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, September 29, 2007

turning low-life losers into tv stars

Always ahead of the game the S&D is busily implementing a state of the art security system which as well as providing CCTV cover to the whole site also will send real time pictures to members of the Board's computers at home meaning that any low-life who fancies doing a bit of low-key damage around the site may well find a few heavily built members ready to discuss the matter with them before they get the chance to scuttle off site! It's also planned to send one of the video streams direct to the website with a contact number underneath so that any S&D fan can play their part in reducing the population of Midsomer Norton vandals!

I don't suppose any of the little mites are familiar with the Internet but if you are reading this you may find it easier to engage in your nefarious and really rather uncool behaviour elsewhere. Or you may well find yourselves in room 101 with rats gnawing your nethers ...
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

bright and shiny

The goods stock is getting spruced up at high speed - thanks mainly to Glyn Voisey and his magic paintbrush and Dave Rushton's energetic department-pushing!

Next paint job is the catering coach, which should be done in weeks rather than months - depending on the weather.
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Monday, September 24, 2007


"Joe Dunckley / Cotch.net",


"Joe Dunckley / Cotch.net"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

connecting the community

This is the PC donated to the Trust through the BT Community Connections scheme.

We've finally found the time to set it up in the catering coach, where it will soon be Internet connected via WiFi. At the same time the coach will become a WiFi zone so that visitors can use their laptops - all free of charge.
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

inside track visit

We had a party of 26 arrive late this afternoon from Inside Track. They arrived not by train unfortunately but in this monstrosity!

We are getting more and more organised visits these days. Many groups combine a visit to MN with walks along closed sections of the S&D. Please email if you'd like to arrange a group visit to the line. We can cope with anything from a minibus to a couple of coaches the size of the one above. We'd normally arrange special opening of the shop, catering coach and signalbox and even - like today - have a loco running up and down.
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Friday, September 21, 2007

new coach into position - video

This is one of the promised videos of the new coach arriving yesterday.

sunshine and shadows

A few shots taken yesterday after the excitement of the new arrival had passed and the early rain had changed to bright sunshine. There was an autumnal feel in the wind yesterday ...
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

new arrival

This coach body arrived today. Its history needs to be researched, but it's a good deal older than the Mark 1 we have on site!

Full marks to Steve Ehrlicher and his team for sourcing this wonderful vehicle - we can't wait to see it fully restored and become a real credit to the S&D!

It's been temporarily moved to the gap between the catering coach and the two recently repainted goods wagons. Hopefully I'll be able to download the video(s) of it being craned into position later.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

combe down open again!

(Photo: Jeffery Grayer)

It's like buses - you wait for a Combe Down Tunnel walk for years then two come along together ...

It's open on 27th September thanks to our friends in the Two Tunnels Group.

For more info click here.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

that atmosphere thing - again

(Rye, Alresford, Hove, Brockenhurst 1970s)

I think it's important that we get the atmosphere right on the new S&D. To my mind the S&D IS colour photos in the sun ... despite the winter shots posted a few days ago!

The above shots are all from Sussex and Hampshire in the early 70s. I've been digitalising all my photos, and these are some of my favourites. They are neither sunny or colour! Quite the opposite. So perhaps atmosphere is more difficult to pin down than I thought. Certainly my favourite shots at MN have been taken in fog or at dusk. Ponder ...
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Monday, September 17, 2007

space monsters

An unusual shot - the platform lines clear of rolling stock!

We do have a problem with storage space at Midsomer Norton. Every inch of siding space together with most of the platform lines is usually blocked with wagons, coaches and locos. Sadly this is not going to change any time soon. The real problem is the steep gradient on the running lines which will prevent us using the reinstated up line as a long storage siding.

It's not all bad news. Lack of space means that every potential item of new stock needs to have an excellent case for coming to the line. Many heritage lines have long sidings of rusting wagons etc which really make the place look tatty. We won't have the option.

