An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway
Engineering Trainees wanted for the West Somerset Railway
WSR volunteer Andy Norman writes:
Funding has been secured for four Engineering Trainees based at Minehead on the West Somerset Railway. We need two for a June start this year and two for a June start next year. The funding for their salaries is coming through BESTT who have secured HLF funding for this. The Trainees will be working with the WSR's Mechanical Engineering team at Minehead learning all aspects of locomotive repair and maintenance.
The recruitment is being handled by local recruitment consultants Andy Norman Associates at no cost to the West Somerset Railway.
Successful testing of two popular diesel locomotives
A convoy of diesel locomotives - Class 33 Crompton nos D6566 and D6575, Class 14 bo D9526 and Class 35 Hymek no D7017 - headed from the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group's Williton base to Bishops Lydeard in the early morning of Saturday 21 April 2018. Later, D9526 used the Bishops Lydeard - Norton Fitzwarren section for proving trials of its newly overhauled engine. Reports suggest that all was very well. The Hymek headed for the loco shed and the DEPG's team used the pit to access the underside of the loco so that the brake blocks could be changed and readjusted. Again all went well. The two Cromptons started off in top/tail formation with a rake of three Mk1 coaches with D6566 leading from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and D6575 trailing as a dead load (ie not powering). Equal to roughly a seven coach load this was another proving test for D6566 following major overhaul and repair works. At
Minehead, D6566 ran round, and later worked a Crompton double headed train of three coaches but not quite what it seems as D6575 was not powering. No problems found with D6566 so a successful day of trials for the DEPG.
23 April 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
S & D Railway Trust and WSR Plc sign 50 year lease
Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust say:
At our AGM on Saturday 21 April 2018, Ian Coleby (Chairman of West Somerset Railway Plc) and Ian Young (Chairman of S&DRT Ltd) signed a new 50 year lease for our Washford base. This is a huge step forward for the Trust and we have already been busy with improvements to museum displays, publicity material, etc.
In addition, we are working with the WSR to provide a Beer Festival at Washford during the Diesel Gala on 8 to10 June and it is hoped that this will be followed by many similar events.
The WSR would like to further the 'string of pearls' concept, whereby each station illustrates a different aspect or time period of transport history and Washford will be part of that.
22 April 2018 Details gleaned from Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust's Facebook page
Peckett 0-4-0ST 'Kilmersdon' off to Cornwall until 2019
The Helston Railway have announced the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust's Prussian Blue liveried Peckett 0-4-0ST no 1788 Kilmersdon - normally based at Washford on the West Somerset Railway - will work trains on the restored Cornish line during the 2018 season and will stay until early 2019:
The plan of action is for Kilmersdon to make her Cornish debut during our popular 'Return to the 40s' event on the 27 & 28 May (late bank holiday) hauling the first steam passenger trains on the Helston branch in over 55 years!
20 April 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent and the Helston Railway
News from Blue Anchor Station
On Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 5.30pm, a plaque will be unveiled on a bench on the down platform at Blue Anchor Station, in memory of a long serving volunteer Alan Scott who sadly died at the end of last year. Everyone who knew Alan is most welcome to attend this short dedication to commemorate his many years of service to the WSR. Light refreshments will be served.
'Atlantic Coast Express' event postponed until April 2019
The West Somerset Railway plans to run a week long Atlantic Coast Express event next April. It had been intended to run it this September but provision of key locomotives was beginning to look challenging. WSR Vice Chairman, Frank Courtney, said:
We need to get this right and offer as close to an authentic ACE express as it is possible to do on a 20 mile West Country branch. We think we need at least three Bulleid designed locos, preferably including at least one Merchant Navy and two light Pacifics. Putting the event back will give us more time to get these in place.
This event is not a traditional gala and the WSR will be offering its normal range of enthusiast galas in 2019. The ACE event will include non-stop running, fully reservable seats and free light refreshments served at seat. Paul Conibeare, the West Somerset's General Manager, said:
We all recognise that Flying Scotsman is an exceptional loco and hopefully she will be able to return before long. The aim with the ACE event is to offer a different, but premium day out to many of those people who enjoyed the Scotsman event on the railway. Many of these people are not traditional railway enthusiasts, but simply those who are seeking an exciting and interesting day out and being treated as special passengers.
More information about the event will be released in the Autumn.
The Exmoor Coast Statesman - Crewe-Dunster-Minehead
The Exmoor Coast Statesman will run on Saturday 30 June 2018 from Crewe to Dunster and Minehead, calling at Whitchurch, Shrewsbury, Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Ludlow, Leominster, Hereford, Abergavenny, Pontypool and Cwmbran. There are four different classes of travel available on board the Statesman. The train will be diesel-hauled (Class 47/57) throughout.
