Latest news

Online WSRA membership sign-up and renewals now available

The West Somerset Railway Association have announced:

Online membership renewals are now available via our website. Not a member? No problem, you can join up here too!

23 September 2017
Details gleaned from the facebook page of the West Somerset Railway Association

Antiques Roadshow at Minehead Station to be broadcast on 1 October

On one of the wettest days in Roadshow history, over 2,000 visitors queued to see Fiona Bruce and the experts sheltering under the canopy at Minehead Station, which is run by West Somerset Railway. Objects brought to camera include a bracelet made from jewels once owned by the last of the Romanovs, the Russian royal family, photographs from the day The Beatles came to film 'A Hard Day's Night' and a bronze by sculptor Rodin...

This episode of 'Antiques Roadshow' will be shown on BBC One at 8pm on 1 October 2017.

22 September 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Goods trains during the Autumn Steam Gala

Goods trains during the 2017 Autumn Steam Gala will run at these times on each of the four days:

  • Thursday 5 October
    • 9.00am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
    • 11.37am from Minehead to Blue Anchor
    • 12.05pm from Blue Anchor to Minehead
    • 1.47pm from Minehead to Blue Anchor
    • 2.15pm from Blue Anchor to Minehead
    • 5.20pm from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard
  • Friday 6 October
    • 8.25am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
    • 11.37am from Minehead to Blue Anchor
    • 12.05pm from Blue Anchor to Minehead
    • 1.47pm from Minehead to Blue Anchor
    • 2.15pm from Blue Anchor to Minehead
    • 5.20pm from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard
  • Saturday 7 October
    • 8.30am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead
    • 7.20pm from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard
  • Sunday 8 October
    • 9.25am from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead

Please note these trains do not carry passengers.

22 September 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Hornby Flying Scotsman model available from the Buffer Stop Shop

Now available from the Buffer Stop Shop in Minehead - Hornby BR Class A3 4-6-2 no 60103 Flying Scotsman in Brunswick Green livery with TTS Sound £220. Limited stock available.

22 September 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

A brief update from the 6695 Loco Group

Nigel Clark of the 6695 Loco Group writes:

We are currently in discussion with several boiler contractors with a view to making a decision and getting work underway on that soon. Our sales and information stand will be on Minehead Station for the Saturday and Sunday of the Autumn Steam Gala; please come along and say hello to Gary and John.

21 September 2017
Details kindly provided by 6695 Loco Group

Saturday departures reflect Western Region from 1950s, 1960s, 1970s

It seems like an all 'Great Western Day' on the West Somerset Railway on Saturday 23 September 2017. From the WSR's current steam fleet, nos 6960 Raveningham Hall, 7820 Dinmore Manor and 7822 Foxcote Manor will be in action. The Diesel & Electric Preservation Group's mighty diesel-hydraulic no D1010 Western Campaigner will operating on the 'Maybach Memories' services. And if that were not enough, an incoming charter travelling from Oxford to Minehead in the form of a High Speed Train courtesy of current train operators, GWR. Come and witness and travel behind a fine range of working Great Western designs, with the first three departures from Bishops Lydeard headed by appropriate and representative motive power from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

21 September 2017
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Plc

The Great West Somerset Railway Bench Reshuffle continues

The creation of new platform benches and the refurbishment of old benches continues apace on the West Somerset Railway with the project enhancing the heritage look to the stations at the same time as providing quality welcome resting places for visitors. On 19 September 2017, three recently completed 10ft benches, each with three GWR 'shirt button' supports, were moved to the stations at Minehead and to Williton. Redundant non-GWR benches were collected along with some GWR 'scroll' types which will be refurbished by the Railway's RAMS team at Bishops Lydeard.The day also saw the WSRA's van deliver a non-railway bench to a private purchaser in Llangennech in South Wales. Well done to Robin White and all the volunteers involved in this project.

