An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

A new Trustee for the Heritage Trust

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust has announced the appointment of Martin Brown as a Trustee joining the Board.

Initially, Martin will take on Board responsibility for the restoration of the Trust's heritage carriages, working alongside and continuing the excellent work of former Chairman, Chris Austin.

For the full story on the Trust website, please click or tap the button below:

Full story

17 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

The future of the Quantock Belle dining train

WSR

The future of the West Somerset Railway Association owned Quantock Belle dining train now seems to be in some doubt according to Association Chairman Mike Sherwood writing to Association members in the latest WSR Journal (no 173):

I must prepare you to specifically consider the question of the possible disposal of the QB set when we get to the AGM. We have been in discussion with the WSR Plc for many months and once they have honoured the 2021 bookings they can currently see no future in the operation of a dining train as they cannot see a way to turn a profit.

Mike adds:

I may be forced to...ask for your permission to sell the QB set off the WSR.

The full statement can be read in the latest Journal. The Quantock Belle set is owned by the Association who had operated the dining train since 1980 but its membership voted to transfer the commercial operation to the WSR Plc in accordance with the Coombes Report which had recommended the Association shed its commercial activities.

The Coombes Report 2015

14 June 2021
Details gleaned from West Somerset Railway Association documents

The REB has arrived at Seaward Way Crossing

WSR
© Kevin Bridgwater, SCC

The arrival, unloading and fixing of the new Seaward Way level crossing REB (Relocatable Equipment Building) containing switching for the new level crossing and associated signalling. The building arrived at 8am on Friday 11 June 2021 after a road journey from Saltash, Cornwall, where it had been fitted out. The REB was built in the Republic of Ireland and completed in Northern Ireland.

13 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR Plc launches new emergency survival appeal

WSR

After the West Somerset Railway Plc had two formal appeals turned down following the recent rejection of its second round bid to the Government's Department of Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) Second Round for 'Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage' (CRFH) financial support, the WSR Plc has launched an emergency 'SOS' funding appeal for £1 million to see it through to next May.

The WSR's first CRFH bid, made jointly by the WSR 'family', was very successful when the railway was granted £864,900 last October, and the final instalment of that grant of £86,490 was paid just before Easter this year.

The WSR Plc was confidently hoping to receive a further DCMS grant of up to £432,200 from its CRFH scheme, which was the permitted maximum under bidding guidelines for the Round 2 bid. At a recent (virtual) meeting of the Railway's Partnership Development Group, Plc Director Steve Williams said that the bid had been rejected as the Railway was now considered a commercial organisation and not a 'not for profit' organisation.

This would have provided further funds to help the former GWR branch line recover from the enforced closure of the railway since March 2020 during the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.

As a result, the WSR Plc has announced the launch of a new £1 million 'SOS' funding survival appeal of its own in order to see it through to 2022 and beyond.

Full details on the official WSR website Donation Form

7 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Seaward Way Level Crossing - a joint statement

WSR

A joint statement by West Somerset Railway and Somerset County Council on the situation with the upgrade of the level crossing at Seaward Way, Minehead.

Following resumption of services in May, we're delighted that visitors are once again enjoying the very special experience offered by the West Somerset Railway.

Though it is disappointing that installation of the Seaward Way Crossing could not be completed in time for the summer as hoped, due mainly to the impact of the Covid emergency, WSR is ensuring there will still be a service the full length of the journey from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. Passengers will travel by bus between Minehead and Dunster, until the crossing is operational later in the year. In keeping with the unique traveller experience offered by the WSR the journey will be by vintage bus at weekends.

We are keenly aware of the importance of this service to local businesses in Minehead which is why the WSR is providing this bus service.

This is a complex project involving a number of agencies and equipment suppliers and it has unfortunately been hit hard by the Covid crisis. There have been supply chain issues for some key parts and most of the specialist rail contractors needed for this work are also currently required by Network Rail for vital works across the main UK network. Initial planning started in 2018 and the design was completed in 2020. It was finally approved by the Office of Rail and Road, the regulator, in February.

