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, January 31, 2009

the built environment

Above two - Midsomer Norton South signalbox 2008

Pontins' terraced chalet - 1950s

Multi storey car park - who cares?

Take a look at the signalbox at Midsomer Norton. Every aspect of it is human scale, attractive but functional. Inside it is cosy but also efficient, the large windows connect immediately with the outside world. The whole scene is one of pleasantness.

Contrast it with pics 3 and 4. The Pontins shot shows that it's not age that gives the built environment its attractiveness. And as for the multistorey - what were we thinking of?

The entire rail infrastructure in its classic form was a magnificent synthesis of humanity and engineering. What more attractive scene could there be than the wayside country station with a steam train at its platform?

Much of the nastiness of 'modern' life's infrastructure is the fact its been built around the car, it's been created with built-in obscelescence and with no care. Money is always involved, everything has to be done as cheaply as possible.

The future, the one the New S&D will be such a part of, will be totally different. With no cars or roads towns and villages will reorientate towards its railway stations. With labour freely and cheaply available, and the artisanal skills which originally created the built environment of the past back in favour big time, once again we'll be able to create buildings that people can relate to, that people want to work in and be near. The New S&D will be architecturally magnificent, from the humblest platelayers' hut to the mightiest viaduct.

Peak Oil isn't all bad by any means!
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1 comment:

Toddingtonted said...

I think the signal box at MN is probably one of the iconic symbols of the Station and it is wonderful to see it back again, although most of it is I guess a replica of the original. This is perhaps a good opportunity for me to say that I have to come clean here and confess one of my sins to you all; shortly after the line to Kingham from Cheltenham was closed, I was taken one day with my family and a school friend to Notgove Station. Whilst the family chatted to a friend who lived in one of the old Station houses, my friend and I explored the Notgove site. The 1906 replacement signal box still stood although completely gutted inside. Of course, we decided to help finish things off by throwing stones at the remaining unbroken windows. Oh the shame of it! Many years later, when helping to restore the almost identical Signal Box at Toddington on the Glos Warks Rly, my father was asked to dispose of a large quantity of Edwardian cold frames and greenhouse panels which were full of glass. Needless to say the GWR received sufficient glass to wipe my slate clean I hope! I visited the GCR yesterday and saw what its like to play trains properly! Whilst there I saw the new station at Leicester North. The Station isn't exactly a gem but they are trying to improve it whilst giving it anti-chav protection. The new canopy frame is complete and includes the Leicester Rose badge in its handiwork. I think this is what makes some architecture look so good whilst some utilitarian stuff like multi-storey car parks, look so rubbish. It doesn't have to be that way. Who cares about multi-storey car parks? Well the Tricorn Centre at Portsmouth had a love-hate following but what's there now is much better than the concrete carbuncle which once occupied the site!