Latest news

An update on the WSR motive power situation

Dave Horton, WSR's Head of Mechanical Engineering, has issued the following update:

  • Nos 53808 and 53809 in service.
  • No 44422 now repaired and available at Minehead as back-up engine.
  • No 6960 currently undergoing washout.
  • Nos 7820 and 7822 both due a washout and some attention on various bits and pieces.
  • No D6575 now back in service after repairs by the DEPG.
  • No D1010 is hauling the incoming charter on Saturday 19 August.
  • No D1661 standby at Bishops Lydeard.

In view of the above, late yesterday afternoon [18 August] the Management Team collectively decided that the 'BL2' diagram (1105 ex-Bishops Lydeard etc) will remain diesel-hauled until Friday 25 August 2017. It is felt better to maintain the published yellow timetable with two steam plus one spare (as opposed to three steam plus zero spare), such that we can feel confident of launching back into a reliable three steam operation in time for the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend and beyond.

Some light engine positioning moves may be seen towards the back end of this week.

On behalf of the Loco Department, thank you for your understanding during this difficult time.

19 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Day Rover tickets on normal services on 'Flying Scotsman' days

The West Somerset Railway have released a limited number of day rover tickets which can be used for travel on other services during the Flying Scotsman event which is taking place from 5 to 7 September and 9 to 12 September.

All tickets to travel behind the Flying Scotsman and the WSR Express during the day have been sold, but there is still opportunity to travel behind the other services that will be running during this event to get a glimpse of the iconic locomotive. Rover tickets are being sold at the normal price with a 10% discount being offered when purchased in advance through the website.

If you would like to travel behind the Flying Scotsman, there are a few evening tickets which offer a return trip from Bishops Lydeard to Blue Anchor; you have the option of tickets that include fish and chips, a vintage tea or travel only.

For more information on the event please visit the official website on or phone 01643 704996

18 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

USA 2-8-0 no 6046 to return to West Somerset in 2018

Some good and interesting news taken from a message posted on the 'WSR Mechanical Engineering Dept News' Facebook page:

It has been agreed that USATC S160 2-8-0 no 6046 is coming to strengthen our fleet for the whole of 2018. Courtesy of the owners and Churnet Valley Railway. Sure to turn some heads, not least for its wonderful chime whistle! But in terms of authenticity, some worked out of Taunton shed during the war, and will compliment our plans to put together a WD-themed freight train. Being air-braked she will also be of value in hauling incoming charter trains.

17 August 2017
Details gleaned from Facebook

Car Parking and Spectating for the Flying Scotsman

The West Somerset Railway have been working hard to try and find suitable areas to observe the Flying Scotsman for those that missed out on purchasing tickets.

It is vital that we do our best to ensure that where possible, we avoid issues on the highways and direct people to suitable spots where parking is permitted. We have been very fortunate that some local land owners have kindly opened their fields for car parking. The fields are situated either in walking distance from the stations or with fantastic opportunities to see the locomotive on the line. The land owners will charge £5 for each vehicle and some have even offered camping spaces for overnight parking which can be pre-arranged. Access to our intermediate stations will be charged at £2 per person on the day only. Please be aware that there is limited capacity on our stations.

Frank Courtney the Chairman of the WSR's Flying Scotsman organising committee said:

We are very grateful to the local land owners for opening their fields to help alleviate the pressures on the highway. Anyone wishing to photograph the Flying Scotsman or view the locomotive without a ticket to travel are advised to visit one of these car parks to do so.