20 September 2017
Details gleaned from report by a local correspondent

Loco sheds will be open during the weekend of Autumn Steam Gala

On the Saturday and Sunday (7, 8 October) of the 2017 Autumn Steam Gala, the workshops at Minehead will be partially open to visitors for a look behind the scenes. The diesel shed at Williton will be open on all four days but unfortunately the Swindon shed at Williton will not be open to the public. Taunton Model Railway Group will offer a last chance to see their award winning 'Tamerig Central' layout at Bishops Lydeard Station between the Friday and Sunday and there will be a model railway sale at Watchet station in the morning of Saturday 7 October. Details of other things to see and do and where to eat and drink can be found in the souvenir programme which can be ordered in advance from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk. Discounted Rover tickets, allowing passengers to travel as they wish, can be purchased via 01643 704996 or www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk Rovers, single and return tickets can also be purchased on the day of travel at station booking offices. On Sunday 8 October (only), young persons aged 5 to 17 can travel for a flat fare of £2 if accompanied by an adult or senior citizen.

18 September 2017
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Plc

A few more days to enjoy the sight and sound of Maybach Memories

With the main WSR season entering its last few weeks there are three more 'Maybach Memories' days to go. To mark 40 years since the end of the mainline careers of the Western Region's diesel hydraulic locomotives D1010 Western Campaigner is due to work this weekend - 23 and 24 September 2017 - and Hymek no D7017 (back from Old Oak Common Open Day and the Great Central Railway Diesel Gala) on Saturday 30 September. The first 'Maybach Memories' departure from Bishops Lydeard is at 11.05am (Saturday) or 11.50am (Sunday) and the trains will do two round trips over the line. Discounted day rover tickets can be purchased in advance from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk

18 September 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Trustee Bill Knell has resigned from the Association Board

The West Somerset Railway Association's Board is sorry to announce that Bill Knell has had to resign for personal reasons.

A reminder that the Association's Annual General Meeting is just two weeks away. It will be held at 2pm on Saturday 30 September 2017 at the Village Hall, Bishops Lydeard. Members who are unable to attend are encouraged to return completed proxy forms as soon as possible.

16 September 2017
Details gleaned from website of the West Somerset Railway Assocation

BR Standard Class 4MT Braveheart hired for Autumn Steam Gala

Dave Horton, Head of Mechanical Engineering reports on a successful conclusion to the search for a replacement Autumn Steam Gala guest locomotive followng the cancelled visit of the expected BR Class 5 Camelot:

Care of our friends at the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway who have very kindly come to our aid at the 11th hour - BR Standard Class 4MT no 75014 Braveheart. We think this is a rather good substitute for the Standard 5!

15 September 2017
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Plc

GWR Pannier Tank no 7714 secured for Autumn Steam Gala

Dave Horton, Head of Mechanical Engineering reports:

Unfortunately neither of the guest locos booked for the Autumn Steam Gala can now make it. BR Class 5 no 73082 Camelot cancelled due to paperwork issues and SR West Country no 34046 Braunton cancelled due to ongoing repairs. But instead the Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) Plc and SVR Pannier Tank Fund have very kindly agreed to lend us freshly-overhauled GWR 0-6-0PT no 7714. Now just to find one more loco...

13 September 2017
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Plc

Minehead Station welcomes Peppa Pig on 16 September

After Flying Scotsman makes its last runs over the WSR on 12 September there will be a short gap until the Railway welcomes another famous visitor. (Normal train services will operate in-between). Peppa Pig will be making her annual appearance at Minehead station on Saturday 16 September. As well as Peppa appearing at intervals throughout the day there will be a children's entertainer on the platform, free face painting, free crafts and free vintage bus trips around the town. If the weather is kind a bouncy castle should also feature. Train times from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead will leave at 10.20am, 11.05am, 11.50am and 12.40pm. Fuller information can be seen at www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk

12 September 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

No WSR Autumn Steam Gala for BR Class 5 no 73082 Camelot

We understand BR Standard Class 5 4-6-0 no 73082 Camelot will not attend the WSR's Autumn Steam Gala as expected. The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society say on their Facebook page:

The Society have regrettably had to postpone the proposed visit of 73082 Camelot to the West Somerset Railway in October. The visit has been deferred because we were not able to complete the arrangements in good time prior to the departure of the locomotive at the beginning of next month. It is hoped that this visit can be rearranged for a suitable date in 2018.

11 September 2017
Details gleaned from the Facebook page of the 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society

Souvenir booklet to mark the visit of Flying Scotsman now on sale

The WSR's souvenir booklet to mark the visit of Flying Scotsman is on sale price £4 from Minehead Station Shop (shop@wsrail.net or 01643 700387). It has 22 pages in full colour with a history of the famous locomotive, information about the Railway and the loco fleet including those included in the WSRA Locomotive Fund Appeal and plenty of photographs.

