An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

The Friends of Minehead Station 25th Anniversary Mug

WSR

The Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS) have news of their 25th Anniversary Mug.

To celebrate our 25st anniversary next year FoMS have commissioned commemorative mugs which we feel sure will be a popular souvenir of FoMS first 25 years. The mug is available for £5 plus post and packing of £4.50 for those who cannot collect at Minehead. Payment can be made direct to FoMS bank account or by cheque. Click the button below for an order form, just print the form, complete it and post to the FoMS Treasurer at Minehead Station. The mug will then be posted out or FoMS will let you know when it can be collected from the Information Office at the Station.

Order form

23 November 2020
Details kindly provided by Friends of Minehead Station

Minutes of latest Steam Trust Board Meeting

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Board have published the draft minutes of their latest meeting held on 14 November 2020. Please click or tap the button below to head to the news item on the Steam Trust's website.

The Board also say:

Les Blake an existing WSR volunteer has kindly agreed to work with the Trust to provide a number of administrative support functions. We welcome Les and look forward to working with him. Many thanks.

The Steam Trust website

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

Association invite members to express views on restructuring

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association has invited its members to express their initial views on the proposed organisational restructuring as recommended in the Bailey Report published earlier this year. A short form can be found on the Association's website along with a second form for those members who wish to express a fuller response.

Association webpage

20 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

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 £1,319,696.07. This is a truly inspiring achievement and, with the WSR still hoping to run trains this Christmas starting on Saturday 12 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 88% raised to the good already.

West Somerset Railway Plc:
Website Donations£63,945.00
Cheque Donations £18,304.26
Share Purchases£51,810.00
Station Donations£41,950.00
Other sources£1,640.00
Council Grant£25,000.00
Culture Recovery Fund£865,000.00
WSR Plc Total£1,067,649.26
West Somerset Railway Association:
Rail Renewal 2020£37525.97
DMU refurbishment £4,100.39
Loco Renewal Fund£5,209.00
Preserve & Protect Fund£29,801.61
Trusts & Foundations Grants£71,961.07
Council Grant£10,000.00
WSRA Total£158,598.04
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

19 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Some Santa Express trains cancelled

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Plc have announced:

Due to lockdown being lifted on 2nd December we have made the difficult decision to postpone our first Santa Express services on 5th and 6th December and we have also cancelled 21st December. We have contacted all passengers booked on these services by email and are in the process of moving these bookings. We apologise for any inconvenience that this has caused. If you are a passenger on these services, please check your emails and reply as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

All other dates are unaffected at this time and tickets are available. The Railway continue:

We would like to assure you that our plan is to run the remaining services in our programme, however, if we are unable to do so, and these events are cancelled on a future date, we would like to confirm to our passengers that you will be refunded in full with the funds arriving in your account no later than 7 days after the cancellation.

More information and booking

18 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Aerial pictures of Seaward Way Crossing in 1991

WSR
© Ian Chappel

Great to see Seaward Way Level Crossing as it was in 1991. A brand new fully operational crossing out in the marshes and with no road whatseover at that stage. Big thanks to Ian Chappel for permission to publish the images on this website.

See the images

17 November 2020
Images kindly provided by Ian Chappel

Book now for the 2020 Santa Express

WSR

We know that this year has been a very difficult year, and booking any activity to look forward to can seem a bit daunting with the uncertainty surrounding Covid 19.

However, we as a railway have planned our 2020 Christmas services with Covid in mind, and have many measures in place to minimise the risk associated with the virus.

We can guarantee that the only reason any services will be cancelled is due to circumstances beyond our control, and would like to assure you, that if you have booked, and we do cancel, we will return the funds to you within 7 days of cancellation

On the trains, we will have hand sanitisers available, plus managed social distancing re-enforced by plastic screens between seating blocks on the open carriages to keep you and your family as safe as possible. Within the larger compartment sections, there is a natural barrier between the individual compartments providing even higher levels of protection.

We will also support the government's track and trace system and will be taking temperatures on arrival. We are also asking for masks to be worn when on the site. During the journey, you will see Santa, receive a gift and have some refreshments on board the train.

