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!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

can we recreate the past - and should we?

Part of what we're doing at Midsomer Norton is recreating the past, specifically the late 1950s. Look at the shot above - not only is it possible to recreate this scene, but we've almost done it. The main missing element is the greenhouse, but rebuilding it is going to be far easier than the signalbox - and that of course is nearly complete. This photo also conveniently ends just at the beginning of the slope of the up platform. Our line of course currently stops here! We have a mineral wagon and of course a Jinty visited us in 2005. The driver could almost be Geoff Akers leaning out!

But if the platform had had passengers on then we couldn't recreate them - the clothing, the stances, the attitude. And the new S&D will be nothing if not busy with passengers! And of course the 'train' here is doing a real job, it's not there just to be photographed.

For me the real authenticity of the new S&D will come when we're actually doing a real job of work and not just giving tourists and rail enthusiasts a three or four mile round trip into (delightful) countryside. When we're back at Radstock I can see Radstock people coming to the better range of shops in Midsomer Norton, and perhaps there'll be traffic going in the other direction - to Radco perhaps, or the Mining Museum. But look beyond Radstock towards Bath and suddenly whole new purposes for the line open up. We'll be taking people from Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Shoscombe, Wellow, Midford, perhaps even from a new station at Writhlington, to Bath - for work, shopping etc, not because they want to ride on the train but because we'll get them there far quicker than a car or bus would. And after Peak Oil the S&D will be the only way to get into town. And as we head southwards as well people from Shepton, Masbury, Binegar and Chilcompton will also have the option of getting to Bath quickly and efficiently - and stress-free. At the same time the tourists in Bath will have an excellent way of getting out to the hinterland - to the Mining Museum, to the Midford Valley, to the S&D Museum at Midsomer Norton, to Shepton. And there's freight as well, in both directions. And with wood-burning steam from managed forests being a genuinely sustainable system, because after Peak Oil there will soon come Peak Coal, it'll all be behind steam! Ironically Peak Coal and rising demand for lower-quality fuels once oil vanishes may even give us outward coal freight flows from a revived Somerset Coalfield!

So at the same time as we recreate the past - at least in part - we'll be building a modern (in the true sense of the word - sustainable and locally based) transport system.
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Anonymous said...

Good evening

This post was interesting, how long did it take you to write?

Anonymous said...

Great post, I am almost 100% in agreement with you