An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

Two WSR Association Trustees removed from office

WSR

Rodney Greenway and Frank Courtney have been removed as Trustees of the West Somerset Railway Association. Statements are available from the Association and from Rodney and Frank (see links below).

WSRA Statement Greenway/Courtney Statement

15 August 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association and the two former Trustees

A 1940s Dance at Minehead Station on 15 September

WSR

The West Somerset Railway say:

Come and join the Liberty Sisters, Dickie Lines and Ricky Hunter as they bring Minehead Station platform to life with the sounds of the 1940s. Bring your best guy or gal and dance the night away while you enjoy fabulous music and entertainment. Doors open at 7.00pm, Liberty Sisters 7.45pm-8.30pm, Dickie Lines 8.45pm-9.30pm, Liberty Sisters 9.45pm-10.30pm and with Ricky Hunter as your MC for the evening. Tickets for the dance are £15.

We will be running a special train to and from the Dance which will stop at all stations. Timetable to be confirmed. Tickets on this will be £10 for a return and can only be purchased with a dance ticket. Catering and a bar will be available during the evening.

Buy Dance Tickets The Forties Weekend

14 August 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Latest draft minutes from the Partnership Development Group

WSR

The Secretary of the Partnership Development Group has kindly provided the draft minutes of the meeting of the Group held on 7 August 2018 . The draft minutes are available as a downloadable PDF document - see link below. The next meeting will be on Monday 8 October 2018.

Draft minutes

13 August 2018
Details kindly provided by Partnership Development Group Secretariat

A message from the Steam & Vintage Rally Team

WSR

We had a great weekend at the 2018 Rally. The weather was glorious, and we had even more vintage vehicles on display than last year. Particular successes were the new railway siding, which allowed us to display the restored historic coaches, the larger steam section, and the new layout, which made it easier for everyone to see the different exhibits. The hot weather meant that the ice cream stalls and the bar were particularly popular.

Full message

10 August 2018
Details kindly provided by the Steam & Vintage Rally Team

Braunton to head a number of WSR services

WSR

Southern Railway 'Light Pacific' 4-6-2 no 34046 Braunton will work a number of passenger turns during its stay on the West Somerset Railway in August and September. No 34046 is current running as long lost classmate no 34052 Lord Dowding in this anniversary year for the Royal Air Force (Hugh Dowding played an important role during the Battle of Britain in 1940). The loco will arrive by rail on 15 August 2018. On 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29 and 30 August, it will work the 11.15am from Bishops Lydeard and the 3.15pm from Minehead, with the aim of turning at Minehead and Norton each day to ensure smokebox running each day. Running days in September will be announced later.

7 August 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

News from the Friends of Minehead Station

WSR

The latest newsletter from Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS) reveals the formation of the Minehead Station Planning Group. Representatives from the engine shed, operations, commercial and FoMS will meet under the chairmanship of FoMS chairman, Martyn Snell, and will plan ahead to improve facilities for visitors and staff to the line's largest station. A good start has been made with a FoMS-sponsored professional survey on three particular parcels of land; the newsletter provides more details and it is clear these are indeed priority areas for improvement. Meanwhile, FoMS have again shown commitment to the local and visiting community:

The experiment with keeping our toilets open seven days a week even when trains are not running has proved very successful and has made our station a much more welcoming place. To help offset the cost of additional cleaning, it was decided to put well signed donation boxes in the toilets and it has been surprising how much has been given by those 'using the facilities'. Whilst not covering the cost of cleaning, it has certainly helped.

6 August 2018
Details gleaned from the latest newsletter from Friends of Minehead Station

Blue Anchor wins the 2018 Best Kept Station award

WSR

At an awards ceremony held in the Gauge Museum, Blue Anchor Station was awarded Best Kept Station award for 2018. Station representatives Gill and Ivor Baulch were presented with the engraved trophy, a certificate and a cheque for £100 to be spent on the station. Runners up were Williton and Crowcombe Heathfield. Judging was by an independent judge who spent half an hour at each station on a selected date, looked at everything and asked lots of questions.

Blue Anchor Station

6 August 2018
Details gleaned from the West Somerset Railway Association's website

No 4561 and the WSR Locomotive Restoration Fund

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association Trustees have now confirmed their agreement that GWR 2-6-2T no 4561 is the right locomotive for the West Somerset Railway and will be the first priority of the Locomotive Restoration Fund. The Trustees say:

We are working on a plan that could see the locomotive back in steam in 2021, as planned. The work is being broken down into three broad phases.