The official West Somerset Railway website is the place for all kinds of information about the Railway and the train services. There is even an online booking facility which saves queuing at the ticket offices. Buy tickets now for the standard services or perhaps for the Diesel Gala in June or maybe the luxury dining train, the Quantock Belle.
The folks at Stogumber Station have successfully secured a timetabled stop for the last Up train as they explain:
Those of you who have spotted that the last Up train of the day does not stop at Stogumber, will be pleased to know that it now will stop at Stogumber. After pressure from stationmaster Alan Bines, WSR have announced that this train on the brown and yellow timetables will stop at Stogumber, a victory for commonsense. The train is the three unit DMU. Stogumber remains an ideal station from which to start and finish your journey. We have parking for a number of cars, a buffet and restrooms.
Note: we have asked WSR Plc for an actual time for this stop so we can update the online timetables.
Seasonal retail assistant required for Bishops Lydeard Station Shop
WSRA Promotions Ltd, the trading company of West Somerset Railway Association, is recruiting for an experienced retail assistant to assist the Retail Manager in the shop on Bishops Lydeard Station. The role is part-time and seasonal and will include weekend working.
Extra diesel runs the day before the big WSR Diesel Gala
The WSR's Gala Planning Team have announced:
As a preview to our big 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' Gala on 8 to 10 June 2018, we are having a 'Western Region in the 70s' day on the day before, Thursday 7 June, with additional diesel hauled trains running over and above the advertised steam service for that day.
We plan to operate two additional trains in each direction hauled by 'Western' no D1010 Western Campaigner and 'Peak' no 45041 Royal Tank Regiment offering an additional 160 miles of diesel haulage to the long Diesel Gala weekend. This will hark back to the mid to late 1970s when Peaks and Westerns worked alongside each other on services in and around Devon and Cornwall. Passengers purchasing a two or three day rover ticket in advance for the Diesel Gala can claim a discount on their ticket for the additional preview day.
Take the Southern Ace to Minehead in early September
From Sunday 9th to Friday 14th Sept 2018 the West Somerset Railway is holding a 'Southern Ace to Minehead' event. This event will see guest locos selected from a preliminary pool of engines which could be available, such as City of Wells and Braunton with a third loco selected to support the theme. These locos hauled prestige services for Southern Railway and BR Southern Region between Waterloo and the West Country including the Atlantic Coast Express (ACE). The locos will be hauling express services from Bishops Lydeard at set times. Evening dining services will also be available. More details are promised...
9 April 2018 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Draft Minutes from recent Partnership Development Group meeting
The Draft Minutes from the meeting on 5 April 2018 of the Railway's Partnership Development Group have been published.
9 April 2018 Details kindly provided by the Secretariat of the Partnership Development Group
Proposal for a WSR Community Involvement Day
As reported in the recent 'News from the Boardroom' document, the West Somerset Railway Plc Board are considering a 'WSR Community Involvement Day' when the whole community can come together and 'take over' the running of the railway. The Plc Chairman, Ian Coleby, explains:
In effect, of course, the local community will be shadowing our qualified staff - drivers, guards, signalmen are the obvious jobs but also station staff, PW gangs, working in the buffet and shadowing the many other jobs that need to be done to run the railway. Most shadowing turns will need to be booked in advance, but we will also need a range of activities for those who turn up on the day.
The trains would all be free on the day and we will issue souvenir tickets so that the shadow booking clerks and ticket inspectors have a job to do.
The plan is to hold this on a Saturday in March or April 2019 which means we have a year to organise it. This event fits very well with the Hinkley Point Community Cohesion money that we are currently bidding for. Alongside the benefits to the local community we would hope to recruit a range of new volunteers from the day.
This could be a really exciting event and a great opportunity for us to show off what we do and to involve ourselves more in the local community. We now need a volunteer to organise
the event! Not on your own, but to lead a small team to put it all together. If you're interested in being involved or have any other thoughts on the day, please contact the Chairman.
The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group have published details of the agreed 2018 heritage diesel locomotive running days. The Group say:
The allocations of locomotives by painted number is at this time provisional and are subject to locomotive and crew availability.
And of course there is the Diesel Gala 8-10 June 2018 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' with planned running by guest locos nos 20189, 20205, 50035, 45041 and 55019 and home-based locos nos D7017, D1010, D7018, D6566, D6575 and D9526 (all subject to availability).
