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, January 30, 2008

trench warfare


Some views of the trench that will take the services cables up to the signalbox. Such a lot of work just so Graeme and John can boil up a kettle!

At least we've got John doing some of the digging (see last picture)!
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Friday, January 18, 2008


Latest S&D book is Heyday of the Somerset and Dorset Railway by Alan and Christine Hammond. Now available in the station shop - alongside dozens of other S&D (and other) titles!

If you haven't visited the shop yet please try to ASAP! We have probably the best range of S&D books, DVDs and souvenirs on the planet. There is also an extensive (and very cheap!) secondhand shop with railway and other books. The shop's open every Sunday and Monday and there is something new on display most weeks. Remember every penny raised goes directly into restoring the real Somerset and Dorset Railway!
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new year's honours 4

Everyone at Midsomer Norton's a hero, but let's all remember that regular team of volunteers that turn up week in, week out to do their bit. Every Sunday and Monday there are at least ten of them beavering away at different parts of the site, in all weathers. If you get the chance do come along and join in - with reopening now little more than year off there's still loads of work to do. Just turn up on either Sunday or Monday, make yourself known and we guarantee work for you! The only essentials are safety boots (for site work).
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

better than ever?

The S&D Telegraph number 31 is just out - available direct from the Trust or from the station shop. Remember that as a member you get this quality magazine free - sign up today via the S&D website!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

fifty years ago

Two Ivo Peters shots from probably my favourite location on the S&D - Midford. Hopefully this will be the scene again in (hopefully less than!) 50 years time!

The first DMU to run on the S&D, back in 1958. Apart from a few special trains (like this) the S&D was steam worked to the end. Had the S&D been dieselised it could well have survived - but the WR were determined to kill the S&D at any cost!

All these shots are from the 2008 Ivo Peters calendar, available from the station shop.
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Thursday, January 10, 2008


I've been digitalizing more of my early photos (above are 1972).

These are two shots on the Winchester-Alton route. I feel these capture the day-to-day reality of a run down branch line (in horrible weather). Can today's Watercress Line even begin to compete with this for atmosphere? What is preservation actually about? Do any of today's lines recreate the past as it really was, or is there so much pressure (and vested special interest groups) that every 'heritage' railway resembles little more than a full size train set with bits and pieces from different eras forced together, everything bright and shiny with beaming staff? That's been my experience and that was something we really hoped to avoid at the S&D. It may be an impossible aim. I suspect however that the more today's heritage railways morph into genuine community railways in an oil-less future then the more the atmosphere will return. Authenticity is everything if you think about it ...
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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

new year's honours 3

Something perhaps taken a little for granted is the track at Midsomer Norton. Bear in mind that this was a totally overgrown site just 5 or 6 years ago but looking at the pictures above you'd assume the track had been down for 100 years.

This is due to the Trackworks gang who have done a superb job, particularly with the complex trackwork in the yard area. They all deserve a medal for their commitment - working in all weathers. Thanks to Trevor Hodge and his team - no doubt they'll find the laying of track on the main line far easier if a little less challenging!
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new year's honours 2

The transformation of the catering coach over 2007 was amazing - from wasting asset to a real credit to the line! Occasionally opened in 2006 serving teas and coffees by mid 2007 we were offering a superb range of cooked food as well as the usual drinks and snacks, the patio area was looking great and towards the end of 2007 the coach finally got its green livery. December 2007 was great with various events happening up in the coach.

The real honours go to Debby Hitchins, who professionalised the coach and really made things happen. She also worked really hard to get the franchise off the ground by easing the transition - it was such a shame that we were let down at the last minute by the potential franchisee (reason still a complete mystery) which has left us now with no real catering team. Hopefully the Trust will be able to use its own resources to get the coach up and running again in 2008 - with the aim being to open 4 to 7 days a week in the summer. The coach will be a real profit generator for the line as well as a superb meeting place for both railfans and local people. At least we've learned that franchising is NOT the way forward and that the Trust should use its own volunteers and - eventually - local paid employess to run this very important asset.
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2008 again

(Evercreech 1967 Jeffery Grayer)

There's still nearly four months in which to sign the S&D petition on the number 10 website. There are now 444 signatures. Let's make 2008 the year that the restoration of the S&D becomes a serious aim for local people, rail enthusiasts, the Peak Oil fraternity, Sustrans, the Transition Towns initiative, local and national government and everyone who wants the future to be better than the present! Keep watching this space!
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