18 October 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
News of the next West Somerset Railway Stakeholder Meeting
The West Somerset Railway's Stakeholder Meeting will take place on Saturday 28 October 2017 at 2pm in Bishops Lydeard Village Hall.
The meeting will give all stakeholders with an interest in the railway, the opportunity, to learn how the West Somerset Railway has progressed throughout the year, and how we intend to move forward into 2018. The meeting will be chaired by Alan Nicholson, Chairman of the Board. All are welcome and we look forward to seeing you. The agenda will include
An operational overview of the year by Paul Conibeare.
An update on the infrastructure by Ric Auger.
The chairman's view of his first three months in post and the way ahead.
The Quantock Belle welcomes a very special railway celebrity
Today - Sunday 15 October 2017 - Mary Kelly nee Skelton (also known as Molly) and her family joined the Quantock Belle dining train on the WSR to celebrate her 94th birthday which is tomorrow. Mary was signalman at Littlethorpe Signal Box near Ripon from 1939 to 1945. She is pictured in Bishops Lydeard Signal Box on the West Somerset Railway. Mary chatted with duty WSR signalman Peter Smith and remembers her training at York aged 17 after she had chosen that over factory work or being a railway porter. There was another, older girl called Mary on the course, so she had to choose another name and has sometimes been known as Molly ever since. She said that the male signalman accepted her and one, who was a cobbler, made her a pair of shoes - useful in wartime Britain. She was sad to give up signalling in 1945 and has fond memories of her time on the railway. She now lives in Somerset and her family celebrate her birthday on the Quantock Belle each year.
15 October 2017 Details from a local correspondent
Minehead Station Christmas Market on Saturday 9 December 2017
For the first time since the event's creation the West Somerset Railway will be holding their annual Christmas market on a Saturday.
Over 30 stalls will fill the platform on Saturday 9 December 2017. The official webpage has more details.
Traders interested in booking a stall please contact the West Somerset Railway on 01643 704996 or by email on email@example.com
Ex-Southern PMVs to leave West Somerset for the Isle of Wight
We understand the two WSRA-owned ex-Southern Railway PMVs (Parcels and Miscellaneous Vans) - believed to be nos 1458 and 1964 - have been moved from Williton South Yard to nearby Sherring's Yard. Disposal of the two vans was approved by the West Somerset Railway Association membership at their recent Annual General Meeting. It seems the pair will later move by road to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway to help with that railway's fine coach restoration projects.
15 October 2017 Details from a local correspondent
Invitation for WSR volunteers to join Operations Experience Days
The WSR and the Institute of Railway Operators, the professional body for Railway Operators in the UK, have arranged a series of Operations Experience days on Saturdays this autumn on the WSR. These are 14 October (signalling), 21 October (train operations), 4 November (diesel locomotive operation, with the D&EPG) and 18 November (steam loco operation)
In each case the sessions run from 10.30am to 4.00pm. Sessions 1 and 2 will be at Bishops Lydeard, session 3 at Williton and session 4 at either Minehead or Bishops Lydeard (to be decided). The sessions will be led by an experienced tutor and will include hands-on experience of the relevant activities for participants.
Capacity is available for up to four West Somerset Railway volunteers to join the groups. You must be reasonably fit as walking on uneven ground and climing in and out of rail vehicles will be involved. The sessions would suit WSR volunteers who would like to learn more about Railway operations or the work of other Departments.
If you would like to participate, please contact Robin White MIRO who is leading on these sessions for the WSR firstname.lastname@example.org or 07710 336 807
13 October 2017 Details from local correspondent
Frank Houlding has resigned as an Association Trustee
Announced on the WSRA website:
The WSRA Board is sorry to announce that Frank Houlding has resigned for personal reasons.
The Minutes of the WSRA's 22nd Annual General Meeting are available
With commendable speed, the Minutes of the 22nd Annual General Meeting of the West Somerset Railway Association held at Bishops Lydeard Village Hall on Saturday 30 September 2017 at 2pm, are now available on the WSRA's website.