For all the information relating to car parking for the Flying Scotsman please visit the official WSR website

16 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Railway looking for festive photograph for Christmas Card

Attention all photographers, say the West Somerset Railway, who explain further:

Is it too soon to mention Christmas? We are looking for a suitably festive photograph of the Railway for this year's Christmas Card. Anyone who wishes to submit a photograph for consideration should email it to

16 August 2017
Details gleaned from the WSR Plc Facebook page

An opportunity for more Hymek haulage

The Quantock Belle Dining Train due to run on Sunday 20 August 2017 headed by Class 35 'Hymek' no D7017 will include two standard coaches as it will be running in the path of the scheduled 2.20pm from Doniford to Minehead; later the Quantock Belle runs in the path of the 5.20pm from Minehead. Both trains will operate as an 'all stations stopper' (open to ordinary ticket holders) from Bishops Lydeard on the outward trip and from Minehead on the later service. Dining passengers booked on the Quantock Belle please note their train will start its journey as advertised at Bishops Lydeard, leaving at 1pm.

16 August 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

More news from the 2017 Great Bench Shuffle...

On 12 August 2017, the WSR Association van took a trip to the Kent & East Sussex Railway. In the back of the van were four SER-pattern ex-SR benches displaced from Blue Anchor by the arrival of four new GWR pattern benches, giving that station a complete set. The benches loaded at Blue Anchor by Martyn Snell, Brian Jessup and Phil Sizer, and off loaded by local folks at Robertsbridge. We understand the SER-pattern benches will shortly br transformed into K&ESR 'mid-purple brown'.

14 August 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Synopsis of the WSRA Board Meeting held on 17 July 2017

A synopsis of the WSRA Board Meeting held on 17 July 2017 has been published on the Association website.

The document reveals

  • three potential purchasers for the redundant Mk 1 FO no 3131 and one for the BG vehicle; the Board will seek approval from the AGM to sell these vehicles.
  • arrangements are in hand for the production of the next issue of the Journal; and the question of its editorship will be considered at the next Board meeting.
  • only one member had been nominated for Board membership.

The Documents page also has the Minutes of the previous Board meeting which reported on Communication, "We agree [to] produce a monthly email newsletter. We consider that a new website which permits the provision of a members' only area is essential."

14 August 2017
Details gleaned from the West Somerset Railway Association website

A report on the recent 2017 Steam Rally at Norton Fitzwarren

Geoff Garfield, Chairman of the Rally Committee reports on the recent Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally:

Our annual Rally took place on the 5th & 6th August this year, and was again very well attended. We are still waiting for final figures, but over 6000 people came through the main gate. This number will be further swelled by those who came by train, and all of our exhibitors and their families

We were very lucky in having mostly fine weather, so the show was not interrupted: some other local shows were cancelled or curtailed as a result of wet weather. Our visitors enjoyed all of the exhibits and entertainments: many have given us great feedback. We also know that there are a number of opportunities to improve for next year: the organising committee will be looking carefully at those, very soon.

See the Steam Rally website for the full report...

11 August 2017
Details kindly provided by the Rally Team

An update from the WSR's Locomotive Department

The West Somerset Railway's Head of Mechanical Engineering has kindly provided an update on the current situation...

Just to advise where we are currently with locos and to shed some more light on our current challenges - 7820 in traffic, 53808 in traffic, 44422 now due a washout, 53809 shortly to complete washout, 6960 stopped for attention to springs, whilst waiting for these to be removed and repaired, and because the loco is going to be our 'no 1' standby engine during Flying Scotsman week, we are taking the opportunity to complete some preventative maintenance which was deferred from the winter period - by doing a valve exam (remove valves, inspect, clean up, fit new sleeves, refit). Oh and it's also due a washout now too.

7822 expected to arrive and be in traffic by 28 August, will provide much needed support to the fleet.

Rest assured the loco department is working very hard to overcome the present difficulties. It has been a challenging year for loco availability perhaps without precedent on the WSR in recent times.

Please note: It is mandatory for our locos to be washed out every 28 steaming days in order to prevent the build-up of scale and sludge, which is potentially damaging as it can reduce heat transfer and therefore cause localised heat stress. Also it is necessary to ensure an adequate frequency of boiler internal inspection. Under normal circumstances we look to balance the washouts so that there is never more than one taking place per week, but unfortunately due to various prior circumstances we have three becoming due in a two-week period (53809, 44422 and 6960). A washout normally takes between 5-7 days given our current staffing levels and allowing for the loco to be cooled down and warmed up slowly at either end of it (which is obviously much kinder on the boiler). This is also assuming nothing else is found that needs rectifying during the washout inspection.

