An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

New team for WSRTV

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association report:

Following a great response to our call out for volunteers a new WSR TV team has been formed. They are a group of people with great skills, experience and enthusiasm and of course a love of the railway.

The first video to be released is a short promotional for the Winterlights trains, which has been very well received already. This video has been made freely available to the WSR PLC to help them promote the experience to a wider public.

Over the next few months the team will be producing a range of videos, led by the editorial board and responding to the needs of the railway. These will range from educational video and informationals to short promos for the railway, like the one just released.

It's not too late to get involved, so if you'd like to know more about working with the WSR TV team please email the WSRA General Manager jacquie.green@wsra.org.uk

WSRTV's YouTube channel

28 November 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Dates for Gala events in 2022

WSR
© Alan Turner

The WSR's Gala Planning Team have announced the dates for three special events in 2022.

We are pleased to announce our Gala events program for 2022. As usual, further information will be announced closer to the events, we will have some surprises in store for you!

Spring Steam Gala - Celebrating the return of train services to Minehead with the first WSR Spring Gala since 2018. Thursday 5 May to Sunday 8 May 2022.

1960s Diesel Gala - Recreating the sights and sounds of the 1960s with vintage diesels powering through the Somerset countryside. Thursday 9 June to Saturday 11 June 2022

Autumn Steam Gala - Returning this event to the calendar for another year, with the theme to be announced closer to the time. Thursday 29 September to Sunday 2 October 2022

Please ensure you have these dates in your diaries.

Seb Welsh (Gala Planning Team Chairman)

26 November 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

No 5199 to work on the Minehead Branch throughout 2022

WSR

The hire of the 'Maid of All Work' Class 4 loco no 5199 from the 'The 5199 Project' owning group has been extended for WSR use.

The agreement will now see the locomotive on the WSR for the whole of the 2022 season until 31 December 2022 which has been agreed by 'The 5199 Project' Group Chairman Richard Pumphrey in conjunction with Richard Hiscox and the WSR plc. Richard adds:

No 5199 will operate on a minimum number of 50 steaming days in this period. It is an ideal engine for the WSR being capable of hauling most trains with ease, and many members of the class ran regularly on the steeply-graded branch hauling eight coach trains in GWR and British Railways days. The locomotive is currently undergoing a programme of mechanical winter maintenance at Minehead in readiness for the new WSR running season. Our thanks go to the 5199 project for supporting the West Somerset Railway.

Richard Hiscox, Minehead Locomotive Dept.

26 November 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

John Gibbins

WSR

Stuart Nelhams has some sad news for us:

Regular Steam Driver / Loco Dept volunteer John Gibbins sadly passed away earlier today after a period of ill health.

John has been a well known stalwart of the Dept for a great many years as well as having been involved at the Mid Hants Railway and Bullied Tangmere support crew.

John was popular and regular at MD Loco Dept and will be missed by his many friends who im sure will agree that many things wont be the same without him and ' curry nights ' will seem emptier without him bringing his own condiments along.

RIP John from all your railway family.

25 November 2021
Details kindly provided by Stuart Nelhams

The return of the Christmas Market to Minehead Station

WSR

The Friends of Minehead Station have reminded folks about the return of the Christmas Market to the platforms of Minehead Station.

Minehead Station Christmas Market is set to be held on 27 November 2021 from 10am to 4pm. Hosted by the Friends of Minehead Station, this annual event is back after being absent due to covid last year. Watchet Town Band will be providing live music and Santa will be on hand from around midday. We have a variety of stallholders selling locally made produce. The Turntable Cafe, Readers Halt second hand bookstall, and the Station Gift Shop will be open. Free admission.

Friends of Minehead Station

18 November 2021
Details kindly provided by Friends of Minehead Station

A Collections Care and Housekeeping Team

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust are creating a Collection Care and Housekeeping Team. The Trust say:

The WSRHT has started to consider the duty role and makeup of various teams and identifying the individuals that will be required to move forward with collections care and housekeeping. The Trust will be convening a meeting shortly to discuss the various options it has and to set plans to start developing an action plan and to look to assigning roles. Would you like to be part of a Collections Care and Housekeeping Team? If you would please contact us info@wsrht.co.uk

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

Mike Hodge

WSR

Sad news of the passing of Mike Hodge, former joint Station Master at Crowcombe Heathfield. One of the very nicest people anyone could hope to meet.

