An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway
More details of the Winter Working Parties
WSR Plc Director Mark Smith adds:
Thanks to some very generous support both financial and practical, we have a programme of coach painting under way. When our coaches emerge from the paint shops, they will need a thorough clean - windows internal and external, upholstery, table tops, floors, lighting fitments, cobwebbing, lavatories. If you can help organise any these tasks, please let me know.
We justifiably take great pride in our stations, at this stage please get in touch with your stationmaster and offer some extra help so that they really sparkle by the end of March. Other common user parts of the Railway are also in need of some TLC. I think of mess rooms, including the wash ups, signing on points. At Minehead in particular, the general office is looking rather tired and we could cheer everyone up by giving it a lick of paint to help with this project contact Kerry Noble.
There are tasks to be undertaken along the line, a few are listed - some with contact details. Where no contact is listed, please contact Mark Smith.
Click the button below for more information and contact details.
The West Somerset Railway is reviewing the number and nature of staff posts. The purpose of this is to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the railway in the long term. This staff whose posts are under review are being consulted about the potential future arrangements, bearing in mind the need to reduce costs.
At this stage, it can be confirmed that three posts at Head of Department level, namely, the Heads of Commercial, Human Resources and Operations have been removed and the current post holders have been notified that, with regret, they are leaving the service of the Railway. Chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt said:
This is a very challenging time for the Railway and we recognise that these decisions have a very significant impact on all our staff, but particularly those directly affected. We are saddened indeed when we have to lose any of our highly committed staff team but we must act in the best interests of the future of the Railway as a whole. All the staff who have recently left and those who may, following consultation, be leaving in the near future, shall go with our very best wishes for the future.
The West Somerset Railway Association are keen to record and show progress with the assembly of the unique WSR 2-6-0 no 9351 and have created a blog on the WSRA website.
Discussion amongst WSR folk at the weekend identified that the move of GWR Mogul 9351 to Williton Works for final assembly offered a unique opportunity for supporters to follow the work to get her back into traffic. This is expected to take about 120 days and we hope you will be able to follow every step along the way.
The plan is for those doing the work to take some snaps of the work each day that work is carried out on 9351 and for them to be uploaded with a commentary to this blog later that day.
The WSR Company have asked Ian Coleby and Allan Stanistreet to put together a book to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reopening to Bishops Lydeard. The idea is to have a book that contains stories about the significant events and milestones since the reopening, as seen through the eyes of those involved at the time. Ian and Allan explain:
Although this will cover from the earliest days up to date, we anticipate it will be largely focused on the early years, prior to say around 1990
We are now looking for individuals who could write an article to go in this book. Telling us a story of what you did on the railway years ago or about a particular event or just your general memories of working on the railway over the past years.
22 January 2019 Details kindly provided by Ian Coleby and Allan Stanistreet
No 9351 moves to Williton for final assembly
By agreement between the West Somerset Railway Plc and its principal supporting charity, the West Somerset Railway Association, WSR 2-6-0 no 9351 has been moved by road from Minehead to the WSRA's restoration base at Williton for final reassembly of the locomotive to take place.
A tender from another locomotive had also to be make the same journey by road from Minehead to Williton and the part-completed locomotive was transferred as part of the same movement on 19 January 2019. The locomotive is expected to return to service in May 2019 in time for the WSR's peak summer season.
Winter Working Parties on the West Somerset Railway
Something for the folks who help maintain the West Somerset Railway in a list of planned works during the winter. WSR Plc Director Mark Smith explains:
We are all aware that there is a lot to be done in the few short weeks until we launch the new season at the end of March. The purpose of this note is to tell you how you can help. We have a major programme of track renewals, permanent way work, a locomotive fleet to prepare, and a range of ROGS procedures and standards work to enable our nineteenth century Railway to comply with twenty first century legislation and standards.
Read more about the planned working parties by clicking the button below:
Don Bishop, Chairman of the WSR's Gala Planning Team, writes:
The Gala Planning Team are pleased to announce that we will holding an expanded Beer Festival at the 2019 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' diesel gala between Thursday 20th and Saturday 22nd June 2019 at Washford. Courtesy of our colleagues at the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust, we held a similar event at the 2018 diesel gala as an experiment. The WSR received the great help of Mick Cleveland, Chairman of Somerset branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), who worked very hard to make the event happen for us and brought in a mixture of unusual ales from around the West Country which proved popular. We are pleased that 2019 the event will be expanded and run in association with our friends at the Somerset Branch of CAMRA who will run the event and provide the ales and ciders on behalf of the WSR. The bar will be open between midday and 8pm on Thursday 20th, midday - 10pm on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd June. All trains throughout the three-day event will call at Washford to enable customers to travel to the festival by train and there will be some evening trains to help you get there and back at the end of your day on the railway. Some food and musical entertainment is also planned. Further details of our big diesel gala event, such as visiting loco identities etc., will be given in due course.