West Somerset Railway to feature on Taunton Monopoly
Artwork now released for the eagerly anticipated 'Taunton' edition of the family favourite game of Monopoly reveals that Bishops Lydeard will be one of the four Railway Stations featured. Other local landmarks such as Taunton Cricket Ground and Vivary Park will replace the usual Monopoly locations. The official launch is due to take place at Taunton Cricket Ground on 19 October 2017.
9 October 2017 Details kindly provided by a local correspondent
Watchet Station's Model Railway Sale was a big success
Watchet Railway Station's secondhand Model Railway Sale on the Saturday of the Gala was a big success, and has improved the finances of the Friends of Watchet station for our winter maintenance programme. A big thank you from Steve Sutherland the organiser, to David Leusby who brought lots of his Swapmeet specials to our sale. A massive thanks to everyone who donated Model Railway equipment and to everybody who visited for a chat and purchased Engines-coaches-wagons-accessories-track etc. We really enjoyed the gala trains running all day, just a few feet away from our sale in the Pagoda waiting room.
9 October 2017 Details kindly provided by the Friends of Watchet Station
Reduced fares for young people on Sunday 8 October
On the Sunday of the Autumn Steam Gala young persons aged 5 to 17 can travel for a flat fare of £2.00 if accompanied by a fare paying adult or senior citizen. This applies to all journeys from a single journey between two neighbouring stations to the freedom of the line rover tickets that allow a full day of travel.
There are nine trains in each direction between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead so there are plenty of opportunities to get out for the morning, the afternoon or the whole day. Tickets can be bought at station booking offices on the day of travel or online now - see the Autumn Steam Gala page.
7 October 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Saturday at the WSR's 2017 Autumn Steam Gala
On Saturday 7 October 2017 there are lots of things to see and do at the Autumn Steam Gala. There are no less than ten steam trains in each direction between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead and eight different steam engines working them. A great way to get out and about in the countryside, beside the sea, visiting Dunster, Minehead, Blue Anchor and Watchet. Plus...
Model railway sale at Watchet Station
All Day Breakfasts on the Quantock Belle
Workshops open at Minehead (steam) and Williton (diesel) - see behind the scenes
Model railways in action at Bishops Lydeard
Book signing of 'Railways Round Exmoor' in the Minehead Station Shop.
Discounted items in the Bishops Lydeard Station Shop
Museums open at Blue Anchor, Washford and Bishops Lydeard
Real ale bar at Minehead Station
And lots more, including shunting demonstrations at Washford
Tickets can be purchased on the day of travel at station booking offices. We look forward to seeing you here on the WSR.
6 October 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
A photograph in a magazine provides great publicity for the WSR
Promoting the Railway can be as simple as taking an interesting picture and sending it to your club magazine. West Somerset-based MGA Iris appears alongside WSR-based 7F no 53809 at Roebuck Gate Crossing on the 'Out and About' page of 'Safety Fast', the MG Owners Club Magazine for October 2017.
6 October 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Ian Coleby is the new editor of the WSR Journal
Announced on the West Somerset Railway Association website:
Ian Coleby has been appointed as WSR Journal editor with immediate effect. Ian is currently vice chairman of the WSR Plc and has been the designer and typesetter for the Journal for the past year. He is also the author of 'The Minehead Branch 1848-1971', probably the most definitive work written about our railway. Ian will be assisted by Keith Smith as Deputy Editor and by Nigel Kendall in the design and layout of the journal. Supporting them is a team of photo editors, sub-editors and proof readers all working to produce a lively and interesting publication.
