An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

Update on the WSR Emergency Appeals

WSR

The latest figures from emergency donations and grants show the grand total towards the good of the Railway currently stands at £1,312,989.71. This is a truly inspiring achievement and, with the WSR still hoping to run trains this Christmas starting on Saturday 5 December after a nine-month break (subject to CV-19 restrictions of course) - see official website for full details - the Railway is now much closer to the next target it has set for all of the funding appeals of £1.5 million with 87.53% raised to the good already.

West Somerset Railway Plc:
Website Donations£63,745.00
Cheque Donations £18,274.26
Share Purchases£46,910.00
Station Donations£41,950.00
Other sources£1,640.00
Council Grant£25,000.00
Culture Recovery Fund£865,000.00
WSR Plc Total£1,062,519.26
West Somerset Railway Association:
Rail Renewal 2020£36,971,00
DMU refurbishment £4,100.00
Loco Renewal Fund£5,069.00
Preserve & Protect Fund£28,920.61
Trusts & Foundations Grants£71,961.07
Council Grant£10,000.00
WSRA Total£157,021.68
West Somerset Steam Railway Trust:
Peall Railway Trust£15,000.00
NLHF 'Emergency Fund'£28,700.00
Donation£37,500.00
Other donations£4,748.77
Council Grant£7,500.00
WSSRT Total£93,448.77

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

Fundraising Group webpage

27 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

West Somerset Railway Association receives £50,000 grant

WSR

Announced on the Association's website...

The West Somerset Railway Association are delighted to announce they have received £50,000 funding from Julia and Hans Rausing's Charity Survival Fund. This kind and generous grant has been donated in order to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic and to support the charity in covering their core costs. We are all thrilled with this donation and hope the Trustees will come and visit us over the next financial year so we can demonstrate the importance of our heritage line.

Association webpage

27 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Resuming train operations on the Minehead Branch

WSR

The Railway has issued the following:

The West Somerset Railway is resuming train operations from 1 November 2020 between Minehead and Norton Fitzwarren. Whilst we are not yet open to the public, trains, including engineers’ on-track machines may run at any time, including during the hours of darkness. This is to allow us to re-familarise our staff and volunteers in all aspects of railway safety and operations, and to continue with our various engineering projects to enable the railway to open fully in the future.

You are reminded that there are many official places where members of the public can cross the line safely, but otherwise please stay outside of our boundary fences. The railway is not the place to go for a stroll or to walk your dog as we’ve unfortunately seen from a small minority of people this year. It is a dangerous place, and trains can approach very quietly. So for your own safety STOP LOOK LISTEN when using our public footpath crossings, and in all other cases STOP outside of our boundary fences, LOOK at our trains from a safe distance and LISTEN for further announcements on the progress that we are making to bring the West Somerset Railway back to life!

We look forward to inviting you back to the railway at a later date, but for now stay safe and stay well!

27 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News from the Steam Trust

WSR

The Trust has announced on its website that David Baker has resigned as a Trustee of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust. Click the button below for more details.

The Minutes of the Board Meeting of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust held on 24 September 2020 are now available on the Trust's website. Click the button below for the full statement.

David Baker Minutes

24 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Chris Austin resigns as Chairman of the Steam Trust

WSR

The Chairman of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, Chris Austin, has announced on the Trust website today (23 October 2020) that he is stepping down as Chairman and as a trustee with immediate effect. He remains a member and loyal supporter of the Trust and a volunteer worker on the Railway. Click the button below for the full statement.

Read full statement

23 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Latest WSR Association Board Meeting documents published

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association have published the agreed Minutes of the Board Meetings of 21 July 2020, 25 August 2020 and 26 September 2020 and a synopsis of the more recent Board Meeting held on 5 October 2020, along with the 2020 AGM Draft Minutes. Click or tap the buttons below to load the documents from the Association's website.

Minutes 26 September 2020 Minutes 25 August 2020 Minutes 21 July 2020 Synopsis 5 October 2020

21 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

A generous donation received by the Steam Trust

WSR

Chris Austin, the Chairman of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust writes:

A generous donation to the railway of £30,000, (£37,500 with Gift Aid), has been made by Jamie Hooper from Worthing following a visit he made to the railway in the last week. Part of Jamie's kind gift will form a huge contribution to completing the outstanding trackwork at Doniford to allow trains to continue to use this key section of the line, while protecting the historic Doniford Halt alongside which the track to be replaced runs. The remainder will be used to help provide much needed volunteer accommodation at the southern end of the line, perhaps using a static Mark III sleeping car.