Book a table on the famous Quantock Belle Dining Train
The Quantock Belle 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 prepared on the train by 'Claire's Kitchen' or 'Purple Spoon' as the train winds its way alongside the beautiful Quantock Hills, past the ancient port of Watchet and by the coast at 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.
The papers for the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust's 2018 Annual General Meeting, to be held on 28 April 2018 at 2pm, have now been circulated to Trust members and also available on the Trust website. Another document added to the Trust website covers 'Museum Fund Procedures' which can be found on the Documents page under Policies.
Deadline looms for responses to WSR Draft Corporate Plan
The consultation phase of the West Somerset Railway Plc's Draft Corporate Plan 2018-2023 commenced formally at the Supporters Day event at Bishops Lydeard on Saturday 24 February 2018. The consultation period runs until 7 April 2018. Responses can be posted to Corporate Plan Response, West Somerset Railway, The Railway Station, Minehead TA24 5BG or sent by email to email@example.com The link below will load the Draft Corporate Plan document.
A very pleasing item in the recently published 'News from the Boardroom' is the return of the 'Best Kept Station Competition'. Dormant for a number of years, the competition had previously acted as a spur, pushing station teams to greater levels of quality in matters of heritage, restoration, tidiness and colour. Good to see it back! The Board say:
We have agreed with the General Manager to hold the 'Best Kept Station' competition again in 2018. We have asked Richard Fox (Fox Brothers of Wellington and Taunton Flower Show) to do the judging which will be on 15 July. Richard will be hosted on the day by the Chairman and his wife who will transport them around the various stations. We will devise a scoring matrix and the company will give a small cash prize of £100 to the winner and £50 to the runner up. We have copied the original GWR Best Kept Stations Certificate that is held in Blue
Anchor Railway Museum and adapted it for the 21st century - a copy will go to the winners.
The competition is designed to promote team spirit and cohesion. Geoff Cross is coordinating the event in his new role as Stations Liaison Officer.
The West Somerset Railway Plc's monthly board meeting fell in the midst of the successful Spring Steam Gala. Amongst topics discussed were the revival of the 'Best Kept Station' competition, the Company's 2018 Annual General Meeting, the Safety Management System, a WSR Community Involvement Day, Infrastructure Engineering, Bishops Lydeard and Williton Site Developments, Hinkley Point Community Fund and Staff Communications.
The West Somerset Railway Station Benches Project is complete
A group of West Somerset Railway volunteers, representing all the stations on the line met at Watchet Station on Easter Sunday afternoon to mark the end of the project to review and enhance the station benches at all ten WSR Stations. The last two refurbished benches had been delivered to Watchet that morning. Over 3 years, twenty new GWR benches have been obtained by the Railway, some originals and some authentic reproductions. WSR plc Chairman, Ian Coleby said:
There is much more to a heritage railway than our admittedly wonderful steam locomotives. Its often the small things that make our stations feel authentic, and the benches project is a good example of that. Our visitors often remark on our attractive stations and getting that environment right in heritage terms is very important. This project shows how our whole Railway can work together.
The latest edition of 'Plaustra' - the newsletter of the WSR's Wagon Restoration Group - discusses future plans, reports on progress with current projects and reflects on the popular 'military' goods train run during the Spring Steam Gala.
1 April 2018 Details kindly provided by the WSR Wagon Restoration Group
Back to the 1940s at Yard Bridge
A glimpse of the kind of scenes possible during the '1940s Weekend' event in September was enacted recently at Yard Bridge on the West Somerset Railway. WSR volunteer Robin White takes up the story:
'In Spring 1944, Ken and Terry decided to use a gallon or two of their carefully kept petrol for a few days away at the seaside with their friends in Minehead and took granddaughter Mercy. Ken was certain he could remember the way through the lanes but with all the road signs removed it was terribly confusing and they got horribly lost. Fortunately Claire had walked from the village to Yarde Farm near Stogumber Station for some off-ration eggs and was able to give Ken directions. Ken was anxious to get to Minehead before dark as he hated driving on unfamiliar roads with the blackout regulations in force. Just then a distant chime whistle could be heard and Mercy rushed to the roadside, closely followed by Terry, to wave to the passing train of invasion preparation material hauled by one of those unusual American locomotives. They were rewarded by a cheery wave back from the train. Surely the invasion of France had to come soon?'
What stories will you tell at the West Somerset Railway 1940s weekend on 15/16 September 2018
Thanks are due to Mercy, Terry, Claire, Emma, Ken, Richard, Rob and the train crew for the photograph, and Kidderminster station for the loan of its poster board.