An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway
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.
West Somerset Railway staff departure and appointments
West Somerset Railway Plc Chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt announced a number of significant staff changes on Thursday 29 November 2018 with two new appointments in key roles and a significant, but sad, departure too.
WSR Plc Head of Finance, Finance Director and Company Secretary Richard Maw has resigned from all three posts he held with immediate effect for personal reasons.
Danny Scroggins, known to many already via HOPS (Heritage Operating Processing System) will be joining the WSR soon as Safety and Compliance Officer and his role will include a full review of the WSR's Safety Management System (SMS) and other safety reviews, and to ensure best practice standards are achieved.
Bob Meanley, well known from his sterling work over the last quarter century at Tyseley loco works, is joining the WSR team as Acting Chief Mechanical Engineer. His appointment is one of the first steps in a high-level restructuring plan begun recently on the WSR.
Railcam announce new webcams at WSR's Williton Station
Railcam's partnership with the West Somerset Railway goes from strength to strength with a roll out of host of upgrades in time for the Santa Season. Announcing the upgrades, Railcam say:
Two brand new cameras have been installed at the delightful Williton station, and we have also upgraded the cam at the members favourite, picture postcard, Blue Anchor. All three cams will be sound enabled and bring our coverage up to 5 locations and 7 cams, Bishops Lydeard, Blue Anchor, Crowcombe Heathfield, Minehead (x2) and Williton (x2). While on site our team have also taken the opportunity to replace the camera at Crowcombe Heathfield with the one recovered from Blue Anchor. Limited internet at Crowcombe Heathfield means we can only provide a non-sound set up but we hope to increase the quality of the video stream from this lovely location.
Paul Conibeare, WSR's General Manager, adds:
We are delighted with the final cameras fitted this week, the partnership with Railcam continues for the good benefit of both businesses, what better way to watch our steam trains operate during December than from the comfort of your own home!
30 November 2018 Details kindly provided by railcam.uk
Update from 6024 Preservation Society
The overhaul of GWR 4-6-0 no 6024 King Edward I overhaul continues at Minehead. The chassis is currently being reassembled following the rewheeling earlier this this. It is intended the chassis will be complete before the boiler returns. Current work is focussed on rods and motion, plumbing of the air brake system and yet more painting.
The 6024 Preservation Society has published a brand new website with many photographs and videos showing the locomotive at the WSR, a line it first visited over 20 years ago now. The website is at www.6024.com Additionally the society has social media sites at:
In a news item on the BBC website, Jon Jones-Pratt, WSR Plc Chairman, talks about the recovery plan put in place following the recent inspection by ORR (Office of Rail and Road) which identified a significant number of areas requiring action with focus on qualifications and record keeping. Jon also mentions the need to improve the relationship between the Plc (who run the railway) and the main support group, the West Somerset Railway Association. Meanwhile the structure of the new Plc board is changing with each member getting a specific portfolio responsibility, such as compliance or health and safety.
The WSR decided to close for three months from January following the audit by ORR. The closure will only affect 17 days in February when a service normally runs, but the tracks will be in use for engine testing and general maintenance work. Sadly, the popular Spring Gala in March 2019 has also been affected.
The news item also mentions the bid to Great Western Railway to run a connection between the WSR's Bishops Lydeard Station and Taunton's mainline station over 50 days during the peak season. A decision by GWR is expected in the new year.
Footnote: the WSR will be running all trains as planned during December including Santa trains, Carol trains, Dunster by Candlelight trains, the Winter Steam Festival and 'red timetable' dates between Christmas and New Year.
28 November 2018 Details gleaned from the BBC website
New owners for West Somerset Railway workhorse
Kinlet Hall and Thornbury Castle Ltd have purchased WSR-based Class 09 no D4107 from 4160 Ltd. The new owners say:
The engine has been a good old workhorse for the WSR and since our offer was successful we have signed a long term deal for the engine to remain at the WSR. We will also be naming the old girl Ellie May - plates have been drilled for fitting, hopefully, in December.
28 November 2018 Details kindly provided by Kinlet Hall and Thornbury Castle Ltd
West Somerset Railway Gift Vouchers
A West Somerset Railway Gift Voucher is just the ticket for Christmas or any other time of the year. A WSR Gift Voucher can be exchanged for WSR train tickets, goods from the shop at Minehead Station and at Bishops Lydeard Station, for WSR Plc shares (minimum share purchase £100.00), and for Steam and Diesel Engineman Courses. Vouchers - £20 £10 and £5 - are available and the best way to purchase is by phoning the Minehead shop on 01643 700387.