We have tickets being sold in tables of 4 and tables of 6, if you have a family of 5 and the 5th member is a baby then you can book a table of 4 and add the baby for an additional £10. You can book these tickets via the phone on 01643 704996.

This will be one of the first services that we have been able to run this year, so why not get your first Steam and Santa experience in one go by travelling with us this December. if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via facebook, twitter, email info@wsrail.net or over the phone 01643 704996

More information and booking

17 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Steam Trust issue summary of 2020 AGM results

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust Board have issued a summary of the results from the recent Annual General Meeting. Please click or tap the button below.

Summary

15 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

The funeral of Dr David Randles

WSR

Long serving WSR volunteer signalman Dr David Randles passed away on 26 October 2020. The private funeral will be held on Thursday 26 November at 2pm at the Poole Crematorium, but due to the England lockdown, travel and Covid-19 restrictions currently in place, a maximum attendance of only 20 is permitted and will thus be by invitation only. Douch Family Funeral Directors have provided an online opportunity to leave a memorial message and donation if desired - please click the button below.

Message and Donation

14 November 2020
Details kindly provided by a close friend of David

Latest WSR Association Board Meeting documents published

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association have published the agreed Minutes of the Board Meeting of 5 October 2020 and a synopsis of the more recent Board Meeting held on 11 November 2020. Click or tap the buttons below to load the documents from the Association's website.

Minutes Synopsis

13 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

The upgrade of Seaward Way Level Crossing

WSR

Frank Courtney of WSR Plc has kindly provided a summary of the project to upgrade Seaward Way Level Crossing at Minehead:

The crossing was first built in 1992. Since then road and pedestrian traffic has increased considerably, particularly in the summer. After nearly thirty years the equipment is worn out. Technology has developed substantially, and the safety demands of the ORR [Office of Rail and Road] and the Highways Authority have, rightly, increased substantially. We have a very good working relationship with Somerset County Council and we have been having fortnightly meetings with them and with our professional advisers since May. We have a significant team of professional railway specialists working on this (with the Highways Authority) and the plans are being fine tuned before submission to the ORR, with whom we are also in touch. Signalling will almost certainly be like for like, with the addition of one semaphore signal. We will issue further information in due course.

[Editor: Information on timescales for this work will be added here when received]

Webcam

13 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

A tribute to Humphrey Davies by Mark Smith

WSR

The funeral of Humphrey Davies, steam driver, former chairman of the West Somerset Railway Association and later of the West Somerset Railway Plc, took place on Thursday 12 November 2020.

Words from Mark Smith, Managing Director West Somerset Railway Plc (retired), were read at the service. Please click or tap the button below to read Mark's tribute.

Current WSR Plc Chairman Jon Jones-Pratt comments:

The WSR is very sad to learn of the great loss of such a big supporter of our Railway, we owe a great amount of thanks to Humphrey who was passionately involved in leading the WSR for many years, I also had the pleasure of knowing Humphrey from a very young age. He was always a man who encouraged people and he will be sadly missed. We will look to celebrate his life once we operate again and we offer our sympathy and thoughts to his family.

Humphrey is pictured above at Watchet Station talking about the Railway to Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, in 2012 (pic by Bev Zehetmeier).

Tribute to Humphrey

12 November 2020
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

The overhaul of Small Prairie no 4561 continues

WSR

The 4561 Blog has a regular flow of pictures and reports about the overhaul of the West Somerset Railway Association's GWR 2-6-2T no 4561 at Williton's Swindon Shed. Progress appears to be very good. Thanks to the team for all the heavy work and thanks also to those who maintain the blog for all to see. Click the 'Blog' button below to load the blog. Needless to say donations are always welcome - click the 'Fundraising' button to find out how to donate.

The 4561 Blog Fundraising Page

10 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

Dr David Randles

WSR

I am sorry and saddened by the news today of the passing of long serving WSR volunteer signalman Dr David Randles on 26 October 2020. The private funeral will be held towards the end of this month. Many will remember David working Minehead Signal Box in particular and also his fine websites covering the WSR, the GWR and more recently the mighty uksteam.info My own early website efforts in the late 1990s drew invaluable inspiration from David's legendary work and he was always happy to advise and guide.