Motion - work to put the chassis back on its wheels by June 2019
Boiler - work to complete the boiler and pass its first steam pressure test by Spring 2020
Assembly - the final push to get everything back where it should be by the end of 2020

We are targeting the Spring Steam Gala of 2021 for its first outing on the WSR, but we can't do it without your help. We need volunteers with a range of skills to work on the loco, volunteers to work on fundraising and promotion and of course donations. Opportunities will increase as the work progresses but to help us get going again please click the link below and let us know what you can contribute.

How you can help

5 August 2018
Details gleaned from the West Somerset Railway Association's Newsletter

New volunteers bring welcome support to the Railway

WSR

In a message on Facebook, the West Somerset Railway's Infrastructure Engineering folks say:

Welcome to Phil (on the right) who has joined our Restoration and Maintenance Squad at Bishops Lydeard who are currently working on Watchet Station's windows and picket fencing.

There are a wide variety of opportunities for volunteers across all areas of the Railway, something to suit everyone. Please use the link below to find out more and perhaps join the team

Volunteering - full details WSR Infra Facebook page

3 August 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

BBC Somerset Radio's Simon Parkin visits the Railway

WSR

From Monday 6 August to Saturday 11 August, various staff and volunteers from the West Somerset Railway will be featured on Simon Parkin's regular 'Off Street Parkin' piece at approximately 11.45am on BBC Somerset Radio. This excellent local radio coverage has been arranged by Claire Sheppy, a volunteer with the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust. The daily schedule - and details of the interviews - can be found on the Trust's website (see link below)

Full schedule and details

2 August 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

WSRA-owned Ditcheat Manor on the move

WSR

According to the Swindon Advertiser, the WSRA-owned GWR 4-6-0 no 7821 Ditcheat Manor is on the move - but not far. After many years on display at the STEAM museum at Swindon, the 'Manor' is headed for a nearby shopping centre where it will replace sister locomotive Hinton Manor. The move will bring Ditcheat Manor - and hopefully the West Somerset Railway - to an even wider audience.

More about the move

2 August 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

The Steam & Vintage Rally Beer Tent

WSR

The Rally beer tent will feature no less than 21 different real ales, all brewed in the County of Somerset. Leading the way, we have six ales from Quantock Brewery of Bishops Lydeard and three beers from each of Cotleigh Brewery (Wiveliscombe), Exmoor Ales (Wiveliscombe), Fine Tuned (Langport), Pitchfork (West Hewish) and Yeovil Ales (Yeovil). Cider is also very well represented, with well over a dozen different real ciders from the many and varied Somerset producers. Somerset CAMRA volunteers will be supporting the regular beer tent crew. Hope to see you!

More about the Rally

2 August 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Times of the free train to the Steam & Vintage Rally

WSR

Here are the times of the free shuttle train service between Bishops Lydeard and the Steam & Vintage Rally at Norton Fitzwarren. Journey time is approximately ten minutes.

Saturday 4 August 2018
Depart Bishops Lydeard at 10.10, 10.40, 11.10, 11.45, 12.20, 13.45, 14.45,15.45 and 16.20
Depart Norton Fitzwarren at 10.25, 10.55, 11.25, 12.00, 13.30, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00 and 17.00

Sunday 5 August 2018
Depart Bishops Lydeard at 10.51, 11.18, 11.45, 12.45, 13.45, 14.45, 15.45 and 16.45
Depart Norton Fitzwarren at 11.05, 11.30, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, 15.00, 16.00 and 17.00

1 August 2018
Details kindly provided by the Steam & Vintage Rally

The Steam Trust receives £40,000 National Lottery grant

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust is very pleased to announce that it has received a National Lottery grant of £40,000 for an exciting heritage project to relaunch the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard Station. The Trust say:

Made possible by money from National Lottery players, the money will improve the displays in the Museum and widen our outreach to the local community and visitors to the railway. In delivering the Project, we will actively engage with the local community by, for example, recruiting and training volunteers to help manage the Museum and its collections, to research and document the social and operational history of line and to undertake a recording project with retired railway workers and users of the line. The National Lottery grant will also enable us to employ a part-time Learning Officer to promote the use of the Museum for school visits.