If it hadn't been for 6960's broken springs on Sunday, we would have been able to maintain a normal three loco steam service today (7 Aug) and tomorrow (8 Aug).

8 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Shunting exercise clears Stone Siding and Dunster West Siding

The West Somerset Railway's Loco Department carried out a major exercise on Sunday 6 August 2017 when the Stone Siding was emptied. Stock moved included a DMU power car and BR Mk 1 coach no 25454. Later the action moved to Dunster West sidings where a number of vehicles were moved. These included GWR well wagon 'Crocodile' no W41945, BR Lowmac no B900118, six wheel tank wagon no ADW 102, six wheel tank wagon 3018, GWR Siphon no W2980, LMS open wagon no 404103, and former DMU power car chassis no 51663. A good number of these will be restored, in time, by the newly formed Wagon Restoration Team. The clearance at Dunster - which extended until after dark - was done ahead of the next day's planned disconnection of the points leading from the main line to the sidings, prior to slewing the main line over the 'newer' River Avill Bridge. Our unofficial hunch suggests the bed of the current track is showing signs of stress (it rests on the original alignment across Dunster Marsh which became the Down line when doubled in the 1930s), and that the long disused Up line trackbed may provide a better base across this one time saltmarsh.

7 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Changes to the Board of the West Somerset Railway Plc

The West Somerset Railway have issued the following statement:

Alan Nicholson has been appointed Chairman by the Board of Directors for the West Somerset Railway Plc. This follows the resignation for personal reasons of John Irven, who has been the Chairman of the Board for the last five years.

Other recent changes at Board level include the appointment of Frank Courtney as Business Planning Director. This follows the resignation of Steve Williams, again for personal reasons. Steve has been instrumental in restructuring the railways Corporate and Business Plans and has become well known in the local business community for representing the railway.

Read the full statement

7 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

DEPG's Hymek no D7017 to attend Old Oak Common 111 celebrations

The Diesel & Electric Preservation Group have announced:

We are pleased to announce that D7017 has been invited to attend the Great Western Railway Old Oak Common open day on Saturday 2 September 2017. This invitation has been accepted and the loco has been taken out of traffic to enable Graham Perry to undertake a repaint. She is due to haul the West Somerset Railway's Quantock Belle Dining Train on Sunday 20 August. The loco will then be moved by road to London by Allelys Heavy Haulage.

We understand both the DEPG and the West Somerset Railway will have trade stands at the event.

Find out more about the Old Oak Common Open Day

6 August 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent and Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

Two classic industrial 0-4-0ST locos working trains at the Steam Rally

Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219 and Pecket 0-4-0ST no 1788 Kilmersdon will be in operation at the Steam Rally this weekend - 5 and 6 August 2017 - offering the rare chance to ride behind these fantastic industrial locomotives.

It is planned to have Kilmersdon running on the Saturday and Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219 running on the Sunday.

Andrew Barclay Restoration and Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust look forward to a fantastic weekend.

2 August 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Two Southern Railway benches from Stogumber take a trip to the seaside

Stogumber's new Station Master, Bob Preston, reviewed the waiting room furniture and decided that two Southern Railway waiting room benches were surplus to requirements. These had come from the Ilfracombe line when it shut, via a long period in store at Barnstaple, seeing the light of day again in the early 1980s.

The benches were offered to the heritage railway community and were snapped up by the Swanage Railway Commercial Manager, Martin Trott, for a contribution to Stogumber Station funds.

The WSRA van was used on 31 July 2017 to take the benches down to Swanage.

It is thought that the benches may change colour fairly soon.

The much-travelled WSRA van has now clocked up two more iconic railway heritage destinations: Swanage and Corfe Castle.

