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, May 06, 2007


I'd never been a great fan of steam, my main interest was in the lines themselves, the infrastructure, atmosphere and potential for the future. But as the likelihood that steam will become the main source of power in the future grows every day then my interest has been awakened! Also Geoff Akers' impassioned descriptions of the power of steam have entered my conciousness and I'm finally becoming aware as to how important steam as a concept is. It drives our nuclear reactors and with consumate ease can drive huge trains of many hundreds of tons. The technology is simple and understandable, efficient and long-lasting. It is sustainability incarnate and will still be operational centuries after fossil-fuel dinosaurs like cars, lorries, buses and diesel locomotives are just rusting old exhibits in nostagia museums.

Steam has everything. The sights, sounds and smells, the ability to create atmosphere - something our washed-out 'modern' society totally lacks, to our spiritual disadvantage - the sheer power and elegance. Steam railways are not popular because of that vile human weakness, nostalgia, but because they represent a wonderful vision for a future we can have if we fight for it. A human-scale sustainable society that puts happiness as its aim, rather than this pointless manufactured 'ambition' that so many (rather brainless) 'individuals' fall for these days. What would you rather be - a jet-setting millionaire with a hard-set frown or a signalman at Midford or Midsomer Norton?
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Bob said...

That's a nice image of a classic S&D combination. I note with interest the GW Collett coach behind the Black 5.

Robin Whitlock said...

The thing about steam railways, is that its not just about steam, or stations, or any stuff like that, but about values, respect, community, friendship.

These are things that have disappeared from our nation as the world as surged forward into the era of turbocapitalism where everyone and everything is potentially expendable, including, insanely, the earth itself.