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, February 28, 2009

steam loco trials on the S&D

A superb shot from John Penny (30.10.2008).

This is the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway's new locomotive, Axe, on trials at the Gartell Railway. This of course is running on the existing 2 foot gauge section of the S&D just south of Templecombe.

'Perchance it is not dead but merely sleepeth', famously quoted on a wreath left at Barnstaple Town station on closure in 1935, was very prophetic and should also apply to the S&D. Bearing in mind that the wreath was placed 74 years ago, the designer obviously had an uncanny ability to see into the future!

It is great that the two routes are working together and hopefully inspiring each other. Certainly the land buying L&B group, Exmoor Associates, has very much inspired the setting up of the New S&D with a similar remit.
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Friday, February 27, 2009

another one for the hit list

4 shots from the former S&D bridge between Shillingstone and Blandford that is now little more than parapets lost in a big infilled cutting. This will certainly be a challenge -but far from an insurmountable one - for either Shillingstone or the New S&D. I think this location is Cliff Cutting - but I stand to be corrected! I should have made notes on the day, but I always find that a little trainspotterish!
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

introducing the hit list!

(Photos Mick Knox - from bridge 115 near Wyke Champflower)

This is the famous tennis court that has been the subject of some great fun behind the scenes on the message board!

Mick Knox has suggested a 'hit list' of S&D encroachments, so we can keep an eye on them and formulate methods of dealing with them as they become relevant. This looks to be a little more than an individual's knockabout court but the lie of the land in photo one suggests that a diversion may well be an easier option here. From the photo it looks like as well as a tennis court there has also been some infilling. Small problems for a big line!
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if only ...

(south of Shillingstone 18.2.2009)

If only the trackbed south of Midsomer Norton was this prepared! In many ways it's as if the councils and the people living in these areas are so desperate to get their trains back they are making it as easy as possible. This section of the North Dorset Trailway is just begging to be rebuilt as a railway ...
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009



Four shots of the first underbridge south of Shillingstone, showing the excellent condition of the trackbed, currently part of the North Dorset Trailway. This section of the route was single track (Templecombe-Blandford) and this bridge was built only one track width wide, a possible issue (and expense) when the line is rebuilt at this point, as I suspect double track will quickly be needed. I think most if not all stations on this single track section had passing loops, which will of course be another option worth looking into.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

assault on binegar

(Photos Jeffery Grayer)

Three shots of Binegar after closure. The first is a November 1967 view and shows the signalbox substantially intact. The bottom two shots are from 7 May 1968, with a Hymek and Class 8 doing the dirty.
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last look at shillingstone (for now)

Four more shots from Shillingstone (taken 18.2.09).

The view from the platforms across the valley are fantastic - though don't look great in the last shot thanks to the weather, which elsewhere en route actually heightened the atmosphere!

I suspect it won't be too long before the Shillingstone diesel ventures back on to the main line, echoing Midsomer Norton's achievement about 4 years back, which I missed! It will be a lot longer before the 9F does the same, but after last week's visit I no onger have any doubts that it will.

This is the last bit of active S&D on this trip, though surprisingly not the last bit of track still in place. We'll be heading southwards tomorrow ...
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

a 9F on the S&D

This is 9F Morning Star at Shillingstone (18.2.2009).

Progress is already being made on this monster - a new cab has been built and it's generally looking a lot better when I last saw it a few years ago.

The 9F is definitely a commitment to a new S&D. Rumours are that although the hulk was able to be brought in by road, that option will simply not be available when it is fully restored. The only way it will visit anywhere is (at least partly!) by rail. Obviously this doesn't presume a fully restored S&D, but it will require that Shillingstone extend to a point where bridge weight restrictions will no longer apply. In any case a big loco like this deserves a good ten miles of S&D to justify its presence - but the more sanguine amongst us will already wish it to run down to Bournemouth and up through Masbury and Midsomer Norton to Bath!
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

shillingstone 2

Some more shots from Tuesday's visit to Shillingstone.

The catering facilities are now set up in the old booking office, neatly set up around the new counter. The station's laid out so that just one person can man the shop and catering.

The station's looking good throughout, really capturing the 1960s S&D and SR atmosphere. It's a real treat seeing this part of the S&D coming back to life. Shillingstone station is a real gem, and neat trackbed north and south is very inviting!
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Friday, February 20, 2009

shillingstone (1)


First stop on our Stour Valley trip was Shillingstone. Much to our surprise it was open - we even managed to get tea and stuff from the shop. Apparently Wednesday is a work day there so all the facilities were open.

At last track's starting to appear between the platforms, the station bulding itself is nice and roomy and they are laying it out very well inside. The old shop has now been converted to a small museum.

They seemed a very friendly bunch down there, and very keen to push the S&D message. If you do live down this end of the line why not get involved? There is plenty of trackbed north and south, much already prepared ready for tracklaying! Sturminster Newton to Blandford is clear the whole way through!
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

stour valley reflections


Near Stourpaine.



Still recovering from yesterday's epic trackbed survey down south.

I went along with Mick Knox, who did all the driving. We stopped at Shillingstone first, then headed towards Blandford. We found original S&D track still in place in Blandford. We also got to Charlton Marshall, Spetisbury and Stourpaine and Durweston halts, and ended up at the bridge just north of Sturminster Newton.

I'll be doing location by location reports over the next week or so!
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

southern teasers

Four random shots from today's epic survey of the route between Sturminster Newton and Spetisbury - much more to follow over the next few days and weeks!
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