An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

An update from the weeding teams


Claire Sheppy has provided an update on the recent weeding session at Nethercott Bridge:

Due to potential problems of access, we were only going to take four people on this particular weeding party, accessing the line at Nethercott foot crossing. As it was, we were one person short as one of our team was not well. We did not quite achieve what we were hoping to as we were wanting to complete the section from the foot crossing to the railway bridge. We shall go back and finish it another time.

Meanwhile Shirley Turner writes about a forthcoming weeding task at Watts Bank, between Whiskey Trail Crossing and Watersmeet Bridge:

Lee Robbins is needing some assistance on Saturday 3 October to finalise the weeding from Watersmeet Bridge to Whisky Trail. This will then complete the section from Watersmeet Bridge to Bishops Lydeard and through the station. Also Claire's team will not be long before they link up with Lee Robbins, meaning that Crowcombe right through to Bishops Lydeard will be complete. Also Phil Hall's team have reached Leighwood Crossing, so it won't be that long before we have a completely weeded line right from beyond Stogumber (Williton side) to Bishops Lydeard. Good work by all involved!

20 September 2020
Details kindly provided by local volunteers

Three Chairman endorse evolution route to future structure


Following a meeting on 15 September 2020, involving the Chairmen of the West Somerset Railway Plc, the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) and the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust (WSSRT), they asked John Bailey to assess independently their shared vision of the best way of securing an harmonious future for the WSR.

John Bailey's assessment compares the 'evolution' approach (which is essentially involves moving as quickly as possible to create a brand new charity) and the 'revolution' approach (which he suggests is merger of the WSRA and WSSRT).

His conclusion and recommendation is for evolution which is endorsed by and recommended to their respective Boards by Jon Jones-Pratt (Chairman of WSR Plc) , Mike Sherwood (Chairman of WSRA) and Chris Austin (Chairman of WSSRT).

It is best not to try to explain further here the concepts, reasoning and conclusions. Please read the assessment in full on the Changing Shape blog (see below)

blog post

19 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The DEPG Annual General Meeting on 19 September


The Williton-based Diesel and Electric Preservation Group have issued an update about their Annual General Meeting due to be held on 19 September 2020:

The DEPG AGM will be held at Williton depot on Saturday, 19th September, with strict controls in force to prevent the spread of Covid-19. In the light of the recent Government announcements, the board have reviewed the arrangements for allowing visitors to the site and made further enhancements to the measures that will be taken to protect the attendees and prevent the spread of the disease. Compliance with these rules will allow members to attend safely.

Being a legally required procedure that is held at a workplace, the AGM is exempt from the 'rule of six' restriction, but the DEPG are required to ensure that proper measures have been taken and must ensure that attendees comply.

Postponement was considered, but with good weather forecast, the open and airy environment of the loco shed will be a safe venue for the AGM, provided that the rules are respected by all who attend. We will be providing ushers to make sure that visitors can book in and take their 2m-spaced seats without forming tight queues, and to make sure that everyone leaves the site in a similar orderly manner.

17 September 2020
Details kindly provided by Diesel and Electric Preservation Group

Minehead Station Shop is open at weekends


The Minehead Station Master, Alan Smithers, posting on Facebook reminds us:

Minehead station shop is still open Saturdays and Sundays 9.30am to 3.00pm. We still have stocks of the 2020 buffet mugs, WSR face masks, 2021 calendars and some great bargain 00 railway stock, along with books and souvenirs. And don't forget the shop at Bishops Lydeard Station is also open Saturdays 10am till 3pm. It's never too early to start Christmas shopping.

17 September 2020
Details gleaned from Facebook

The 4561 Project gains National Transport Trust award


The National Transport Trust Commemorative Awards comprise four Commemorative awards named after key founding members of the Transport Trust and represent the very best of the year’s nominated projects.

The West Somerset Railway Association's project to overhaul their ex-GWR 'Small Prairie' no 4561 has been awarded the National Transport Trust's 'Alan Moore Award' for 2020.

The Alan Moore awards for restoration assist preservation projects that are underway but not completed. Applicants need to show that some progress has already been made, that there is a clear and costed future plan and a realistic likelihood of completion within 12 months of the application being made. Applications will assessed on the basis of rarity, technical historic or social significance, quality of workmanship, proportion of work being carried out by applicant, originality of design and materials. in addition The Trust needs to be satisfied that, after restoration, the item will be seen and enjoyed at reasonable intervals by the general public and that, as far as is reasonably foreseeable, the item is not destined for the market place and will be retained by the restoring owners.

More on this story Read the 4561 blog

13 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Restart at Williton for Steam Trust volunteers


The recent successful bid by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust resulted in an award of £28,700 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund's (NLHF) 'Heritage Emergency Fund'. This will allow the Trust to be Covid-19 secure when it is able to reopen the museums to the public again, and also to resume work on carriage restoration and protect historic vehicles.