Book signing at Minehead's Buffer Stop Shop on 7 October
On the Saturday of the Autumn Steam Gala, Allan Stanistreet will be signing copies of 'Railways Round Exmoor' in the Buffer Stop Shop at Minehead station between 10am and 4pm. This fourth edition of the book is now illustrated in colour and is a hardback, priced very reasonably at £9.99. The railways covered are the ones currently open (WSR, Lynton and Barnstaple and the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway), closed (the Exe Valley, Taunton-Barnstaple-Ilfracombe), mineral (West Somerset Mineral and South Molton to Heasley Mill) and a trio that go no further than being projected (Minehead-Lynton, Barle Valley and Porlock-Simonsbath)
4 October 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Pannier replaces pannier at the WSR's 2017 Autumn Steam Gala
The visit to West Somerset of GWR 0-6-0PT no 7714 for the Autumn Steam Gala has been cancelled due to a fault which requires attention at its Severn Valley Railway base. In its place is another 'pannier' - BR(W) 0-6-0PT no 1501 which was a popular performer at the 2017 Spring Gala. Dave Horton, WSR's Head of Mechanical Engineering, explains:
Sadly 57XX class pannier no 7714 from the Severn Valley Railway failed last weekend whilst on loan to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for their Autumn Gala. After discussions with the SVR's CME today it has been concluded that the fault, which is on the brake system, is not a 'five minute fix' and therefore it must be returned to Bridgnorth for further investigation. So with time now against us, it won't be able to make our forthcoming Autumn Steam Gala. However, in exchange, the SVR will kindly loan us 1501 which, although it did star in our Spring Steam Gala back in April, means that we can at least fulfil all steam diagrams. We are grateful to the SVR for lending us 1501 in the circumstances and options are being explored for welcoming 7714 to the WSR during 2018 instead. The WSR Gala Planning Team offers its apologies for any disappointment caused by this.
Secondhand model railway sale at Watchet Station on 7 October
Steve Sutherland of Friends of Watchet Station reminds us...
Watchet Railway Station is having a sale of secondhand model railway equipment in the Pagoda waiting room on 7 October 2017 from 10am to 3pm. We will have OO and N gauge locomotives, coaches, wagons, many bits and pieces and are raising funds for the repairs and maintenance of Watchet Station which is all run by volunteers. Come and see us when visiting the Autumn Gala. If you have any unwanted model railway equipment, please drop off at the Station. More info from Steve Sutherland 01984 633425.
2 October 2017 Details kindly provided by the Friends of Watchet Station
Mostly chimney-first running during the 2017 Autumn Steam Gala
Good news - it looks like the majority locomotives will be running chimney-first during the four day Autumn Steam Gala which runs from 5 to 8 October 2017. The official website states:
Planned chimney first running of all locomotives on Saturday and Sunday with Minehead turntable and Norton Fitzwarren triangle in use. All locomotives running the full length of the line on Thursday and Friday will be smokebox first except the 12.20 which will be tender first for operational reasons.
The other exceptions will, of course, be those services terminating at Crowcombe Heathfield, Blue Anchor or Williton which lack turning facilties. Thanks due to the folks at the Railway for getting the update posted today. Hopefully this information will help visitors plan their journeys on the Railway during the event.
Historic homecoming for railway treasure after 50 years
West Somerset Railway supporters have brought a unique Great Western Railway signal box name plate back to the popular heritage railway.
Minehead signal box closed in 1966 and its nameplate was sold. Railway volunteers clubbed together to buy the nameplate and bring it back to Somerset. Rapid work by 22 supporters, and the Friends of Minehead Station had the purchase price of £1,400 raised in less than a week. It is still in the same condition it was when removed from the signal box in 1966, complete with original British Railways Western Region chocolate-and-cream paintwork.
The plate will now form part of the collection of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, the heritage charity supporting the line. Chris Austin, Chairman of the Trust said:
This was a magnificent effort by supporters of the Railway to raise the necessary funds so quickly. This important piece of the line's history will help us tell the story of railways in Somerset to future generations. In the dark days fifty years ago when the line was running down towards closure, who could have foreseen it would ever come back to today's successful West Somerset Railway?
The newly acquired name plate will be on display at the Trust's Museum at Blue Anchor station, near Minehead from the 5th to the 8th October (10.30am - 4.00pm) during the West Somerset Railway's Autumn Steam Gala.