A great deal of preparatory work has already taken place, including a significant amount of work off site. Despite the difficulties, it's anticipated the crossing will be operational in time for the festive season.

Notes accompanying the joint statement

7 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Booked runs this summer for Hymek no D7018

WSR

The dates agreed so far for the popular Diesel & Electric Preservation Group (DEPG) owned Class 35 Hymek no D7018 running are 17 July, 31 July, 14 August (please note this date was previously wrongly listed as a week later), and finally 25 September. In addition, the Group hope to run both of their Class 33s in multiple on 21 August as a tribute to the 60th birthday of the pair.

7 June 2021
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

WSR Plc Board and Management changes

WSR

New faces for the WSR Plc Board of Directors as announced in 'The Platform' (click the button below for full details). Arthur Diejomoah (Human Resources); David Fisher (Commercial); John Gibbins (Civil Engineering); and Bob Meanley (Mechanical Engineering).

Meanwhile, Justin Kerr-Peterson has resigned as Director and has withdrawn as General Manager(Designate). Jonathan Jones-Pratt will continue as Acting General Manager, supported by Kerry Noble who takes the role of (temporary) Assistant General Manager. The role of Operations Manager will be taken up shortly by Malcolm Dean. Clive Robey takes up the job of temporary Site Manager, Seaward Way Level Crossing.

View 'The Platform' June 2021 on the official WSR website

5 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Brief update from the Seaward Way Crossing Site Manager

WSR

Preparatory work is underway for the upgrade of Minehead's Seaward Way Level Crossing. The concrete base will be ready for the REB (Relocatable Equipment Building) due for delivery within the next ten days. Also, the route of the trench for the troughing has started. A fuller report on the background and the current situation appears in the latest 'The Platform' newsletter (click or tap the button below).

View 'The Platform' June 2021 on the official WSR website

5 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Draft minutes of recent Partnership Development Group meeting

WSR

The draft minutes of the Partnership Development Group meeting held via Zoom on 26 May 2021 are now available. Click or tap the button below to download and read.

PDG minutes

4 June 2021
Details kindly provided by the Secretariat of the Partnership Development Group

The June 2021 edition of The Platform now available

WSR

Lots of really useful topical information about the West Somerset Railway can be found in the June 2021 edition of the new electronic newsletter. Topics include:

  • The Railway is running again
  • Board and management changes
  • Minehead Seaward Way Level Crossing
  • News from the WSRA
  • News from the West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust
  • Items in brief
  • News from the Mechanical Engineering Department
  • News fron the DEPG
  • Station news
  • West Somerset Railway 2021 Funding Appeal

Click or tap the button below to view The Platform newsletter...

View 'The Platform' June 2021 on the official WSR website

4 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Mike Thompson to take over as Chairman of the Heritage Trust

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust board has announced that Mike Thompson will take over the role of Chairman of the Trust from the date of the next AGM. During the interim period, Mike will work alongside Steve Williams in his current role as acting Chairman to effect a smooth transition of duties. Steve will remain on the board as Vice Chairman and Company Secretary.

More details

3 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

The Gauge Museum Souvenir Guide

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust has just published a Souvenir Booklet to the new look Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard. Packed with historical information and images from the museum's displays it also records the history of the Model Railway Group the Trust's 1897 sleeping car and outlines the education and learning programmes within the museum. Priced at £2, it is available from the Museum on days when trains are running. If you want a copy by post, please write to Chris Austin, 20A Park Road, Bromley BR1 3HP, enclosing a self-addressed and stamped A5 envelope with a 'large letter' stamp (£1.53 second class), and allow two weeks for delivery.

1 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

Upgrading Seaward Way Level Crossing - a brief update

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Plc have kindly provided an update.

It has become clear in the last few days that the crossing is unlikely to open to passenger trains before mid to late September. This is a big disappointment to everyone involved, and to everyone hoping for an opening of the full-length West Somerset Railway. A full note will appear in the next 'The Platform' newsletter (due to be published early next week) setting out the reasons why it has taken so long, and why there is still some way to go.

Look out for the next edition of The Platform. A link will appear on this webpage as soon as the newsletter is published.