Trust volunteers were at Williton on 9 September 2020 to resume work on carriage restoration again after an enforced absence of six months. One of their first tasks, using money secured from the NLHF's 'Heritage Emergency Fund' is to provide or replace covers on the coaches awaiting long-term restoration, and which will protect them for the future.

10 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

News of the West Somerset Railway Association AGM


From the West Somerset Railway Association...

The 25th WSRA AGM will take place on 26 September at 10.00am. Papers are being sent out with the Journal and should reach you this week. However, everything you need is also available on the website and we would ask that as many people as possible complete the online forms, rather than returning paper copies.

To comply with the COVID regulations numbers allowed in the hall are limited and places MUST be pre-booked. There is a booking system in place on our website to facilitate this. Please note that refreshments will not be served on this occasion and face coverings must be worn inside the hall.

We are also working to supplement the physical meeting with an online meeting, places can also be booked via the website and you will be emailed joining instructions. We have been advised that voting via the online system may be problematic so we're asking anyone wishing to attend remotely to also complete the proxy voting form on the website. We are doing everything we can to ensure a great experience for those attending remotely, as well as those attending in person.

Details on the website are accurate today, but subject to change, so please check back before leaving home to attend the meeting.

If you have any questions or concerns please email and I'll do my best to answer.

The WSRA AGM webpage

10 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust prepare to move


Sad news. A joint statement has been issued by the Mid-Hants Railway Limited, Mid-Hants Railway Preservation Society Limited and the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust Limited:

The Mid-Hants Railway has offered to help house a part of the collection of vehicles and artefacts belonging to the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust, which has been asked to leave the current site at Washford in Somerset, while a permanent location for its collection is sought.

Additional information from the S&DRT:

With the required movement of all items belonging to the S&DRT at Washford, we appeal to people from the wider heritage railway movement for donations to accomplish this move. Although the Trust has some funds to begin the huge task of transporting some stock, it will be a very costly exercise to complete the whole operation within the next few months. The Trust has the largest collection of artefacts from the Somerset & Dorset Railway and this will have to be carefully removed and possibly stored for the immediate future.

This website was hoping to bring news of a positive nature but it is clear from this statement that despite the talks with WSR Plc to resolve the 'notice to quit', the S&DRT has reached the point at which plans become actions. Many WSR supporters will be saddened by this.

More information

10 September 2020
Details kindly provided by Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

Organisers announce the 1940s Weekend is postponed


Following discussions between the organisers, the West Somerset Railway and Minehead BID it was been decided with sadness to postpone this weekend's planned 1940s event in Minehead. Robin Wichard organiser of the weekend said:

We have taken this very difficult decision in the light of the latest government guidance. We remain convinced that the health and well-being of participant and public alike must be our greatest priority. We appreciate that any decision will have consequences for people already committed to attending but we hope that people will understand our reasoning and be assured that we will host the event when the situation improves.

1940s Weekend Facebook page

10 September 2020
Details gleaned from Facebook

A website for the Friends of Minehead Station


Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS) are pleased to announce that, as well as a Facebook page, they now have a web page at thanks to sterling work by committee member Richard. FoMS add that there is still quite a bit of work to do but the page is now active so do pay a visit.

The FoMS website

10 September 2020
Details kindly provided by Friends of Minehead Station

Latest WSR Association Board Meeting documents published


The West Somerset Railway Association have published the agreed Minutes of the Board Meeting of 21 July 2020 and a synopsis of the more recent Board Meeting held on 25 August 2020. Click or tap the buttons below to load the documents from the Association's website.

Minutes Synopsis

9 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

A grant for GWR 2-6-2T no 4561 from Aurelius Charitable Trust


The West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) say:

WSRA fundraiser, Kate Williams, reports that we have received a grant of £3,500 from the Aurelius Charitable Trust to help towards the restoration costs of GWR 'Small Prairie' 2-6-2T no 4561. This brings the total secured towards this project from trusts and foundations to £82,940.67. The Aurelius Charitable Trust makes donations reflecting the founder's interests in the conservation of culture inherited from the past and the dissemination of knowledge, particularly in the humanities field although not in the educational field.

Together with individual and regular giving commitments we have now raised almost £150,000 towards the restoration of Small Prairie 4561. Work is ongoing at the blog [see button below]

The 4561 Blog

9 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

1940s Weekend: Evening dance at Minehead Station


There will be an evening function on the platform at Minehead on Saturday 12 September 2020 with music by the Liberty Sisters and Ricky Hunter. Social distancing and compliance with Covid guidelines will be maintained. 7.00pm til 10.30pm. More information can be obtained from the Facebook page of the event.

1940s Weekend Facebook page

9 September 2020
Details gleaned from Facebook

Revised date announced for WSR Plc AGM


The West Somerset Railway Plc have announced:

Owing to the impact of Covid 19 and the consequent implications in terms of the ability to produce the statutory accounts in time, the PLC Board has had to take the decision to defer the Company 2020 AGM and the published date of 26th September has now been cancelled.