Trevor's funeral will be held at Taunton Deane Crematorium on Wednesday 23 January at 12 midday followed by a gathering of Friends and Colleagues at The Quantock Brewery, Broadgauge Business Park Bishops Lydeard Taunton TA4 3RU. Dress for the funeral can be optional footplate overalls if appropriate. An indication of attendance at the 'Friends and Colleagues' gathering afterwards would be very helpful - please email chairman5542ltd(at)aol.com) before 17th January please.
12 January 2019 Details kindly provided by Loco 5542 Ltd
WSR stakeholder meeting to be held in early February 2019
In light of significant events affecting the West Somerset Railway, the Plc is to hold an important internal briefing meeting, open to WSR shareholders, volunteers and staff on Saturday 2 February 2019 at 11am at Oake Manor Golf Club, Oake, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 1BA. The private meeting will be hosted by the Plc Board, and it will not be open to the press or the public. Click or tap the button below for more information:
Christopher Ruddick provides an update on behalf of GWR4110 Ltd:
Setting up the company GWR4110 Ltd is complete and progress with associated arrangements for insurances, bank account and VAT registration are proceeding.
We have recently been made aware by the WSR plc that they are seeking to negotiate to sell the the locomotive to the West Somerset Railway Association.
We still consider 4110 to be important part of the future of the West Somerset Railway, we would not wish to see the ownership of the locomotive lost to another railway in the event that the negotiations between the WSR plc and the WSRA were to fail for whatever reason.
Because of this we intend to continue to make arrangements to have the funds available for the locomotive's purchase in the event that the WSRA does not do so.
Note: a joint statement has been issued by WSR Plc/WSRA - click or tap the button below. See also the button link to the WSRA's Donation Form.
11 January 2019 Details kindly provided separately by GWR4110 Ltd and WSR Plc/WSRA
The Quantock Belle dining train in 2019
The Quantock Belle dining train operates on the scenic West Somerset Railway between Bishops Lydeard near Taunton and Minehead, recreating that wonderful, nostalgic atmosphere of the great days of steam. Diners enjoy good food and excellent company as the train winds its way through the beautiful Quantock Hills, past the ancient port of Watchet and along the coast to Blue Anchor Bay. Whatever the occasion may be - a special anniversary or birthday celebration, a cosy dinner for two, or a Sunday lunch out - dining on the Quantock Belle is a delightful and memorable experience. The Quantock Belle operates on a limited number of dates and is extremely popular. Advance booking is therefore mandatory. Click or tap the button below for full details on the official WSR webpage.
11 January 2019 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Odney Manor returns to steam
Former GWR 78xx Manor Class no 7828 Odney Manor returned to steam on the West Somerset Railway just before Christmas 2018 after being out of action for the last two years. The locomotive's first outings took place on Saturday 22 December on Santa services, and it also ran on subsequent days and on the first day of the Winter Steam Festival on 29 December. Odney Manor has been a popular and reliable member of the West Somerset Railway's home-fleet of steam locos since the 1990s and is an ideal engine for the line.
The locomotive was removed from service earlier than expected in 2017 due to defective boiler stays having to be replaced, but it was also nearing the time where a full boiler and mechanical overhaul was required anyway. During the time Odney Manor has been out of service, extensive work was carried out on the loco by the WSR's locomotive department staff in addition to them keeping the loco fleet running on a day to day basis. The boiler was sent to Riley Engineering where the repairs took place, and it was returned to the railway in August 2018 for reassembly by the locomotive department ready for a Christmas return. WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare said:
We were delighted that Odney Manor returned to service in time for Christmas and New Year, and it was the star of the first day of our Winter Steam Festival before it was stopped to rectify a fault that had developed. I would like to thank our locomotive department staff for all their hard work in returning Odney to health, and we are very fortunate to have such a highly skilled and dedicated team working on the railway. With Odney Manor now having the potential to run on the WSR for the next ten years, we are looking forward to the engine being at the core of our home fleet of steam locomotives for 2019 when we re-open at the end of March and the years beyond.
Runner 'beats the train' on the West Somerset Railway
On Thursday 27 December 2018 Joseph Rogers, author of the forthcoming title "Britain's Greatest Bridges", became the first person recorded by the West Somerset Railway to run from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead via every station on the line. Joseph, who works with the Railway's Commercial Team, left Bishops Lydeard Station with the first service of the day at 10.15am and arrived in Minehead at 3.44pm, three minutes before the final arrival at Minehead.