The next part of the great WSR bench shuffle will be at Blue Anchor on Saturday 12 August 2017, when four more GWR benches will replace four SECR-pattern Southern Railway benches which are then heading off to Robertsbridge for the Kent and East Sussex Railway's extension. Some labour is required for the unloading and loading. Could you spare half an hour at Blue Anchor at 9am that morning? If so, please contact Robin White on

2 August 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

News from the Gala Planning Team

The West Somerset Railway's Gala Planning Team has recently been through some changes. The Team were formally known as SEPT (Special Events Planning Team) and have been organising the Railway's galas since the first Somerset & Dorset gala back in 1996. The Team has recently seen its Chairman of the past nine years, John Cronin, retire and the Team would like to thank John for his hard work and contribution over recent years. The now renamed Gala Planning Team will be taken forward by new Chairman Don Bishop. Don has been on the Team since the beginning except for a gap due to business commitments between 2008 and 2015. He is now joined by WSR Head of Operations Richard Jones who was also on the Team from the beginning.

The Team is pleased to announce the loco line up for the forthcoming Autumn Steam Gala between 5 and 8 October. The theme is 'Bath & Beyond' to reflect the available locomotives of both S&D and GW/BR(W) origins. Joining the home fleet of S&D 7Fs nos 53808 and 53809, 4F no 44422 and Hall no 6960 Raveningham Hall will be BR Standard 5 no 73082 Camelot, courtesy of its owning group and the Bluebell Railway, BR Black Manors nos 7820 Dinmore Manor (Dinmore Manor Fund) and 7822 Foxcote Manor (Llangollen Railway), and Bulleid West Country no 34046 Braunton (expected to run as no 34052 Lord Dowding) from the Locomotives Services Fleet based at Crewe. It is hoped to be able to recreate several classic S&D double headed combinations, which when paired with the WSR's recently formed red and cream set looks very authentic.

The Team has also put together a plan of events with themes for the WSR's 2018 gala programme.

  • Spring Gala - Great Western routes & branches - 22 to 25 March 2018 - Take a journey back to the days of the steam worked branch lines and routes of the GWR and BR Western Region, when the Minehead branch was one of many former GWR branch lines in the West Country. Visiting and home based locomotives.
  • Diesel Gala - Vintage Diesels to the Seaside - 8 to 10 June 2018 - A look back to the 1970s and 1980s when a variety of diesel locomotive types were employed to take holiday makers and day trippers to the seaside. Visiting and home based diesel locomotives.
  • Late Summer Weekend - West Country Railways Weekend - 1 and 2 September 2018 - A mix of steam and diesel traction with a more intensive timetable with locos selected from our home fleet with west country links from the past - pretty much any of them.
  • Autumn Gala - Cross Country Rail Routes - 27 to 30 September 2018 - A look back at the variety of steam locomotives and trains that ran along the cross country and secondary rail routes that crossed the country between the many towns and cities other than the capital.
  • Winter Gala - A branch line in winter - 29 and 30 December 2018 - Come along and experience the feel of steam in deep winter with traditional steam heating and perhaps a mince pie.

Following on from the September visit of no 60103 Flying Scotsman the WSR is in for a busy period with a good variety of motive power to enjoy.

1 August 2017
Details kindly provided by Gala Planning Team

Flying Scotsman Evening and Dining tickets now on sale

Flying Scotsman Dining Experience 9, 10 September 2017. Enjoy a four-course meal aboard the Quantock Belle on Saturday 9 September or Sunday 10 September leaving at 7pm.

Flying Scotsman Evening Fish and Chips 6, 9, 10, 11 September 2017. A round trip boarding either Coach A or B leaving Bishops Lydeard at 7pm, travelling to Blue Anchor and return.

Flying Scotsman Vintage Tea 6, 11 September 2017. Enjoy a Vintage Tea in true steam style! Board Coach H for return travel from Bishops Lydeard at 7pm.

More information, prices and booking details

1 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News about Flying Scotsman Evening and Dining tickets

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

Our Flying Scotsman Evening and Dining tickets will be on sale from Tuesday 1st August at 9am. We are offering four different experiences, the link to which can be found below.

