An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway
The West Somerset Railway introduces the Annual Pass
The West Somerset Railway's Annual Pass is a brilliant way to visit the West Somerset Railway as many times as you like throughout the season, valid for a period of 12 months from the date of issue. The Annual Pass for a Family - two adults and up to two young persons (or dogs) - is £129.00 per year; and £62.00 per year for an Individual Adult. For full details use the button below.
Update for Steam Rally exhibitors, traders and volunteers
Geoff Garfield, the Steam & Vintage Rally Chairman, writes:
We are very much looking forward to seeing our volunteers again for this year's event. Most positions are now filled, but we are keen to have a few more. Specifically, we are keen to hear from anyone who would like to join our team of car park marshals and programme sellers. No experience is necessary; we will give you training, a hi-vis vest, lunch and plenty of drinks. There is also a very special opportunity coming up soon for our volunteers: details will be out shortly. So, if you are interested, please download the volunteer application form (see link below), or ring 01823 433856. We look forward to hearing from you.
Also, we have had a great response to our invitation for exhibitors, and most sections are now full, and cannot accept any further entries. And, traders, we are full. Sorry, we cannot accept any further entries for the craft tent or trade section.
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is seeking a volunteer as Treasurer who will also become a trustee. The principal tasks are cash handling and banking, donations and legacies, keeping financial records, production of management accounts, annual accounts and managing membership and subscriptions. Ideally, applicants would be qualified accountants, or have experience as a Treasurer or Finance Director. Further details are on the Trust website, together with contact details.
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust has issued the June 2018 edition of their Newsletter. This edition carries a very comprehensive round-up of Trust Board discussions, along with updates about the Gauge Museum and the Model Railway, the Collett coach no 6705, new acquisitions, policies, membership, and more. All Trust newsletters can be found on the Trust website.
Steam & Vintage Rally - online tickets now available
Advance tickets for the 2018 Rally can now be purchased online. Ticket prices are pegged at last year's prices - £12 for an Adult Day Ticket and £10 for a Senior Citizen Day Ticket. There is no charge for a child accompanied by a valid ticket holder. And once again, two for the price of one! Day tickets purchased online are valid on both days of the Rally.
WSRA Annual General Meeting papers available for download
The papers for the 23rd Annual General Meeting of the West Somerset Railway Association are now available for download from the Documents page of the WSRA website. The meeting will be held on Saturday 7 July at 2pm in Bishops Lydeard Village Hall.
A new black-tie dining experience on the West Somerset Railway. For one night only this year, diners aboard the Quantock Belle dining train, departing at 7pm on 29 October, will enjoy a six-course gourmet meal prepared by three superbly talented Somerset based chefs, featuring seasonal cuisine with ingredients sourced locally where possible. The local chefs will be Claire Lynch from Claire's Kitchen, Justin Reeves from Reeves Restaurant Dunster, and John Bradley from award winning Dunkery Beacon Hotel.
Successful Diesel Gala for the West Somerset Railway
Over the four days of 7 to 10 June the Quantock Hills reverberated to the sound of the West Somerset Railway's annual Diesel Gala event. WSR Head of Commercial, Mark Hill said:
Over the four days we welcomed over 2,000 visitors, many of whom stayed in West Somerset for the weekend. Receipts are significantly up on previous years, so it has been a financial success for the Railway and more than justified the expense of bringing in these visitors.
Gus Dunster of the FiftyFund, owners of Ark Royal said:
We received a very warm welcome from the West Somerset Railway and would look forward to a return visit.
The West Somerset Railway's next big event is the Autumn Steam Gala on 27 to 30 September but steam and diesel trains now run every day until then and most days in October.
The West Somerset Railway Plc have published a summary of the Board meeting held in May 2018 with reports on the Financial Assessment; the Safety Advisor; the 2018 Timetable; the Swindon Shed; and BESTT trainees. Folks might be interested in the news under the Locomotives heading that SR 4-6-2 no 34046 Braunton will be on the Railway during August.
The Diesel & Electric Preservation Group have issued a statement:
The Diesel & Electric Preservation Group would like to thank everyone who turned out to support the Diesel Gala on the West Somerset Railway last weekend in any capacity, both operational and visitors alike. We had a varied cast of visiting locomotives and we are grateful to their respective owners for bringing them to the seaside.
