Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'

The original Somerset and Dorset Railway closed very controversially in 1966. It is time that decision, made in a very different world, was reversed. We now have many councillors, MPs, businesses and individuals living along the line supporting us. Even the Ministry of Transport supports our general aim. The New S&D was formed in 2009 with the aim of rebuilding as much of the route as possible, at the very least the main line from Bath (Britain's only World Heritage City) to Bournemouth (our premier seaside resort); as well as the branches to Wells, Glastonbury and Wimborne. We will achieve this through a mix of lobbying, trackbed purchase and restoration of sections of the route as they become economically viable. With Climate Change, road congestion, capacity constraints on the railways and now Peak Oil firmly on the agenda we are pushing against an open door. We already own Midford just south of Bath, and are restoring Spetisbury under license from DCC, but this is just the start. There are other established groups restoring stations and line at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone, and the fabulous narrow gauge line near Templevcombe, the Gartell Railway.

There are now FIVE sites being actively restored on the S&D and this blog will follow what goes on at all of them!
Midford - Midsomer Norton - Gartell - Shillingstone - Spetisbury

Our Aim:

Our aim is to use a mix of lobbying, strategic track-bed purchase, fundraising and encouragement and support of groups already preserving sections of the route, as well as working with local and national government, local people, countryside groups and railway enthusiasts (of all types!) To restore sections of the route as they become viable.
Whilst the New S&D will primarily be a modern passenger and freight railway offering state of the art trains and services, we will also restore the infrastructure to the highest standards and encourage steam working and steam specials over all sections of the route, as well as work very closely with existing heritage lines established on the route.

This blog contains my personal views. Anything said here does not necessarily represent the aims or views of any of the groups currently restoring, preserving or operating trains over the Somerset and Dorset Railway!

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Baby for Gartell

(Pic and text courtesy John Penny)

EXCLUSIVE! The newest steam locomotive in the country - possibly even the newest in the world - is scheduled to appear at the Gartell Light Railway next Monday 29th August, 2016. Subject to final inspections and running trials* the locomotive - as yet un-numbered and un-named - has been constructed over the last 17 years by John Uphill. Similar in design to the GLR's first steam loco (No. 6 'Mr. G' of 1998) and again an 0-4-2, the loco has been designed to spend much of its time with the GLR, increasing its traction numbers to three steam and three diesel. (*Please note: Loco is subject to availability)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Midford update


(All pics 18.8.2016 Copyright Peter Sandell)

Peter Sandell has been making regular trips up to Midford station to help with the site clearance, and he's sent in these pics, all taken on 18 August 2016, of some of the progress at the site. This has built on the work done by the work party we had earlier in the month when the south end of the platform was cleared of vegetation. The station is beginning to emerge again from its lush summer coat - and we are now moving swiftly to the easier (if colder) time of year when clearance becomes much easier as almost everything has stopped growing!

Remember that as a New S&D member you are perfectly able to go up to the site and do some work on the platform and alongside the trackbed, though work on the steeper bank is best left to when we have an official work party with first aider and the right equipment.

If you do go to the site to work please let us know and also if possible send a brief summary of the work done together with pictures!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Very special September!!


MIDSOMER NORTON: The Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust is pleased to announce that we will be hosting their third Ex-British Railways Steam Locomotive for two weekends: 10th & 11th/ 17th & 18th of September. Courtesy of the Llangollen Railway, BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T No.80072 will be hauling passenger trains, and recreating scenes from the swansong years of the S&D. 

Prices are £5 per trip (no concessions) with children under 5 travelling free.

Please come and join them and travel behind the largest steam locomotive to grace Somerset and Dorset metals since 1966!

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Midford - we're back!


(All pics 3.8.2016 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Well, it's official. Midford work parties have started again, and yesterday saw 5 of us cutting back undergrowth plus some smaller regrowth trees at the station and further along near the Long Arch bridge.

We made a good deal of progress, despite a 2 hour pub break!

What really stood out was the amount of cycle and pedestrian traffic on the path through the site - a huge increase from a few years ago before the Two Tunnels route was opened. It suggests an excellent future for the site, even before the trains return!

After the pub we took a look at the cutting and decided on a weekend (or perhaps Sunday/Monday) big clear out in October, together with a barbecue, Final date to be set, but please keep it in mind. All members are welcome to come along and help! Further news as I get it.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Midford Wednesday 3 August 2016 Work Party


There will be a New Somerset and Dorset Railway work party at Midford this coming Wednesday (3.8.2016). ALL New S&D members are invited to come along and help with ongoing clearance of the site. You can become a member on the day if you wish. Bring your own tools - most of the work will be the cutting back of undergrowth. Parking is limited in Midford, there are a few spaces dotted about including space for one or two cars above the station site. 

Members should be aware that insurance for the site has lapsed pending setting up a new insurance scheme, so the work will be very low risk. If concerned please arrange your own insurance for the day. It may be that we have set up insurance by Wednesday, we are waiting for the responsible member to get back to us on this. If there is a change I'll announce it on this page and elsewhere.

Work will start around 10am and the day will almost certainly include a long break for lunch and/or refreshments at the adjacent Hope and Anchor pub!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bigger and Better!


(Picture sourced from the internet)

Fantastic news from Midsomer Norton. Whilst we've got used to steam there over the last eleven years the locos have been getting better and better, though we still haven't got beyond an 0-6-0 (even if it was a Jinty!)

But now the third ex-BR steam locomotive booked to visit the line has taken us up a league - it's BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4 tank locomotive number 80072, which is visiting us from the Llangollen Railway.

She'll be at the station over the two weekends of 10/11 September and 17/18 September 2016 - and will be an unmissable event for all S&D fans around the world. The 50th anniversary of closure events were packed out, but to be honest I suspect the coming two weekends in September will be even busier.