The latest Newsletter of the Friends of Minehead Station
The latest Newsletter from the Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS) provides an excellent insight into recent activities at the largest station on the West Somerset Railway. FoMS Chairman Martyn Snell reports the completion of the amended floodlighting of the station to meet the requirements of the local planning officers. The new lighting will be used during the Christmas period. Martyn also mentions the new storage shed which will help FoMS improve the tidiness of the station. The Newsletter carries the story behind the removal of the flower bed nearest the canopy. FoMS have a busy Facebook page @fomswsr for the latest happenings.
27 November 2018 Details kindly provided by the Friends of Minehead Station
The WSR's annual Long Service Awards
The West Somerset Railway held their annual Long Service Awards presentation on Saturday 10 November 2018 at The Quantock Brewery in Bishops Lydeard.
WSR Plc Chairman, Jonathan Jones-Pratt, presented awards for 10, 20, and 30 years long service to 39 volunteers and some of the WSR's staff too. Two other 'Significant Contribution' awards were also presented to John Robinson and David Bagshaw for their continuing support in the Human Resources department. Jon Jones-Pratt comments:
Our volunteers and staff are essential to the WSR as they are all here because they want to help and support the railway. That makes working and volunteering on the West Somerset Railway an invaluable asset and, of course, is critical to the future enhancement and success of the Railway.
Volunteers are needed for two Tidy Trains to be in December, one train on 10 December and the second on 11 December. Each train starts at Bishops Lydeard at 9am, and aiming for a 4pm finish. Any staff with PTS and safety footwear would be gratefully welcomed. Anyone wishing for volunteer for this task should contact Rhiannon via email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 01643700400.
John Wood of Locomotive 5542 Ltd has kindly provided an update on progress with the rebuilding of ex-GWR Autotrailer no 169 at Williton.
Work on Autotrailer no 169 continues steadily at Williton with recent progress on the floor and roof. Hoops and stretchers are now fixed in position along half of the carriage and the next of the repaired galvanised sections is ready to be fitted in the next few days. 25mm Plywood flooring has been fitted along with assembly work on the side panels. Section 3 of the main framework is well advanced in our workshop with the 150mm (6 inches) square entrance door jambs being the next major component receive attention shortly. An interesting find was made when removing the hinges of the old doorposts where the carpenter tasked with fitting the original door hinges some 90 years ago appeared to be short of some thin packing so used a Players cigarette packet instead.
The West Somerset Railway has won a funding grant from Hinkley Point C Community Fund to deliver a Community Cohesion Project as part of the drive to mitigate the impact of the
construction of Hinkley Point C on the local Somerset Community.
The Railway is now recruiting for a Community Engagement Manager to manage and deliver the project as the West Somerset Railway Association explain:
The role of Community Engagement Manager is key to the success of the project and we are looking for somebody able to operate effectively at all levels, including board level. The ideal candidate will be a confident self-starter able to manage and organise their own workflow and deliver the project objectives.
The Community Engagement Manager will work on behalf of the railway to forge closer links with the community and meet the community cohesion criteria set out in the project. They will seek out
and develop relationships with new and potential partners for community benefit and enrichment. The role will reach beyond the timescale of this project and has the potential to deliver a lasting
Lots of trains on West Somerset Railway in December
There are lots of trains on the West Somerset Railway during December. Santa trains, Carol trains, Dunster-by-Candlelight trains, Winter Steam Festival and lots more after Christmas. And don't forget the Christmas Market at Minehead Station on 1 December.
Good reasons to visit Stogumber Station after Christmas
Stogumber Station will be open as usual from 27 December 2018 to 1 January 2019 inclusive, with a welcoming warm fire and festive fare. Come along for a hot drink with mince pies and shortbread. The two day Winter Steam Festival with at least three steam locomotives in service is on 29 and 30 December 2018. Use the link below to find out more and book tickets.
The WSR Plc Chairman writes to staff, volunteers and supporters
Jon Jones-Pratt, WSR Plc Chairman, has written to staff, volunteers and supporters of the Railway, on recent matters and forward plans.
In the light of our recent ORR (Office of Rail & Road) inspection visit, I am writing to you all again in order to explain a number of key changes that have been made, or will be made, following our most recent Board meetings and how these significant changes will affect our Railway to the overall good of the WSR over the coming months and years. This letter is going to all who are employed, volunteer or support the WSR plc in helping us to run the railway.
The full statement can be read by tapping or clicking the button below.
