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!

Monday, October 10, 2011

history just goes on ...

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What is history? Is it cold hard facts about things that happened before we were born or is it a living thing and process that evolves as time passes? Of course it's the latter, but you'd sometimes be forgiven for thinking it's the former!

I've been lucky enough to get hold of a whole load of pictures of the old S&D which I've been uploading over the last week or two, but they don't mean that much to me, lovely as they are, because I was only a few years old when they were taken, or not even born when the top picture above was taken!

Whilst the original meeting that formed the S&D back in 1856 is incredibly important and historic, what we are doing now to me is just as important - and should be recorded with the same thoroughness. History didn't stop in 1966, or 1948, or 1930 or 1874. It just keeps going. Over the span of time the few decades when the S&D was closed will seem like a peculiar anomaly, looking back on the S&D in a century's time the line will be seen as an arrow of progress with just a short imtermission when the world went mad!

So it's importantthat we record what we're doing now. Photos, prose, artefacts - they will all mean a great deal to our descendents. The story of the rebuilding of the S&D will be an inspiration to so many struggling against energy shortages and a whole host of problems we can't even begin to predict in the latter half of the 21st century.

Part of our role at te New S&D is to record both the old S&D and the new. Photos, memories and artefacts are always welcomed! Through the website we are beginning to build up a photographic collection covering all aspects of the S&D, the original line and the revival. If you are out and about along the S&D please send us your photos! And if you have photos of the original line both when running or between closure and reopening, especially those that capture unusual angles, workings, people etc etc please allow us to add them to our archive and to reach a bigger audience via the blog and website.

Even when toiling to make a living or struggling to get through each day we're in the midst of history - don't let it slip away! Where history's concerned nothing is ordinary or run of the mill!


Brian said...

Proof on a small scale of Steves point about history can be seen on the Manx Groudle Glen Railway. It was closed, dismantled, both steam engines taken to mainland for preservation, the carriages smashed or tipped into the sea, the Lhen Coan Swiss style station trashed down into the valley. It was gone, even the trackbed part collapsed in a landslip.

A planned revival of the GGR was sneered at by historical buffs. Oh it just wont be the same, its not gonna be "original" etc etc. Where now those critics? Everything is well back in place just as the original operators would have done when investment in equipment renewal became due. That was not done due to World War and folks taking airplane holidays to Costa del Hookworm instead. So the railway gasped, staggered, died. Now that interval of closure is but an historical blip. A replica of one of the battery locomotives has been built and even the two original steam engines have run there once again (Polar Bear is based at Amberley of course, in Sussex). Okay so only a few original carriages but the substitutes run well enough and you can see accurate "replica train" for photo purposes.

Another of Steves recent observations about a revived S&D perhaps following a varied route in some places can also be seen on the GGR. An entire new trackbed has been formed a bit further inland to avoid the landslip for the future, taking the line back to Sea Lion Rocks. Nobody is howling indignantly, visitors are delighted with the result. All thats missing in todays pc world is the animals, released in wartime and well, we dont feel so comfortable with caging them now, do we? Not just for entertainment. Thats our history of today, for tomorrows historians to pontificate upon no doubt.

Sunshiner said...

Perhaps the Groudle Glen subliminally pointed me in the direction of a revived S&D? I visited it in 2004 and it was an excellent set up. I ended up climbing down to the beach at the end of the line amid the ruins of the old zoo, which was the original raison d'etre for the line. Now the line doesn't need any justification! And reachable by the superb Manx Electric Railway, an excellent model for future interurban tramways on the mainland. Perhaps the Isle of Man is just a few decades ahead of the UK?

Brian said...