28 May 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News from the Friends of Watchet Station

WSR

An update from the ever busy Friends of Watchet Station:

Watchet Railway Station will be having a small sale of donated second-hand model railway equipment on Sunday 30 May 2021 between 12 noon to 3pm. We have a small selection of engines, coaches, wagons, track, buildings in OO and HO gauges and O gauge tinplate stock, and railway books and magazines. All proceeds go towards the maintenance of Watchet Station. This will be part of the Watchet Station Platform Event that day. Click the button below to view the event poster.

And there's more. The Friends have also installed interpretative panels on the restored Pooley weighing machine; the panels explain the history of the 'Imperial' weight system.

Event poster

25 May 2021
Details kindly provided by the Friends of Watchet Station

Teddy Bear ready to join the WSR operational fleet

WSR

An update on Class 14 'Teddy Bear' no D9526 from Terry Deacon of the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group (DEPG):

After a 250 hour service was start back in late 2019 (pre-Covid), the DEPG made a light engie ngine move on Saturday 22 May 2021 with Class 14 no 9526 from Williton to Bishops Lydeard to use the pit facilities at the Westridge shed to complete the underframe exam, and then to sign her off fit for service duties on WSR.

24 May 2021
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

The 2021 Steam and Vintage Rally has been cancelled

WSR

Geoff Garfield from the Rally Team has provided the following statement:

The Rally team have been hoping that it would have been possible to go ahead with the 2021 Rally.

We have now reached the time when we need to make a final decision. We have reviewed all the latest safety advice, and thought about the safety precautions needed, and the recent uncertainties caused by news about new Covid variants.

We have reluctantly come to the conclusion that there are too many uncertainties to allow us to go ahead, so we must cancel the event planned for 7th and 8th August 2021.

This will be disappointing news for our many exhibitors, volunteers and supporters, but we feel that there is no reasonable alternative.

We look forward to better news for the 2022 Rally, planned for 6th and 7th August 2022

24 May 2021
Details kindly provided by the Rally Team

Railway set for partial reopening from 22 May

WSR

After being shut for exactly 14 months now since Wednesday 17 March 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions, the West Somerset Railway (WSR) has been getting ready for a late Spring reopening of the 22 mile heritage line running from Bishops Lydeard near Taunton to Minehead.

The West Somerset Railway is scheduled to re-start train services on Saturday 22 May following the easing of Government CV-19 restrictions on 17 May in line with the recovery roadmap still staying on track.

Initially, WSR trains will operate out and back from Bishops Lydeard to Williton only. Social distancing regulations will still be in force then and passengers will, therefore, need to travel in pre-allocated seats and remain on board for the entire return journey, similar to the WSR's Santa services last December.

As a result, it will not yet be possible to offer train services to any intermediate stations on the line, or through to Minehead yet sadly, and which the WSR regrets but it is working hard to complete the link again.

Read the full statement by clicking the button below.

Full statement

19 May 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Peat railway items moved from Washford to Westonzoyland

WSR

More items have left Washford for pastures new with news that several ex-peat railway artefacts have recently 'gone home' to the Somerset Levels.

Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum have taken on long term loan of the Eclipse/Fisons Peat Works narrow gauge equipment from the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust at Washford. On 18 May 2021, the Trust's Lister Railtruck, a peat wagon chassis and two complete replica peat wagons were moved from Washford. The team then returned to Washford to remove the track, points and wagon turntables before returning them to the Museum at Westonzoyland.

Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum

18 May 2021
Details gleaned from Facebook page of Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum

Opening times for Williton Station

WSR

Williton Station Master John Parsons writes:

Williton, like other stations along the line, will open its station shop/tea room to visitors both local and for walkers for tea, coffee and ice creams etc on all the timetabled running days. Hours will be from around 10.15am until about 4pm. Service will initially be through the shop window and there will be covered seating should the weather be inclement. Available on the platform will be a selection of plants along with a fine selection of railway oriented books. Visitors are asked to keep to the signed walkways, use the sanitiser points and keep to Platform One only.

