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, December 31, 2010

as the decade turns ...

As 2010 turns into 2011 and the new decade begins I would like to thank everyone who has been so supportive this year, particularly Anna-Jayne Metcalfe, Tom and Stuart Seale, David Bailey, Mick Knox and many, many others. This next decade is going to be a huge one for the S&D, both at the established S&D sites (Shillingstone, Gartell, Washford, Midsomer Norton and Midford) and new locations which will spring up as the decade progresses.

And a particularly big thank you to all those doubters who have embraced the S&D revival over the last year or two, who often become the biggest supporters and advocates of what we are doing! I'm sure there will be many, many more who will come over to us in the next ten years!

A very happy and prosperous New Year to all of you.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

midford today

(all © Stuart Seale)

Midford is looking amazing - and much of it is down to Stuart and Tom Seale. Compare these shots with those I took right at the start of restoration in September. I really don't see that restoration of the station buildings will be a long drawn out affair and that things will continue to happen a lot faster than I expected. The best thing about Midford is that it's become a local intiative, but with the support of a bigger organisation. Spetisbury will hopefully be the next project we take on board - and remember that all suggestions for projects are welcomed.

Stuart's report for today - Tom and I were at Midford again today. We cleared more of the bank behind the station and then burned most of last week's and this week's cuttings. We managed to keep warm in the afternoon somehow, even after it got dark. Cooked sausages when the fire died down a bit.

Had a chat with the owner of Station Cottage and other unknown Midford residents who were out walking their dogs and they all appeared to be happy with what is going on.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

the big challenge

Can anybody think of a single railway in the UK that should not be restored in the future? I've racked my brains and can't think of one. I suppose the only genuine candidate would be a line that solely served an industry that no longer exists, with no population centres en route. If you can think of any please post to the comments section.

(The photo above incidentally is of Fittleworth. Just to get you started - the line closed as long ago as 1955, but served the large towns of Petworth and Midhurst. There was also a line from Midhurst to Petersfield which only served a couple of villages, and a further line (closed in 1935) that connected with Chichester. Would any of these not be worth restoring?)
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Monday, December 27, 2010

what inspires us!

(Medstead and Four Marks - trackless. Now a station on the Watercress line and busier than ever!)

This gem apeared over Xmas and has inspired me to start the 'Jurassic Park' feature on the sidebar - a place for all those quotes from 70s-style dinosaurs who simply refuse to move with the times ...

... first submission .

the S&D is scrapped and dismantled, get over it.
Thanks to Daniel Hull for this gem!!
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Friday, December 24, 2010

thank you

Thanks to everybody for being so supportive in 2010.

Have a fantastic Christmas and hope to see most of you in 2011!
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

media frenzy ... and more

Paul Perton has offered to handle the media for us from now on. We've deliberately kept a low profile up to now as we didn't want to bombard the press before things started happening, but with Midford now under our belt there certainly won't be a shortage of hard news! Even without a media officer we have had quite a bit of coverage in the railway press already. Paul is a media professional in South Africa but distance has never been a problem for fans of the S&D!

I think the most important thing to stress over the next few years is that the New S&D is a sustainable transport organisation about as far removed from the public's notion of 'railway preservation' as possible. Even a lot of railway types still haven't quite understood what we're about, despite the abundance of information available on this site.

We are already generating a fair amount of hard news, which is always of more interest than musings on what we plan to do in the future etc.

On a related point we will be contacting all the local authorities, parish councils, MPs and main businesses along the route in the new year to let them know our plans. Phase 2 of the S&D restoration should begin in earnest in 2011. A higher media profile and networking with the relevant people along the route will be a big part of that.
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snow survey

Icy pavements, blocked roads and runways, delayed and cancelled trains, buses and coaches

The travel disruption from the recent winter weather has hit the headlines, but what exactly is the impact? Are journeys delayed, lost, substituted, which kind of journeys and which parts of the UK are most affected? To find out, we have launched a survey. Please 'snowball' the link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WinterTravel through your networks (friends, relatives, colleagues) as well as completing it yourself.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

network destroyed ... but coming back stronger than ever

Member Mick Knox has just set up an email address for information on S&D land ownership.

He would like to appeal for information on ownership, state of land etc, current use, location etc, for the whole of the S&D route, together with other lines in the area. If he's successful with this he may move onto creating a national database!

He would like to create, for the S&D, a database covering the original land purchased by each railway company, price if known, its subsequent ownership until sale by BR, i.e. Southern region, Western region etc. What type of work carried out etc before closure. I.e. Louth Station (Lincolnshire) received a re-wire six months before closure; goes against closure savings!

He is especially interested in its sale by BR and price paid, together with any snippets, gossip etc concerning its non rail use, i.e. why it was sold etc, any stories, any deals?

And of course he want to know who currently owns it and what is its use, status etc? Also, very importantly, the mileages/chains of each plot of land.

The email address is trackbedsurvey@networkdestroyed.co.uk

We are beginning to see the turning back of the insane and economically self-defeating Beeching cuts of the 1960s, the cruellest of which was the closure of the S&D. The networkdestroyed site should become a valuable resource for people researching this extraordinarily short-sighted transport blind alley in future years.

