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, September 05, 2007

what lies beneath

Somebody asked via the comments area - what's wrong with prussian blue and LMS?

I thought my reply perhaps should reach a wider audience!

The problems are many! To remember the LMS you would need to be about 64, to remember S&D livery about 80. Most of us that are members of the Trust were inspired by our own memories of the line (invariably 1950s/60s BR) or by the photographic work of Ivo and others (again almost exclusively 1950s/60s). This was the heyday of the line and the era we're pledged to recreate - so the station, signal box and rolling stock need to be strictly in those liveries with no exceptions. Anything else will feel wrong and will sharply remind the visitor that they are at a 'heritage' or preserved site.

With a homogenous feel to the line hopefully whole new generations of fans will grow up seeing the new S&D as a real railway rather than a big train set! How many 'heritage' lines are nothing more than a heterogenous collection of visible egos, locos and wagons and coaches painted in whatever colour the owner or owning groups fancies? It's not good business and it's not right for what we're doing. All the owners we've advised the livery policy to have agreed 100% - they just want to see the S&D running again. It's gained us a lot of kudos in the heritage movement.

The S&D isn't like other 'heritage' or private lines, but a unique attempt to bring a WORKING steam railway back to Somerset and Dorset, a line that is steam because that's the most economic way to run a line and that does proper justice to the incredible 'heritage' of what the S&D is for most people - a classic English cross-country line of the 50s and 60s.

For Prussian blue and other colours that really do not do anything for most people, or are justified by their historic connontations only, then other sites such as Washford, who are not trying to recreate the S&D, exist to keep them happy.

And remember, 'Somerset and Dorset' was used right up to BR days to advertise/brand the route. It will always be the 1950s and 60s (for Shillingstone) look where stretches of the line are being restored. We've always been honest in our aims to rebuild the route
1950s style, as well as to provide a genuine transport link in this beautiful part of Wessex.

The Sentinel is going to look fantastic in black with a BR number, and the real test is to ask those who remember the Sentinels working what they'd prefer. And they've to a man said 'BR black'!

The S&D was an extraordinary line with a huge degree of support and love from the public. We owe it to them to recreate it as closely as we can to how they remember it, and to all those thousands of enthusiasts and countryside lovers who only knew it through the work of Ivo Peters, David Cross and others.
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Toddingtonted said...

Indeed, there is nothing wrong with "Prussian Blue and LMS" but you are right, it would be very difficult to recreate the S&D in its original or earlier guise today. Your colour photograph and your references tell us a great deal and there is no doubt that it is much easier to recreate a true working railway using the most recent references, evidence and artifacts. There are some exceptions, including the (dare I mention it) GWR, where it has been possible to recreate the experience (to use another railway's strap line) but that is down to much hard work and the survival to some extent of many railway items. Whilst many people will react more positively to something that they remember from their youth, that is not always the case; a fully restored 19th century sailing vessel or, in my opinion better still, the awesome sight of 12 Spitfires, 5 Hurricanes, 6 Mustangs, 4 Corsairs etc etc all getting airborne the same time at Duxford in the 21st Century cannot be beaten in my view, but I cannot recall them from my youth! There are also historical glitches to overcome. The fact that the S&D has a BR Mk III buffet coach is totally incorrect but, who knows, a BR Mk I might become available in due course and at least you are attempting to tone it down by the use of BR Green paint. Perhaps the best example so far of the efforts that you are making is the recently completed signal box at Midsomer, which I've yet to see in the flesh but it looks just right in the photos! Whilst I think the current livery of S&D 2-8-0 No 88 looks most fetching (and when it was at the GWR I overheard may admiring comments from the public) it is of course not correct for that loco in its current condition, whereas BR unlined black would be. However, I know the subject of loco liveries can waste more electrons than almost anything else. So I guess there's nothing wrong with the 1950's S&D and its well worth trying to adopt it as a house style.

Nigel Pease said...

Great reply.....Branding and consistancy is key to success. Visitors will see value in the common identity and will feel connected to it. And by feeling connected the visitors will turn into members, members into more cash and volunteer hours.

Anonymous said...

Please no infighting about livery- the Southern Green is part oF Wessex as is BR Black, lets please crack on and re open the line and get real about peak oil and other issues- it will happen! We cannot carry on as we are. I recently visited Midsomer Norton and look forward to next year when the S & D comes back to life

Sunshiner said...

Thanks for the comments! Although the buffet coach is 'wrong' having been built years after the line closed, it is and always will be a purely static vehicle so will not ever be seen on the line, but tucked away at one end of the site. The eventual aim is to run a dining car train, and this will be mark ones! We already own several mark ones, currently dotted around the country, and they will arrive at the line before the opening. The eventual aim is a rake in green and a rake in maroon.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to seeing the two rakes of Mk1s - the green and maroon liveries are timeless classics in my opinion.
PS. The buffet coach looks like an air conditioned Mk2 buffet/first. I look forward to seeing it in green - will it also look relatively timeless like all those painted Mk3 sleepers used as volunteer accommodation on preserved railways? (e.g. Swanage & Didcot)