Most of you will be aware that we suffered a distressing failure of Class 52 no D1010 Western Campaigner late on Friday evening. Our initial diagnosis has confirmed that a major failure has occurred inside the transmission at B End meaning it can no longer be used. The transmission has now been manually locked into neutral to permit the locomotive to be moved. Our priority now is to arrange for D1010 to be recovered safely to Williton where we will be able to remove the cooler group and access the transmission. Only when we have been able to look inside the gearbox will we be able to determine the full extent of the failure and any damage caused. We will keep you posted on developments on our website www.depg.org
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust made an application last year to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to support development of the Gauge Museum. Disappointingly, this was turned down; but the Trust was encouraged to re-submit, and a revised application was submitted at the beginning of May. The Trust expect to hear the outcome by early July.
The West Somerset Railway Association are supporting the restoration of an ex-MoD Brake Van:
Following the successful restoration and fundraising for two open wagons, the Wagon Restoration team have turned their attention to a 1942 MoD Goods Brake Van owned by the WSR Plc. This brake van needs replacement tongue and grooved timber boards for the body, new roofing materials, paint and a tarpaulin. Once again the team turned to the WSRA for funding and again the Trustees agreed to fundraise for the costs. There were enough funds left from the first campaign to pay for the tarpaulin for the Brake Van, so the remaining funding requirement is £473.
The Association is now looking for donations to help with this particular funding. See the link below for more details of how to help.
WSRA funds new lever leads for historic Williton Signal Box
The West Somerset Railway Association have announced:
Lever leads in the Williton Signal Box have been replaced and changed over the years, leaving some old faded leads and some hardboard leads, plus the new Williton layout has required new lever leads on several of the levers, which are currently stuck on paper labels! This situation is detracting from the education and heritage value of the signal box and so the WSRA Trustees have agreed to fund the project to supply a complete set of 25 new levers.
Williton Signal Box is a Grade II listed building and the only original Bristol & Exeter Railway box on the West Somerset Railway.
The next working party - over the weekend of 30 June and 1 July - will strip off the vegetation from the top of the dock and the access ramp and reform the ground around the recently-installed new access gates which will also add a much needed parking space. Working party leader Robin White said:
The dedicated band of Stogumber volunteers would be delighted to be joined by and other volunteers who can spend an hour or two wielding a shovel in glorious West Somerset countryside. The working party will run from 10am until 3pm on both days. If you can help, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The cattle dock project aims to restore the feature of the heritage station built in the 1880s to allow public access.
6 June 2018 Details kindly provided by the working party leader
News from West Somerset Restoration
West Somerset Restoration have announced the following
We are very pleased that the WSR Plc has granted us a formal licence to occupy the Swindon Shed at Williton. This will go some way towards removing the uncertainty engendered by the previous informal situation and is beneficial not only for the business but also for our loyal staff and customers. Discussions will continue to secure a long term commercial agreement.
6 June 2018 Details gleaned from the Facebook page of West Somerset Restoration
An update from the WSR Wagon Restoration Group
The June 2018 edition of 'Plaustra', the newsletter of the Railway's Wagon Restoration Group has been published. There is news of the A and B Teams; group members; the Association's approval of the bid for funding the restoration of the MoD Brake Van; the results of a survey of Tank Wagon no 1822; and more.
6 June 2018 Details kindly provided by the Wagon Restoration Group
The Mini Beer Festival at Washford Station
Don Bishop, Chairman of the Gala Planning Team, provides the latest details on the Mini Beer Festival at Washford Station being in conjunction with the Diesel Gala this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday:
For those of you who enjoy a pint of real ale along with your diesel haulage we have a range of 18 beers available at our Mini Beer Festival being held at Washford between 12 noon and 10pm on Friday and Saturday and 12 noon and approx 3pm on Sunday. Late trains operate on both Friday and Saturday evening to enable you to visit the festival. The beers are from a variety of local breweries. We will have:
Art Ales - Lemon (4.2), Beat Ales - Rockola (5.3), Black Bear - Strong Ale (5.1), Black Tor - Wheat (4.5), Branscombe - Hells Bells (4.8), Bristol Beer Factory - TBA, Croft Ales - BSA (4.0), Electric Bear - Mosiac (4.8), Fine Tuned - Pitch Perfect (3.8), Gleed Brewery - Bretts Best (4.6), Hatties Brown - Light (4.0), Isle of Avalon - Pompile Porter (4.5), New Bristol - Japan (4.8), Pitchfork - Pitchfork (4.3), Pitchfork - Hop Gun (4.3), Ralphs Ruin - Dark One (TBA), Twisted Oak - Spun Gold (4.5).