The donation to the Trust followed a line inspection by Jamie last week, when he was accompanied by Jon Jones-Pratt, Andrew Young and Chris Austin. I should also mention that Jamie's generous donation is in addition to one of £20,000 which he made last year.

19 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The Steam Trust co-opt three new Trustees

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is delighted to welcome three new volunteer trustees - Matt Jackson, Helen Anson and Mike Thompson. They have been co-opted to assist the work of the Trust at this challenging time, and will be recommended to members at the Annual General Meeting to be held next month. The Trust explain:

The appointments follow interviews last month, and are part of a process that stems from a search for new Trustees that started back in June. The aim was to broaden the base of age, skills and experience and to tackle the increasing workload as membership of the Trust expands. This brings the number of Trustees to ten, each with a portfolio of work supporting the Trust’s objects and the ideal number to run a charity which now has just over 200 members.

Soon after the Steam Trust issue the re-convened Annual General Meeting papers, a full list of all candidate trustees will appear on these pages.

Full statement from the Steam Trust

11 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Update on the WSR Emergency Appeals

WSR

The Railway report:

The WSR's combined overall emergency fund appeals, grants and site events income continue to rise and the increase since the last update on 9 September is £31,313.34 (mainly due to the inclusion of the WSRA's 'Preserve & Protect' fund of £28,171.61 for the first time at their request), and brings the grand total to £311,691.08, (easily hitting the £300,000 previous milestone and representing 62% of the original target of £500,000), including the recent National Heritage Lottery Fund's (NLHF) 'Emergency Recovery' grant of £28,700 to the Steam Trust (WSSRT) and WSR plc site open days income of £21,861.95.

But, thanks to a new sizeable £865,000 grant from the Department of Media, Culture & Sport's (DCMS) 'Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage' announced this week (please see news item below for full information) we now have a terrific total so far to the good for the WSR of £1,176,691.08, an amazing achievement!

The 'Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage' is part of the £1.57 billion rescue package announced by DCMS earlier in the year to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across the UK from the economic impact of COVID-19. The NLHF will be distributing £88 million of this money to organisations in England through the 'Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage' and distributing it in partnership with 'Historic England', based on criteria set by DCMS. The WSR's successful bid focused on winter infrastructure work for 2020/21, Covid-19 preparations for re-opening the railway in 2021, and upon skills retention, but please see news item below.

Details of the Railway's emergency appeals and grants are set out below as usual – our next fund-raising target is now to reach £1.5 million, so just another £333,000 to go now!

Latest figures from emergency donations and grants:

West Somerset Railway Plc:
Website Donations£63,015.00
Cheque Donations £18,274.26
Share Purchases£44,510.00
Station Donations£41,950.00
Other sources£1,640.00
Culture Recovery Fund£865,000.00
WSR Plc Total£1,056,251.21
West Somerset Railway Association:
Rail Renewal 2020£36,273,00
DMU refurbishment £3,600.39
Loco Renewal Fund£5,020.00
Preserve & Protect Fund£28,171.61
WSRA Total£73,065.00
West Somerset Steam Railway Trust:
Peall Railway Trust£15,000.00
NLHF 'Emergency Fund'£28,700.00
Other donations£3,674,87
WSSRT Total£47,374.87

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

Fundraising Group webpage

10 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Successful application to the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage

WSR

The West Somerset Railway (WSR) has announced today Friday 9 October 2020 that its recent application to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) 'Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage' support has been successful. The WSR Plc will now receive a grant of £865,000, all of which will help the 23-mile former GWR branch line recover from the enforced closure of the railway since March during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The 'Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage' fund was created by DCMS to help heritage organisations survive and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The success of this application is fundamental to the immediate future of the WSR as it enables the Plc, along with the support of WSR 'family' support organisations, to bring people back to work and prepare for Christmas 2020 running and the planned reopening of the railway in full in March 2021.

The 'Culture Recovery For Heritage' grant will fund a wide range of projects covering infrastructure renewal; Covid 19 precautions and protection; operations; plus locomotives and rolling stock. It will provide immediate help with the costs of re-opening the line by covering certain items, such as the wages of essential staff brought back from furlough to prepare for trains returning.

