we are sorry that in this case, we have not been able to run a service from each end of the line for operational reasons due to the cost of running an additional steam engine. We are still running our online Morning Explorer promotion which is a discounted £10 ticket on the first train in the morning out of Minehead on standard timetabled running days to any of our stations and return.

And the Railway has also confirmed the Minehead Express stops at all WSR stations except Doniford.

Minehead Express online booking and full details Morning Explorer online booking and full details

11 October 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Lifetime Achievement Award for Steam Trust Chairman

WSR

At the Community Rail Awards in Glasgow on 4 October 2018, Steam Trust Chairman Chris Austin was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by ScotRail Managing Director Alex Hynes for his work on community rail and for building bridges between community and heritage railways. The awards are sponsored by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships of which Chris was a director between 2009 and 2016.

5 October 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Steam Trust looking to appoint a Learning Officer

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant to improve and enhance the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard station on the West Somerset Railway. The Trust is now looking to appoint a Learning Officer to develop and then implement the learning offer for schools and family visitors to the Museum in association with local educational establishments.

Full details

3 October 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The Minehead Express in October

WSR

Enjoy an Autumn day out on the Minehead Express from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead return. The service will leave Bishops Lydeard at 11.45am, meandering through the Somerset countryside and along the coast to Minehead. The service will have limited stops - Crowcombe Heathfield, Williton, Blue Anchor, Dunster - and will arrive in Minehead for 1.04pm. Explore the Buffer Stop Shop, visit the Turntable Cafe, and perhaps take a stroll on the beach, before the train leaves Minehead at 2.40pm with an optional traditional West Country cream tea served to the seat. The Minehead Express runs on 8, 15 and 22 October 2018. Tickets purchased on the day are at normal prices; reduced prices apply to tickets purchased in advance.

Online booking and full details

2 October 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Gala dates for 2019

WSR

Folks might like to note the 2019 Gala dates.

  • Thursday 21 March to Sunday 24 March 2019 - Spring Steam Gala (theme to be finalised and announced)
  • Thursday 6 June to Saturday 8 June 2019 - Vintage Diesels to the Seaside II
  • Sunday 9 June 2019 - the 40th anniversary of opening through to Bishops Lydeard, mixed steam and diesel running day
  • Thursday 3 October to Sunday 6 October 2019 - Autumn Steam Gala (theme to be finalised and announced)
  • Sunday 29 December and Monday 30 December 2019 - Winter Steam Gala

1 October 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSRA & WSSRT welcome appointment of Jonathan Jones-Pratt

WSR

In a joint statement, West Somerset Railway Association and West Somerset Steam Railway Trust say:

The WSRA and WSSRT welcome the appointment of Jonathan Jones-Pratt as West Somerset Railway Plc Chairman on an acting basis, ending the hiatus and accompanying uncertainty since the departure of the previous WSR plc Chairman. We acknowledge his thanks for our past support and look forward to working with the WSR plc under his Chairmanship in moving the whole Railway onto a more stable footing.

Jon's association with the Railway and wider steam preservation, and his business background, mean that he immediately brings useful skills to the table to move the railway forward in conjunction with the supporting groups.

We also welcome the announcement by the WSR plc that an open and rigorous process will be used for the appointment of a permanent WSR plc Chairman.

27 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association and West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Changes to the loco rosters during the Autumn Gala

WSR

Here are the changes to the loco rosters during the Autumn Steam Gala as described by Don Bishop, Gala Planning Team Chairman:

Just to advise that due to no 80072's last minute journey to the WSR, on 27 September the 9.05am ex Bishops Lydeard train will be hauled by 73082 and the 9.55am ex Bishops Lydeard by 34052 alone. The 1.45pm ex Minehead will be 7820 instead of 80072. As the S160 no 6046 is not taking part in the Gala the 9.55am ex Minehead will be 7822 alone, the 10.55am ex Minehead will be 6960, 2.10pm ex Bishops Lydeard 73082 alone, 3.40pm ex Minehead 7822 alone, 3.45pm ex Bishops Lydeard class 33 diesel. It is hoped that 80072 will be available for the 4.45 ex Bishops Lydeard as planned.

On Friday 28 September, 7820 covers for the S160 on 10.55am ex Minehead and 1.10pm ex Norton Fitzwarren, meaning the 11.55am ex Minehead and 2.10pm ex Bishops Lydeard are 7822 alone rather than double-headed Manors. The 3.45pm ex Minehead will be a Class 33 diesel.

Saturday 29 September, 9.55am ex Minehead and 12.05pm ex Norton Fitzwarren are Class 35 Hymek hauled rather than the S160.

Sunday 30 September, 9.55am ex Minehead and 1.10pm ex Norton Fitzwarren are hauled by 7820 rather than the S160, and the following 11.55am ex Minehead and 2.10pm ex Norton Fitzwarren are 7822 alone. The 3.45pm ex Bishops Lydeard is Hymek hauled. Add 7820 to the front of 6960 on 4.40pm ex Minehead.