Today I have received the sad news of the passing of Michael Hodge, a long-time supporter of the Railway, who passed away peacefully on Saturday 13th November at the age of 90. Michael was joint Station Master at Crowcombe Heathfield for 35 years before retiring in January 2010 and regularly visited the railway since.

Lee Robbins, WSR volunteer and friend of Mike.

All of Mike's friends on the Railway (and there will be a huge number) will, we are sure, offer sympathies and best wishes to Mike's family.

15 November 2021
Details kindly provided by Lee Robbins

Synopsis of recent Association Trustee Board Meeting

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association have published a useful synopsis of the main discussion points and decisions at the charity's recent Trustee Board meeting held on 9 November 2021. Please click or tap the button below for more.

Synopsis

15 November 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

WSR Association extends free volunteer membership

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association are extending its free membership offer to working WSR volunteers. They say:

The year 2021 marks 50 years of the WSRA supporting the railway and we think that’s worth celebrating.

The Trustees have agreed to extend the free membership offer for working volunteers right up until the end of 2021. The offer is for a one year complementary membership for any working volunteer on the Railway who are not yet WSRA members. Simply submit a photograph of yourself volunteering on the railway during 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.

Membership page Full story

15 November 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Don retires as Chair of Gala Planning Team, Seb steps up

WSR

Don Bishop has now retired from his role as Gala Planning Team Chair. Don stood down at the Team meeting on Thursday 4 November 2021.

Seb Welsh, a well known volunteer on the Railway and already a member of the Team, has stepped up to take on the role. Seb comments:

Don has been involved with Gala planning since 1995 and the rest of the team and the Railway as a whole wish to express our thanks for his huge efforts. I have big shoes to fill!

Looking ahead, Seb adds that Gala dates for 2022 are currently being discussed and will be announced before Christmas.

5 November 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Good response following open day for prospective volunteers

WSR

An encouraging result following the open day for prospective volunteers as organiser and WSR volunteer Andy Mayson reports:

The West Somerset Railway was delighted with the response to their volunteer open day last Saturday. We had 24 people who filled in the 'expression of interest' form and we are working through those people now to put them in touch with the relevant departments. We still need many more volunteers so it you are interested please contact us on 01823 433856 or email volunteers@wsrail.net

Volunteer page

3 November 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The Steam and Vintage Rally will be back in 2022

WSR

The Steam & Vintage Rally have news about the 2022 event.

After two years break because of the restrictions and uncertainties caused by the Covid pandemic, we are delighted to confirm that the 2022 Rally will take place on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th August 2022, on the rally fields at Norton Fitzwarren.

Our organising team have started planning for the event. Early in the New Year, we will be sending out invitations to our exhibitors and traders, with all the details they need. If you would like to express an interest in exhibiting your vintage vehicle, or bringing your trade stall, please do get in touch by ringing 01823 433856 or email us on info@steamrally.org.uk or get in contact over Facebook.

This is also the way to get in touch if you would like to volunteer to be part of the team which sets up, runs and packs away the Rally. If you can spare up a day or two in early August, we would be delighted to hear from you.

This web page will be updated with more details as the plans are developed. In the meantime, why not put the Rally dates in your diary

The Rally Team

30 October 2021
Details kindly provided by Steam & Vintage Rally

Additional trains for the 2021 Christmas services

WSR

Due to popular demand, the West Somerset Railway (WSR) has announced additional dates for its new Winterlights service.

In addition to the WSR's traditional 'Santa Express' daytime services from Bishops Lydeard to Williton, which are now fully sold out, having sold 3800 tickets with a revenue of £77,000, a new series of 'Winterlights' evening trains will be running too with the steam loco and carriages lit up, plus there will be some festive visual displays along the line to see during the journey from Bishops Lydeard to Crowcombe. Demand for 'Winterlights' tickets has been high with over 5000 tickets sold to date, with an additional 4000 tickets now been released which include additional dates between Christmas and New Year.

'Winterlights' services will run from mid-November, tickets are on sale now at £20.00 a head with full details of on the WSR website (see button below).

The 'Winterlights' programme starts on Friday 19 November and Saturday 20 November, and next on 26 & 27 November, then Friday 3 and Saturday 4 December, and weekends on 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, plus 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 December. Commenting on the WSR's 2021 Christmas trains programme, WSR Assistant General Manager Kerry Noble said:

Sales for our Christmas services have proven extremely popular with full preparations for both events now underway, so we are very pleased to be able to offer the additional 'Winterlight' services to satisfy demand. Our Christmas trains are vital to us because they provide a good income boost which assists us greatly in getting through the normally fallow winter period.