You will have the option to purchase your tickets online, via the book now button which will go live at 9am on Tuesday 2nd September, or via our dedicated phone line 01643 700396 which will be active from 9am till 5pm on 1st and 2nd August.

More about the Flying Scotsman Evening and Dining tickets.

28 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The 2017 Steam Rally online ticket facility closes on 1 August

The Rally Team have announced:

Please note the 2017 Rally Online Ticket facility will close at 10am on Tuesday 1 August 2017.

So now is a very good time to get online for those "two days for the price of one" bargain tickets to the 2017 Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally.

28 July 2017
Details kindy provided by The Rally Team

News from the Board of the WSR Plc

The WSR Plc Board of Directors held a workshop on 20 July 2017 to review and discuss the strategic direction of the Company. The workshop was chaired by Alan Nicholson, who has been recently elected by the Directors as the new Chairman of the Board, and was held in a positive, productive and a relaxed atmosphere on board the Hawksworth Saloon. The Board agreed:

  • that the current key priority is progressing the final planning and essential work being carried out across the WSR family to ensure the Flying Scotsman visit in September is a success.
  • to co-opt Frank Courtney onto the Board to take on the role of business planning. Both Alan and Frank's appointments are to be formally ratified at the next Board meeting to be held on the 29th July 2017.
  • that a revised vision and mission was required for the Company.
  • that a new Business Development Plan for the next 5 years was needed in the near term to refocus and strengthen key strategic areas for the future development of the Company. These areas will include:
    • having a greater commercial focus on what our future business objectives and operations must be in a heritage environment to provide a product to meet the future market needs of our customers and enthusiasts,
    • to ensure we have the infrastructure, engineering and business operations required to provide that product,
    • to develop our partnerships within the WSR family and with external agencies to support that product,
    • to recognise the dedication of our staff and volunteers, essential to our business, through their involvement and through improved communications on how best we can deliver that product,
    • to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all.
  • to consult across the railway, and through the stakeholders meeting to be held in October to enable this new Business Development Plan to be agreed and for the annual Business plan to be agreed in time for the start of the 2018 Financial year.
The Board would like to thank everyone involved who facilitated this workshop and would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff and volunteers for all the support they give to the railway.

Alan Nicholson, Chairman Designate, WSR Plc

27 July 2017
Details kindy provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Shuttle train times for the 2017 Steam Rally

Here are the times of the free train that shuttles between Bishops Lydeard Station and the Rally at Norton Fitzwarren on 5 and 6 August 2017.

Departs Bishops Lydeard Station at 10.25am, 11am, 11.40am, 12.15pm, 1.55pm, 2.30pm, 3.05pm, 3.55pm

Departs Norton Fitzwarren at 11.15am, 11.55am, 1.25pm, 2.10pm, 2.45pm, 3.20pm, 4.10pm and 5.20pm

The journey takes just ten minutes.

Day tickets for the Rally purchased online are valid for both days - visit the Rally Ticket page to get your e-tickets for the Rally.

27 July 2017
Details kindly provided by the Rally Team

Upholstery work underway for GWR BCK no 6705

The first class compartment seatback and a selection of headrests and armrests from West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's GWR BCK no 6705 are being re-upholstered in Abingdon. The work will take several weeks to complete the task after which the items will be returned to Williton for fitting in the coach.

26 July 2017
Details kindly provided by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Two nearby events this weekend - get there by train

There are a couple of special events along the route of the WSR this coming weekend. Bishops Lydeard neighbours Quantock Brewery are holding their Summer Beer Festival between Friday 28 July and Sunday 30 July and holders of WSR travel tickets will be able to claim a free half-pint.

On Sunday 30 July it is the annual Watchet Carnival which features an aerobatic display, the Carnival Parade,and plenty of family enertainment. Proceedings get underway at 1.00pm. The town centre will be closed to traffic but Watchet Station is right in the heart of it so why not go by train? Train times for Sunday 30 July.