27 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Information for wheelchair users during the Autumn Gala

WSR

Passengers who are wheelchair users and planning to use the trains during the Autumn Steam Gala (27 to 30 September 2018) might like to note there will be no wheelchair access on the set of coaches incorporating the Quantock Belle vehicles...

  • 9.05am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
  • 10.55am from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard
  • 1.45pm from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
  • 3.40pm from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard

All other sets of coaches are accessible for wheelchair users during the Gala. Please check on the day to ensure there have been no changes to the coaching set roster.

26 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Book signing at Minehead Station on 29 September

WSR

'Holding The Line: How Britain's Railways Were Saved' by Chris Austin and Richard Faulkner describes how plans to remove more of the railway network beyond even the well known 'Beeching Cuts' were defeated. Chris will be signing copies of the book at Minehead Station on Saturday 30 September 2018 during the West Somerset Railway's Autumn Steam Gala. Chris was for many years the Parliamentary Liaison representative for the railway industry and has many senior contacts who helped with source material. He is a former Chairman of the West Somerset Railway and is currently actively involved with the work of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust.

26 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR Plc appoints Jon Jones-Pratt as Acting Chairman

WSR

The Board of the West Somerset Railway Plc met yesterday (Monday 24 September) and appointed Jonathan Jones Pratt unanimously to become the company's Acting Chairman for the next three months. Jonathan Jones-Pratt comments:

I am both pleased and honoured to accept this position as WSR plc Acting Chairman and will readily embrace the role and the evident challenges which the railway faces.

The communication also records the resignation from the WSR Plc Board of Bill Knell for personal reasons. For more details and comments, please click or tap the button below.

Full press release

25 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Resident magician Don announces like-for-like replacement

WSR

Don Bishop, Chairman of the WSR's Gala Planning Team, has managed to work his magic and arrange a loco to replace BR 2-6-4T no 80104 which is now unable to attend the Autumn Steam Gala. Don explains:

After much effort and many phone calls I'm pleased to be able to advise that I have secured another BR Standard tank to replace no 80104 which became unavailable at late notice. The loco is sister Class 4MT no 80072 from Llangollen Railway. So - a huge thank you to our friends at Llangollen Railway and the loco owning group for pulling out the stops and getting the loco back fit again in their workshops to help us out and testing the loco out on their line this morning. Also Reid Freight Services who are going to move the loco for us at very short notice, having dropped no 70013 at Quorn, GCR, this afternoon they are then diverting to Llangollen to collect no 80072 tomorrow morning. So, no 80072 is expected to arrive at Bishops Lydeard late on Wednesday, maybe not until Thursday morning.

25 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Latest minutes from the Steam Trust Board Meeting

WSR

The draft minutes from the Board Meeting of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust held on 13 September 2018 are available on the Documents page of the Trust's website.

Go to the Documents page

25 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

No 80104 will not attend the Autumn Steam Gala

WSR

Don Bishop, Chairman of the WSR's Gala Planning Team, writes:

Sadly BR Standard Class 4MT 2-6-4T no 80104 from the Swanage Railway is now unable to make the Gala as they have suffered an engine failure (the T9) leaving them a bit short of locos so they are unable to send it. Along with WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare I am actively looking for another loco, but of course time is very tight.

24 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Make tracks for the Model Railway Sale at Watchet Station

WSR

Watchet Secondhand Model Railway Equipment Sale will be held on Saturday 29 September 2018 in the pagoda waiting room from 10am to 3pm. There will be engines, coaches, wagons, track, books and so on. Come along to help raise funds for the maintenance of Watchet Railway Station which is run entirely by volunteers. Steve Sutherland adds:

Have you any unwanted model railway equipment that you could donate to help us? The Station is open all this week and we are all looking forward to next weekend's Gala.

23 September 2018
Details kindly provided by the volunteers at Watchet Station

New Director appointed to WSR Plc Board

WSR

The Board of the West Somerset Railway Plc (WSR) met last week (Thursday 13 September), and agreed unanimously that Jonathan Jones-Pratt be co-opted as a director with immediate effect. Mr Jones-Pratt is already well known on both the WSR and within the heritage railway sector through his ownership of two ex-GWR steam engines Kinlet Hall and Thornbury Castle. He also has strong local commercial credentials via his business interests in JJP Holdings which operates a number of commercial transport activities through North Somerset and Somerset. The full announcement can be read by using the button below.

Full announcement

22 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Latest WSRA Trustee Board meeting documents now available

WSR

The approved minutes from the July and August meetings of the West Somerset Railway Association Trustees are now available for viewing on the Association's website along with a brief synopsis of the September meeting.

Documents page

21 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Quantock Belle Breakfasts during Autumn Steam Gala

WSR

The very popular Quantock Belle Gala Breakfasts are available to pre-order via the official website (see link below). The breakfasts will be served on the 9.05am Bishops Lydeard to Minehead service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the 2018 Autumn Steam Gala.