Full details of the 'Winterlight' trains

29 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The 4561 Blog has been updated recently

WSR

Work continues at the Swindon Shed, Williton, on the rebuilding of the West Somerset Railway Association's GWR 'Small Prairie' 2-6-2T no 4561 as featured in a recent update to the 4561 Blog. Click the button below to load the Blog.

Load the 4561 Blog

28 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

A final journey for a good friend of the Railway

WSR

Alan Clifford, a close friend of the late Dr David Randles, who will many will fondly remember as a long serving, generous and friendly WSR signalman, writes:

David's family have been granted permission by the West Somerset Railway (WSR) for him to make his last journey on the railway by use of the 14.45 service train from Bishops Lydeard on 30 October 2021. A small group of invited guests will accompany the family on the train to Blue Anchor station where a small ceremony is due to take place prior to 'David' making his final journey! On leaving Blue Anchor station as the train steams along the track at Ker Moor, a favourite place, all guests will 'say goodbye' sending 'David' on his last journey in the customary railway way. The train can be followed via the webcam feeds on the unofficial WSR website www.wsr.org.uk [look under 'Pictures' on the top menu bar] if you wish to feel part of the journey and follow the activities at Blue Anchor station while also being able see the train going down the track towards Dunster.

27 October 2021
Details kindly provided by Alan Clifford

Minehead Signal Box and Seaward Way Crossing handback

WSR

The Minehead Signal Box control area and Seaward Way Crossing has been handed back to WSR Operations by the WSR S&T Department.

Pictured on 26 October 2021 in front of the crossing control console and CCTV monitor in the Signal Box are (left to right) John Jenkins, Signal Engineer; Peter Smith, Signalling Inspector and Steve Martin, Operations Officer. This marks the formal 'signing into use' of the whole scheme involving complete renewal and reconfiguration of the Electrical Signalling Control Systems, Level Crossing and two new semaphore signals.

The work has taken many years to come to fruition and all development, design and much of the installation work has been undertaken by qualified WSR volunteer staff, together with partners Amey for the exacting barrier and road light installation and testing, RS&P for the fully equipped Relay Room, local firm Lynch for most of the associated civils works, and Arentis for the CCTV system. Teamwork at its best! Now staff training can commence...

27 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Parcels van no 1464 jumps the wagon restoration queue

WSR

The WSR Wagons team have moved onto a new vehicle as they explain below.

Southern Railway designed Parcels and Miscellaneous Van (PMV) no 1464. Our latest project, which is skipping the queue, is needed to act as a generator vehicle for the WSR's 'Winterlights' trains in November and December. Most of the difficult work has fortunately been done for us by the vehicle's owner, leaving cosmetic attention to our small group.

The vehicle was built in 1951 at BR's Wolverton Works to diagram 3103. These wagons were commonly seen in parcels trains carrying goods such as baggage and newpapers. It was preserved in 1985 at the WSR initially as a store at Minehead before moving away to the Honeybourne industrial site in 2011. The owner worked on some restoration there before the vehicle moved back to the WSR in 2014.

When the cosmetic work is complete it will enter revenue earning service for the first time in preservation. As the vehicle is through piped for steam heat, we hope it will be used on passenger trains during future Galas. It will be outshopped in BR Crimson livery if all goes to plan.

26 October 2021
Details kindly provided by WSR Wagons

Exmoor Coast Railway Modellers holding mini-exhibition

WSR

A reminder that the Exmoor Coast Railway Modellers are holding a mini-exhibition/open day on Saturday 30 October at their Minehead club room from 10.30am to 3.00pm. There will be around seven layouts, plus sales stands, demonstrations and displays. Light refreshments will be available and free parking is available right outside the door. Admission is just £1 per adult, and a child under 16 is free. The venue is The Sainsbury Community Hall, Sainsbury Road, Minehead TA24 8JZ

25 October 2021
Details kindly provided by Exmoor Coast Railway Modellers

An update on the Seaward Way Level Crossing rebuild

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Plc have issued an update on the Seaward Way Level Crossing rebuilding.

As previously announced, the main contractors Amey handed back the crossing to the West Somerset Railway on Monday 18 October 2021. As is normal with a project of this size, there are some minor 'snagging' issues to complete (these are mainly to do with some fencing adjustments, and adjustments to notices).

