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, June 25, 2011

scotland leads the way

Of course only an idiot would now say that the Beeching cuts were necessary. We need to forget that time and get on with rebuilding our rail network - firstly to reverse all the Beeching cuts, then start filling in the gaps with interurbans, light railways and industrial routes, ready for an oilless future. Not only does rebuilding and extending the network need to happen quickly but so does electrification of the entire rail network - and yes I do include heritage routes, narrow gauge lines etc!

Scotland is starting the process, albieit very slowly. Take a listen to this http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0120783/Reversing_Dr_Beeching/

Friday, June 24, 2011

more embedded stuff

Posted by PicasaMystery location - any ideas?

The following was from Brian Clarke triggered by the earlier RAE post.

Many of New S&D Rly blog followers may appreciate some, or even all, of this information if you can find space to show it.

Farnborough Royal Aerospace Establishment (RAE) railway archive piccies at,

Unfortunately, this source wrecks good quality material by showing each to infuriatingly small size, when click on thumbnail for "tour". Using keyboard "ctrl+" to enlarge makes the pic go fuzzy. Thats stupid, we are not ruddy "tourists". We care more than that.

 Two of those pics stated to be from "Railway World" magazine, issue June 1968 which a lucky dip trawl in car boot sale or preservation society stall junk box stacks might turn up for a few pennies. These are directly reproduced with GM Kitchenside caption, here:

One short bit of the old track may yet be in place if you know which spot of grassy roadside to poke at discreetly with probing boot. Maybe worth a mosey some time. This natter page says was still there (with pic of it on) Aug 2008:

Also at above address, archive pic of Andrew Barclay loco "Lord Fisher" at work on Farnborough RAE line. This loco got preserved at Cranmore, was exhibited 1991 out front on public roadside at Bath Green Park Station This in support of artyfarty BS within train shed, curtained off area you paid money to get in, with bogus chuffing noises & puffs of "steam" emanating therefrom. Loco Name plate had moved from tank side to just above footplate, since the above archive pic taken.

 Copies of photos this 1991 event herewith

copyright Brian Clarke. P&J Barnfield were doing vintage camera stuff to add the period flavour. Peter is a very talented artist, examples his work enquire to Simon Castens, "The Titfield Thunderbolt" shop, you may like the humour,

Other loco "Invincible" ( the one you excited about on blog), shown parked up on Isle of Wight in recent time which may interest some. In colour, one I think quite nice could help inspire model makers. Its red now but someone remembered was definitely painted green when at Farnborough.

A video of the last train on RAE Farnborough line is offered for five quid (customary disclaimer from bozo of course) at,

 Video of "last steam" at RAE Farnborough also offered (disclaimer) for fifteen quid bundled with other stuff, no idea if its same footage or not, at,

Most entertaining general natter (with "time waster" alert from me) on your favoured topic of "street running" railways includes enthusiasm for Farnborough RAE rly at,

You can watch monochrome British Pathe News film (as video) of loco "Invincible" operating on Farnborough RAE rly, at,

Beware this footage just might be the stuff hawked by vid vendors above, I really dunno.

Theres a Wikipedia entry that looked pants to me, however to be fair I only skimmed so may have missed a useful clickable link thats not prominent.

Farnborough airfield as a Heritage Location may be of interest to some, I not paused to check it out proper but one building shown (demolished since photo) looks suspiciously like seen in rly archive pic, make your own mind up on it at,

Various other sources checked on internet proved a bit rubbish however I only tried one search engine (google) so others might find more, a few less obvious ones proved the most rewarding.
My search also turned up stuff on Littlehampton Miniature Rly which at or near Farnborough but decided is "off topic" here. (Littlehampton Miniature Railway is at Littlehampton on the Sussex coast - my old stamping ground! It may show up in searches because of the Surrey Border and Camberley Railway which was near Franborough - the LMR took some SBCR engines - ed)
btw googy spiders were real quick crawling your posting on this, shows up already in search results !
Brian 19-6-11

yesterday at Midford

Here's the latest report from Tom Seale re work at Midford (yesterday 23.6.2011. Photos copyright Tom Seale)

Good day yesterday, we had Will, dad and myself there for most of the afternoon. We took Dad's strimmer to the top bank which now looks suitably subdued and tidier. We also made a start on digging out the layer of dirt and roots on the platform. The tarmac and gutter look in remarkably good condition considering they were buried for years, hopefully we can have the entire platform exposed in a matter of weeks. In the evening we were joined by the last group of Scouts, who have made quite a nice clearing half-way between the bridge and the end of the platform, some natural light should encourage some wild flower growth. It was dissapointing to see some more fly tipping on the parcels office, Will has moved the rubbish out of sight for now in an effort to discourage further contributions. Hopefully when the site is a bit tidier this practice will stop altogether.

