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, February 15, 2012

restoration ...

There's a great shot currently on the Shillingstone Facebook page which shows existing track still in place at Stalbridge. There is also surviving track at Blandford. This is in addition to the track now relaid at Shillingstone and, of course, Midsomer Norton.

These small sections of track remaining from the original line, many structures surviving and around 97% of the trackbed unblemished, plus many locos and stock which worked on the line still around, are surely signs that closure was only temporary!

With Midford and soon Spetisbury also being restored there is beginning to develop a real feeling that this whole line is stirring. Each metre of track laid, each station restored, is bringing the S&D back. What this means is that the average person in the street is far more likely to stumble upon what we're doing, and more and more will join and get involved in this complex piece of rail restoration. There may still be a few people out there who simply don't understand what is happening and why, but it's our job to make sure that they do. Without a railway in 20 or 30 years' time the towns and villages along our route will begin to die. People will still need to move after the end of oil and raw materials and products will still need to come in and go out. Some dreamers may think that this can all be done by horse and cart or bike, but that's not going to happen. Things will not break down that much.

The S&D is coming back and we get stronger each day. With the heritage sections of the route preserving and developing those practical skills that will be so important in the future, and with the New S&D setting this amazing restoration in context, we have a fantastic team of dedicated professionals making all this happen. There's no room for egotism or partisanship, we're all working together towards a single aim - to bring back our trains!
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Roger said...

Amazed how extraordinarily good this looks. What is the short term and medium term plan now?

Sunshiner said...

We owe a lot to the two earlier preservation attempts and most of the rest to Tom and Stuart Seale and Mick Knox!

The plan is to start rebuilding the oil store later this year, then the station building. Tom's drawing up plans for this and we hope to apply for planning permission shortly.

The exterior of the station will be early 1950s style, the interior will be subject to modern building regs and may well have a different layout from the original, with a sales area, a display area and information point. The information area will cover the history of the railway and our plans for the whole route, with nods towards sustainable development, wildlife, modern locomotives etc. The sales area will complement this. There will also be facilities for the storage of bicycles.

That will be it for Midford until proper trains return, which is a long way off as it will have to be part of a larger restoration between Radstock and Bath via Limpley Stoke.

Knoxy said...

Thank you Steve, but the real work has been done by Stuart and Tom. mine was only a fleeting visit. to be continued.......

Eddystone said...

Will you reinstate the signal box with the later trade mark post- accident flat roof?

Sunshiner said...

We'll put it to the membership I suspect. It's a way off yet as the signalbox was sited in the Hope and Anchor car park.

This is where conflicts may arise between members wanting to only build appropriate infrastructure (for economic reasons) and more heritage minded ones who would build for cosmetic purposes. There may be a compromise where the signalbox is rebuilt externally but perhaps has a computer signalling system installed or even something else entirely (retail unit, museum or whatever).

Light the blue touchpaper and step backwards ...

Eddystone said...

Will there be a new junction at Limpley Stoke?

Sunshiner said...

Yes, but facing towards Bath rather than Warminster. This doesn't rule out a more direct route to Bath.