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!

Friday, September 10, 2010

perchance we are all waking up!

Photo courtesy Welsh Highland Railway.


Narrow Gauge page on the Rail Thing website.

Look carefully at the photo above. It says a lot about the way things are going.

The lead loco is the new build 'Lyd', an authentic copy of the elegant and charming Lynton and Barnstaple Railway loco.

The Lynton and Barnstaple closed in 1935. It was a digraceful closure, robbing southern England of its second most charismatic railway. It served a prime holiday area and had it survived a few more years would now be one of the biggest and most profitable tourist attractions in Britain. On the buffer stop at Barnstaple Town some incredibly far sighted admirer placed a wreath stating 'Perchance it is not dead but merely sleepeth'. I suspect it was partly this image of optimism that encouraged brave preservationists to suggest in the 70s that the L&B should be rebuilt. The best thing is that the small start up group has over the years developed into an ambitious affair which intends to eventually restore the whole line, and in fact even extend it in Lynton to make it a more appropriate public service for the 21st century. Of course the original closure of the L&B was idiotic, it was a visionary line that has an even bigger role to play in the 21st century than it ever did in the 19th and 20th. Its time has come, and now one of its engines has returned from the past.

The second fascinating aspect of this picture is the track. Note that it's laid tramway style. This is the start of the section of line in Porthmadog that runs as a tramway. Who would have thought back in the 60s and 70s that this could ever happen? Again trams are possibly the most iconic 21st century transport system imaginable, and whilst this is not a tram or tramway in any normal sense of the word the return of rails to streets in other parts of the UK has made their adoption in a small Welsh town possible. It may well be that parts of the S&D in the future use tram like tracks in places, to save huge demolition bills. The Welsh Highland Railway has now been fully rebuilt giving tourists a modern way to explore the heart of Snowdonia. This is not preservation as such, but the first wave of a huge railway revival in Britain.
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1 comment:

Malc mitchell said...

Hello there - just a small correction, the replica Lynton and Barnstaple loco pictured here is called 'LYD' not 'LYN'. It is a wonderful piece of work and I had the pleasure of seeing it back working on the L&B at Woody Bay on the 26th Sept.