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, November 27, 2006

painter and decorator

We are incredibly lucky at Midsomer Norton in having one of the UK's leading artists right on our doorstep - and a lover of the S&D to boot! David Fisher was at the station today launching his latest masterpiece, 'Wait For Us'. This features the soon-to-be-reinstated bridge over Silver Street. David will be at the station on the Saturday (9th December) during the Santa weekend.

This is his previous work, 'Let Battle Commence', featuring the first test run of a 9F, facing the Mendip gradients at the Dorset end of Radstock station.

Another shot of the latest work ... which would make a superb Xmas present for your hard-working Blogger (hint!)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

go to the WC and P

Another potential start-up line in Somerset is one option being looked at by the WCPR group. The Weston Clevedon and Portishead line was a ramshackle Colonel Stephens affair which linked the three coastal towns. It closed in 1940 but there has been more than one proposal to reopen it since closure. It does seem a bit of a no-brainer with few engineering works, a flat route and in a major tourist area. It would also serve a pretty useful transport need, Clevedon and Portishead are far too large to be without rail access even now, after Peak Oil rail access will be essential. Weston of course retains its railway via a loop off the main Exeter to Bristol line. Clevedon and Portishead lost their links to the main line in the 60s. Portishead in particular is crying out for a rail link, and almost all the GW branch is still in-situ. There is an active group to restore this link as soon as possible.

So in a matter of weeks two lines with a Colonel Stephens connection are being considered for restoration - the WCPR and Snailbeach. Of course both the Kent and East Sussex and East Kent lines are partly restored, a scheme to reopen the Selsey Tramway using Parry railcars stalled a few years ago.

There is an inaugural meeting of the new WCPR group being held this Thursday, 30 November, details on their website.

Friday, November 24, 2006

wood you believe it?

From vilification to vindication - wood burning steam is not solely an idea from my (apparently) drug-addled mind, but is now being considered by yet another start-up line. The Kielder Railway is intending to use waste wood from Kielder Forest to power its steam locomotive.

Of course when I manage to tear myself away from my beloved wholesale quantities of crack cocaine this makes perfect economic sense, particularly in an oil-less future. The price of coal will rocket as demand increases. Coal is finite, wood - when carefully managed - is not only infinite but can be carbon-neutral.

And yes, I am keeping my eye on fusion, which will of course be the ultimate key to a solar economy, but there is only a 50% chance it will work, and it will still be high-tech in a low-tech world. You'll never get a locomotive-sized fusion reactor, let alone a car-sized one, and who would seriously want to see catenary over Midford Viaduct in any case? It's rather missing the point ...

The lovely irony of course is that nuclear fusion will be yet another form of steam power, as it will be steam generated by fusion that will drive the turbines ... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

sign of the times ...

The idea seemed simple enough ... ask Doug to update last year's Santa sign to take into account the new dates and prices. So he paints out the old dates, then puts the sign in front of the fire to dry ...

Problem is the sign's plastic and decides to melt!

Oh well, we can calm down by concentrating on this nice evening scene at the station. The sign, repaired and updated, now adorns the astronomical garden. We've already sold nearly a quarter of the Santa tickets. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 18, 2006

back to bath green park

Try to get along to Bath Green Park tomorrow (19 November 2006) for the Model and Collectors' Fair between 10 and 4.

Chair John Baxter will be there to answer your questions and sell you books, DVDs etc.

It's nice being back at BGP again, it may be another thirty (or even forty) years before we can return triumphantly by train, but in the meantime it's good to see that this magnificent station is re-establishing its links with the S&D ...

The key to really establishing the S&D as Britain's premier steam railway is a rapid return to Bath and the rebuilding of the finest section of railway in England - Radstock to Bath. That time is now approaching.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

yuletide extravaganza ...

We absolutely promise that the above display will NOT - ever - appear at Midsomer Norton! We have far better taste!

This year we're doing our Santa weekend but with the added touch of a party up at the catering coach - free to all those who see Santa and just £3 for their older brothers, sisters, parents etc - as much food and drink as you want for no extra charge. This will be over the second weekend in December, Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th. Santa will be in his grotto handing out individual presents for the children between two and five on both afternoons.