25 July 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

The Steam Rally - a wonderful way to spend a day

Enjoy a great day out for all the family at the Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally on 5-6 August 2017 at Norton Fitzwarren. Mighty steam engines; trusty tractors; vintage cars and motorbikes; military tanks and displays; shire horses, go-karts and miniature railway. Take a trip along the old Barnstaple branch line in a brake van hauled by a steam locomotive. Or try working a pump trolley along the rails. Lots of other railway exhibits to view. Enjoy arena parades, children's entertainment, market, food and craft stalls. There's a large refreshment tent selling real ales and ciders. Get there by train - free parking at Bishops Lydeard Station for the free shuttle train service between Bishops Lydeard and the Rally site. Also, an early train from Minehead (9.15am) calling at Blue Anchor, Watchet and Williton at discounted price of £25 per adult and £7.50 per child to include Rally entry (for this train and special offer, please book at or buy your tickets on the train). For full details of the Rally and to buy online Rally Day Tickets (both days for the price of one) please see

25 July 2017
Details kindly provided by the Rally Team

Hymek no D7017 has star role at Great Central's Diesel Gala

Class 35 'Hymek' no D7017 is to appear at the Great Central Railway's Diesel Gala in September. D7017 is owned by the Williton-based Diesel & Electric Preservation Group. The Great Central say:

Hymek for GCR September Diesel Gala! D7017 will be the star guest at our Diesel Gala on 9th & 10th September 2017. More details are being finalised for another exciting diesel event. For the latest news see

24 July 2017
Details gleaned from Facebook

WSR folks sponsor WSR volunteer - with one proviso

WSR volunteer Lynda Fleet took part in the Cancer Research 5K 'Muddy Race for Life' at Westpoint, Exeter on 22 July 2017. Lynda was sponsored by a number of WSR colleagues who made one proviso - a picture of Lynda at the event must appear on Other friends from outside of the Railway stipulated a 'Minnie Mouse' style costume. See the full picture of Lynda and her team. Well done, Lynda.

23 July 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

See how things have changed with Spy Viewer...

The amazing mapping folks at the National Library of Scotland have come up with yet another helpful online map viewer. Called Spy Viewer it provides an easy way to view old maps with new map imagery. Useful for many applications of course and especially for those interested in railway geography and history.

22 July 2017
Details provided by local correspondent

Ten years since the trial service between Bristol and West Somerset

Ten years ago on 20 July 2007 for the first time for over thirty years regular trains began to run on and off the Minehead Branch with the start of the Butlins Express service between Bristol Temple Meads and Minehead. Here is a news item from that time:

Visitors to Butlins Minehead, or anyone heading for Exmoor this summer, can climb aboard the new Butlins Express service from Bristol Temple Meads to Minehead, for a relaxing start to their summer holiday or a great day out every Friday, Saturday and Monday. The service, which resumed on 20 July after a 30 year break, runs until the end of August and has been made possible thanks to a partnership between ECT Mainline Rail, Butlins Minehead, West Somerset Railway and Victa West Link Rail. ECT Mainline Rail is providing the locomotives, rolling stock and maintenance services and underwriting the costs of providing the service. Butlins are supporting the service and promoting it to their guests as an ideal way to start their holiday. West Somerset Railway (WSR) is providing train stabling, use of the West Somerset line and stations and on train ticketing staff. Victa Westlink Rail is the train operating company (TOC) which operates the service over the WSR and Network Rail lines. Up till now Butlins guests and visitors to the area, wanting to use public transport had to rely on buses from Taunton. Now they will have an opportunity to travel through the beautiful Somerset countryside, on an air conditioned diesel hauled train service utilising topped and tailed Class 31 locomotives and Mk2 coaches stopping at stations beautifully restored by West Somerset Railway. 'We are delighted to be able to work with Victa West Link Rail, Butlins and West Somerset Railway to re-open this service as a gateway by rail to Exmoor. Not only will passengers be able to have a relaxing start to their holiday, but they will be able to do their bit for the environment, by letting the train take the strain.' says Martin Sargent ECT's Mainline Rail Director.

