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!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

slide show

Thought you might like this - a slide show of various S&D pictures. It also appears right at the bottom of the blog in the footer section - which also has links to other sites, webrings etc. I know not many of you venture that far south!

time travelling - blandford

[Photo courtesy Keith Harwood]

This is a shot of the Dorset & Hants railtour which went up to Blandford in Oct 66. The Broadstone-Blandford section stayed open for freight traffic until 1969, as well as loads from Blandford there was also milk traffic from Bailey Gate. It does seem odd to me that this section of the route having survived into slightly more enlightened times was not track-rationalised and retained for passenger trains.

To my mind the two most important sections of the route that need to be restored - for genuine transport needs - as soon as possible are Midsomer Norton to Bath and Blandford to Bournemouth. These would be heavily used commuter/shopper/tourist and, soon, freight routes.
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Friday, March 30, 2007

time travel - broadstone 1963

[Photos courtesy Keith Harwood]

Three lovely emotive shots (especially the first!) of some of the facilities at Broadstone taken in Sept/Oct 1963. This was the start of the S&D proper at the southern end and also saw trains from Bournemouth to Salisbury and on the old Ringwood loop line, resulting in the rather lavish provision of platforms etc! I visited this station in 1977 when tracks were still in place and the occasional goods train served Wimborne.

This area is now sadly in need of trains again, which hopefully should happen in the coming decades!
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Thursday, March 29, 2007


A quartet of shots taken yesterday. Despite only being a small site (at the moment) Midsomer Norton South seems to lend itself to endless photographic possibilities!
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


A few shots taken this afternoon on the extension. Note the original fencing still in reasonable condition, and the remains of a telegraph pole!
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

steam at Midsomer Norton

It's unlikely (though never impossible!) that 2007 will be steam-free at Midsomer Norton, as all effort is currently being directed into getting the site ready for regular (steam) services in 2008. I thought it would be nice to put on these previously unpublished shots of Lady Angela at Midsomer Norton last summer, a nice reminder of steam, sun and lazy sultry summer afternoons!
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The secondhand bookshop at Midsomer Norton has been a big success over the last year, raising nearly £2000 for the Trust. There's an excellent range of railway books, also general books, mainly non-fiction. Prices are often laughably low! So pop in next time you're over, the secondhand shop is through the main shop, once inside you can browse for hours without being bothered ...
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masbury rises

A shot of Masbury taken at the weekend - more S&D coming to life and looking very good for a halt that closed 41 years ago! And look at the surfeit of buildings - a total contrast to the cramped site at Midsomer Norton. Hopefully we'll reach this point by 2027 - and if you want to help us gather together the money to buy this site and others in the future, as well as track bed, please make a donation or regular direct debit to our trackbed fund (see sidebar for details and Paypal button!)
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Monday, March 26, 2007

five down, one to go

It's the Sunday Gang versus the Monday Gang in the race to complete Debs' six tables for the catering coach patio! When I left early this afternoon there were only one and a half to go.

The gazebo arrives this coming Monday, with the grand opening following on Easter Sunday! Dare you miss it?
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the race to prestleigh ...

After we reach Shepton Evercreech Junction and Templecombe will beckon. But there is one big problem en-route, the missing Prestleigh Viaduct.

But suddenly we're not alone in our ambitions in that direction! Neighbours the East Somerset Railway are considering building a line to the Bath and West Showground south of Prestleigh, which will require rebuilding of the viaduct. Perhaps they'll even consider a transport link directly into the Showground using the existing 7 1/4" gauge Bath and West Railway?

The route will include yet more restoration of the S&D, always something worth backing!

The East Somerset have always had the problem of not having a proper destination - this would be an incredible move and would lift the ESR right up the heritage railway chart. It would also serve an essential transport role in the car-less future.

We shouldn't be too daunted by the prospect of having to restore something the size of Prestleigh - it didn't stop it being built in the first place! It's maddening to think that this viaduct was only demolished a few years ago, well after Peak Oil and Climate Change effects were being considered by other more enlightened authorities.

Prestleigh Viaduct WILL be rebuilt, now the only question is ... by whom?
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Sunday, March 25, 2007


Some shots from the up platform garden. Midsomer Norton was always famous for the quality of its flowers, both in the beds and in the hanging baskets. This is a tradition we fully intend to continue. The greenhouse will be rebuilt at some time in the future.

Brendan was a very young member of the Trust who sadly died last year. This plaque and garden will be a lasting memorial to him.
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patio progress

With the warmer weather it's now time to get the patio tables up outside the catering coach so we can cope with the huge numbers of visitors we expect this summer. This really will be an excellent spot for a snack, meal or event, with a blend of railway ambience, landscaped gardens and a chill-out atmosphere. We're having a grand opening of the patio on Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, from 1 till 4 with food and drink, and music provided by DJs Brassey Digger and DJ Trin.

And with meals starting at just £2.50 who could resist it? The coach is also open every Sunday and Monday offering a full menu.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

place mats

Another portion of chips makes its way down the catering coach to a hungry visitor!

One thing that is always mentioned are the placemats on every table which show scenes on the new S&D. The three above are currently the most popular, but in fact almost every photo on this blog can be converted to a placemat. These are printed on high quality A4 photo paper and laminated for heavy use. Cost is just £2.95 each (includes post and packing) and they can be bought from the station shop, by mail order (address on side bar), cheques payable to 'SDRHT' or via Paypal to SDRHTSales@aol.com.
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moods ...

A few shots taken over the last few months that capture various atmospheres at the station through the autumn and winter. Within a year or so the atmosphere will be even more intense with the permanent presence of steam!
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