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, September 25, 2010

midford restoration 90s style!

The first picture was taken in 1984, probably early in the year and I think was the first one I took there. It shows the platform swathed in foliage and the trackbed thickly layered with green turf all over the ballast. Nobody had yet chopped or dug at anything since 1960's.

The second picture was taken in June 1985 and shows my Honda CG125 parked up where the lamp hut used to be (probably what you refer to as "oil store"). This had only just been cleared, was invisible in jungle.

The third picture was taken in June 1990 from the same viewpoint and shows a derelict incomplete hut where the original lamp hut used to be. The people are Henry Allen and his son David visiting from Basingstoke. Five years before Henry hauled many tons of materials onto site here, and a few tons away, driving hired lorries.

The fourth picture was taken in September 1990 and shows the platform with foundations for station building scraped clear. A total of twelve visitors were in this picture taking as great an interest then as you describe your effort attracting now.

Above 4 pictures + text are © Brian Clarke - all rights reserved.
The third picture is the most emotive for me as I'm currently spending one afternoon a week trying to get Midford back to this position! I was aware of an earlier preservation attempt at Midford, and hopefully most of you that were involved in it back then will come up and get it restarted. Of course the idea back then was to simply restore the line from Midford to Tuckingmill with a DMU shuttling back and forth. We have a direct link with this scheme as it was Laurence Skinnerton who personally purchased the site in 1997 and has now sold it on to us. The earlier attempt has also persevered in a way as Midford is now nowhere near as overgrown as it was in some of these shots!

Midford restoration part 1 was probably years ahead of its time, and also suffered from the lack of vision - a working modern freight and passenger railway - that of course the New S&D offers. This meant, sadly, that the locals didn't support it 100%.

We will be putting in for planning permission for the whole site very soon, with restoration of the infrastructure and a commitment to relaying the track as soon as we can. I've already noticed quite an increase in memberships and donations over the last few weeks since restoration started!

Do try to come along and help restore/rebuild this most iconic location! Simply email me at leysiner@aol.com for more info, or just keep checking this blog for the latest news. Members can of course go up at any time and do some clearance work but please email me first, or phone on 0117 3738973 to let me know that you're going and also to let me give you an idea of what needs to be done!
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1 comment:

yamfaz said...

I would like to come down one weekend as I work in London during the week. I have put a message on the 'Wall' of the Facebook site http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=112314825457862&ref=ts
If anyone is interested in a weekend visit please 'Comment' so we can get some dates together. Lets not leave all the work to Steve.