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!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

not just a branch line!

(Photo copyright Mick Knox Dec 2011)

One of the misconceptions about the S&D is that it was some sort of branch line! Anyone who had seen the line at its peak in the 1950s would never make this mistake. Trains worked block on block, especially on the single track sections and especially on summer Saturdays. Passenger trains were joined by a succession of heavy freights and of course there was the express train, the Pines.

At Midsomer Norton they are relaying double track and the above shot really captures this. The only other double track standard gauge heritage line is the Great Central. Most of the  S&D was of course double track, there were short sections of single track between Bath GP and Midford and through Corfe Mullen, plus a longer stretch between Templecombe and Blandford.

So we will shortly have two restored stations on double track S&D (Midsomer Norton and Spetsibury) and two on single track (Shillingstone and Midford). Perhaps the real beauty of the S&D is that it could look like a main line and a branch line at the same time, depending on where you were and what trains were passing!


Keith Browning said...

Just been viewing their latest youtube videos. Already looking like a proper railway. If they were smart they should already be location for film location work to bring in some extra income. Very impressive.

Sunshiner said...

They'd make a great location for 1960s shots with that DMU!

Dave said...

The Burnham branch was single track though wasn't it?

Toddington Ted said...

A fantastic shot and one that currently is of course only matched by the GCR (and they have been around in heritage form for a bit longer!). It's totally right to say that the S&D was anything but a branch line; I was amazed just how busy this route was, especially in the 1950s and just how foolish it was to close it as a through route. The single track sections didn't help of course but there was still not reason to close the line. It would have been much better to have invested in it. still, looks as if that is happening, despite people like me thinking it would never happen a few years ago. It will! Well done to the folks at Midsomer - I am very glad I joined the society!

Sunshiner said...

Yes, all the branches were single track throughout.

Eddystone said...

Not so much a railway-more a way of life!

Eddystone said...

Further to Spetisbury, Mr Sunshiner, which in your opinion will be, or is hot favourite to be, the next eligible S&D contributory development site?

Knoxy said...

yes, Midsomer Norton station and double track formation up to the Tunnel infill, when completed and given a tidy, would make a great location for any film that featured a railway in the story. the backdrop would be countryside.

Sunshiner said...

I suspect the Sustainable Engineering Works will be the next step and so far Midford Up Goods, Midford Down Goods or possibly Emborough Quarry have been suggested.

There's also Charlton Marshall which is quite easy as it's in such good condition and only a mile or so from Spetisbury with clear trackbed in between.

There are also of course the branches!

Eddystone said...

Looking at Google earth-I guess there is ample former siding space for the Emborough site works. Not quite sure where Midford north and South Goods would have been. As for the branches is there scope for a new Wells terminus on the formation just outside of town?

Sunshiner said...

The Up Goods at Midford is just to the north of the Long Arch Bridge, just outside of the land we own,.The Down Goods was south of the viaduct near the gate that gives access to the cycleway.

I don't know Wells well enough (railwaywise) to pinpoint a new station, but would prefer somewhere close to the city centre rather than on the outskirts! We've looked at an entirely new route from Wells to Masbury as a possible future route continuing down to Glastonbury. These plans are a long way into the future.