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gartell open day

Steam trains pass on the S&DJR at Pinesway Junction

Steve Rodd polishes up GLR No.9 'Jean' prior to a days action.

(Both pics copyright Mike Lucas)
.... this weekend, Sunday 26 June 2011.

First train is at 10.30 with the last at 16.30.  Dont forget, buy your ticket and travel on as many trains as you like.  With the Pines open all-day, why not make a day of it and stop for lunch?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

something a little different

This is about as far removed from the S&D as possible. But I love this shot. It shows the railway that used to link Farnborough station in Hampshire with the RAE about a mile away. Much of the route ran through the streets. The line closed in 1967 or 1968. I remember reading an article on this route in an ancient Railway Magazine but there were no pictures. This is the first picture I've ever seen of the line and it's an absolute gem!

I'm very familar with street running from my many visits to Switzerland, and there are still many miles of street running in Switzerland with long and regular passenger trains.

Street running is likely to make a big comeback in the UK as rail expands, We've already seen the first small stretch at Porthmadog on the Welsh Highland Railway, and it has been suggested as a cheaper way of reconnecting Wadebridge with Padstow. Tramways are likely to spring up in all medium sized towns and cities, many which will have an element of freight transport as well. It's also likely to be used to connect factories and other industrial locations to the network without a passenger element - it is far cheaper than using a dedicated route. As the roads empty it will become a commonplace sight. It may even be used on parts of the S&D, who knows?

that's the way to do it

This is the amazing restoration of Consall station on the North Staffordshire Railway.

Look at this carefully. Ignore the quality of the picture and this could have been taken 50 or 60 years ago. There are no anachronisms and none of that kitschy heritage mix and match of eras and sales outlets that sap all the atmosphere from a location.

This is EXACTLY how New S&D stations will look! As well as being easy on the eye they will be practical and built to last. Okay, when a (non heritage) train pulls into the station the illusion will be lost for a moment but this is a small price to pay. Whilst we'll hardly need to encourage passengers (expensive fuel and crumbling roads will do that) the fact that our stations will feel like real stations, will be staffed and have refreshment and other facilities, will make customers value the whole experience. There will be an excess of the feel good factor.

Thanks to Nick Howes for this. Sorry I couldn't print your comments re Ernest Marples. Whilst I share the sentiment this is, after all, a family blog site!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

more midford

Six recent shots of Midford taken by Brian Clarke. The first two show the cleared base plus some artefacts. The rest show just how quickly the spring and early summer growth tries to reclaim the site!

(All pics copyright Brian Clarke)

strimming at Midford 9.6.2011

Report from Stuart Seale, one of our Midford heroes. Apologies for the delay in getting this on! It's great to see that young people are getting involved in restoring a transport link that will be far more important to them than us!

Tom and I went down to Midford tonight and tried out our new strimmer. We were successful in taking down a lot of weeds on the platform, which should make the digging out a lot easier.

We were then joined by a group from the 10th Bath Combe Down Scout Group who were working towards their Forestry badge. Although youngsters they enthusiastically managed to clear a lot of trees (we did make sure that there were no nests in the ones taken down).

We are playing host to the Scouts for the next two Thursdays as well as different groups come down to play their part.

the future

Remember all those 'Then and Now' books, showing scenes from the past and scenes from the present, showing the decline of the railway network? They always used to depress me because they were so defeatist.

Well at last the tables are turning as more and more lines and stations open and we're beginning to see books that more accurately reflect the 21st century rather than continue the misery of the 20th!

Just got this today and it's heartening to see just how many new stations have opened in the last thirty years. And even more heartening to see Templecombe on the front cover!
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Thursday, June 09, 2011

help wanted

When I was a kid I used to spend a lot of my time exploring old railway stations - Lavant, Fittleworth, Midhurst, Chalder, Bramber, Winchester Chesil, Wimborne and many more spring to mind. So when I got this request I thought it would be easy to comply, but actually the world has changed enormously since the early seventies and I couldn't think of a single surviving decaying railway station. Can you?

This train of thought was triggered by the following email - can any of you help or is Ben, as I suspect, thirty years behind the times? I've suggested he do a film on a reopened railway station, which will be far easier! But if you can think of anywhere please post to the comments section ...

Hi there,

I'm not sure if you will be able to help me, but I hope you can :-)

I'm a Film Production student studying at the Arts University College at Bournemouth. Me and a a fellow film student had an idea for our up and coming 'image and sound' project that would involve an old disused railway station. The 4 minute piece would be a kind of 'time travel' from old to new as the shot develops and moves down the station.

I was wondering whether you might know of any particular stations which are no longer used, but still resemble a railway station - even still having tracks if possible.

Thank you,


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

back ... but not well

Cuba must be the only country (except Germany!) where being vegetarian can be hazardous, but I've been laid low by a stomach parasite since getting back a week ago - so the numerous posts I'd planned are delayed but they will be along hopefully in the next few days!