Along the route totalling 24.1 miles, he received signatures from volunteers at all the stations to record his time and even stopped at the unmanned Doniford Halt. He then returned to Bishops Lydeard on the final departure from Minehead at 4.15pm.
The route follows safe areas around the West Somerset Railway following public footpaths. Such a challenge had been proposed on the official West Somerset Railway website for the year, with a sheet available to print off to record each station visit, but until now, no such form had ever been completed and handed back to the railway. Joseph explains:
Hopefully many more will come forward to attempt this in the future. It would be a great way to help raise money for some worthy causes, including the railway itself.
Joseph's challenge came at rather short notice, with only a few running days left before the end of the running season.
The West Somerset Railway now commences its Winter maintenance programme, ready for reopening on 30 March 2019.
Sad news. Trevor Barnett - one of the WSR's long serving volunteer drivers - passed away on 6 January 2019. Trevor will be known to countless WSR folks for his easy going, friendly manner and for always happy to share his immense knowledge of railways and driving. With a day job driving DMUs between Marylebone and Aylesbury, it seemed every spare moment was spent on the WSR. Trevor was a key member of the team behind the restoration of GWR 2-6-2T no 5542 and its successful 'new' life as a popular locomotive on many heritage lines. He is also fondly remembered for one particular mainline run whilst driving LNER 4-6-2 no 60009 from Exeter to Taunton and it is well worth searching the internet for video coverage of that event.
6 January 2019 Details kindly provided by Loco 5542 Ltd
Christopher Ruddick reports significant news on behalf of GWR4110 Ltd:
Myself and the other members of the group which have been working on a route to safeguard the future of 4110 for the West Somerset Railway since the summer of 2018 would like to thank you for your pledge towards the purchase of the locomotive from the West Somerset Railway PLC. The speed of the response we have received has far exceeded our expectations and we now have £120,000 pledged to the fund from 105 people. Several of you have even contacted us in the last few days increasing your pledge by 25%, this is fantastic and has moved us over the line.
As we have already stated, following lengthly exchanges the PLC asked us for £100,000 + VAT (£120,000 in total) to purchase the locomotive. The request to us was to raise this amount and purchase the locomotive by the end of January 2019. The fact we have now reached 100% of the required money in pledges has given us the confidence to continue and proceed with the formal establishment of a limited company and start the process of setting up a company bank account to receive the funds.
The company has been registered with companies house as GWR4110 Ltd. In order to ensure a swift set up model articles of association have been used. These will be replaced shortly with a revised version which will include articles that will as far as possible ensure the locomotive when acquired is protected for use on the West Somerset Railway, limits individual shareholdings and requires the agreement of a large majority of shareholders prior to any disposal of the locomotive. Initially the company has been set up with 3 Directors. These being David Hurd, Andrew Forster and Paul Orrells. Peter Chilcott, George Thomas and myself will join them shortly. We are all long term members of the WSR locomotive department and have been involved with 4110 since it was recovered from Tysley in 2015.
A Bank Account is currently being created and should be available to receive funds during the week commencing the 7th January. We will circulate further information and formal documentation once the account is established. At this stage we are asking that you make ready your funds to transfer into this account.
We hope you find this update useful and once again thank you for your support and commitment to ensuring the long term locomotive future of 4110 for the West Somerset Railway. 4110 is truly on the way to becoming the West Somerset Railway's People's Engine.
4 January 2019 Details kindly provided by GWR4110 Ltd
Synopsis of recent WSR Association Trustee Board Meeting
The West Somerset Railway Association has published a brief synopsis of the Trustee Board meeting held on 18 December 2018. To read more, please click or tap the button below.
The Group leading the bid to purchase the unrestored GWR 2-6-2T no 4110 from WSR Plc received £90000 in pledges by the end of 2018. As it stands the current total is £91,500.
Does anyone remember 4110 actually running on the Minehead branch? It was shedded at Tyseley in 1956, Wellington Salop in 1959 and still in BR ownership in 1964. Any memories would be welcomed.
This is further encouragement for all who wish to see this locomotive remain on the Minehead Branch. More pledges are welcome. Click or tap the link below to read the full appeal letter including contact details.
2 January 2019 Details kindly provided by the 4110 Group
GWR Large Prairie no 4110: a further update
As reported a few days ago, a group of WSR footplate crew members and shed staff are appealing for urgent help to purchase GWR 2-6-2T no 4110 which is currently stored at the seaside buffer stops at Minehead Station. On Christmas Eve the 4110 group issued a further update:
As of 17:00 today, Christmas Eve, we have reached a phenomenal total of £61,350 pledged by 62 people towards the potential purchase of 4110.