Train running days

18 May 2021
Details kindly provided by the Williton Station Master

News from the Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard

WSR

Kate Beard, Manager of the Bishops Lydeard Station Shop, has an update:

Just to inform customers that the Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard will be closed on Wednesday 19 May. It will reopen on Saturday 22 May in ready for the recommencement of train services.

17 May 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Opening times for Crowcombe Heathfield Station

WSR

The station will be open on running days during May from 10am until 4.30pm and during June from 11am until 4pm.

Refreshments will be available for visitors during these hours.

The folks at the station have recently received a donation of second hand books which are on display in the COVID safe waiting room. Come and have a browse and maybe find a bargain.

Visitors will not be able to board or alight from trains at Crowcombe Heathfield until further notice.

Train running days

16 May 2021
Details kindly provided by the folks at Crowcombe Heathfield Station

Minehead Station Pie and Mash Evening 29 May 2021

WSR

Join the West Somerset Railway at Minehead Station on the evening of 29 May 2021 for a Pie and Mash special. For full details and booking, please click the button below.

Details and Booking

15 May 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Bahamas comes to West Somerset on 24 July

WSR Plc

The Railway Touring Company have announced a steam special between London Paddington and Minehead and back on 24 July 2021. The West Somerset Steam Express is scheduled to be headed by LMS Jubilee 4-6-0 no 45596 Bahamas from London Paddington to Bishops Lydeard, where a West Somerset Railway locomotive will take over for the section to Minehead, with the 'Jubilee' taking over the return leg at Bishops Lydeard for the run back to London. Click or tap the button below for full details and booking.

Railway Touring Company

11 May 2021
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Gauge Museum Model Railway reopens from 22 May

WSR Plc

The folks at the Gauge Museum Model Railway have announced on their Facebook page:

We're pleased to announce that we will be reopening alongside the WSR on the 22nd of May. It's been a little while since we've posted but rest assured that lots of hard work has been going on behind the scenes, we've had some new carpet fitted as can be seen from the photos, and the back straight relay is now complete.

We can't wait to welcome you back in the museum but of course we must be compliant with current Covid regulations; and so we ask that no more than six people at a time are present on the upper floor of the museum where we're located, social distancing is adhered to where possible, and masks are worn while inside the building. We've provided plenty of hand sanitiser, and politely ask that no food is consumed inside the Museum also.

The first display on the 22nd will be predominantly Southern Region themed, with Sunday having a mix of all four regions, we will aim to open for further dates this year as usual most weekends when the railway is running and we'll confirm future dates as and when we have organized which volunteers are available for them.

Model Railway Facebook Page

10 May 2021
Details kindly provided by the Gauge Museum Model Railway

Excursions on the Railway from 22 May

WSR Plc

The timetable page on the official website (see link below) has been updated. As well as the trips to Williton, it now shows the revised dates and the times of the recently announced trips to the old harbour town of Watchet.

Timetable page

9 May 2021
Details gleaned from the official website

The Association reaches out to working volunteers

WSR

7 May 2021 marks 50 years of the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) supporting the Railway. The Trustees think that is worth celebrating and say:

So we're offering a free membership for 1 year to all working volunteers on the railway who are not yet WSRA members. Simply submit a photograph of yourself volunteering on the railway from 1st May to 30th September 2021, and claim a year's free Working Volunteer membership of the WSRA. The volunteering work you demonstrate in your photograph can be anything that supports the West Somerset Railway, so gardening, signalling, catering, admin etc are all good.

More details can be found on the Association's website.

More details Association website

7 May 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

It could be you helping out at Stogumber Station and Garden

WSR Plc

The folks at Stogumber Station could do with a little more help in the summer. Could you help? The Station Master, Bob Preston, explains:

Once we reach July with trains running seven days a week we will be struggling for volunteer numbers. Our main requirement is for two people to work in the shop throughout the summer on Fridays serving cream teas, etc, as well as carrying out general station duties. They would need a current PTS certificate. I can be contacted on 01984 656976 or 07884 143290.