Announcing the grant award, Trust Chairman Chris Austin said:

We are delighted with the grant which, together with our fundraising and volunteer input will allow us to make the museum more interesting and relevant to the railway's visitors. It will also allow us to reach out into the community and inspire a new generation with the excitement of a steam railway and to understand better the rich history of the WSR in the Somerset community.

Read the full statement

31 July 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

Special offer for WSR volunteers from the Steam Rally

WSR

Geoff Garfield, the Chairman of the Steam & Vintage Rally Team, writes about a special offer for WSR volunteers:

We have a limited number of very special tickets available for an evening in the historic port of Watchet, by train from Norton Fitzwarren or Bishops Lydeard, on Friday 3rd August. For only £6 for adults (children free) you can ride to Watchet, which will be open to welcome you, with food, drink, live entertainment, and lots of atmosphere. The timings are Norton Fitzwarren depart 19.15, Bishops Lydeard depart 19.30, arrive Watchet at 20.10; then depart Watchet at 22.15, arrive Bishops Lydeard at 22.50 and arrive Norton Fitzwarren at 23.05. Car parking is available at Norton Fitzwarren and Bishops Lydeard. If you would like to join us, please send an email to Keith Sandford at admin@wsra.org.uk who will arrange for tickets and payment (only available in advance). Numbers are limited, so please apply now to get your tickets

27 July 2018
Details kindly provided by The Steam & Vintage Rally

Steam & Vintage Rally - online ticket facility closes 1 August

WSR

Advance tickets for the 2018 Rally - held over the weekend of 4 and 5 August - 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 holder of a valid 2018 Rally ticket. And once again, two for the price of one - a day ticket purchased online is valid on both days of the Rally. Please note the 2018 Rally's online ticket facility will close at 10am on 1 August.

The Rally Ticket Page

26 July 2018
Details kindly provided by The Steam & Vintage Rally

Special early train from Minehead for the Steam Rally

WSR

The annual West Somerset Railway Association Steam and Vintage Rally is one of the major events of its type in South West England and will take place this year on Saturday 4 August and Sunday 5 August. Sam White, WSR's Marketing Officer, writes:

On Saturday 4 August and Sunday 5 August a special diesel railcar train will depart from Minehead to the Rally site, allowing passengers to alight at the platform adjacent to the Rally entrance gate. The departure time from Minehead will be at 9am on the Saturday and 9.20am on the Sunday. The train will call at Blue Anchor, Watchet, Williton and Bishops Lydeard . Tickets for this train, which include admission to the Rally, can be purchased for £25 (adult and senior) and £7.50 (child). These can be purchased in advance online from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk or via 01643 704996.

Book tickets for special train More about the special train Steam and Vintage Rally

24 July 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

A volunteer Station Manager for Minehead Station

WSR

Rodney Greenway, WSR Plc Director, writes:

We are looking for a volunteer Station Manager for Minehead Station - someone to get things organised, including a local recruitment drive. The Job Specification is available to interested applicants. It would suit a person with organisational skills and a team builder as well as someone who understands how the WSR works. Please contact in the first instance Stations Co-ordinator Geoff Cross

22 July 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The Stogumber Cattle Dock Project makes good progress

WSR

On 21 July 2018 the Stogumber Cattle Dock Project received the attentions of the working party. The target was to reveal the remains of the original bricked surface. By the end of the day the target was met, one day early, and the result is a much tidier area. More importantly, the work now presents a clearer picture of what is required for the next stages towards full restoration of this feature of country stations. Well done to all involved in this project.

22 July 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Changes for Doniford and for the 2018 Yellow Timetable

WSR

Following a review of passenger usage of Doniford Station, the West Somerset Railway's Head of Operations, Richard Jones, has announced from 25 July - and for the remainder of 2018 season - Doniford will revert to being a request stop, with the additional proviso that throughout the operation of the 2018 Yellow Timetable all Up trains departing from Minehead after 2pm are required to make a mandatory stop.