8 September 2017
Details kindly provided by a local correspondent

Cream Teas and Postcards at the WSR's Stogumber Station

New at Stogumber Station - each group ordering one of Station's famous cream teas now get a free postcard to send. The Station menu includes bacon baps (during galas and special events); soup; pasties; cream teas; toasted teacakes with butter and jam; a selection of cakes, biscuits, chocolates and sweets; coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juices, water, canned drinks. The Station Tea Garden can also be used as a venue for celebrations and gatherings - contact the team for details.

6 September 2017
Details kindly provided by a local correspondent

High Speed Train from the Cotswolds to Minehead on 23 September

The Cotswold Line Promotion Group is organising a special excursion train with Great Western Railway. On Saturday 23 September 2017, the High Speed Train will start at Oxford and travel via the Cotswold Line to Worcester Shrub Hill before reversing to travel via Bristol, Taunton, Bishops Lydeard, Crowcombe, Williton, Watchet, Blue Anchor and Dunster en route to Minehead. The train can be boarded at all stations between Oxford and Worcester Shrub Hill.

6 September 2017
Details kindly provided via West Somerset Railway Plc

The next Annual General Meeting of the WSR Association

The Trustees of the West Somerset Railway Association have invited members to the 22nd Annual General Meeting to be held in the Village Hall, Bishops Lydeard, TA4 3LH on Saturday 30 September 2017 at 2pm. Of particular interest is a Special Resolution seeking to replace the existing Articles of Association (the proposed new Articles are available for download from the WSRA website).

4 September 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Newly upholstered seating for Steam Trust's BCK no 6705

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have taken delivery of newly upholstered seats for BCK no 6705 - blue for the first class seats and red for the third class ones.

The remaining seats have now been sent away to be covered.

4 September 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The Steam Trust's Flying Scotsman display in the Gauge Museum

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust have put together a special display in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard on Flying Scotsman - both the locomotive and the train. The display will be there until the end of September. The museum and model railway will be open every day that Flying Scotsman is running (5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 September 2017).

4 September 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Flying Scotsman: where to park and watch the specials

The West Somerset Railway offer this good advice to those who wish to go out and watch the specials on 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 September 2017. The Railway say:

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 Minehead Station and Bishops Lydeard Station will be limited to train ticket holders only, whilst 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.

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

3 September 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

A limited edition special ale called 'The Flying Hopsman'

We understand the locally-based Quantock Brewery in partnership with the West Somerset Railway Plc have produced a special edition ale to celebrate the visit of Flying Scotsman in early September. Called the 'Flying Hopsman', the limited edition ale will be available from 5 September 2017 at the brewery's shop near Bishops Lydeard Station. It will also be sold on the Quantock Belle dining trains due to be hauled by Flying Scotsman.

3 September 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

WSR continues the fine tradition of the railway poster

The West Somerset Railway's Acting Head of Commercial Services, Sam White, has commissioned a new poster for the Railway.

The finished product clearly has all the hallmarks of a long tradition of railway posters having excellent artistic quality.

2 September 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

A synopsis of the latest meeting of the WSR Association Trustees

The West Somerset Railway Association have published a synopsis of the latest Trustee Board meeting on 30 August 2017. Topics covered include the Taunton Model Engineering Club, the Journal, the Steam Rally, and the future of West Somerset Restoration.

1 September 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

The WSR's 2017 'Late Summer Weekend' event is almost here

This weekend sees the Late Summer Weekend event on the West Somerset Railway with its mix of steam and diesel hauled trains along the Minehead Branch. On each day, up to five steam locomotives - nos 6960, 7820, 7822, 44422 and 53808 - will be in service whilst the demonstration goods train will be hauled by Class 33 no D6575. Class 47 no D1661 North Star will head passenger trains on Saturday 2 September, whilst Class 52 no D1010 Western Campaigner will work the Sunday diesel diagram. The Railway's Diesel Multiple Unit will also run between Minehead and Watchet on both days. A busy timetable for Saturday and Sunday - lots of trains to enjoy and normal fares and concessions apply.