Friends of Stogumber Station website Stogumber Station webpage

7 May 2021
Details kindly provided by Friends of Stogumber Station

Revised timetables from 29 May 2021

WSR Plc

The West Somerset Railway Plc say:

We are making some alterations to our timetabled services for May and June.

We have listened to feedback from our passengers and have introduced an enhanced experience for the start of our season.

We will now be going from Bishops Lydeard to Watchet, from 29th May onwards,This will give our passengers a great day out, giving you time in the seaside town to explore before you return.

Any passengers who hold tickets to Williton already, on dates which will be affected will receive an email from us with the changes and options in the next 24 hours.

Ticket functionality on our website has been temporarily disabled on dates that are affected. We envisage this issue to be resolved by lunch time tomorrow Friday 7th May.

Please bear with us whilst these changes are made and communicated to all. We thank you for your patience.

A full explanation on what is on offer will be released shortly.

Please note the train times on this unofficial website have been updated.

6 May 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Updated opening times for Stogumber Station and Garden

WSR Plc

The Stogumber Station and Garden will be open on the following days from 10am to 4pm (weather permitting) for the sale of hot and cold drinks, cream teas and hot snacks. Come and enjoy whilst watching trains pass through the Station. Note: this list of dates was updated on 9 May to reflect timetable changes.

  • Saturday 22 May
  • Sunday 23 May
  • Tuesday 25 May
  • Wednesday 26 May
  • Thursday 27 May
  • Saturday 29 May
  • Sunday 30 May
  • Monday 31 May
  • Every Saturday in June
  • Every Sunday in June
  • Every Tuesday in June
  • Every Wednesday in June except 9, 16 June

Friends of Stogumber Station website Stogumber Station webpage

1 May 2021
Details kindly provided by Friends of Stogumber Station

Book now for a trip on the West Somerset Railway

WSR Plc

The West Somerset Railway Plc are reminding all of us that train services start again soon.

We are getting ready to welcome you back!

From 22 May 2021 we will be running excursions from Bishops Lydeard to Williton and back.

In line with Covid advice, we are selling tickets for fixed excursions in tables of 2, 4 and compartments of 6.

Use the link in the button below to select your excursion and book your tickets. Then, choose from travel only, or choose to add a catering option on selected services on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Go to the Excursions page

28 April 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR Plc reject the Bailey reform recommendations

WSR Plc

The West Somerset Railway Plc have concluded the organisational structure reforms recommended by John Bailey in his 2020 report cannot go ahead for a number of reasons. The Plc say:

  • The entire railway community is currently heavily committed to re-starting our operations in May. This involves extensive work by many individuals across the railway: this is not going to be a normal start-up operation and requires considerable extra work beyond that normally undertaken for the seasonal re-openings of the past. It is the view of the Board that attempting to take forward work now to establish a brand-new organisation is not something that would be sensible at this time, especially in light of the challenges facing both the WSR plc and the wider WSR railway family over the next 12 months.
  • Although much sound progress has been made with our earlier financial recovery plans from 2017-2019, the railway has not yet fully recovered from the financial operational challenges of these years before the Covid pandemic. This is going to require significant further re-targeting of our activities. Attempting to re-position the WSR plc now as a subsidiary organisation of a brand-new charity, complete with all the attendant financial risk around assets, accountability and financial responsibilities, is NOT something that the WSR plc Board feels it can support.
  • The plc Board is also not convinced that the proposals being put forward to implement the suggested Bailey reforms will necessarily deliver the anticipated full range of benefits required to justify the scale and scope of organisational change at this time. It feels that the current restructuring proposals are just one of a series of possible options to be considered, and which need to be much more carefully explored.
  • In the outline questionnaire that was circulated to all 8,311 WSR plc shareholders seeking their views on the Bailey reforms. Only 391 shareholders responded representing just 8,311 (4.7%). It is evident from such a level of response, therefore, that there is scant shareholder support for these suggestions. The board felt that it was important to have the views of shareholders on this matter, and in the interests of the PLC and its shareholders, it considered that the response rate was too low to justify taking further action on the proposals at the present time.
  • The indicative costs of implementation of the current Bailey reform proposals are felt to be considerable and likely to run to at least six figures. In the current financial climate, the Board does not feel that this would be a sensible use of the plc’s limited resources. If loan-funding for this cost were to be sought externally, the Board feels that there would need to be a far more persuasive case.
  • One of the key requirements facing us will be the need to convince the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) as regulator, and other key stakeholders, that these proposals will not only fully deliver significant additional benefits over a long period of time, but also that they will not impede the corporate responsibilities of the PLC for the safe and effective operation of the WSR and the stewardship of its assets. The Board considers that such a case has not been made convincingly.
  • The Board readily recognises that one motivation for the Bailey proposals was the belief that this would offer us a better opportunity for external fund-raising. The Board have considered and researched the experiences of other heritage railways, and other similar organisations, and has concluded that the present structures in place do not preclude effective fund-raising. There will need to be renewed fund raising efforts in the next few months, of course, and the Board looks forward to working with all of its partners to achieve significant results.

