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 02, 2010


Spetisbury in summer 2009 - well overgrown!

Spetisbury 27th and 28th December 2009, beginning to emerge ...

(All photos © Paul Beard)

The very first physical signs of the New S&D are starting to appear at Spetisbury where we have an agreement to start clearance works. All of this work has so far been done by Paul Beard and he's revealed that the back wall of the station building is still in surprisingly good condition. It also appears that many of the bricks from the building are still on site, so we will be recovering these for both historical and economic reasons! The building itself is around 45 feet long by 10 feet deep so will provide a good base for the southern end of the line once it is restored.

Spetisbury is on the southern end of the line south of Blandford. This is the key section of the route and we expect to be concentrating most of our resources on it in 2010, though of course we will also be keeping an eye out for opportunities on the northern section of the route! We will be doing a more general launch of the New S&D between Blandford and Poole this year, aiming at the residents who seem desperate to have their trains back. It is ludicrous that a town the size of Blandford is STILL not rail connected in the 21st century.

Paul was spoken to by many passers-by who were fascinated by the work he was doing. Locals are 100% behind the railway, and can now seriously look forward to getting trains back - Spetisbury was cruelly deprived of modern transport as long ago as 1956, ten years before the line closed! We have already had one couple volunteer to help the restoration, and an invitation to give a talk in a nearby village in September.

We are not ignoring Midford, merely awaiting paperwork from the current owner before agreeing a price and terms to taking on the site. We already have agreement in principle from Sustrans to run the 7¼" gauge railway on the cycleway between the south end of the station and the south end of Long Arch Bridge, probably in May. Andy Lunness, who owns the loco and portable line will also be talking to the landlord at the Hope and Anchor to arrange car parking facilities and, hopefully, joint ticketing (train trip and a meal).
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Michael Knox said...

What a fantastic start for 2010 at Spetisbury. I applaud your effort there Paul and hope the people of the village will help in the transformation of an overgrown closed station into an icon for the reinstatement for that section of the line. Its hard work but your efforts will be rewarded by every picture taken at this location, for it will show real industrial history preserved amongst the beauty of the English countryside.

will said...

The temporary 7 1/2 railway is a fantastic idea - a great way to get a "train" on the line. and to get people interested - love it!