Importantly, the grant bid - which was reviewed and delivered jointly by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and Historic England - will also assist with the process of re-training staff and reinstating competencies, policies and procedures.

The NLHF grant will also enable the Plc to either fund or undertake a number of small schemes put forward by the WSR's Stations and Friends Groups, Station Masters and WSR family organisations, including the West Somerset Railway Association, West Somerset Steam Railway Trust and the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group.

The grant is broken down as follows:

  • Infrastructure
  • Covid 19
  • Operations and Commercial
  • Mechanical Engineering

Although the application was submitted by the West Somerset Railway Plc as the sole grant beneficiary, it was prepared in partnership with the West Somerset Railway Association and the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, plus important contributions from other groups on the railway. The Plc would also like to thank all of the external stakeholders who provided letters and statements in support of the bid, including local MPs, Rebecca Pow and Iain Liddell-Grainger, both main local authorities and councils, plus partners in the local tourism and leisure sector.

Everybody's help and support for the DCMS bid was much appreciated and this now provides a firm foundation on which the WSR Plc can move forward with its plans.

As the funds have to be spent by 31 March 2021, the Plc has been working hard on putting together the project infrastructure and processes in anticipation that the bid would be successful. This work is being finalised and this major programme of investment will now start in earnest.

Commenting on the grant award, WSR Plc Chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt said:

Naturally, we are all thrilled to have received this fantastic grant support thanks to the Department of Culture Media and Sport, the National Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England.

It will provide us the vital financial lifeline needed for the railway's survival, and we are confident that all of the projects to gain support will help get the much-loved West Somerset Railway running normally again soon.

From all sources, we have now raised or received a wonderful total of financial help all told of an amazing £1,177,271.08 so far, and we are still raising money to try and get to our next target of £1.5 million!

This has been achieved via our own emergency appeal via donations and smaller grants to the WSR plc, WSSRT and WSRA, plus limited site openings income, of £283,571.08; an earlier NLHF Heritage Emergency Fund grant of £28,700 to the WSSRT, and now this latest DCMS Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage grant to the WSR plc of £865,000.

The WSR is so very grateful to everyone who has helped us raise this money in whatever way they could - now we can move forward!

9 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Appointment of interim Operations Manager

WSR

On behalf of the WSR Plc Board, Andy Castledine writes:

The WSR Board is delighted to announce the temporary appointment of Paul Fleet to the role of Interim Operations Manager. Paul will be working alongside the rest of the senior management team and Board in safely reopening the railway after a period of COVID enforced closure. Paul's main tasks will be supporting the designate General Manager and Board in preparation and dissemination of the re-opening plan and restoring competencies for operations staff. A key element of the role will be a requirement to work with the members of the senior management team and relevant Directors to deliver an integrated plan which will meet operational, regulatory, engineering and financial standards. Paul will be working hard to ensure that all these activities are undertaken in a safe, responsible and sustainable way consistent with the new and emerging safety culture of the PLC and WSR as a whole. Finally, noting that this is a temporary role, Paul will work with the Board in undertaking a recruitment process to identify and appoint a new full time post holder to the new PLC management team.

5 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Andy Forster returns as interim Chief Mechanical Engineer

WSR

Steve Williams, WSR Plc Director, writes:

The Board is delighted to be able to announce that Andy Forster has returned to the PLC in a part-time interim role as Chief Mechanical Engineer. He will be working on a consultative basis with Board Directors and the Mechanical Engineering Team on the programme of work needed to prepare for running of trains at Christmas and for the reopening of the railway in March 2021. Andy is with us until 31 March 2021. In the meantime, the Board is looking to recruit to a substantive appointment of Chief Mechanical Engineer and it is intended that, subject to a successful outcome, there will be a period of transition and handover before March.

5 October 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Partnership Development Group minutes of the recent meeting

WSR

The Partnership Development Group have released the minutes of the meeting held on 23 September 2020.

Please click the button below to read the document. .

Minutes

3 October 2020
Details kindly provided by the Secretariat of the Partnership Development Group

News from the Friends of Watchet Station

WSR

The Friends of Watchet Station have announced:

Watchet Station shop is open every Saturday throughout October between 10am to 3pm. We have secondhand books and magazines by the hundred, train souvenirs, toys and games and light refreshments. We would love to see you.

1 October 2020
Details kindly provided by the Friends of Watchet Station

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