The overwhelming response has been positive and provides us the encouragement to continue with the push to raise the required £120,000.
Many of you have asked us the same questions. Whilst we would like to reply individually to everyone at this point to say thank you for your current pledge and answer your questions, the size of the response so far makes this extremely difficult. In order to try and help answer the main questions, we have composed a short FAQ document which is attached. We hope this will assist in answering the questions you have at this early stage. Further detailed information will be released as we progress with the appeal.
Will be back in touch early in 2019 when we hope we will be in a position where enough has been pledged for us to form the company, establish the bank account, formally sell shares and purchase 4110.
Thank you again for your support at such short notice. We would also like to ask you to help spread the word about our appeal and pass details on to those who you think will be interested.
Merry Christmas and here's to making 2019 a prosperous new year for 4110.
On behalf of: Chris Ruddick, George Thomas, Peter Chilcott, Richard Hiscox, Andy Norman, Steve Ryall, Stuart Nelhams, Andy Forster, Paul Orrells and Dave Hurd.
A few days earlier the group issued this update:
Since Friday we have more than £50,000 pledged from people across the WSR family and beyond.
This is wonderful encouragement for all who wish to see this locomotive remain on the Minehead Branch. More pledges are welcome. Click or tap the link below to read the full appeal letter including contact details.
26 December 2018 Details kindly provided by a group of WSR footplate crew members and shed staff
Railcam coverage at Williton Station, West Somerset Railway
An announcement by Railcam:
A member of the local community who regularly uses the level crossing has objected to Railcam's coverage of the southern end of the station and its surrounds. Railcam has been in consultation with the person affected and at this time, a workable solution that satisfies all parties cannot be found.
Railcam will therefore now provide a closed feed from camera 2 to the WSR Operations Team for service management, safety and security purposes only.
Railcam regrets that we will not now be able to stream this camera to our wsr.org partner, our members and our supporters.
The purchase and installation of both Williton cameras was funded entirely by the WSR plc and the company has agreed the proposed course of action.
22 December 2018 Details kindly provided by Railcam UK
Be a WSR Tidy Train Volunteer in 2019
Peter Chilcott reports:
As you may have heard we are proposing to run scrap rail trains in January, February and March alongside the usual tidy trains. We are looking for volunteers to come forward and help out with
these trains and associated tasks. We are probably looking at a minimum team of eight people each time we operate a train. This team will comprise of the following:
Driver, Secondman (if required)
Atlas crane operator
Two slingers on the ground
Two slingers on the wagons
Any extra pairs of hands to assist
We currently have a small pool of Atlas crane operators available. Anyone wishing to help out with the slinging roles will need to attend a one day training course. There are two dates available - Thursday 10th or Friday 11th January. We need a reasonable pool of people to come forward that we can call upon.
There are several reasons behind collecting up the rail, not just financial but also to improve the
overall safety and general tidiness of the WSR. There is more rail replacement planned over the next
couple of years and so we need to make a start at collecting up what is already along the line.
We have just made a significant start with the recent tidy train that we ran on Monday 10th and
Tuesday 11th December. We collected a large quantity of Sleepers, Rail chairs, logs and countless
other items between Bishops Lydeard and Williton. It would be our aim to start the new 2019 season
with a clean and tidy lineside.
If you feel you are able to help in any way with this then please contact me via email email@example.com
22 December 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
David Baker returns as Director of the Steam Trust
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is delighted that David Baker has agreed to return as a Trustee. David will work with the Board in particular on the safety Management documentation that needs to be in place for Trust activities both in its two museums and on carriage restoration and will also look after the interests of the Blue Anchor Railway Museum. Trust Chairman Chris Austin said:
I am so pleased that David has agreed to return at a time of expansion and development for the Trust, with a new coach almost ready, our Lottery funded museum project to implement as well as outreach to local schools. All of this is designed to support the WSR and to encourage more visitors and volunteers. David's experience as a former PLC director and before that in running train catering, makes him the ideal colleague to work with us to deliver this.
The Railway's Gala Planning Team provide a timely update:
For all those folk looking for some steam action during the festive week the WSR have our annual 'Winter Steam Festival' on Sat/Sun 29th and 30th December. We'll have regular departures from both Bishops Lydeard and Minehead (and of course all the intermediate stations) throughout each day with most steam hauled. The event has a distinct Great Western flavour this year with Manors nos 7822 Foxcote Manor and 7828 Odney Manor, and Hall no 6960 Raveningham Hall in action. The event will mark 7828's return to traffic after an extensive overhaul and out-shopping at Minehead loco earlier this week, and magnificent it looks too.