We do have a fair selection of rolling stock, but every item has to earn its keep, either as an engineering vehicle, for storage or as a museum piece that will bring in extra visitors. Hopefully when we reach Chilcompton and Radstock extra storage space can be developed!
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

winter is approaching ...

After a run of mild winters and warm summers (even this summer was actually warmer than average!) I wonder when we'll see scenes like the above again on the S&D? These shots are I think of the winter of 1963 when the line really struggled and was completely blocked for several days. The S&D seemed to excude atmosphere no matter what the weather - or perhaps we just happened to have the right sort of photographers who always seemed to be able to bring the best out of the line?
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Saturday, September 15, 2007

green park atmosphere

(Original by Michelle Howe)

I love this picture - a pared down and atmospheric interpretation of Bath Green Park. Thanks to Michelle for sending it to us.
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Friday, September 14, 2007

step forward

The base of the greenhouse reappears.

The original basks in the background behind the Jinty.

After four years stuck in the office I've volunteered for something far more interesting - rebuilding the greenhouse. With Robin off to Cardiff for post-graduate work I've stepped in with the rash promise of getting it done myself! Expect slow but steady progress ...
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

bike to the future

A recent message board post suggested that we should oppose cycleways. This may have been a valid argument 20 years ago, as a reaction to the dinosaur thinking of some of the cycle groups in the 80s, but I really don't think it applies today.

Look ahead 20 years. Cheap oil will have disappeared from the market. Private cars will be the preserve of a few very rich people. Air travel will be the same. Economies will be much more locally and regionally based. Roads will fall into disuse as people refuse to pay taxes to maintain them. Railways will be being feverishly rebuilt across the country. Cities and larger towns will be rushing to build tramways. Rail will be in the ascendant ...

But even rail requires energy. A new nuclear industry may well allow many lines to be electrified, as long as uranium remains available. Many lines will use wood burning steam. But a transport system that requires almost no energy at all should also be allowed to flourish - the bike. There is already a reasonably large cycleway network in the UK, but Sustrans struggles to raise the money to keep it going, let alone expand. Some Sustrans routes use rail trackbeds that will inevitably have to revert to rail in the future. But of course within a decade or two there will be a whole new resource for Sustrans to transform - the dying road network! This should mean that a transformation of our transport from road to rail and bike should be fairly easy to achieve. Railways will be able to take the medium to long distance traffic, plus freight, whilst the cycleways will allow individuals and families to range up to 10 or 20 miles from their homes. The climate will benefit, people's health will benefit, wildlife and the countryside will flourish and we'll still be able to keep a reasonably high standard or living.

So let's not pretend the rail revivalists and cyclists are somehow at odds, we're actually destined to work TOGETHER in the future. Rather than knock Sustrans let's join in droves and invite them to join us ...
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

sabotaged but undefeated!

This is the original 'emergency' timetable forced on the S&D between 3 January and 6 March 1966, a final indignity to the finest line in England. Four trains a day between Bath and Bournemouth and just two on the branch! Hardly a 'service'. And more proof that the S&D closure was political rather than economic. No track rationalisation, no dieselisation (in case it encouraged users), traffic diverted away from the route and no attempt to push its incredible scenic appeal.

How those idiots from the sixties must be fuming in their graves as the S&D springs back to life!
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Sunday, September 09, 2007

a walk around the site, March 2007

A short video trip around the Midsomer Norton site culminating in an invitation to see the inside of the signalbox. just after the lever frame had been set in place.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

a video trip along the line

Taken during this year's Midsummer at Midsomer event on 23 June, after a couple of hours on the computer Debs finally cracked how to get a video on line.

heritage open day 1

Three nice shots of Wulfric in the signalbox today. The station was very busy all day with visitors. It was nice to see that many of them were young - hopefully future members and volunteers of the Trust! Particular thanks today to Jeff Harris, Doug Auckland and Ann Cook who turned out all day to help visitors. All four new volunteers with an interest in working in the coach have been taken on - the first result being that we'll be open tomorrow (Sunday 9 September) up at the coach!

Danielle is more interested in posing than pulling levers ...
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