Richard has also announced changes to the 2018 Yellow Timetable as from 25 July mainly affecting the departure and arrival times of some services. Notable changes include the 10.15am from Bishops Lydeard will depart at 10.25am, making a more comfortable connection with the 10.16am arrival of the bus from Taunton; the 2.15pm from Bishops Lydeard and the 2.15pm from Minehead are retimed to depart at 2.25pm and 2.20pm respectively. It may take a day or two for the online timetables to be amended.

18 July 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Update from the Steam and Vintage Rally

WSR

The Rally Team say:

We are all looking forward to another fun weekend at the Rally on 4 & 5 August. Why not take advantage of our online ticket offer: Two days for the price of one. (Adults £12, seniors £10) This offer is only available in advance, and will close before the Rally. So why not follow the link in the button below now.

Or, perhaps, travel to the 2018 Steam and Vintage Rally on 4 and 5 August by train at a special price. The Rally Team explain:

We have arranged a special early train on both days. You can buy an inclusive ticket on the train for £25 Adults or Seniors, £7.50 for Children. The early train will give you lots of time to enjoy the Rally, as well as a ride through the countryside. The timings are shown below.

Departure timeSaturday 4 AugustSunday 5 August
Minehead9am9.20am
Blue Anchor9.14am9.34am
Watchet9.29am9.52am
Williton9.36am9.59am
Crowcombe Heathfield9.56am 10.32am
Bishops Lydeard10.06am10.42am
Arrive at the Rally10.20am10.53am
ReturnAny train up to 5pm from Rally Any train up to 4pm from Rally

Steam and Vintage Rally

18 July 2018
Details kindly provided by Steam and Vintage Rally

Stogumber Cattle Dock Project - the next working party

WSR

A reminder that the next working party will be this coming weekend - 21 and 21 July 2018. The object is to clean the vegetation off the top surface of the Dock following the successful last working party which achieved that for the access ramp. The working party will be on site from 10am to 4pm both days and all offers of help are welcome as long as you can wield a spade or a mattock.

Stogumber Station

18 July 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Stogumber Station hosts local Ladies and Girls Group

WSR

The Stogumber Ladies and Girls Group Summer Social was held on Tuesday 17 July 2018 at the local railway station. The evening started with a glass of prosecco at Stogumber Station and a talk by Station Master Bob Preston about the work of maintaining and manning the Station and the current project to restore the cattle dock.

The party then moved to the lawn of Station House where refreshments were served and two teams competed in a close and hilarious game of croquet under the direction of Station House resident Robin Moira White. The teams played as 'Great Britain' (red white and blue balls) and 'Jamaica' (black yellow and green balls). Great Britain triumphed with a winning shot played by team captain Sarah.

Stogumber Station

18 July 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Gateway project at West Somerset College features WSR

WSR

On his personal blog, the WSR Plc Chairman, Ian Coleby, describes an interesting project:

I had a very interesting day today. As part of their 'Gateway' project, Careers South West ran a two-day business development exercise at West Somerset College in Minehead. The premise was that the WSR requires to develop its station at Bishops Lydeard. The young people at the college were split into teams of about 6 or 7 people and given the project brief, they had to come up with a development plan which then had to be presented back to the tutors and railway representatives.

Click the button below to read the full account.

Steaming Along West Somerset College

16 July 2018
Details gleaned from the 'Steaming Along' blog

BBC Antiques Roadshow part two to be screened on 15 July

WSR

The BBC's popular 'Antiques Roadshow' to be screened on Sunday 15 July features the second part of the event held at Minehead Railway Station in May 2017.

14 July 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

WSR Association 2018 AGM draft minutes published

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Association have published the draft minutes of the recent Annual General Meeting held on 7 July 2018.

Draft minutes

13 July 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

HLF grant for Gauge Museum approved

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust has heard on the morning of 12 July 2018 that its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a £40,000 grant to re-launch the Gauge Museum and develop its educational activities has been approved. The Trust will be putting £20,000 of its own resources into the project. Chris Austin, Trust Chairman, said:

We are naturally delighted that, after our initial application last year was turned down, the HLF has recognised the heritage benefits of our proposals. The work developing our ideas over the past year has clearly paid off. Now for the hard work of delivering the project!

The Trustees will be discussing next steps at the Board meeting on Monday. Further details will be posted on the Trust website once the final Project Plan has been agreed.