The West Somerset Railway are holding a Christmas Ball for staff and volunteers. The ticket-only event is being held at Minehead Rugby Club on 17 November 2018 from 7pm until late. Tickets cost £22 each and includes a welcome drink, a three-course meal and music. Dress code is 'smart'. This is a ticket only event for volunteers and paid staff of the West Somerset Railway. Full details from Sam or Kerry
The Chairman of WSR Plc has written to shareholders, staff and volunteers:
Shareholders, staff and volunteers will be aware that the railway recently received an inspection visit from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the government body responsible for maintaining and monitoring safety standards in the railway industry. We have now received a letter from the ORR which outlines the steps they require us to take. The ORR will be publishing their own public statement about the visit, so it would not be appropriate to pre-empt that. However, we can say that whilst we have been allowed to retain our licence to operate we have a significant number of important actions to take. We will be receiving a follow up visit from the ORR inspector in March, next year, to ensure that the various actions have been undertaken.
The Board have taken the view that the railway should close completely from 2nd January until 1st April next year. This will mean that the Spring Gala and the proposed ACE Event will now not take place. There will also be no trains during the spring (February) half terms. The Board consider this short period of closure as essential, both to give infrastructure teams additional time to undertake maintenance but also to allow paid and volunteer staff to focus on qualifications and effective record keeping. It is also clear that from a commercial point of view we need to refocus our operation and business processes. We have already begun discussions on the way forward.
Changes are needed in several fields and the Board are committed to undertake this in the most sensitive and constructive way possible. The Directors are determined to ensure the long-term future viability of the railway, and all the actions we will be taking are focussed on that objective.
Winter opening times for Minehead Station's Turntable Cafe
The Turntable Cafe report:
We will be open throughout November and December everyday 9.30am to 2pm serving our usual menu of delicious food plus a new addition to our menu on days where we aren't running any services. On these days we can now offer All Day Breakfast consisting of 2 Sausage, 2 Bacon, 2 Eggs, Beans, 2 Slices of Toast and mug of Tea or Coffee £6.50. Excitingly we will also be introducing a Giant Yorkshire Pudding with Mash Potato, Sausages, Peas and Gravy later on in the month of November.
The Buffer Stop Shop will also be open everyday 9.30am to 3.30pm (except Thursday 8 November) offering a great selection of toys and gifts.
Bishops Lydeard Station Shop: opening times in November
Kate Beard writes:
Now the main season is coming to an end, our regular customers and supporters may like to know that the shop and cafe will be open on Saturdays 10th, 17th and 24th November from 10.00am until 3.00pm. Why not pop in and have a nice warm drink and a cold snack and browse through our extensive range of models, books and toys in readiness for Christmas! Our end of season sale on model railway is continuing until the end of the year with 15% off the RRP of all locomotives
The inaugural running of the 'Three Chefs Express'
Last Monday, 29 October 2018, was the inaugural running of the 'Three Chefs Express', a unique service on the Quantock Belle Dining Train featuring 3 local Exmoor chefs. With a black tie dress code, six course meal and specially selected drinks menu for the occasion, the night was certainly a jewel in the crown of the Quantock Belle which has been run successfully throughout the year on a number of Sunday lunch and Saturday evening outings.
Claire Lynch, a regular caterer on the train was joined by John Bradley, from the award-winning Dunkery Beacon Hotel and Justin Reeves of Reeves Restaurant to produce a spectacular menu. The courses ranged from a Dunster Elderberry Sorbet, complete with Wicked Wolf Exmoor gin to Vietnamese poached duck leg, all prepared, cooked and served from the train's galley. In addition an experienced and enthusiastic army of volunteers were on hand to efficiently serve, including those behind the bar offering a wine list chosen to suit the menu and a range of beers, liqueurs and soft drinks.
A clear, cold evening became the ideal setting on the train's last voyage to Minehead and back before Christmas Sunday Lunches begin in December. On board a true fine dining atmosphere entertained passengers with one dining pair - former volunteers on the 'QB' themselves for many years - commenting afterwards:
Each of the six courses served was a triumph of taste and presentation, the like of which I never ever expected to witness from a Quantock Belle seat. The experience was further enhanced by every diner adhering to black tie dress code and a well-chosen special beverage menu. Very well done to all those folk involved. Please repeat this 'one-off special' at the earliest opportunity
In addition to a number of Christmas dates, a special Dunster by Candlelight train with catering by Purple Spoon, is taking place on Friday 7 December. Tables of four are still available to book online or by contacting Joe or Nora in the Commercial Department on 01643 700398.
3 November 2018 Details gleaned from the WSR Wagon Restoration Group's Facebook page
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 29 October 2018, along with the agreed redacted Minutes of their September meeting. To read more, please click or tap the buttons below.