Click or tap the button below for the full statement.

The full statement by WSR Plc

26 April 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The Crowcombe Heathfield webcam is back

WSR Plc

Good news for casual viewers and avid webcam watchers alike. The webcam at Crowcombe Heathfield Station is back streaming to the world after a lengthy spell offline. The webcam can be viewed on this website or at the Railcam.uk website.

More good news. The south facing webcam at Williton Station is also back online on the Railcam.uk website.

Webcam on this website Railcam.uk website

25 April 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc and Railcam.uk

New appointments to the WSR Plc Board

WSR Plc

The Board of the West Somerset Railway Plc has announced two new appointments, with immediate effect.

Bob Meanley is rejoining the Board as Director (Mechanical Engineering) and John Gibbins is becoming Civil Engineering Adviser to the Board, with a view to joining as Director in the near future.

Full details

23 April 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

'From Merehead to Minehead' - a new booklet is published

WSR

The Diesel & Electric Preservation Group (DEPG) are pleased to announce the publication of the second Booklet in the series dedicated to the Group's diesel Locomotives

Following the success of the first book featuring Class 35 ‘Hymek’ no D7018, the second book, entitled 'From Merehead to Minehead' features Class 52 no D1010 Western Campaigner.

The first half of the book features its service with British Railways and purchase by Foster Yeoman, followed by the second half detailing its history with the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group. The publication consists of 72 pages with 64 colour and 8 black and white photos.

Available from depg.org or cheque for £18.50 (to include p&p) payable to DEPG from the Old Goods Shed, Williton Station, Somerset. TA4 4RQ

Click the button below for the DEPG Online Shop webpage for the booklet.

DEPG Online Shop

16 April 2021
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

Site Manager required for Seaward Way Crossing works

WSR

The West Somerset Railway is seeking a suitably qualified individual to act as Site Manager during the remainder of the works to renew Seaward Way Crossing in Minehead. The Railway say:

This is a temporary part time paid position operated on a call down basis. It is envisaged that there will be some part time days required in the first few weeks and then an intensive period of probable full-time attendance during the main contract with Messrs Amey.

For further information, please email Kerry Noble kerry.noble@wsrail.net The closing date is 23 April 2021.

Official WSR webpage

13 April 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Watchet Station Shop reopens on 13 April

WSR

Watchet Station Shop will be open from 13 April 2021 from 10am to 4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays (closed Monday and Friday) for Hot Drinks, Cakes, Snacks, Gifts, Toys and Secondhand Books.

10 April 2021
Details kindly provided by Friends of Watchet Station

Remembering the Duke of Edinburgh's visits by train

WSR

The passing of the Duke of Edinburgh of 9 April 2021 has prompted a look back at the two visits made by the Duke to Minehead, by train, in 1952 and in 2002.

The Duke of Edinburgh arrived by train at Minehead on 29 October 1952. After meeting local worthies, he travelled by car to Lynmouth where, on the night of 15-16 August 1952, many homes had been destroyed by flooding following very heavy rainfall up on the hills of Exmoor. Tragically 34 souls were lost that night. The visit of the Duke was much appreciated by the survivors.