Midsomer Norton station is a pretty magical place at the best of times, but with dusk falling on a cold (and perhaps even snowy) day, with the fairy lights shining and Xmas music playing, who could resist a visit?

The following weekend attention switches to the grown-ups with an Xmas meal in the coach on Sunday lunchtime (17th, 12.00 and 14.00). Take it easy, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy excellent food at reasonable prices (£7.50 for two courses, vegetarian option available).

We expect heavy demand so try to book early for any of all of the above! You can visit the station any Sunday or Monday to pay in person, send a cheque/PO, made payable to 'SDRHT' to 107 Anchor Barton, Horningsham, WARMINSTER, BA12 7LR or press any of the Paypal buttons on the sidebar for instant booking!

Please give children's name(s), age(s) and sex(es) when booking for Santa.

Please state whether vegetarian option required when booking for the meals, and for Sunday preferred sitting (12 or 2). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

beef stew this sunday

The catering coach just keeps going from strength to strength! This week's treat (Sunday, 19 November, 2006 12 - 3pm) is beef stew. Arrive early to guarantee a seat!

Remember that the coach is open every Sunday and Monday from around 11 to 4 with a good range of food and drink at very reasonable prices. Dine in first class comfort at third class prices!
The coach will be busy in December with the kids' parties (in connection with the Santa events) on the 9th and 10th, an evening Xmas meal on Saturday 16th and a grand Xmas meal on the Sunday 17th in the day. Booking advised! Posted by Picasa

more developments at midsomer norton

The first signs of the shingle trap and bund that will provide extra safety measures at the Silver Street end of the station.

The track plan attached to the ground frame at the southern end of the up platform. Beyond here double track will gradually be restored once the sleeper stack is moved and used up on the extension. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 11, 2006

into the heart of darkness

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Back in the 70s Seamus Heraty used to sneak into opposing football teams' fans on the terraces, pull out his football scarf and fight his way back out of the crowd, gaining bruises and kudos.

It'll probably be much the same for me later today when I venture deep into GWR territory with the S&D table and display boards at the Westbury Model Railway Show at the Paragon Hall in the High Street (10.00 till 16.30).

Please try to come along to lend moral support and buy stuff from our sales stall!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

displacement activity ....

Danger signs - I'm building up to one of those long predictive articles - so I'm using this as an excuse to post a few more pics from Monday's foggy day, which I'm sure will appeal to a lot more of you than one of my futuristic polemics!

Anyway, you've got at least a day's grace! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

white lines

Dave Two Dogs' two dogs get attention from George No Dogs.

Tony H gets stuck into a white line and poses at the same time.

Dave 2D does the hard bit that the punters don't see ...

Only another two hundred metres to do ...

The platform edge is getting its white line at last! Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

atmospheric or just plain spooky?

I was last at MN today, locked away in the office for most of the day I was surprised to see the mist had come down before 5 in the afternoon. It gave me the chance to take these atmospheric shots before it got too creepy!

We've had a great two days with loads of cash coming through the shop and catering coach and a few new faces desperate to start work at the site. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 03, 2006


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Steam Railway has identified a new problem for the rapidly growing heritage rail movement - we're not attracting enough young people and our existing membership is ageing.

At least at the S&D we're already doing something about it. Our myspace is aimed directly at younger people and we're looking at running fund-raising discos and even concerts to attract more and more youngsters. It would be nice to be a main music venue for next year's Midsomer Norton Festival. And just imagine Pacha style all-night discos on the catering coach patio!

We're also planning to hold kids' parties in the catering coach in addition to our regular special days.

All kids love trains, most kids love steam and all we need to do is welcome them with open arms to what will quickly be the coolest railway in the country!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

autumn hues at Midsomer Norton

The leaves are falling, they forecast minus 4 tonight and Midsomer Norton station takes on yet another guise after the heat of summer and the early autumn storms. This is one of the best times of year to visit the station as there is a lot going on! Posted by Picasa