10 November 2020
Details kindly provided by a close friend of David

Minutes of recent Steam Trust Board Meeting

WSR

The Minutes of the Board Meeting of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust held on 22 October 2020 are now available on the Trust's website. Click the button below to load the document.

Minutes

10 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Humphrey Davies

WSR

The West Somerset Railway community will be saddened by news of the passing of Humphrey Davies. Humphrey served as West Somerset Railway Association Chairman for a number of years before becoming the West Somerset Railway Plc Chairman. Always happy on the footplate at the regulator, Humphrey enjoyed driving steam locomotives of all shapes and sizes along the line. The funeral will be held on Thursday 12 November (details have been made available to WSR staff).

9 November 2020
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

The Station Shop at Bishops Lydeard during lockdown

WSR

Kate Beard advises:

Model railway and diecast manufacturers and book publishers are announcing new releases in the run-up to Christmas, and our staff will continue to process customers’ orders during the national lockdown under the arrangements set out below. We also have in stock a range of Christmas Cards and the WSR’s own slimline hanging Calendar for 2021.

Customers may e-mail us or send a letter to the contact addresses below, setting out their requests and providing a telephone contact so we can get back to them to discuss delivery/collection and arrange payment. Alternatively, customers can ring us direct on the number below during our Saturday sessions in the shop (which will not be open to the public during the lockdown); please note that this number is not monitored outside these hours.

There are two options for delivery/collection. We are happy to send any order by Royal Mail at cost to customers within the UK, or in the case of local customers, orders may be picked up from our collection point during Saturdays when the shop is staffed. The collection point will be outside the stable door in the booking office lobby, where hand sanitisation facilities are available, and we would ask all customers to wear a mask during their visits.

Telephone order line: 01823 430570 between 10am and 2pm on Saturdays during November.

Email: kate.beard@wsrail.net (monitored daily)

Address for letters (monitored weekly): Station Shop, Railway Station, Bishops Lydeard, Taunton TA4 3BX

6 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

A statement about the lease of Washford Yard

WSR

The West Somerset Railway PLC (PLC) and the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust (S &DRT) can confirm that they have opened discussions regarding a new 10 year lease for the Trust to occupy the Washford site. This follows from Washford Yard not now being required by the PLC in its entirety in the foreseeable future although the PLC will still, by agreement with the Trust wish to use the Yard from time to time during the period of the new lease. Any future arrangement will exclude the station which will revert to PLC management. This will allow the Trust to continue with their restoration and maintenance work on their rolling stock at Washford whilst at the same time making arrangements for relocation of artefacts to other sites. The Trust had already completed a strategic review of how it is fulfilling its charitable objectives. It has concluded that moving its Museum items and some of its rolling stock to other locations will enhance their access by the public and broaden the appeal of the Trust.

West Somerset Railway PLC Board

Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust Board

6 November 2020
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc and Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust

Hampshire move for Somerset and Dorset Railway artefacts

WSR

It seems the Mid Hants Railway and the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust (S&DRT) are discussing the relocation of the Trust's rolling stock and artefacts from Washford on the West Somerset Railway to the Watercress Line in Hampshire, as described in a statement dated 5 November 2020.

The Mid Hants Railway Ltd (MHR), Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society (MHRPS) and Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust (S&DRT) are pleased to announce they are in detailed discussions regarding the relocation of rolling stock and artefacts belonging to the S&DRT from Washford on the West Somerset Railway to the Watercress Line in Hampshire. The three organisations are discussing arrangements for each element of the move, with an objective, if agreed by all parties, to complete the transportation of rolling stock and artefacts by the end of February 2021.

This really is sad news for many WSR supporters who delighted in having the S&DRT based on the line at Washford. To read the full statement including quotes from each party, please click the button below.

Full statement

5 November 2020
Details kindly provided by the Watercress Line via local correspondent

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