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!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


(Source unknown)

(Picture courtesy Jim Type, copyright C L Caddy Collection)

Pylle was the first station (later halt) on the branch to Burnham from Evercreech Junction. The passing loop was taken out of use in the 1920s. Once the main line of the S&D, this route became the branch after the Bath Extension was opened in 1874. This history was the reason the branch took the straight route from Evercreech whilst the main line curved away.

A classic British branch line, immortalised in a BBC film by John Betjeman in the early 60s, this line settled down to a fairly peaceful existence once the Bath Extension stole all the S&D's glory.

I do worry that this branch (and the other S&D branches) will be a little neglected in the buzz of rail reinstatement in the 21st century, but of course it does serve the important town of Glastonbury and, via another S&D branch off a branch, the smallest English city of Wells. These places will return to the network eventually, but whether the branch will simply be rebuilt as it was or a new line built to serve the two larger destinations we will have to wait and see. It really depends on what the people living along the route decide.


Chris Nevard said...

I can hear dear JB.... "Forget motor cars. Get rid of anxiety. And here, to the rhythms of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway dream again that ambitious Victorian dream, which caused this long railway still to be running through deepest, quietest, flattest, remotest least spoilt Somerset.’ Sir John Betjemen 1963

Brian said...

As I recall from that film, he also correctly predicted road traffic would become a nightmare of congestion. Also that we would ultimately come to regret those hasty rail closures he then knew were about to sweep the board of so many lines which could now be useful. He spoke with such calmness, a bit of sadness but none of the anger which so characterises modern activism and can rather offend.