Bishops Lydeard Station Shop during the forthcoming Autumn Gala
Kate Beard, Retail Manager at WSRA Promotions, reports...
As usual we shall have an attractive range of special offers over the Gala at the Station Shop, Bishops Lydeard.
There will be an additional 10% off the marked price of all Model Railway items other than those already marked with a 'Reduced' label and 15% off the price of all military, maritime and aviation book titles not already marked 'Reduced'. Our Book Department will also have a good selection of second hand out of print railway titles and a range of new titles at around half the publisher's price. If you are looking for back numbers of historical railway magazines, we shall have many available, including several years of Backtrack magazine.
The shop will be open half an hour before the first train departure on each of the four days and will close at 6pm each day. The cafe will open at the same time as the shop, but will close at 4.30 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 4.15pm on Sunday to allow our staff to undertake cleaning duties.
We have been invited by our SDRT friends at Washford to set up our sales and information stand at their 'Somerset Coal Fields Remembered' event (during the WSR's 2017 Autumn Steam Gala). Come and see us, say hello, and find out the latest happenings with GWR 2-6-2T no 5542 and Auto Trailers GWR no 169 and BR(W) no 233.
At our 'Bath & Beyond" Gala, we have a pair of S&D 7Fs and a brace of Manors along with a LMS 4F, BR Standard 4, GWR 57xx Pannier and our Modified Hall (the only green engine at this year's Autumn Gala!). This interesting mix represent locos types often seen in and around Bath on either the Midland/Somerset & Dorset route into Green Park Station or the Great Western route through Bath Spa Station. Come along and enjoy the sights and sounds of steam from another part of our lovely county of Somerset.
Meanwhile. the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust have announced a four day special event at the Trust's base at the WSR's Washford Station during the Autumn Gala. 'Somerset Coalfields Remembered' will feature ex-Somerset coalfield Peckett 0-4-0ST no 1788 Kilmersdon in steam with Barclay 0-4-0ST no1219 along with ex-NCB lorries. Something not to miss - be sure to go by train as parking is limited.
A key moment in the overhaul of GWR 0-6-2T no 6695
Nigel Clark of the 6695 Loco Group writes:
6695 was re-wheeled on Friday 22 September 2017 at Williton in a team effort of West Somerset Restoration and 6695 Loco Group. This is a big step forward in the overhaul and we can now continue to rebuild the loco with many parts which have already been refurbished. The major job now is the boiler for which we urgently now need to raise in the region of £100k to be able to complete.
24 September 2017 Details kindly provided by 6695 Loco Group
Opportunity to bring home significant West Somerset Railway artefact
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust say:
Minehead Signal Box closed in 1966. Since then the original cast iron signal box name plate has been in private hands. The owner has now offered the West Somerset Railway the chance to acquire this relic, which is in original condition, just as it was removed from the signal box. If the funds can be raised, the plate will pass into the ownership of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, who will ensure that it is kept available for posterity.
Antiques Roadshow at Minehead Station to be broadcast on 1 October
On one of the wettest days in Roadshow history, over 2,000 visitors queued to see Fiona Bruce and the experts sheltering under the canopy at Minehead Station, which is run by West Somerset Railway. Objects brought to camera include a bracelet made from jewels once owned by the last of the Romanovs, the Russian royal family, photographs from the day The Beatles came to film 'A Hard Day's Night' and a bronze by sculptor Rodin...
This episode of 'Antiques Roadshow' will be shown on BBC One at 8pm on 1 October 2017.
We are currently in discussion with several boiler contractors with a view to making a decision and getting work underway on that soon. Our sales and information stand will be on Minehead Station for the Saturday and Sunday of the Autumn Steam Gala; please come along and say hello to Gary and John.