Amey, and the Amey workforce are to be congratulated on completing a very professional job on time, mainly working nights so as to avoid significant road traffic disruption. The picture shows the crossing test operating at the end of the penultimate night of Amey work in the small hours of Sunday 17 October 2021.

Some final adjustments are necessary to the CCTV system and some further testing of the signalling system before the Level Crossing Order comes into force on 26 October 2021, after which the crossing is fully authorised by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for use.

Training of staff in the use of the new crossing will then commence and various service trains will be able to use the crossing. Full operating documentation has already been prepared by the WSR Operations Department.

Full public use of the railway over the crossing will not recommence until the start of the public passenger service next Spring, at which time the railway will celebrate the full reopening of Minehead Station.

25 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

An 'Open Morning' for prospective volunteers

WSR

The West Somerset Railway is holding an open day for prospective volunteers on 30 October 2021 at Bishops Lydeard Station.

Anyone who has ever considered becoming a volunteer heritage railway worker or maybe fulfilling childhood ambitions of getting actively involved in the romantic world of running steam trains will find a warm welcome awaits on the West Somerset Railway (WSR) at the end of this month when the 20-mile line holds an 'Open Morning' for prospective new workers.

As the WSR nears the end of what has been a very busy summer holiday period, and one in which volunteers have played a crucial role in the railway's slow recovery from Covid 19, the WSR is now seeking new people who might be interested in volunteering on the line to come along to the 'Open Morning' at Bishops Lydeard station, near Taunton, between 10am and 2pm on Saturday 30 October 2021.

The 'Open Morning' presents a great opportunity to find out about volunteering on the WSR in general and to speak to some existing railway volunteers in different departments and organisations about their many different roles along the line. Volunteers have kept the WSR going for the last 45 years since the line re-opened as a heritage railway in 1976, and there are almost 1,000 regular workers today but more are always needed.

More information and contact details

18 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The return of the Christmas Market to Minehead Station

WSR

The Friends of Minehead Station announce the return of the Christmas Market to the platforms of Minehead Station.

Minehead Station Christmas Market is set to be held on 27 November 2021. Hosted by the Friends of Minehead Station, this annual event is back after being absent due to covid last year. Watchet Town Band will be providing live music and Santa will be on hand from around midday. We have a variety of stallholders selling locally made produce. The Turntable Cafe, Readers Halt second hand bookstall, and the Station Gift Shop will be open.

Friends of Minehead Station

17 October 2021
Details kindly provided by Friends of Minehead Station

Summary of latest WSRA Trustee Meeting published

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association have published a summary of the Trustee Board's recent meeting held on 12 October 2021.

Items discussed include 4561; Quantock Belle; Covered accommodation; Rolling stock agreements; WSR Plc AGM; Trustee resignation; and PDG.

Please click the button below to read the summary on the Association website.

Summary

15 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

WSRA announce resignation of a Trustee

WSR

An announcement by West Somerset Railway Association:

The WSRA Trustees have, with regret, accepted the resignation of Robin White as Trustee with immediate effect. Robin has been volunteering on the West Somerset Railway for over 40 years. Her contributions are many and varied and include operational duties such as guarding, signalling and acting as RO as well as serving on the WSRA board. Robin's knowledge and skills will be very much missed and the Trustees wish her well with her commitments elsewhere.

13 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Don't miss the last WSR 'Hymek' hauled train of 2021

WSR

The magnificent Class 35 'Hymek' no D7018 will head its last 'excursion' train of 2021 on this coming Saturday, 16 October. For this run, the Hymek will be hauling five coaches instead of the three of its previous excursions and will include an extended run to Norton Fitzwarren. Tickets are available via the link below, on the day from the booking office at Bishops Lydeard Station, or from the Travelling Ticket Inspector aboard the train. The diesel-hauled trains run in collaboration with the Williton-based Diesel & Electric Preservation Group.

Full details and booking Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

13 October 2021
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

News of a Photo Walk and Train Adventure

WSR

The Quantock Landscape Partnership Scheme have arranged a Photo Walk and Train Adventure for 19 October 2021. Here's what they say:

We will head off on the heritage railway from Bishops Lydeard Station (nr Taunton) and cross the countryside by train to Stogumber, taking in the extraordinary views at the foothills of the Quantock Hills AONB. After a quick tour of the station from WSR staff, we will head off on a Photo Walk across countryside footpaths to Crowcombe Heathfield Station, where we have another tour and return train journey arranged to Bishops Lydeard.