1 September 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Flying Scotsman has arrived and already attracting crowds

Many people waited on bridges and platforms to see the arrival of Flying Scotsman during its trip from Didcot to the West Somerset Railway on 30 August 2017. Arrival at Bishops Lydeard was on time at around 1.25pm. The loco then retired to the shed. However later in the afternoon, the iconic engine reappeared and make ready to undertake a gauging run to Minehead and back, much to the surprise of many. Word quickly spread and so each station saw a rapid gathering of onlookers and photographers keen to get their first sighting of Flying Scotsman on the Minehead Branch. A number of pictures have already appeared on this website and there are more to be added.

31 August 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Teamwork leads to rapid repair of damaged point rodding

The volunteer Signal & Telegraph team were on site at 9am at Blue Anchor Station on the 2017 August Bank Holiday Monday to identify the rodding damaged during a road traffic accident on the level crossing the previous day. The gate opening mechanism on the Down side, Taunton side, gate was damaged. Eventually, when things were tidied up, it seemed that the only lasting damage was to the rodding that controls both the locking and the rotation of the gates, such that this gate had to be moved by hand.

The team very quickly had the walkway boards up and identified the snapped rod. A welder was not available at Minehead. Enquiries to West Somerset Restoration at Williton found that the Pope brothers were quite prepared to do the job and by noon, the repaired rod was back at Blue Anchor and fitted back in place. On testing, it was found to work perfectly.

The S&T team wish to express their grateful thanks to Ryan and Liam Pope for their expertise.

28 August 2017
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

SR 4-6-2 no 34046 Braunton not available for the Flying Scotsman visit

The West Somerset Railway Plc have advised the following:

Southern Railway 'West Country' light pacific 4-6-2 no 34046 Braunton is now not available for the Flying Scotsman visit in a few days time.

It was planned for Braunton to join other named engines - GWR Hall Class locomotive 6960 Raveningham Hall, and Manor Class locomotives 7820 Dinmore Manor and 7822 Foxcote Manor -one of which will provide the supporting role to the main attraction, Flying Scotsman.

28 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Flying Scotsman on the Minehead Branch - an update

There are just a couple of weeks before the iconic Flying Scotsman locomotive will be running on the West Somerset Railway. Here is an update:

From 5 to 12 September inclusive (except 8 September) Flying Scotsman will be running non-stop up and down the line from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead twice a day, with a full load of pre-booked passengers. There will also be evening runs from Bishops Lydeard to Blue Anchor on the 6, 9, 10 and 11 September.

Another express non-stop train will be running up and down the line and passengers from Flying Scotsman will swop over at Minehead on each trip. This other train will hauled by one of a pool of named locomotives. These include the West Country class locomotive Braunton which was partially restored at Williton, so is not a complete stranger to the railway, but this year she is running under the number and name of a scrapped sister locomotive 34052 Lord Dowding. The locomotive was renamed to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 1940. (The late Lord Dowding is today generally given the credit for Britain's victory in the Battle of Britain.)

Other locomotives in the pool of named engines will include GWR Hall Class locomotive 6960 Raveningham Hall, and Manor Class locomotives 7820 Dinmore Manor and 7822 Foxcote Manor.

During this period the West Somerset Railway will also be offering a full service of stopping trains. Tickets to travel on these trains can be purchased on board the trains from the travelling ticket inspectors. Platform tickets will be available for all stations except Minehead or Bishops Lydeard for viewing passing trains. Because of the large numbers booked to travel, Minehead and Bishops Lydeard will be closed to all except travelling passengers.

21 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

'Railways round Exmoor' book signing on 2 September 2017

Kate Beard, Retail Manager WSRA Promotions, writes:

The Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard is very pleased to announce that Allan Stanistreet, author of the recently-updated book 'Railways Round Exmoor' will be joining us on Saturday 2 September to sign copies of his book during the Late Summer Weekend. Allan will be with us at the Station Shop, Bishops Lydeard Station, from 10.00am to 3.00pm. Long-standing WSR volunteer Allan Stanistreet has carried out a masterly update and expansion of Robin Madge's original text, with the main emphasis on the Lynton and Barnstaple line and the WSR, where preservationists have achieved so much in the intervening decades. The 128 page book is lavishly illustrated with well-reproduced colour photographs and an interesting selection of historic black and white images.

21 August 2017
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

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 www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk 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 anna.forster@wsrail.net

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 robin215white@btintetnet.com

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

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