21 September 2017 Details kindly provided by 6695 Loco Group
Saturday departures reflect Western Region from 1950s, 1960s, 1970s
It seems like an all 'Great Western Day' on the West Somerset Railway on Saturday 23 September 2017. From the WSR's current steam fleet, nos 6960 Raveningham Hall, 7820 Dinmore Manor and 7822 Foxcote Manor will be in action. The Diesel & Electric Preservation Group's mighty diesel-hydraulic no D1010 Western Campaigner will operating on the 'Maybach Memories' services. And if that were not enough, an incoming charter travelling from Oxford to Minehead in the form of a High Speed Train courtesy of current train operators, GWR. Come and witness and travel behind a fine range of working Great Western designs, with the first three departures from Bishops Lydeard headed by appropriate and representative motive power from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
The Great West Somerset Railway Bench Reshuffle continues
The creation of new platform benches and the refurbishment of old benches continues apace on the West Somerset Railway with the project enhancing the heritage look to the stations at the same time as providing quality welcome resting places for visitors. On 19 September 2017, three recently completed 10ft benches, each with three GWR 'shirt button' supports, were moved to the stations at Minehead and to Williton. Redundant non-GWR benches were collected along with some GWR 'scroll' types which will be refurbished by the Railway's RAMS team at Bishops Lydeard.The day also saw the WSRA's van deliver a non-railway bench to a private purchaser in Llangennech in South Wales. Well done to Robin White and all the volunteers involved in this project.
20 September 2017 Details gleaned from report by a local correspondent
Loco sheds will be open during the weekend of Autumn Steam Gala
On the Saturday and Sunday (7, 8 October) of the 2017 Autumn Steam Gala, the workshops at Minehead will be partially open to visitors for a look behind the scenes. The diesel shed at Williton will be open on all four days but unfortunately the Swindon shed at Williton will not be open to the public. Taunton Model Railway Group will offer a last chance to see their award winning 'Tamerig Central' layout at Bishops Lydeard Station between the Friday and Sunday and there will be a model railway sale at Watchet station in the morning of Saturday 7 October. Details of other things to see and do and where to eat and drink can be found in the souvenir programme which can be ordered in advance from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk. Discounted Rover tickets, allowing passengers to travel as they wish, can be purchased via 01643 704996 or www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk Rovers, single and return tickets can also be purchased on the day of travel at station booking offices. On Sunday 8 October (only), young persons aged 5 to 17 can travel for a flat fare of £2 if accompanied by an adult or senior citizen.
A few more days to enjoy the sight and sound of Maybach Memories
With the main WSR season entering its last few weeks there are three more 'Maybach Memories' days to go. To mark 40 years since the end of the mainline careers of the Western Region's diesel hydraulic locomotives D1010 Western Campaigner is due to work this weekend - 23 and 24 September 2017 - and Hymek no D7017 (back from Old Oak Common Open Day and the Great Central Railway Diesel Gala) on Saturday 30 September. The first 'Maybach Memories' departure from Bishops Lydeard is at 11.05am (Saturday) or 11.50am (Sunday) and the trains will do two round trips over the line. Discounted day rover tickets can be purchased in advance from www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk
18 September 2017 Details kindly provided by local correspondent
Trustee Bill Knell has resigned from the Association Board
The West Somerset Railway Association's Board is sorry to announce that Bill Knell has had to resign for personal reasons.
A reminder that the Association's Annual General Meeting is just two weeks away. It will be held at 2pm on Saturday 30 September 2017 at the Village Hall, Bishops Lydeard. Members who are unable to attend are encouraged to return completed proxy forms as soon as possible.
BR Standard Class 4MT Braveheart hired for Autumn Steam Gala
Dave Horton, Head of Mechanical Engineering reports on a successful conclusion to the search for a replacement Autumn Steam Gala guest locomotive followng the cancelled visit of the expected BR Class 5 Camelot:
Care of our friends at the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway who have very kindly come to our aid at the 11th hour - BR Standard Class 4MT no 75014 Braveheart. We think this is a rather good substitute for the Standard 5!