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, July 23, 2008

defensive branding!

Even when all was quiet on the S&D front - the railless years from about 1970 to 2000 - the S&D lived on in peoples' minds. The books, Ivo's photos, regular magazine articles, TV programmes; all kept the S&D alive in a small way. Now we're perched on the edge of regular trains returning to a small part of the S&D the value of branding will become ever more important. Shops at Midsomer Norton, Shillingstone, Gartell and Washford all contain a range of S&D-related items. There's a particular intensity with the S&D that you really don't find with other lines. Products and the whole experience need to draw on this. Enthusiasts and regular visitors alike need to be constantly reminded how special the S&D was - and is. Once full trains are wending their way from an ever-expanding S&D we shouldn't lose sight of this. Even when we start taking on real traffic - commuters to Bath and freight onto the network - the importance of branding should increase, not decrease.

When the great national rail rebuilding starts in earnest - probably in 10 to 20 years - we need our loyal customer base to demand that the S&D be rebuilt as WE want it, not as some sort of utilitarian set-up foisted on us by central government. We want staffed stations, loco hauled trains, manual signalling, carriages with compartments etc - all the things that made the railways such a great travel experience in the past. Safe, atmospheric, efficient and sustainable!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 18, 2008

shillingstone open day

If you get the chance pop down to Shillingstone this Sunday (20 July 2008) - they are having their first Open Day. There will be a grand opening of the station facilities. Progress at Shillingstone has been excellent over the last year!

If you look in the shop there should still be some of the late Syd Howlett's books available. Syd was a huge asset to the Trust at Shillingstone - his ashes were scattered on the site.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 10, 2008


The new S&D Telegraph arrived today. It's better than ever and a total credit to the Trust at Midsomer Norton. This is the first time I've received one at a distance as it were, rather than being in the middle of everything that's going on!

Really excellent news is the appointment of Doug Hill, formerly General Manager at the West Somerset Railway, to my old position of Finance Director. Hopefully he's finding it pretty straightforward to pick up from where I left off. I established a Quickbooks accounting facility which is in my opinion the best accountancy software for small business that exists, so it shouldn't be too difficult!

If you've ever hesitated about joining the Trust at Midsomer Norton a quick flick through the Telegraph should convince you that the S&D is a line going places!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 07, 2008

future transport

'Near the end of the 20th century, the belief in the desirability of perpetual growth in mobility and transport has started to fade. In many countries, highway accessibility is so ubiquitous that transport cost has almost disappeared as a location factor for industry. In metropolitan areas, the myth that rising travel demand will ever be satisfied by more motorways has been shattered by reappearing congestion.
People have realised that the car has not only brought freedom of movement but also air pollution, traffic noise and accidents. It has become obvious that in the face of finite fossil fuel resources and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions the use of petroleum cannot grow forever.
There is now broad agreement that present trends in transport are not sustainable, and many conclude that fundamental changes in the technology, design, operation, and financing of transport systems are needed.'

For those of you fazed (or crazed in some cases) by the prospect of Peak Oil and Climate Change, why not treat yourself to this book, which is a level-headed, academic but readable work that gives a far brighter prediction for future transport than many of the hair-shirted Peak Oil crazies would like you to have! Electricity is the key ...
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 04, 2008

new facebook group

Midsomer Norton South.

Avon Valley Railway.

Swanage Railway.

Lynton and Barnstaple.

A great idea from Robin Whitlock - a Facebook group specifically for potential railway volunteers. Take a look and join today!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 03, 2008

a little self indulgence

Got married Saturday 21st June (5 bridesmaids in picture one). BATH.
Honeymoon visit 27th June. (Cliff lift). BOURNEMOUTH.

Bath and Bournemouth in one week - and it wasn't even deliberate!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

last shots of shillingstone

The main waiting room - looking good.

Visitor info.

The diesel looking like its ready to break out!

Pile of ballast and 9F beyond.
Posted by Picasa