Recently, a set of seven black and white images taken that day at Minehead were sent here by our good friend Eric Rowlands. The pictures were taken by Minehead photographer R. Kingsley Tayler; the original prints were scanned by Eric. Click or tap the button below to load the '1952' pictures.

Fifty years later, on 1 November 2002, the Duke made a repeat visit to Lynmouth, again by train and by car, and again via Minehead Station. Here is the news item from 2002 in full:

The Duke of Edinburgh travelled down to Somerset overnight aboard the Royal Train, which left London Euston the night before at 11.17pm, making for a 4.45am arrival at Bishops Lydeard. After a 'recess stop', the Royal Train, headed by Class 47 no 47798, departed Bishops Lydeard at 8.10am bound for Minehead.

At each of the ten stations a small crowd of onlookers gathered and the Duke responded with an appearance and a wave at the window.

Arrival at Minehead was right on schedule at 9.20am and the Duke met Railway officials and volunteers. The line-up included civil dignatories; Roger Lizars and Mark Smith representing the Railway Board; a trio of Friends of Minehead Station, Alan Grieve, Frances Bristow and Gordon Harris; Hein Burger, the Railway's Commercial Manager; Trackers Gary Filer, Jonathan Mitchell and Shane Tarr, and Ian Salt, Apprentice Fitter. After being introduced to Robin George, representing the Dinmore Manor Fund, the Duke accepted the chance of a short footplate ride aboard no 7820, before bidding farewell to the Railway, setting off across Exmoor by road for an engagement at Lynmouth.

The Royal Train departed Minehead at 10.05am and returned to the national rail network right time about an hour or so later.

As stated in the Railway's November OnLine, '...another aspect to consider is our progress after the last 15 years and that as 2002 comes to its end we are viewed by the rest of the Railway industry as part of the national network and able to handle all traffic offered to us in a thoroughly professional manner. Thanks to everyone along the line who did so much to make the visit a success and to present the Railway at its best.'

Click or tap the button below to load the '2002' pictures.

1952 pictures 2002 pictures

10 April 2021
Details kindly provided by friends of this website

Railway Shops, Turntable Cafe, Readers Halt to reopen

WSR

The Railway have some good news to share:

With the easing of restrictions from Monday 12 April we are delighted to let you know that the West Somerset Railway shops at both Minehead and Bishops Lydeard will reopen next week, along with the Turntable Cafe and Readers Halt Bookstall at Minehead Station.

Minehead Shop along with the Turntable Cafe and Readers Halt Bookstall will be open all next week from Monday - Sunday between 10am and 3pm.

Bishops Lydeard Shop will re-open for business on Wednesday 14 April at 10am. Their regular opening times will be Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10am to 3pm until our excursion services start later in May.

We will be continuing with social distancing in line with Government advice. For Bishops Lydeard shop a one way traffic system will be in place which has been used previously, therefore please enter through the booking office lobby and exit through the doors on to the platform. We are sorry that we are still unable to offer any cafe facilities at Bishops Lydeard at the moment.

Hand sanitisation facilities will be available at both locations and we ask all visitors to please wear a face covering whilst in the shops or cafe.

We look forward to seeing our regular customers as well as new friends upon our reopening.

9 April 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

David Butcher

WSR

Sad news. David Butcher, the Railway's General Manager during the re-openings, this morning passed away peacefully at home. In the early days, away from masterminding and managing the re-opening of the line, David could often be seen at the controls of a DMU or on the footplate driving one of the Bagnall tanks or GWR Pannier no 6412. An inspirational man who encouraged people with positive support and a friendly word or two. Thanks David for all that you have done for our Railway. And thanks to his wife Linda for allowing this small notice of David's passing.

7 April 2021
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

A welcome refresh for the Association website

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association has released its refreshed website at wsra.org.uk A nice clean look with improved navigation for users. Also, for the first time, a password-protected 'members area' which has long been on the membership's wish list. Well done, Association. And thanks.