The new date will be Saturday, 21 November 2020 probably beginning at 2 PM. Owing to the restrictions imposed by social distancing rules, the PLC is examining options for holding the meeting with a preference for a physical meeting if this can be achieved. Full details will be published to shareholders as soon as the arrangements be finalised.

Official Plc webpage

7 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Brunel Great Western Railway Challenge on WSRTV


Helen Anson, the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's Education Learning Officer, introduces the Trust's 'Brunel Great Western Railway Challenge' on the latest video from WSRTV. The video (see button below for link to YouTube) includes a fine explanation of the purpose of the Challenge which is aimed at younger folk but also fun for bigger 'children' of any age; details of how to download the Challenge Learning Pack from the Trust website (see below for link); and a look at a bridge building exercise. In fact, the video is so good it has been added to this news item.

The Video on YouTube Download the Learning Pack

7 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway TV

West Somerset Steam Railway Trust AGM deferred


A statement has been issued by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust concering the charity's upcoming Annual General Meeting:

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust announces with regret that it is having to defer its Annual General Meeting from the proposed date of September 19th to a date later in the year. The Chairman, Chris Austin, will be writing to members in the next few days to explain the reason for this and to advise the revised date for the meeting.

The full statement can be read on the Trust's website - click or tap the button below.

Full Statement

5 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

An update on the recent Living Museum Weekends


The West Somerset Railway Plc have announced that the third weekend of the Living Museum event at Minehead has raised £10,400 - the highest of any of the weekends so far, helped by the additional Bank Holiday Monday.

The Plc Board thank all volunteers and staff who came together to make this event such a success, adding it was another great opportunity to show off the railway at its best to the public, despite the limitations caused by the Covid-19 restrictions. Chairman of the PLC, Jonathan Jones-Pratt commented:

With a record income coming from ticket sales, shop and cafe sales and money raised from donations and purchases at the FOMS bookstall and other pop-up stalls, this was a wonderful way to raise some much-needed funds and to keep the railway on the map amongst both local people and holidaymakers alike. Hopefully, we will soon be back to running fully loaded trains along the whole length of the line from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard.

The next and final Living Museum weekend event will be held over 12 and 13 September as part of the Forties Weekend celebrations held annually in Minehead, with several extra features to reflect the usual theme and costume of the period.

Finally, the Railway say that it has tentative plans to run some Christmas services during the December period, providing there is no repeat spike in local Covid-19 cases. Plans for these services will be published very soon - keep a look out on the official WSR website.

The 1940s Event

4 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Minehead Station plans for September


Here is a Facebook post from the Friends of Minehead Station:

Whilst it is hoped that Readers Halt will be open as many days as we can, helped by our wonderful volunteers, during September, it is understood that the Buffer Stop Shop and Turntable Cafe will be open on Saturdays and Sundays during the month plus Friday 11 September - the day before the 1940s Weekend. Apart from the 12 and 13 September, entry to the station will be free. 'Keeping the Station alive'

1940s Weekend

1 September 2020
Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station

Update on the WSR Emergency Appeals


The updated Emergency Funding Appeal figures up to 31 August for the West Somerset Railway Plc are as follows...

Website Donations£62,115.00
Cheque Donations £18,274.26
Share Purchases£44,410.00
Station Donations£41,950.00
Other sources£1,640.00

The West Somerset Railway Association's Rail Renewal 2020 appeal now totals £36,055,00.

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's appeal (updated monthly or when any significant donations are made) totals £18,574.53.

The separate WSRA appeal to refurbish the line's Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) stands at £2,480 of the £5,000 target.

The WSRA’s loco renewal fund stands at £3,837.00 and along with a donation to cutting back equipment of £1,070.00, for completeness for all current appeals, this is now included in the total figures too.

Together that makes a Grand Total of £230,395.79 from all sources.

Links to the main online donation pages can be found under the 'Appeals' tab at the top of all pages on this website or go click or tap the button below.

Fundraising Group webpage

1 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Agreement reached on sale of WSRA Promotions to WSR Plc


The Trustees of the West Somerset Railway Association and the Board of the West Somerset Railway Plc have announced an agreement which will financially support the Railway during these challenging times. The agreement means that:

  • The Association has sold their promotions business (which operates a shop and café at Bishops Lydeard and a restoration workshop at Williton) to the Plc.
  • The Plc will pay the Association an agreed sum of £90,721 for the assets of that business.
  • The Association will loan £70,000 to support the Plc, which has been prevented from operating by the Covid-19 restrictions. The low-interest loan is secured by charges on two WSR Plc owned coaches.

Mike Sherwood, acting Chairman of the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) said:

I am pleased that we have been able to conclude this matter to the satisfaction of both parties. The WSRA will now be able to give its full attention to fundraising on behalf of the railway, to further supplement the financial support we are already providing at Williton, Minehead and via the rail renewal campaign.

Jonathan Jones-Pratt Chairman of the West Somerset Railway Plc said:

Both parties have worked hard to bring this matter to a successful conclusion. We can now move on to focus on the preparations and funding necessary to bring the railway back into operation

1 September 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

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