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!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

new year's honours

First honours have to go to Graeme Mayes and John Rideout with their excellent restoration of the signalbox - internally and externally. The above photos cover the last 18 months or so.
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towards 2008

Hope you all had a great Xmas. We had a good December at the station with a Christmas meal (mainly for the volunteers) on the first Sunday, a wonderful Santa weekend with around 75 children in to see Santa then a family Xmas meal on the big day itself which was a unique experience.

2008 is going to be an important year for the line with a lot of new development. A large legacy came in just before Xmas will which allow a lot of progress - more please!

On the volunteer front we've had a lot of new regulars join the team in 2007, coming in nearly every week. The signalbox is FANTASTIC and an absolute credit to the line and to Graeme Mayes and John Rideout who have done most of the work. The museum should be completed in 2008, bringing another visitor attraction to the site. And the Sentinel restoration will be proceeding throughout the year - funding is in place.

Also expect 3 or 4 more issues of the Telegraph magazine, in my objective opinion easily the finest magazine produced by any of the smaller heritage set ups. And we can't wait to get started on tracklaying on the extension ...

I'm really looking forward to working at the site in the New Year, once I've got this bricklaying course under my belt!
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

xmas at midsomer norton

A look along the platform on Xmas day.

The up platform with the trench dug to allow electricity to the signalbox.

We had eleven for Yuletide lunch in the catering coach - our final fling!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Like most of mainland Europe, Budapest has an excellent public transport system that puts the UK's to shame. We had a couple of days there at the start of the month and were amazed how easy it was to get around the city. Just try getting round Bath, Bristol or Bournemouth as easily - yet once all three places had trams. In the UK some cities don't even have railways (Wells and Ripon spring to mind). We've a lot to learn ...
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santa 2007

A small Santa welcomes visitors to the station on Saturday.

The tombola stall was very successful!

Member number 1 chills out in front of the shop fire.

Santa was at Midsomer Norton this weekend. About 75 children got to see him and the weekend went really smoothly. Santa events are an excellent way of publicising the line and hopefully will gain us lots of new supporters over the coming decades!
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Monday, December 03, 2007

sales retreat

This is all the mail order and Internet sales items sent over the weekend. Mail order and Internet sales have been a vital fundraiser for the S&D, bringing in around £15000 profit over the last 3 years.

Unfortunately due to staff changes at Midsomer Norton this has all had to end. The eBay shop is now closed and the last few mail orders are now being filled.

If you would like to take over this side of the sales operation please contact us!
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

sparks and cinders

I'm downsizing at the end of December, giving up my roles in marketing, sales, finance and catering at Midsomer Norton, allowing me to concentrate on the blog and on getting set up for my eventual move to Hungary.

There will be a lot of changes at Midsomer Norton in the new year. The Trust are currently seeking someone to take on the role of Finance Director - if you're interested please email me. The upside is you get to work at the famous Midsomer Norton station (best feature - the fire in my office, above!), the downside is that you'll have to spend a few hours a week indoors rather than be out and about on the S&D!
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Monday, November 26, 2007


Some of the presents waiting to be wrapped for the Santa event this year. We are really going to town with individually chosen presents for each child. Nearly half the places are already sold so if you want your kids to go to the best Santa event in the land you need to book quickly! Tickets are available only from the shop on Sundays and Mondays, price just £5 each.

The Xmas meal on Sunday 2nd December is totally sold out!
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Friday, November 23, 2007

innovation, Swiss style

MOB at Montbovon, 8.6.1987

Street running in Montbovon - on the connecting GFM line from Fribourg. 8.6.1987

The MOB webcam is superb. Every day you can travel up and down the line from Montreux to Zweisimmen via a webcam mounted in the front window of one of the trains. The MOB has always been forward-thinking and this innovation should attract even more passengers to its already busy trains.

I can't wait until a similar feature can be viewed following S&D trains from Radstock to Shepton and beyond!

To get the best from the MOB webcam click on the menu on the RH side. This way you can travel along the line (go for the sehr schnell option!) and also visit it on previous dates via the 'datum' feature.
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Saturday, November 17, 2007


The Monday Gang were enjoying the sunshine earlier this week. It's getting busier and busier every week now, the car park was jam packed by the time I arrived around ten. I can't wait until I get out of the office and back out on the line again, especially with the catering coach open four days a week from the end of January!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

through the buffers

A few impressionistic shots from Monday!
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Sunday, November 11, 2007

santa weekend

Tickets have now arrived for our Xmas Weekend at Midsomer Norton. We're open between 11 and 6 on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 December. Between 2 and 6 Santa will be seeing children and giving them gifts. This is always a popular sold out event, so if you want to give your kids a real treat you'll need to book early. Tickets are available at the station from tomorrow. Cost is just £5 each child. Every child gets an individual present carefully chosen with their name on the parcel.

Ivo's, the catering coach, will be open both days for drinks and snacks - and mulled wine! This year we want to do more for the adults! There'll be a tombola plus a wide range of presents available from the shop. We want to make this the best Midsomer Norton Xmas Event yet.
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Saturday, November 10, 2007


This is the picture that hangs above my desk at home.

If anyone ever asks why I spend hours each week working for the Trust I just show them this. This is what it's all about!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

posing in the aisles

This will embarrass Danielle! She was dancing to Reverend and the Makers during a quiet spell in the catering coach a week or two ago. And I was there to capture it for all eternity!

We've always had a fair share of fun in the coach with various parties, music, games etc. We've the Xmas meal coming up on 2 December - remember to book as about a quarter of the places have already sold out. Then we have the Santa weekend on 15 and 16 December.

There are going to be big changes to the catering coach in the New Year with longer opening hours and days. It will also be branded 'Ivo's' in memory of Ivo Peters, once all the exterior painting has been finished. And the kitchen floor is being replaced over the next couple of weeks.
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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

this week's work

Contractors are now in working on the up platform retaining. Most of the work is off camera, but the fencing is now removed and replaced by blue safety netting.

A trench has been dug along the up platform for cabling, now covered up again at this point. The platform will be resurfaced soon.

This is the base of the greenhouse which has been cleared ready for reconstruction in the new year.

This part of the bank has been cleared over the last week (mainly thanks to Mick Knox). Smaller undergrowth is being burned by John Bridges and Aubrey Punter. (Logs are always recycled as firewood in the signalbox and station!)
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