For a variety of reasons this particular service has not run since 2007.

20 July 2017
Details originally provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

BBC's John Craven visits the West Somerset Railway

John Craven of 'Newsround' and 'Countryfile' fame journeyed on the West Somerset Railway on 18 July 2017 in connection with a BBC West feature, to be screened in September, regarding the closure of the Minehead Branch by British Rail in January 1971 and plans to reopen the line to Taunton. John was welcomed to the Railway by the General Manager, Paul Conibeare, and later chatted to Driver John Gibbons on the footplate of GWR 4-6-0 no 6960 Raveningham Hall.

18 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News from the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have added two documents to their website. The first is a copy of the minutes of the most recent Trust Board meeting held on 13 July 2017. The second is a statement of the next steps in the 'Museum Making' project following useful feedback at a recent meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund's Development Officer, who encouraged the Trust to resubmit a revised bid. Read the documents in full at the Trust website

17 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The 2017 Minehead Toy and Train Sale

Now in its 35th year, the annual Toy & Train Sale at Minehead is still proving as popular as ever. The event moved to a new and excellent indoor venue at the Minehead Eye just a stone's throw from its previous home at the WSR's Minehead Station. Organizer Chris Dyer said:

The Minehead Eye is now established as our 'home' but we are still very near to the Railway Station and patrons who love to visit Minehead by train will still be able to do so and can easily make the two minute walk across the car park to the Minehead Eye.

The Minehead Toy and Train Sale is held on Sunday 30 July 2017 between 10.30am and 3pm at the Minehead Eye adjacent to Minehead Railway Station.

14 July 2017
Details kindly provided by Chris Dyer Fairs

The Watchet Afternoon Explorer

Here's an idea. The West Somerset Railway explain:

Visit the beautiful and historic harbour town of Watchet for a nice, gentle afternoon stroll for £9 (adult) return from Bishops Lydeard with our Watchet Afternoon Explorer!

The Watchet Afternoon Explorer offers passengers a chance to leave Bishops Lydeard by the 14.35 steam train, arriving at the old harbour town at 15.20.

The return is by the 17.03 steam train due back at Bishops Lydeard at 17.45 (or if preferred the 17.56 when the yellow timetable is in operation due back at 18.36).

More information.

14 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Chris Tucker

We were saddened to learn of the passing of long-serving volunteer Chris Tucker who died at home in Taunton on 3 July 2017. Chris was a WSR Fireman and latterly seemed always on hand at Minehead loco shed. A service will be held at Taunton Crematorium, Wellington New Road, Taunton TA1 5NE on Wednesday 19 July at 12.30pm. Family flowers only please, but donations if desired may be sent to Cancer Research UK c/o E White & Son, 138-139 East Reach, Taunton, Somerset TA1 3HN. Taunton Crematorium, Wellington New Road, Taunton TA1 5NE. Members of the Railway especially welcome - could those intending to attend please contact Robin White by email or phone 01984 656 423 or 07710 336 807.

12 July 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

On this day in 1856 it was agreed to build a Railway...

A meeting was held at the Egremont Hotel, Williton on Wednesday 9 July 1856 at '11 o'clock in the forenoon, for the purposes of promoting a Railway connecting Williton and the West Somerset Mineral District with the Bristol & Exeter Railway'

Local landowner Sir Peregrine Fuller Palmer Acland Bt.took the chair and outlined the purpose of the meeting was to consider the building of a 'Railway from the West Somerset iron-fields and coast, to the Bristol & Exeter Railway'. The great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was present and had much to say. He had already had a preliminary look at the area, and described the valley of 'a little brook called Donniford (sic) Brook' as being of prime importance to any route. Brunel considered two routes - to Taunton and to Bridgwater - and described the advantages and disadvantages of both. His conclusion and recommendation was for the route from Watchet to Taunton which, of course, was eventually built as the 'West Somerset Railway'.

