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, October 14, 2011


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

Sturminster Newton was one of the larger towns on the S&D, and one of the few that wasn't served also by the GWR. This whole site is now a car park but that isn't really an issue for rebuilding the site as it's no trouble digging up concrete for a facility that has a very limited shelf life! A bigger  'problem' was the very recent proposal to build houses on an infilled cutting just north of the station, possibly the most short sighted (and short lived) bit of  'development' on this essential 21st century transport link! The problem was that this was proposed at almost exactly the same time as the New S&D was formed, so we weren't in a position to put in a serious objection. If the houses are built I'd suggest that the buyers don't unpack their removal boxes ...

So the intention here will be to rebuild the station in its original form. Whilst the logical approach to Sturminster Newton will be from the south (Blandford and Shillingstone are on this route) in the longer term Sturminster Newton's link north to Templecombe may see even more use, as the connection at Templecombe will give the people of Stur direct trains to both London and the West Country. Sturminster Newton deserves nothing less!


yamfaz said...

Do all the local Conveyancing Solicitors Know about the New S&D's plans. If they do then it would make the houses unsaleable! I wouldn't buy a house that was on a line that a high likelihood of getting rebuilt. I really feel for the developer ;)

Sunshiner said...

If they don't know then they should! I do think that anyone who seriously tries to buy a house on a railway trackbed needs to be aware that the trains will be back sooner rather than later.

I've certainly had calls from both solicitors and potential house buyers in both Bath and Shoscombe, so we are already influencing people's decisions - which they should really be thanking us for (as long as they've made the right one!)

There's two sides to this. Obviously NOT buying a trackbed temporary home is a good move, but so is buying a house ALONGSIDE an abandoned railway, because when the line returns their property value will shoot up. Houses go up in value even now the closer they are to a station - and this is when there are still alternatives available. Houses within walking distance of stations will be the most valuable in the country within a few decades, especially those away from flood plains ...

I wonder what those idiots that bought newly built houses around Croydon thought when just 7 years later they were compulsorily purchased and demolished to make way for Croydon Tramlink?

Anonymous said...

There is also the long term aim of Shillingstone to run north into the centre of Stur :)

Sunshiner said...

Carefully avoiding the problems to the north!

The New S&D regards Sturminster Newton to Blandford as exclusively Shillingstone territory, unless otherwise decided in the future of course!

I assume Shillingstone's aim would be either to rebuild the station as it was in its original location or build a new build just to the south.

I didn't realise there were serious plans to extend to Stur in the foreseeable future which is why I went off on one as to how the station would be rebuilt - for which I apologise!

Remember that I do write the blog from a whole line and personal perspective and it doesn't reflect New S&D policy!

Knoxy said...

i would never buy a house on an old railway trackbed and on my rambles i have never seen anything built on an old trackbed that doesn't deserve to be knocked down.

i would start with Whitemoor prison and rebuild the east coast freight avoiding line, together with a piggyback freight yard....

Freddie said...

OK - boring but helpful post here (no need to publish it publicly if too boring!). What you need to do is to write to the Land Charges departments of the relevant councils and ask them to record the re-opening of the S&D as a scheme declarable under Q3.5 of the Con29 form (the form sent in by solicitors conducting local searches). Send them a plan of the section in their area and tell them it should be declared for searches within 200m. You can exclude any sections that already have for railway use. BANES have been declaring Midsomer Norton's Chilcompton extension for some years now, so they're probably a good one to start with.

Sunshiner said...

Freddie - far from boring. Will proceed with this ASAP! Do you have specialist legal knowledge at all? We need someone on board who does!

Brian said...

Its great to have Freddie as a Friend, with his razzer-knowledge he can "bore" us any time I reckon.

A paragraph from Freddies worth more that ten from yer Kraken!

Steve, can you tell us all what a "Razzer" is BTW?

Freddie said...

Steve - I'm not a lawyer I'm afraid - I'm a geographer.

But I do know someone who does work in this area (hence I've heard of it) and will try and get more info for you.