Cancel everything and come - and experience the true S&D atmosphere of this iconic location. Just one step away from a tender loco ...

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Give me Shelter


Progress at Shillingstone has been phenomenal over the last few years, and as the group approaches membership around 500 they are now adding all the little touches - after the really hard work of getting the site looking like a station again - that really capture what the place, and what the S&D, was really like.

This is the down platform shelter, built from scratch. It's magnificent, and shows what can be done. The volunteers down at Shillingstone should be very proud of what they've achieved. I can't wait to see what fantastic developments happen as we approach 2020.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Steam at Shepton


(All copyright 31.8.2009 Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

A really special treat back in 2009 was the opportunity to travel by train and behind steam over Charlton Road viaduct in Shepton Mallet. This is one of the most spectacular pieces of infrastructure on the line, and normally it is not even possible to walk across it as it is gated at both ends.

As part of the Kilver Court Gardens Open Day a 7¼" gauge miniature railway was laid across the viaduct and, for just a day, you could recapture, in a small way, the thrill of crossing this magnificent structure.

Hopefully in the future similar set ups can be created up and down the line to celebrate events! (Prior to the line being reopened for standard gauge trains of course!)

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Volunteer of the Year


Somerset & Dorset fans don’t have to be men!
The award from Midsomer Norton Town Council of 'Volunteer of the Year' - goes to our own rather talented Annie Davenport.
Annie, with cup, is next to her fantastic reproduction of the S&D company emblem.
The station also won a medal (with Gail) for their achievement in the 'Its Your Neighbourhood' RHS South West In Bloom competition.
More good reasons to join the teams at Midsomer Norton Station.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Sentinel launch at Midsomer Norton.


All pics 6.3.2016 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing

Midsomer Norton South station will be open this Saturday (9 July, 2016) where, at 2pm, well known rail writer Paul Atterbury will be officially naming and launching the Trust's own steam locomotive, Sentinel 7109 'Joyce'. He will join the first steam run and afterwards be available to sign books.
Visitors will also be able to ride behind the diesel loco to view this authentic and growing section of the S&D.

The station will of course also be open on the Sunday as usual.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Gartell 3.7.2016

Chandler continues with some test and inspection. Serious planning is necessary to ensure all will go well before we remove the existing installations.

'You've missed a bit!' The boss keeps his eye on C.J.

C.J. paints a top coat on the inside of the foot-bridge. Whilst chatting (and working at the same time, obviously) we realised that this is one of the oldest installations at the GLR, and it has had little, if any, alterations.

C.J. checks my work in cleaning off as much rust and flora as I could. Up to standard C.J.? Over to the Thursday gang for the next stage... then we get to work on the black!

Daddy trolley, Mummy trolley and baby trolley! C.J. finishes off the large version as well, after a team effort by the Thursday gang of a complete refurbishment to them all.

(All pics 3.7.2016. All text and photos copyright John Penny)

Of all the S&D revivals the Gartell always seems the most laid back, with a strong team of beaming workers seemingly always enjoying the sunshine. What's their secret? Perhaps it's because it's narrow gauge, or only operates a few weekends a year, or because it's a private line! If anyone does know please tell me!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

And the rebuild continues!


LATEST NEWS FROM MIDSOMER NORTON: The Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust has launched an extension appeal to double the length of their current running line to a mile. The recently cleared trackbed will take the railway further into the open countryside, drawing ever closer to the village of Chilcompton.

In order to complete this mission they need you! The appeal target is £30k - this is the anticipated figure for groundwork, track and peripherals. 

You can donate via the Trust's website by clicking on the following link: http://www.sdjr.co.uk/pages/fundraising.html

Thank you!

And the rebuild continues!


LATEST NEWS FROM MIDSOMER NORTON: The Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust has launched an extension appeal to double the length of their current running line to a mile. The recently cleared trackbed will take the railway further into the open countryside, drawing ever closer to the village of Chilcompton.

In order to complete this mission they need you! The appeal target is £30k - this is the anticipated figure for groundwork, track and peripherals. 

You can donate via the Trust's website by clicking on the following link: http://www.sdjr.co.uk/pages/fundraising.html

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sunset on the S&D


30075 watches the sun set on 19 June 2016 Source

Where once there was just empty trackbeds and decay each year now we see more and more of the S&D come back into use, each year there's more to photograph and after the original frenzy of record shots (I have thousands from the early days at Midsomer Norton!) we are now getting more and more arty captures, the photographers secure in the knowledge that all is not going to vanish again!

In the past 'Sunset on the S&D' had a sinister ring, usually being applied to pics of the original line in its final years as bit by bit the heart was torn out of the line.

Now we get the above ...

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Gartell 16 June 2016

Both pics 16.6.2016 copyright John Penny Facebook GLR

A strong team today avoided the showers to undertake track work at Pinesway, paint platform trolleys, nearly complete the repainting of Common Lane box and Chandler continued with his fight against the ever growing grass!

Never forget this gem of a narrow gauge line that threads its way through classic S&D (lowland!) scenery, with everything having that S&D touch, depsite the narrow gauge!

The line will be open on Sunday 26th June 2016 for the usual three-train service. Come early and have a breakfast with them. They're open from 10.00, first train 10.30, then every 20 minutes throughout the day.

Friday, June 10, 2016

'Don't tell them your name Pike'.


A treat next weekend (18 and 19 June 2016) is the Home Guard Weekend at Midsomer Norton. There are some nice tie-in extra events and features as well as regular train trips.

Hopefully the weather will be warm and sunny for the event - but even if it isn't please try to get along. Any excuse for a trip on the real S&D!