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!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

tomorrow at midford

Remember that tomorrow we're having a bit of a work day up at Midford. Tom and Stuart will be there from around ten. Mick Knox will also be up (I'll bring your book that I borrowed months ago!) and I'll get up around one. Hopefully we'll have time for a drink in the Hope and Anchor!

Any members or potential members are more than welcome to join us!


Brian said...

That picture showing the oil store at Midford is the best I have seen as its so different from the more obvious pictures many seem to have taken. You can see Lynwood down below and all the stone dumped to control a land slip which made the wide bit where bonfires been in recent time. The platform surface was not so maintained down this end with just a worn path visible. Yes I really like that view.

Brian said...

Drivers responding to whipcrack incentive

As a driver myself I have certainly been using the car less recently. But I have not been using alternatives more because those are not credible for the kind of journeys which I would have previously made (including the things I have to take along with me/bring back after and also the rags which I have to wear for credible operation at locations). It is almost as if my car had been fitted with a mileage limiter, which if it helps you understand is called "a petrol gauge visible on dashboard". When it gets down about half way a voice in my head says, "Woah, another fifty or sixty quid bash in the cods coming up, enough already with the car use, mister C".

How is it for the rest of you? Have you for example become a sudden frequent user of trains, trams or on-street light railways which also have goods traffic like in the Wisbech movie? Here is Auntie's take on it this morning, notice the complete absence any reference to alternative transport modes nor clearly stated reasons why drivers appear not to be substituting them:


Did you spot the bit about drivers being short of money in other respects, which I took as implying they no more have money for bus/train fares than they do for petrol. Perhaps that bit could have stood closer analysis as its "the elephant in the room" for public transport activists (whether for "novelty" bus variants or steel flanged wheels) to deal with if they want to make giant strides. The roads have not yet shown any sign where I live of even beginning to get traffic reduction enough to make bicycle use safe for a mobility impaired user such as myself (who used to get around on a battered shopper bicycle constantly to patronising amusement of the natives.)

Perhaps one day it may get more like Holland or Cambridge, in Bath. There is hope because despite apparent lack of takers for the novel new bicycle hire scheme I recently mentioned in Bath (they all stay visible latched on their baffling techno-pillars at Green Park) the public bicycle stands I was involved in campaigning for "back in the day" are pretty much constantly stuffed full of bicycles wherever I toddle past them around the City. Perhaps those users have good life insurance or unshakeable faith in a Guardian Angel watching over them in the traffic meatmincers of London Road etc.

When I find myself driving behind a bicycle, I do slightly annoy other drivers by behaving protectively towards the frequently rather terrified cyclist until my nerve breaks and I really do have to overtake, leaving them at the mercy of roaring petrolheads in a constant hurry.

Sunshiner said...

I think the switch from road to rail is going to take a while. Some people say they will drive whatever the price of fuel, though fuel costs still aren't the highest charge to motorists - depreciation comes first, then the other costs of keeping a car on the road ie insurance, MOT, servicing, road tax etc. But I suspect fuel cost will eventually become the most important factor. That's when the change will really come, together with a gradual breakdown in fuel distribution which will see more and more pumps empty at any price. This will just make driving even more of a chore. Another factor will be the quality of road surfaces - repair needs an awful lot of oil! We've seen over the last couple of years regular epidemics of potholes thanks to severe cold spells in the winter - almost certainly a result of climate change affecting atmospheric conditions around the poles, plunging colder air southwards seemingly on a yearly basis now.

The other side of the coin is that much as we'd like to switch to alternatives in many cases they are not there yet. Until we all live within a mile or so of a rail or tram station we're a bit stuck. I still need to use the car for some journeys, but it looks like I will be able to reduce these in the future. At some point it will become cheaper to hire a car for a few trips a year rather than keep one to hand.

Everything is moving towards rail but it is inevitably a slow process because just so much infrastructure will need to be built or rebuilt.

And the last factor is inside our minds. There are still a lot of people, possibly even a majority, who believe they will ALWAYS have access to cars and roads. They don't even engage with how these vehicles will be fuelled or the roads maintained, they just assume it will happen 'like it always does', as if we've been in this position countless times before! But once that illusion is shattered, and that is happening, again slowly, then everything will begin to change.

We're just doing our small bit to bring it about!

Brian said...

On Site Natters and Fingerpokes at Details

Great meeting the blokes at Midford today, sorry I was looking so wrecked but at least I got there eventually. Especially interesting salami-slicing chat at site of Oil Store. That "new" tarmac stops significantly closer to the surviving inside wall than is credible looking again (I mean yet again) at the excellent archive photo I enthused on. Here is one possible reason.

Simon Castens built a timber structure at this location as part of his effort (the first of the three revival promotions). This was not the original width but just as the woodwork available would fit. At the time it was ridiculed as "the chicken shed" which discouraged him and possibly why he never added a roof. It was still there when Gerald promoted his effort (the second revival) about 1990.

Just possibly the Gerald tarmac was put down up to that woodwork. Simon was involved a bit at the start of that era , though I can't avoid saying he "fell out" with Gerald fairly soon. It may well be that Simon knocked down this shed AFTER the tarmac was replaced, which would explain the present prominent line edge. If the Oil Store was wider, that could only be investigated forensically by lifting some tarmac which I rush to add is not my recommendation!

Further study of old photos with some scaling off and measuring proportions may help clear this up, assuming nobody actually measured the Oil Store while it was intact? There is no great rush it seems, though we sure look forward to seeing the building back in place.