A total of 78 vehicles took part in the 2018 Classic Car Run. Gathering at Bishops Lydeard Station, the cars were waved away by celebrity starters Audrey and Tim Lang (Tim runs a classic car business in Taunton) A planned thirty five mile route followed passing most WSR stations and traversing the Esplanade at Watchet to the delight of folks visiting the Sunday Fair, before ending at the busy Minehead Railway Station drawing yet more crowds. The Classic Car Run is yet another example of how the West Somerset Railway helps bring the community together.
4 June 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Watchet Station Model Railway Sale this Saturday
Steve Sutherland from Watchet Station writes:
Watchet secondhand model railway equipment sale is on this Saturday 9th June in the pagoda waiting room from 10am to 3pm. We will have engines, coaches, wagons, track, books etc. Come along to help us raise funds for the maintenance of Watchet Railway Station which is run entirely by volunteers.
Have you any unwanted model railway equipment that you could donate to help us? The Station is open all this week and we are all looking forward to next weekend's Diesel Gala.
4 June 2018 Details kindly provided by the volunteers of Watchet Station
The 2018 Diesel Gala - special preview day
Two of the Diesel Gala locomotives also be in action on Thursday 7 June for a 'special preview day'. Class 45 no 45051 will work a round trip starting at Bishops Lydeard at 1.15pm, and Class 52 no D1010 will also work a round trip from Minehead starting at 1.15pm (these locomotives are subject to availability). call at all stations between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead. For folks with a valid West Somerset Railway 2018 Diesel Gala 1, 2 or 3-day ticket only, a specially-priced rover ticket is available at £5 for travel on these preview trains.
Rich Hiscox from the WSR's Locomotive Department reports on recent events:
Been a somewhat busy week or so for us all in the locomotive department. Various challenges have cropped up in one form or another. 7822 was failed unfortunately on Tuesday evening with a broken bogie spring bolt which isn't the easiest of things to change - involves dropping several other bits off to get at, but ever determined to get it back into traffic a 6am start this morning to fix the fault saw it haul the last service back to Bishops Lydeard today. 6960 continues in service hauling the MD1 diagram. 7F 53808 was stopped on Monday evening for boiler washout/examination and new parts being fitted to its tired Silvertown axlebox lubricator to ensure its reliability for the future. Work on S160 6046 is ongoing to ensure its reliability on the pump side of things with a aim to re-enter WSR service next week. As ever the overhaul side of things is progressing well with 7828 looking ever closer to hauling trains again later this season.
The West Somerset Railway regrets to announce the resignation of the Head of Mechanical Engineering, Dave Horton. Dave joined the railway in November 2016 and has achieved many positive things. We wish Dave well in the future."
Kate Beard, Retail Manager at the Bishops Lydeard Station Shop, writes:
On Saturday 9th June, we are pleased to be welcoming long standing WSR volunteer Chris Austin who will be signing copies of the recently re-printed book 'Holding the Line' which he co-authored with Richard Faulkner. The book is an account of the attempts made by governments to destroy the railway network during the latter half of the last century. Chris will be joining us from 10am to 3pm.
Our shop has some of the best stocks of diecast models, model railway items, railway books and DVDs in the locality and will be open on the Friday and Saturday of the Gala from 9.00am to 6.00pm, and from 9.00am to 5.30pm on the Sunday, with the cafe closing at 5.00pm on each day. Our book department will be offering a good selection of secondhand and out of print Modern Traction titles on the Friday and Saturday, with a smaller selection available on the Sunday
Following the re-fitting of the locomotive's air pump, and subsequent failure of the air system on shed, we have withdrawn the engine to allow an investigation to take place and implement any recommendations.
This will look at how events have affected the locomotive over the last two months, with the aim of returning to traffic as quickly as possible on the WSR.
We are sorry to lose this popular locomotive from traffic, at such a critical time of the season, but we are working very closely with the owner to ensure a safe return to traffic as soon as possible.
