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 25, 2011


(All pics courtesy Jim Type, copyright C L Caddy Collection)

Wimborne was the original southern end of the S&D, and at one time was the busiest station in Dorset. It is currently closed completely, and has been since 1977 (1964 to passengers!) Not quite sure what the planners were thinking of in the Silly Sixties when Ringwood, Blandford, Wimborne and Fordingbridge all lost their passenger and freight services! All of these stations should be open again in the not too distant future.

The original connection may seem odd to us now, but the honeypot of Bournemouth didn't really exist before 1870, around which time a direct route from Brockenhurst was built, leaving the original line, nicknamed 'Castleman's Corkscrew' thanks to its rather singular course, as a secondary, albeit double track to the end, route. At around the same time the S&D south of Bailey Gate acquired a direct route into Poole and Bournemouth. The S&D line to Wimborne then became a minor branch line, closing to passengers as early as 1933. Wimborne's final passenger services, to Salisbury, Brockenhurst and Poole all closed in 1964, with freight continuing from Poole until 1977.

From the 21st century this loss may seem insane, but remember in the sixties they hadn't quite twigged that oil was a finite resource and seriously expected roads to last well into the 21st century and perhaps even the 22nd!

Back in the real world our task will be to get these large towns back on the network ASAP. The recent ATOC report had the Ringwood line right at the top of its reinstatement list, though shied clear of making the obvious next step to Wimborne. The New S&D will restore trains to Blandford as quickly as possible, and will also have the second connection to Wimborne, to give greater flexibility of services as well as tap into the traffic of this large town. A group to rebuild the Fordingbridge line is also likely to be launched very soon. So the railways in this part of Dorset are definitely stirring from the rather stupid hibernation they've been in since the mid sixties. About time too!
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