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, December 21, 2010

not just the future

It's been such a busy year for the S&D with a focus on the future of the route, from building the organisation through to acquiring Midford, that perhaps the history of this fantastic line has been overlooked.

Part of the New S&D remit is to completely record the history of the route, not just the nuts and bolts of operation etc, but perhaps even more importantly the memories and experiences of people who knew the line - a history of course that is now getting its second wind as the line starts to reappear after what will, in future decades, be seen as a rather odd temporary closure of a major trunk line with a fantastic future.

Most of you will have seen the stations section on the website but David has just added a 'memories' feature for each station. The first is this gem from Anthony Chivers regarding Shoscombe and Single Hill -

I was born in 2 Railway Bungalows, Shoscombe in 1945. The two semidetached bungalows were situated some 200 yards west along the track from the Halts booking office. Initially my grandmother had the tenancy due to the fact that my grandfather Archibold Tapper, who worked as a ganger on the line, was killed whilst crossing the line at the Stonelittleton road bridge. Later when my grandmother died my mother was allowed to take on the tenancy.

When the Halt was opened my auntie Rene Tapper took the position of booking clerk. After a few years my mother Margaret Tapper took over as booking clerk and continued for 40 years until the line closed. Rene Tapper married William Beeho, who was the signalman at Writhlington collery until the line closed, and my mother became Margaret Chivers after marrying my father Richard, a miner at Writhington collery.

My mother walked to the booking office 8 times a day Monday to Saturday arriving 10 minutes before and leaving 10 minutes after each stopping train. The first west bound train from Bath arrived at 07:25h and the last east bound train from Templecombe arrived at 19:40h. My mother therefore only worked a total of 2 hours 40 minutes each day.
If any of you reading this have memories of any of the stations on the route - whether from the first opening period to 1966, the lost years up to 2000 or thereabouts or from the slow rebuilding of the route at Midsomer Norton, Gartell, Shillingstone and Midford - please email me at leysiner@aol.com and we'll add them to the website.

The Shoscombe entry is also here.
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