A mini beer festival at Washford during Diesel Gala
Gala Planning Team Chairman, Don Bishop, writes:
The WSR Gala Planning Team are pleased to be able to confirm that plans are now in place for a mini beer festival to take place in conjunction with our diesel gala on 8, 9, 10 June at Washford Station. Our friends at the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust have kindly agreed to providing facilities and a suitable site for the bar area and drinkers area over in their yard at Washford. All trains will stop at Washford throughout the weekend in order to allow our visitors to sample some of the real ales available in between trips behind their favourite diesel loco types. Passengers will be able to cross the line safely under the watchful eye of a crossing controller.
It is planned to have approx 12 real ales available (subject to final confirmation) from various breweries across Somerset and Devon. Customers will be able to turn up at Washford and buy tokens for pints of ale at £3.00 per pint. The SDRT will have some food available.
Please note that there is very limited parking at Washford so customers are encouraged to travel to the festival by train. There will be evening trains running on both Friday and Saturday to enable Gala visitors to attend. The bar will be open between noon and 10pm on Friday and Saturday and noon to 3pm on Sunday.
As part of its big 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' Diesel Gala on 8, 9, 10 June, the Railway welcomes one of the 22 famous 'Deltic' diesels, with its twin Napier engines and distinctive rumble and roar, in the form of no 55019 Royal Highland Fusilier courtesy of its preservation owners the Deltic Preservation Society. It is planned for the locomotive to run some trips along the line with the famous 'thistle' headboard that graced the Flying Scotsman train on the East Coast Mainline in the 1960s.
Gala Planning Team Chairman, Don Bishop, adds:
With our gala line up including the 'Deltic', a class 50 'Hoover', a 'Western' diesel hydraulic and a 'Peak' we have quite a line up of well known diesel types together with a supporting cast of Hymek, class 33s and class 20s - got to be worth a visit. Tickets are on sale via the official website (see button below for link) with discounts available for advance bookings and a special fare for and extra trip on our preview day on Thursday 7 June.
Tom Adams has written with sad news about his Dad, long serving WSR volunteer, Nigel Adams.
Nigel Adams sadly passed away in the early hours of Tuesday 22nd May 2018 surrounded by his wife and family. A service of thanksgiving will take place at St Leonard's Church, Exeter at 2.30pm on Wednesday 6th June followed by refreshments.
The West Somerset Railway was a significant part of Nigel's life and therefore his family would like to invite all friends, staff and volunteers at the West Somerset Railway to attend. If you would like to dress in uniform it would be a very meaningful tribute to Nigel.
Any donations in lieu of flowers can be made to Hospiscare please.
24 May 2018 Details provided by the family of Nigel Adams
Timetables now available for the 2018 Diesel Gala
The timetables are now available on the official website for the 2018 Diesel Gala on 8 to 10 June.
Class 20 no 20142 replaces no 20205 at the Diesel Gala
Geof Sheppard via Creative Commons 4.0 licence
Posted on the Facebook page of the West Somerset Railway Plc:
There has been a change in the line-up of the West Somerset Railway Diesel Gala. Class 20 no 20142 replaces no 20205 for operational reasons. Timetables will be published online on Wednesday 23 May 2018.
Don Bishop, Chairman of the WSR's Gala Planning Team, adds:
As things progress towards our big 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' gala on 8th - 10th June the Gala Planning Team announce that one of the pair of class 20 locomotives attending the event has been changed for operational reasons. No 20142 will now attend along with no 20189, as BR Blue companion 20205 is air brake only. Although we were aware of this when we agreed its hire, there were ways of overcoming this with the locos running as a pair throughout the gala. However various further issues have come up which will make it much easier to have two vacuum braked examples available instead and owner Michael Owen has kindly agreed to swap the locos over. No 20142 is actually in London Transport maroon livery so will make an interesting contrast with the more traditional BR Blue 20189. This will be the first LT liveried loco to work on the WSR in preservation.
This is now a little over two weeks away and 60 wonderful classics booked to come on the run. Every decade from the 20s to the 80s is represented and a wonderful range of sports and saloon models, with everything from Morris Minors to Lordly Jaguars.
The route has been checked and instructions will be sent out to participants next week, but there are still around 20 spaces available if you own a pre-1980 classic and you would like to come on the run.
Volunteers needed for the Minehead Station Information Office
Could you spare a few hours as a volunteer in the West Somerset Railway's busy Information Office at Minehead Station? Help is needed with answering queries about a wide range of topics including train times, fares, facilities and details of special events. If so, the Railway would love to hear from you - please email email@example.com
The Railway is also looking for volunteers at historic Dunster Station - if you can help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org