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!

Monday, March 24, 2008



After!! (Photo from SDRHT website)

Fantastic news is that the up platform is now completely resurfaced (see picture 3). This is a big step towards operating trains, and makes me really proud to be a life member of the Trust! It looks superb and is a credit to everyone involved. Can't wait to get started on that greenhouse to really set it off!

Picture four is what we're all about - restoring genuine steam services on an ever expanding stretch of Britain's finest line.

Can you really afford not to be part of it all?
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Big 50,000

I've just checked the stats and we're about 90 short of 50,000 visits since this blog started!

OK, there are a lot of repeat visits in there but even so that's an awful lot of exposure for our small line. I'm still amazed that most of the bigger lines don't even have a blog. They are missing a huge opportunity!
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Monday, March 17, 2008


(Photos copyright Mick Knox 2008)

These are a few shots of a line not totally dissimilar to the S&D - the Great Central. Like the S&D the GC was once a very busy route linking urban areas through the countryside, serving both local communities and the nation. The major part of both routes were closed in 1966. Both lines, even in a world where oil was endless and the climate was stable, should have been retained and developed so they could fulfil a useful role into the 21st century and beyond. Now of course both routes are essential with Peak Oil and Climate Change visible to everyone.

Mick is working on a website that I think will be superb. The premise is a critique of the 'reasoning' behind the extraordinary destruction of the British railway network in the 1960s. The socialist bureaucrats that ruled the roost back then seriously believed that the railway network was no longer needed and - appallingly - would never be needed again. But even in the sixties politicians knew that oil was a finite resource and would eventually become too expensive to be practical. What were they thinking of? At the very very least the routes should have been retained even if the infrastructure was removed.

Of course the S&D and GC will be rebuilt, and probably a lot sooner than most of us expect, but the cost will be far higher as a result of the stupidity of politicians forty years and more ago. Where development has taken place there will need to be massive compensation - although many will argue that there should be none. And competition for the skills of railway workers will be fierce. This is why I have always argued - and always will - that the S&D needs to fight and claw its way to the top of the reopening pile!
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Along These Lines (Meridian TV series)

(Courtesy Railway Ramblers and Mick Knox)

We have just received details of the running order for the above series (see below).

Each programme will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. on Meridian, which is ITV1 in a region ranging from south Essex through to east Dorset.

Do keep an eye on the schedules, though, because things in the TV world can change at short notice! People who subscribe to Sky can also receive Meridian - we hope to publish details shortly.

In the meantime, here is the running order:

Program 1 : Castleman’s Corkscrew (Tx 6/4/08)
Program 2 : The Longmoor Military Railway (Tx 13/4/08)
Program 3 : The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway (Tx 20/4/08)
Program 4 : The Hawkhurst Branch (Tx 27/4/08)
Program 5 : The Meon Valley Railway (Tx 4/5/08)
Program 6 : The East Kent Railway (Tx 11/5/08)
Program 7 : The Sprat & Winkle Line (Tx 18/5/08)
Program 8 : The Isle of Wight (Tx 25/5/08)
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The fire's on and the kettle's boiling!

The frame painted and shining!

View towards Chilcompton.

Looking towards Radstock from the box.

(All photos copyright Mick Knox 2008).
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the extension in winter

(Copyright Mick Knox 2008)

This is the Chilcompton extension in the depths of winter - caught by Mick Knox in the middle of February. It's always clearest this time of year as the undergrowth has died back.
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Friday, March 07, 2008

strimmer attack

(Copyright 2008 Mick Knox)

One of our unsung heroes is Mick Knox, who comes down several times a year to give the lineside a serious strimming. These before and after photos are from the 19 February.

One of the features of the S&D was its neat cuttings and embankments. When trains are running again hopefully lineside fires will do some of Mick's work for him! As the line expands then more and more of this sort of rewarding work will need to be done. I can't imagine a better way of spending a summer's day than cutting back the undergrowth alongside the S&D - with champagne and strawberries to hand of course ...
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Thursday, March 06, 2008

the last time?

Tradition expects me to mark today - the 42nd anniversary of the closure of the S&D. Hopefully it'll be the last time I - or anybody else - has to! With regular trains expected to start running this year at Midsomer Norton future years should be marked by the celebrating of the reopening and we can eventually forget the line was ever closed. 2008 really is a turning point ...
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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

please note

Thanks for all your stamp contributions over the last few years - altogether (with other secondhand items) they've raised almost £5000 for the Trust!

I'm still getting a few envelopes going to the old address - could you make sure that stamps are sent to 10 Bellamy Avenue, Hartcliffe, BRISTOL, BS13 0HW.

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breathe easy ...

We've had the following statement posted on the comments section of this site which hopefully will put all the fears of some to rest! Thanks to 'Somersetbiker' for this.

Be assured. It is Sustrans' stated policy that any cycle path they build on ex-railway formation will always take second place to a restoration of the railway, but only if the restored railway is a "proper" transport operation and not "just" a heritage line. Sustrans maintain that the restoration of a parallel cycle path would be insignificant compared to the cost of re-instating the railway. How this would work through the Two Tunnels remains to be seen - by the next generation, not us!

I'd recommend reading the SDRHT Constitution - the New S&D will be in every way a 'proper' railway, even if it will (hopefully always) have a significant heritage element!
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