Full details and booking

10 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

WSR Plc AGM Questions & Answers

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Plc fielded a number of questions at their recent Annual General Meeting and have made available the answers in the form of a Questions and Answers document.

Please note the original Plc spreadsheet has been converted to a word document using copy/paste, with a new layout, then checked, and finally saved as a PDF document for download here.

Download the Q&A PDF

8 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Seaward Way Level Crossing

WSR

The article in the WSR's latest 'The Platform' newsletter mentions the date of 21 October being the target for the handover of the all-new Seaward Way Level Crossing by contractors to the Railway, but this does not mean that the WSR is able to run passenger trains from this date. Final clearances have to be undertaken with both Somerset County Council and the Office of Rail & Road (ORR) along with completing the all-important staff training and competency testing for those railway staff using the new crossing, which is totally different to the one it replaced, plus completion of the nearby track relay works too.

The WSR is coming to the end of the current operating season and then will focus on getting everything ready for the 'Santa Express' and 'Winterlights' festive trains. As a result, Seaward Way Level Crossing will not see passenger trains running from Minehead this year other than occasional stock moves, testing and training. Regular normal operations should start early in Spring 2022. The Railway is looking towards restoring its usual services from Minehead for 2022 and understands and apologises for any disappointment some local people will feel about this, but the Railway has had no choice in following this approach.

7 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Tickets selling fast for 'Winterlights' and 'Santa Express'

WSR

Just over a month after launching the WSR's Christmas programme with the traditional 'Santa Express' from Bishops Lydeard to Williton trains and new 'Winterlights' services between Bishops Lydeard and Crowcombe, both seasonal products have been eagerly snapped up by people keen to travel this festive season with 5,734 tickets having been sold and bringing in over £114,312 in much needed income and well ahead of expectations.

The 'Santa Express' bookings so far are encouraging with 1,979 tickets sold with a value of £39,710, and 'Winterlights' has done spectacularly well with 3,755 tickets sold with a value of £74,682.

'Winterlights' - full details and booking 'Santa Express' - full details and booking

7 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The 2021 Autumn Steam Gala

WSR

Last weekend's Autumn Steam Gala from 2-4 October 2021 - the first such event in two years - featuring all four home-based WSR steam engines was popular despite the weather with 1,071 passengers travelling and revenue of over £20,000 too. Whilst numbers were down on previous events, the Gala was a big morale booster for WSR staff and a PR success in proving the WSR is alive and well, and going in the right direction again.

The locos used were WSR mogul no 9351, Large Prairie no 5199, Manors nos 7822 Foxcote Manor and 7828 Odney Manor plus some of the mainline diesels providing top and tail support for those trains serving Dunster.

Given the much reduced 'cast' with no visiting locos, the Railway admit the passenger figures were not expected to be huge, however, the event washed its face for sure and it was good to see so many trains running again along the line and people enjoying the show.

6 October 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Carhampton road works may affect WSR staff and visitors

WSR

WSR staff and visitors need to be aware of major road works on the A39 which might affect access between Minehead and Blue Anchor Stations. For three weeks from 11 October 2021, the road will be closed at Carhampton Cross. This is the busy junction with the B3191 Blue Anchor road which will may also be closed at this point during the works. Closure times vary as works progress. A very lengthy official diversion via the Brendon Hills and Dunster is in place. Folks are strongly advised to read the West Somerset Free Press article for the closure details. Trains are not affected.

The Free Press article

2 October 2021
Details kindly provided via local correspondents

WSR Heritage Trust appoint new Museums Curator

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust has announced that Ian Camp has been appointed as Museums Curator for both the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard and the Blue Anchor Museum. The Trust continue...

Ian has a strong background in Sales and Marketing and has already spent many days as a volunteer overseer and guide at the Gauge Museum in recent months. We are delighted that Ian has agreed to take on this role and wish him well as we look to extend the Gauge Museum and expand our museum collections even further in future. For any enquiries, Ian can be reached via the WSRHT's contact email address info@wsrht.co.uk

We would also like to express grateful thanks to Geoff Evens for his previous tenure as Gauge Museum curator which has seen many excellent new innovative features added to the museum, and to thank Alan Smithers for providing recent support and curatorship for the Blue Anchor Museum.

1 October 2021
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

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