Additional attractions open for the gala include the Taunton Model Railway Club room at Bishops Lydeard, the station shops at Minehead and Bishops Lydeard, the gauge museum at Bishops Lydeard and most of our stations will be offering hot drinks and snacks on these winter days. Got to be worth a visit.
21 December 2018 Details kindly provided by the Gala Planning Team
Protecting no 4110 for the future of the WSR
A group of WSR footplate crew members and shed staff are appealing for urgent help. They say:
GWR 2-6-2T no 4110 was purchased by the WSR Plc in May 2015 to strengthen the home based locomotive fleet following its restoration, once other projects then in progress were completed. The present need to raise working capital makes this ambition non-viable at this time, and the locomotive has been put up for sale with external offers already on the table.
A number of footplate crew members and shed staff have come together to explore ways to protect 4110 for the long term future of the railway, as once lost it can never be regained. We accept the reasoning behind the sale, its inevitability, and the decision by the Plc Board of Directors; it is the sensible thing to do in order to keep the railway alive.
The timescale for this purchase is very short, and we have been given only a few weeks until mid January to raise the funds and make the purchase.
Click or tap the link below to read the full appeal letter including contact details.
21 December 2018 Details kindly provided by a group of WSR footplate crew members and shed staff
WSR Community Engagement Officer vacancy
The WSR Community Engagement Project is a two year funded project to enhance community cohesion and enable the railway to increase its engagement with local communities, individuals, organisations and agencies and to extend its reach to a wider, more diverse community base. A range of activities will be developed including volunteering opportunities, training and work experience all of which are designed to facilitate personal well-being, community cohesion and the training and upskilling of people to help the economic stability of West Somerset and the wider areas surrounding the HPC build. This role is key to the effective delivery of the project and the person engaged must possess the skills and experience necessary to interact, negotiate and deliver at all levels. Full details on the West Somerset Railway Association website
The latest Journal posted to WSR Association members
The Editorial Team of the West Somerset Railway Association, led by Editor Ian Coleby, have published Journal no 163. This edition carries all the regular reports from the Railway's various departments and stations, along with features covering historical matters, the very successful 1940s local community event, and a fine tributes to volunteer friends who have now passed away. Yet another superb publication from the Journal Team.
Fundraising for Class 52 no D1010 Western Campaigner
The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group are offering members the opportunity to purchase the pair of booklets celebrating forty years of two classmates - D1013 and D1062 - at the Severn Valley Railway at a special price of £15, with one third of the price going directly to D1010 fund raising, with no other deductions. The DEPG say:
You can help with the repair of D1010 while getting the enjoyment from the D1013 and D1062 booklets. These booklets, produced by the WLA, present a very interesting storyboard from late
years of service through to initial preservation then current operating status.
Click or tap the button below for more details and order form.
Visitors and local people have come out in droves to support the West Somerset Railway this December ahead of the railway's extended closed period from January until the end of March 2019. The West Somerset Railway's Christmas programme of special events has proved to be so popular with locals and visitors alike that the railway has had to add additional tickets to the Santa Express services in order to cope with the demand. Mark Hill, WSR Head of Commercial services, says:
We're very pleased that so many visitors are supporting the railway ahead of our extended closed period next year, and it shows the community spirit and local support for us that is alive and well in West Somerset. We now have just a few seats remaining for Santa services and Carol Trains that are running this weekend, so I advise people to book their tickets fast in order to avoid disappointment. But we also have running days just after Christmas too from 27th December to 1st January, our Winter Steam Festival will be taking place on 29th and 30th December. We're hoping to welcome as many people as possible over those few days to end the season on a positive note.
And WSR plc Chairman Jonathan Jones Pratt adds:
The level of support that the railway has seen over this festive period has been fantastic, and we'd like to thank each and every person travelling on the railway for coming to see us, whether on our Santa Expresses from Bishops Lydeard; the Santa Specials from Minehead, or our Carols and Dunster By Candlelight services. The Christmas Market held at the railway was a great success too and started off our festive period with just the right tone, our Christmas Market DMU service was completely sold out. The West Somerset Railway strives for excellence, and after the great support we have received recently from both the railway's own family and from our visitors, we are confident that 2019 will be a great year for us.
Due to popular demand the West Somerset Railway have released some additional tickets for the Dunster by Candlelight services on Friday 7 December 2018. Just 20 additional tickets are available through the Railway's website on each service. Please book as soon as possible, as these will be the final tickets available for this day.