If you can help in any way with setting up the database for the S&D (and other routes) please don't hesitate to email the above address!
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help wanted

Can anyone help? Please email info to leysiner@aol.com

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am building the Somerset & Dorset Railway for the railway simulationRailWorks. I have a few books and DVDs about this wounderful railway. But I have no information about the line speeds. I am looking forinformation about the speed and speed restrictions on the Somerset & Dorset and his branches. Can you help me please? Thank you very much! All the bestAndreas Buchwald

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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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Sunday, December 19, 2010

santa at midford

(All pics © Stuart Seale)

This shows real commitment! Stuart and Tom Seale even turned out today for their regular Sunday restoration trip to Midford, in temperatures well below freezing all day. It does help that they can walk to the site but to me it shows enormous dedication and we should all be very grateful for the work they've put in up there. I am hoping (weather permitting) that I can get up there some time over the Xmas/New Year period to see it for myself.
Stuart's report for today - Tom and I spent another day at Midford today for a Santa Special. We cleared more trees over the station and exposed a good portion of the wall onto Old Midford Road. We had a brief chat with the Landlord of the Hope and Anchor during our refreshment break and subsequently removed some of his small weed trees at the end of the car park that were starting to block the view of the station. In the afternoon we warmed up with a bonfire and got rid of all the wood from our last session. Today's cuttings are still on the station buildings awaiting hauling down to the burning area.
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easy money raising!

Remember you can help raise money for the New Somerset and Dorset Railway by sending used stamps to us. These are quickly turned into cash which will help us continue to expand the organisation. Christmas is a particularly good time to start collecting as you should receive a lot of Christmas cards right now, most using stamps.

ALL stamps are required, even the regular 1st and 2nd class small ones. Ideally they should be trimmed to within about 1/4" of the perforations, on just the front part of the envelope.

Please package up and send to -New Somerset and Dorset Railway Stamp Appeal, 10 Bellamy Avenue, Hartcliffe, BRISTOL, BS13 0HW

We can handle just a few stamps or huge boxes of them. They raise £5 per kilogram.World stamps also wanted (without GB). For these we receive £19 per kilogram.

Please try to use nice higher value commemorative stamps to send your stamps to us, rather than the horrible white labels
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

S&D snow

Four superb pictures taken today just north of Sturminster Newton by dance friend Paula Skinner.

With the road network in disarray the S&D should be fulfilling its permanent role of carrying passengers and freight through the snow covered countryside. I wonder how many stuck and skidding drivers looked longingly as our soon-to-be-restored line and had the time to reflect on the sheer madness of closing an essential trunk railway way back in the oil age?
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

the gartell

The Gartell Railway must be the most chilled-out part of the S&D, yet at the same time is the busiest section where trains are concerned! The picture above shows a train on the old S&D trackbed - this is Pinesway Junction where the line from the main station joins the S&D trackbed.

And now yet another part of the S&D trackbed is seeing trains, even if only occasionally. The Gartell now has permission to cross Common Lane and open on the occasional basis (as per N.Norfolk). Work has re-started but there is a lot to do. Eventually the Gartell will approach Templecombe - all on the two foot gauge.

Whilst on the subject of the Gartell - please note that visitors are only welcome on site on the official open days or pre-organised parties, as there is business being carried out, it is an industrial site, and it's on private property. You can obtain the dates for the open days off the internet.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

paradigm shift

It's amazing how quickly attitudes are changing. Just a few short years ago the idea that the Beeching cuts would - ever!- be reversed was unusual. Now almost everybody accepts it. Just a few years ago new ROADS were being proposed! Even today some cities (such as Bristol to their everlasting shame) seriously think that buses can solve city transport problems, rather than the obvious trams and cycleways. So there's still work to do.

But it is good that what we are doing is now seen as mainstream, although the full restoration of the S&D is still considered problematical in some circles. Their moment of insight will come - probably on the day that petrol reaches £3 per litre ...

I am sure that the S&D will see enormous strides in 2011 and beyond. Early next year we'll be launching the Silver Street Bridge Fund, which will seek to raise the £1 million to rebuild the bridge that will link Midsomer Norton to the line down to Radstock and beyond to the network at Frome. Planning permission to rebuild Midford station will be sought and hopefully we'll start work down at Spetisbury. This is a really exciting time to be involved with the S&D! Yet just ten short years ago the whole line was in deep sleep ...
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

working together - the first project?

It's been suggested through the S&D Facebook group that all supporters of the S&D should work towards rebuilding the bridge at Midsomer Norton which would leave the way clear to the Midsomer Norton group running trains into Radstock and, via a link with the Frome line, onto the network. This would also connect with our route from Bath heading south in the longer term.

This is a no-brainer and one of the best things to come out of such a scheme would be that at least two of the S&D groups would then be able to work closely together.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

simple statement

In the current issue of RAIL.

It's nice to see it simply stated without an agenda or big questions - that Midford is being restored. No idea who gave them this info which leads neatly to the question of - is there anybody out there willing to take on the media role for the New S&D? The main part of the job will be to feed the railway press, local newspapers and the green/sustainable media with constant snippets about what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Interested? Please email me on leysiner@aol.com
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

midford - looking good

Tom and Stuart Seale are doing a fantastic job up at Midford - concentrating currently on clearing back the trees behind where the station building will stand. Fortunately the weather has cleared enough over the last couple of days to allow work on site.

Although I won't be up this coming Wednesday I certainly hope to be up there the following week. It's been a while!
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