Book Breakfast Gala details and online tickets

20 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Historic Somerset peatland Lister loco fired up at Washford

WSR

At Washford on 15 September 2018, Ryan Pope from West Somerset Restoration managed to start up the Lister petrol 2 foot gauge locomotive for perhaps the first time in several years. The loco once worked the busy Eclipse Peat Works tramway systems on the Somerset Levels. The Somerset & Dorset RailwayTrust is understood to be giving thoughts as to how this interesting narrow gauge exhibit could be better promoted and developed, given its clear local heritage. During its recent brief running the little locomotive drew quite a crowd, it seems.

Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

20 September 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Successful first 'Forties' event along West Somerset Railway

WSR

The West Somerset Railway supported the 'Forties' event, organised by Robin Wichard from the Mobile Living History Museum, with help from a number of volunteers, including Andy Norman and other volunteers associated with the railway. Paul Conibeare, WSR General Manager, reflects on a busy weekend:

We were delighted with the turnout. All of our trains were busy throughout the weekend. Re-enactors travelled up and down the line, including 'Winston Churchill', 'King George VI' and 'Charles De Gaulle'!

The West Somerset Railway wishes to say a big thank you to Robin Wichard for his dedication in organising the event, and Andy Norman for his part in making the event happen. In addition to all of the activities up and down the line, we operated an authentic military train hauled by an S160 USA steam locomotive.

19 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Bishops Lydeard Station Shop during Autumn Steam Gala

WSR

Kate Beard, Retail Manager reports:

The Model Railway team will be offering 15% off the RRP of all locomotives currently in stock as well as 20% off the marked price of any 3 or more coaches and wagons on our shelves, with attractive clearance prices on several locomotives from Hornby and Bachmann while stocks last. Our Book department will also have a wide selection of second hand and out of print railway titles and a range of new books at around half the publisher's price. If you are looking for back numbers of historical railway magazines, we shall have many available.

On Saturday 29th September, we shall be holding a 'Meet the Author' session with longstanding WSR volunteer Richard Derry, who has written or co-written many titles on locomotive classes, including his latest 'The Book of the Stanier 8F 2-8-0s'. We shall have many of Richard's books available to purchase, and Richard will be very happy to sign your copy and to reminisce about the great days of working steam. Richard will be with us from 10 am to 3 pm.

The shop will be open from 9.00 am on each of the four days and will close at 6pm each day, apart from Sunday when we shall close at 5.00 pm. The cafe will open at the same time as the shop, but will close at 4.30 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 4.15pm on Sunday to allow our staff to undertake cleaning duties.

The official Station Shop webpage

18 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

That was the 1940s Weekend, that was

WSR

WSR Plc Director Ian Coleby writing in his personal blog, 'Steaming Along' gives a big thank you to everyone involved in this successful event:

Wow, what an event! The 1940s weekend is now packing up after a truly fantastic couple of days. Throughout the entire railway, everybody got into the spirit of the time and there was a real buzz of enthusiasm and excitement everywhere. I am sure lots of lessons were learned for next year, but this year was outstanding.

A huge amount of effort had been put in everywhere, the displays at Bishops Lydeard, land girls encampments, the timber corps, military vehicles...and of course the whole event at Watchet where the entire town seemed to be out with displays and entertainment. Thank you to everybody who helped make this a such a success.

A massive thank you from me to Robin Wichard who oversaw the event and to everybody who took part. I appreciate how much effort goes into this sort of thing and how much dedication is required. Well done, you should be proud of what you achieved. The railway looked at its best and everywhere i heard only positive comments. Well done and thank you.

The full article in Ian's blog

18 September 2018
Details kindly provided by Ian Coleby

Ten engines for the Autumn Steam Gala

WSR

The West Somerset Railway's Autumn Steam Gala is always a major event, attracting visitors from all parts of Britain and some from further afield. This year's event, being held between September 27th and 30th promises to be another popular occasion.

Taking as its theme 'Cross Country Trains in the Days of Steam', the four days will recall such trains as The Cornishman (Wolverhampton to Penzance following the tracks of the Great Western Railway), The Devonian (Bradford to Paignton) and The Pines Express (Manchester to Bournemouth, including the Somerset and Dorset line). Ten steam engines will be in action, all bar two from classes of locomotives that headed those trains and other similar services.

Read more Gala details and online tickets

17 September 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Organisers report the 1940s Weekend was a great success

WSR

Andy Norman writing in an online discussion group has reported:

It has been an overwhelming success. The Saturday night 1940s Dance on Minehead platform saw everybody getting very involved and enjoying themselves. We don't know the numbers yet but advance tickets sales exceeded other events and busy days this year and Minehead Cafe had its busiest day ever by far (even exceeding the Flying Scotsman event takings wise), others along the line reported the same and every train was full with seats difficult to find. Most importantly there were a lot of existing and new faces on the WSR smiling and enjoying themselves. Thanks to all who played a part, it is all about people working together and getting involved for their own enjoyment. I'm happy to say that we have the 2019 event in the calendar and confirmed as 14-15 September 2019.

Pictures

17 September 2018
Details from local correspondent

Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust need a volunteer secretary

WSR

Ian Young of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust explains:

We would like to recruit a volunteer secretary, take minutes, coordinate agendas and so on.

Please contact Ian Young for further details.

Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

17 September 2018
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Plc

Recent news

Recent tweets