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!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

a dorset branch line



Toller. (Building now at Totnes on the South Devon Railway).


Four shots from a Dorset branch line (25.2.1975).

This was the Bridport branch a few months before closure. It was a surprising survivor in many ways, although if it were open today no doubt it would be flourishing. Sitting on the southern side of the train you hardly saw a house the whole way, but Bridport itself was a large town, certainly deserving of a railway station in the 21st century!

There were preservation attempts, but the mid seventies were a pretty difficult time for heritage railways. A later scheme planned a revival of the whole route including the extension to West Bay, and a second line to Crewkerne. Some work was done at West Bay, which currently has track laid, but the scheme was a little before its time. No doubt it will reappear quite soon! Gauge would be 2 foot rather than standard.

This whole area is quite similar to the countryside of the S&D, in fact the Castle Cary-Dorchester route is quite S&D-like, serving small villages with a complex junction arrangement round Yeovil and a seaside resort as a destination. The Bridport branch left this line at Maiden Newton.

I've dug out some old photo albums, much more to follow including Broadstone and Wimborne with track - the closest I got to seeing the original S&D as a railway rather than an empty trackbed!
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