Groudle and Midford from Dodington

It was me who broke up much of the Dodington House track with my "vorpal crowbar" since the Merseyside GGR band were clueless and pretty much lacking tools. They never forgave me for making them appear incompetent but it had to be done as the lorries could not wait while they fiddled. In the end they left behind the lead ballon loop points when their last lorry trip suffered a puncture on a chain harrow left in by then neglected grass. So I sawed in half (by hand) a couple of years later after exchange of letters with Estate Office, to fit the lorry doing "round robin" pickups at Cote, Main East Farleigh et al. After use at Midford those points now slumber in my garden at home - the dodgy points everything would come off on made by Keef, not quite to gauge it seems. Oh so nearly went to Lhen Coan, where would have been cursed as was at Dodington (even though always used "trailing").

Back down to futureworld thoughts with a sickening bump

Many of future train services which Steve envisages are going to be electric and that power has to be sourced. It has to be reliably generated and in quantity. So however controversial (including with me) this squeak from an HMG "Talking Head" this morning is a positive thing in just preserving our future options:


The mealymouthed bit about "dealing with our nuclear legacy in a robust and effective manner" made me snort, its not that easy but like Homer Simpson said, what are you gonna do?

When the ship is slowly sinking, you dont set it on fire just because the cabin boy might have bad case of shingles. Not when the lifeboat has holes through it, far from shore with a storm blowing up across horizon.

Sunshiner said...

****Controversy alert!!****

I know I'm quite a mouse usually and keep my views close to my chest, not wishing to alienate anyone from the New S&D cause, but ...

... opposition to nuclear power is CRAZY! The specious arguments used against it are full of holes, and are just repeated for the sake of it.

The biggest distinguishing factor of the 21st century against the 20th will be lack of dogma, agendas and pointlessness. Opposition to nuclear power is decadent, and nostalgic, harking back to an age of plenty.

We will use every bit of energy we can as it starts to run out. The opposition to nuclear power has grown out of (quite correct) opposition to nuclear WEAPONS, which were possibly the most decadent and stupid creation ever.
There is also the long running mutual hatred and suspicion between environmentalists and peak oil theorists, who take up totally opposite positions and can find no common ground. This is all grist to the mill.

The argument about waste is pointless, and the argument about the danger of nuclear power is pure ignorance. We have had commercial nuclear power stations for over 50 years now and the number of people who can be proved to have been killed by it (ie Chernobyl!) numbers in the low hundreds. How many hundreds of THOUSANDS have died digging for coal or drilling for oil and gas in the same period?

But even if we do build all the nuclear power stations we can the uranium that fuels them is a finite resource, and they still won't produce anywhere near the amount of power generation we need just to stand still.

That's why rail will sweep aside road, because of its greater efficiency. The 21st century approach to energy will be solely about increasing the efficiency of the power we CAN generate, and rail will always beat road on this, hence the inevitable end of road (and of course air) transport over the next few decades. That's the only message that's important and the only one we need to concentrate on.

Let the environmemntalists nostagically fight battles that are already over. And let the rest of us get on with getting the railways and tramways back, because that's the only thing that will matter.

Brian said...

One of the most prominent past opponents of nuclear power, one of those "Greenheads" I suppose, now says he supports nuclear power. Why? Because he is scared half to death by the possible outcomes from NOT having it. No, I think he saw them as certain outcomes but felt we were not yet ready to face that basking as we yet still are in the afterglow of cheap/plentiful fossil fuel era.

Its horrid that we are gonna need each and every source of fuel we can get or make in futureworld. Many of them will be hard work, its not all windmills and solar cells on the roof (for those who can afford the upfront cost). I understand we have French EDF pretty much signed up to do UK next generation nuclear power, if what previous flavour of HMG did is being honoured by Call me Dave & his Lib Dem bedfellows now. Well the French know a thing or two about building and operating those facilities. Just look at how France gets its energy and the safety record (so far) of nuclear in that country.

Its almost comical how folks were put off from the Sea Lion Locomotive Preservation Group (of which I was Secretary, and general admin ghopher) because the sponsor was BNFL who provided much valuable input both technical and apprentice skills. All those jokes about the loco "glowing in the dark" or "not needing coal in the firebox" have I think melted away and the rebuilt (virtually replica) loco is now a wonderful sight working in the Glen.