The WSRA website

7 April 2021
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

News of the WSR 'Industrial' steamers

WSR

Ryan Pope, owner of the two industrial tank locomotives at Williton, has kindly provided an update:

Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T no 1857 has steamed for the first time in 40 years, we think, after a major boiler overhaul completed at Williton. The work included replacing three-quarters of the sides and back plate, and a new throat plate. Also, copper welding to the inner firebox, new front tube plate, 600+ new stays all made at Williton and a new set of tubes. Testing of the boiler over the next few weeks will allow the boiler to de-stress and settle, then the race is on to get it back in the frames and finish the loco.

Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219 will be departing the WSR in the next few weeks to take up home at the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway.

6 April 2021
Details kindly provided by Ryan Pope

Culture Recovery Fund award for the Heritage Trust

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust has announced that it applied for an award under the Culture Recovery Fund - 2nd Round and has been successful in its application. The award is presented by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in conjunction with the National Lottery Community Fund. Formal notification plus details on how the Trust is to obtain the funds will follow.

5 April 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

Busy times ahead for the diesel fleet

WSR

All subject to expected relaxation of Covid lockdown restrictions, of course, the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group (DEPG) are looking forward to a busy time in support of the Railway's gradual reopening from 22 May 2021. Initially this means providing a diesel locomotive on standby duties during the steam-hauled services to Williton, then Watchet and Blue Anchor. When the Railway's 'Blue' timetable takes over, diesel fans can look forward to enjoying diesel haulage once again on the Minehead Branch. The DEPG say:

Our big part comes into focus on Saturday 3 July, where the Blue timetable includes a 60-mile diesel-hauled service that starts and ends in Minehead with an additional shuttle between Bishops Lydeard and Williton. This opportunity for diesel haulage has come about due to the non-availability of the DMU this season. In total, the current published timetable shows 27 days where the Blue timetable is in operation. This significant amount of running gives us the opportunity to use Class 35 'Hymek' no D7018 and Class 14 'Teddy Bear' no D9526 on some days, while our stalwart Class 33s nos D6566 (33 048) and D6575 (33 057) will cover the majority of the workings.

These Blue timetable workings will provide an hour stopover at Williton between 1320 and 1430, so we hope to be able to find enough volunteers to be able to open our depot on each running day and put on a bit of a 'show and tell'.

The origination point of Minehead for the Blue timetable is not ideal for most diesel fans, but it is an opportunity that has been presented to us and we now need to do our very best to make sure that every ticket is sold and that these services are a commercial success. Please try to support these diesel-hauled services! We will announce our plans for haulage as soon as we can, but this depends on volunteers completing refresher training so that we can provide sufficient crews to cover this workload. It also depends on locomotives being available for service.

Timetables and online booking

5 April 2021
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

Seaward Way Crossing webcam is now offline

WSR

The WSR Plc have switched the webcam covering Seaward Way Level Crossing offline...

...until the crossing upgrade works are complete.

That seems like good news as the start of the works must be imminent. Although nothing is promised, hopefully WSR Plc will provide regular updates and pictures to help keep supporters informed throughout the upgrade. Pictures of the works will appear on the Topical Pictures page of this website from time to time.

5 April 2021
Details gleaned from request from West Somerset Railway Plc

Some of S&DRT artefacts to move to the Avon Valley Railway

WSR

The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust (S&DRT) and the Avon Valley Railway Heritage Trust have reached an agreement which will see some of the S&DRT's artefacts transferred from Washford to Bitton as explained to the recent joint press release.

We are delighted to announce that we have come, in principle, to an agreement to re-locate a portion of the rolling stock and museum artefacts currently based at the S&DRT site at Washford in Somerset to the Avon Valley Railway at Bitton, South Gloucestershire.

The agreement has been under discussion for several months and follows the S&DRT’s similar arrangement for rolling stock and museum items relating more to the Southern element of the collection to be placed at the Mid-Hants Railway Watercress Line. The essence of the agreement is to establish a display of Midland/LMS vehicles and artefacts at Bitton which will form the basis of a new museum at the station. Several S&DRT vehicles will be adapted to house a range of S&D items with additional historical items belonging to the AVR which together will tell the story of the Midland lines terminating at the famous station at Green Park, Bath.

Read the full joint statement

1 April 2021
Details kindly provided by the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

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