12 Jul 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

West Somerset Railway supports Cancer Research UK

WSR

On 20 July 2018, Cancer Research UK will offer a ticket to ride behind a steam locomotive between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead station on the West Somerset Railway. The return journey will also include a delicious, locally sourced Cream Tea. The event will be hosted by Bridgwater Friends of Cancer Research UK. All proceeds of ticket sales will be going directly to Cancer Research UK, to help support their life-saving research. Cancer Research UK's local fundraising manager Becky Trout, says:

We can't thank Paul and the West Somerset Railway team enough for their commitment to helping Cancer Research UK beat cancer sooner. It's going to be a fantastic trip. Thank you also to our brilliant Bridgwater Friends volunteers who are hosting the event!

The West Somerset Railway's General Manager Paul Conibeare adds:

We are delighted to welcome Cancer Research UK to our railway. We have offered the use of our train services to help support the fight against cancer which affects so many people.

Information and Booking

10 Jul 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

The Steam Trust at local WW1 Commemorative Event

WSR

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust was invited to the Dunkirk Memorial House WW1 Commemorative Event on Saturday 7 July 2018. The Trust's Geoff Evens explains:

Our message was linked to the use of ambulance trains during the conflict and the WSSRT Churchward Toplight TK no 3639 that was built in 1908 and converted to an ambulance coach in 1916 and deployed to France. The WSSRT featured a volunteer appropriately dressed for the occasion.

The Steam Trust

10 Jul 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Steam Railway Trust

WSR 1940s Weekend: an update

WSR

Andy Norman, WSR's lead on the local community driven 1940s weekend on 15 and 16 September 2018 has provided a useful and comprehensive update on the preparations and planned attractions. Please use the link below to read the update. There's also a link to the trader and participant form.

1940s Weekend Update Trader and Participant Form

9 Jul 2018
Details kindly provided by the organisers of the WSR 1940s Weekend

Dinmore Manor returns for the high summer

WSR

The ever-popular Dinmore Manor will soon, subject to the usual caveats, return to the West Somerset metals. No 7820 is due to arrive on 20 July and the aim is for the loco to be in service on 23 July. The Manor is due to stay until the Autumn Steam Gala at the end of September.

5 Jul 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Help need with leaflet drops in local villages and towns

WSR

Rodney Greenway, WSR Plc Director for Volunteers, writes:

I'm looking for people willing to spend a couple of hours delivering 'Volunteering on the WSR' leaflets to properties in villages and towns along the route of the WSR. You can do a specific street or area or you can do a whole town - the choice is yours. We need to have the leaflets out ASAP as we are short of volunteers on the Railway and this could be your chance to help. Please contact rodney.greenway@wsrail.net and we can arrange for the leaflets to be delivered to you. We are hoping that targeted drops will help to bolster the volunteers at stations and departments along the line.

The WSR is pleased to announce that with immediate affect that to show the appreciation to our dedicated volunteers any volunteer who holds a full staff ID will be able to take a 'plus 1' on any scheduled train for £5. Volunteers give a lot to the Railway and we believe that volunteers will welcome this move by the Railway.

Volunteering on the Railway

4 Jul 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR Infrastructure Engineering Department Open Day

WSR

Join the West Somerset Railway Infrastructure Engineering Department for coffee and cake at their open day on either Sunday 22 July or Monday 23 July at 3pm. The afternoon will consist of a brief presentation regarding the Infrastruture and Engineering department, offering an insight into the work that they do and giving any interested parties the opportunity to meet the team and ask any questions. The event will take place at Blackmore House, Station Farm, Bishops Lydeard, and will form part of the official opening of the venue. For more information, please contact ieadmin@wsrail.net

2 Jul 2018
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Cattle dock works at Stogumber on 30 June and 1 July 2018

WSR

The first working party of the project to refurbish the Stogumber cattle dock was held over the weekend of 30 June and 1 July. The work tackled was the clearing of the slope up to the dock and the access to that. This involved digging out some tenacious shrubs; extracting the concrete posts installed to fence off the access ramp when the dock was closed; clearing the vegetation off the slope; regrading it to a proper profile, removing the 'hump' where the slope 'lands' on the station yard; and grass seeding the cleaned ramp. The next working party will be 21-22 July from 10am to 4pm, when it is hoped more normal weather will be experienced. More hands welcome. Please use the button link below to read the full report.

Full report The Stogumber Station website

2 July 2018
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

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