Lots more about this meeting and its conclusions, and background information about Sir Peregrine can be found on our The first West Somerset Railway page.

9 July 2017
Details kindly provided by a number of local correspondents

Restoration of the Station Master's house at Stogumber

Readers may be interested in the private restoration, by its current owner, of the former Station Master's house at Stogumber, along with its garden. The house was authorised in July 1906 and built in 1907 to a standard GWR design and replaced the former dwelling purchased by the Bristol & Exeter railway in 1870 at which time, as described in Ian Coleby's excellent book The Minehead Branch 1848-1971, was a delapidated thatched cottage with the roof clearly in need of urgent attention. After the cottage had burnt down, the 1907 house was built for £346 by local builder Pollard.

9 July 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

Travel from Minehead to the Steam Rally in early August

The West Somerset Railway Association will be holding their annual Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally at Norton Fitzwarren on 5 and 6 August 2017. The West Somerset Railway will be running a dedicated service from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard in the morning, and will also provide shuttles between Bishops Lydeard and Norton Fitzwarren linking with the Rally. The Railway explain:

Along with normal services for this day, we will be providing a DMU service that will leave Minehead for Bishops Lydeard at 9.15am stopping at Blue Anchor, Watchet, Williton and Bishops Lydeard. The DMU will then provide FREE shuttles all day between Bishops Lydeard and Norton Fitzwarren. The last service out of Norton Fitzwarren will be 17.10 and will make up our last service of the day from Bishops Lydeard. Combined tickets for entry to the rally and your travel from Minehead can be purchased online in advance.

Colin Howard, Head of Commercial Services, adds:

The West Somerset Railway are pleased to run a service connecting with the Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally at Norton to enable easy travel to this fantastic annual event.

The Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally raises money for the West Somerset Railway Association and contributes to the funding that the railway receives throughout the year.

To book your combined rail/rally tickets and for further information please visit the official WSR website.

6 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Career opportunities with the Mechanical Engineering Department

There are exciting opportunities for suitably qualified and experienced people to join the growing, dynamic Mechanical Engineering team at the West Somerset Railway - one of the foremost tourist attractions in the South West and in the premier league of UK heritage railways.

The Railway is looking for a Lead Engineer (Locomotives), a Maintenance Team Leader and a Lead Engineer (DMU and Diesel Plant).

These are full-time permanent posts within the revised department organisation structure.

Click here for full details

5 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Resignation of Steve Williams as Director of WSR Plc

Ian Coleby, Acting Chairman of West Somerset Railway Plc, has announced:

It is with regret that the WSR Board has accepted the resignation of Steve Williams as a director due to an increase in his personal workload.

Steve's time on the board has been of great value to the company. He has introduced a robust planning process that is better than we have had in the past and given us a strategic outlook. He has spent many hours liaising with outside bodies such as the council which has paid dividends and overseen strategic projects such as Southern Gateway, Williton and Bishops Lydeard to Taunton link. These are pieces of work that few people ever see, yet consume a great deal of effort. Steve has been instrumental in introducing new commercial agreements with our support bodies which has replaced the time-expired arrangements that previously existed. And latterly, it was Steve who got the momentum behind the PDG and has turned that into an effective and respected body.

The board would like to thank Steve for his contribution and wishes him well in the future.

4 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Only five weeks until the 2017 Steam Fayre and Vintage Rally

A West Somerset Railway Association tweet reminds us that the 2017 Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally is just five weeks away.

Tickets for the 2017 event are now available to purchase online. As last year, these are 'print-your-own' tickets. After purchase, just print the tickets and bring the paper copy along to the Rally gate in the day. A quick scan of the paper copy and once validated, the Rally awaits you. And remember, tickets purchased online are valid for both days of the Rally weekend.

The Rally is held at the Association's Norton Triangle to the west of Norton Fitzwarren on the weekend of 5-6 August 2017 between 10am and 5pm. Lots of information at

1 July 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association