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!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

midford today

We are likely to be taking over ownership of Midford early in 2010. With this in mind I paid a visit today.

The site as always is breathtaking, especially the approach from Hinton Charterhouse with the line hugging the hillside. The station site and the trackbed to the southern arch of the Long Arch Bridge (the section we will be buying) is very well kept, the platform at Midford is particularly well preserved.

One issue that will have to be addressed early on is our relationship with the Hope and Anchor. They own the station car park and, understandably, don't want visitors' cars filling up their car park at busy times. Workers at the site will no doubt be able to park vehicles either on the old trackbed or on the platform itself, but obviously we'll need to sort out visitor parking at an early date. This will probably involve some cost to us, either through buying permits or buying or renting part of the car park, or at the very least restricting parking at busy times for the pub. But obviously this new visitor attraction will bring MANY new customers to the pub, and the station will be even more important to the pub when the oil starts getting too expensive for people to drive.

This sort of situation will no doubt occur at every location we purchase, but it will always be our intention to work with local established businesses. That's really what we're about - keeping the local economy going through difficult times.

In the event of a visitor parking solution not being found then Midford will simply be preserved within our Land Bank until it is. Expect more news soon!
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WestfieldWanderer said...

No mention in your piece about the cycle route which can be seen passing through the site. What are your plans in the short to medium term with this? How is your relationship with Sustrans?

Sunshiner said...

Sorry I didn't cover this in the original post - Sustrans is of course the other presence at Midford we'll need to work closely with.

The cycle route won't be affected by our plans, at least in the short to medium term. It may be that at some stage, if we decide to lay track (for cosmetic reasons) that the cycleway will be diverted alongside and along the platform. Eventually of course we'll need to work closely with Sustrans to divert the cycle route slightly away from the railway, but this is enshrined in the terms of the lease that Sustrans currently holds, which require them to vacate the railway trackbed when a REAL railway (that is a line that is primarily a transport as opposed to heritage line) is reinstated.

We expect our relations with Sustrans to be superb as we are both sustainable transport organisations. We would love to see a cycle route running from Bath to Bournemouth, alongside the S&D wherever possible, with preferential fares for cyclists at all points.

I think it's very important to remember that the New S&D will be a major employer, the primary transport link and the only way to move large numbers of people and freight in the future along this important transport corridor, so nothing will deflect us from our very important task!

Anonymous said...

has it always been known as the hope and anchor ?
or was it the railway inn or something etc etc

Anonymous said...

hope and anchor, a pub for the somerset coal canal, long before either railway came to the valley

Anonymous said...

Midford A goods yard beyond long arch bridge would be a good bit of land to acquire for volunteers and railway visitors to park. I've thought about how you'd get a coach up there if the cyclepath was to be diverted over the platform, but the simple answer is that a 110 foot long Allelys lorry with huge road crane alongside blocking the main road, would not have room to crane a coach up onto the viaduct on temporary rail, then be pushed along to the platform by jcb.

Sunshiner said...

Very good point about the up goods yard. We'll look into it.

The only way a coach is going to get up to the line is south from Wellow or north from Bath - when the line's reinstated!

We may well lay track lengths in Midford station (with the cycleway diverted along the platform) but it will be for cosmetic purposes until the line is properly reinstated throughout, at the very least Bath to Radstock.