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, March 14, 2012


                                                           Before (and in the future).


Two excellent photos (copyright Pete Harlow) showing Prestleigh Viaduct before and after. This was possibly the cruellest thing to happen to the S&D post-closure. I don't think you need to be an S&D enthusiast to agree that this scene was much enhanced by the viaduct - I bet that cottage would be worth £50,000 more with the viaduct and line still there.

Never mind, Prestleigh Viaduct will be rebuilt soon enough and this scene will once more be special rather than bland. I can't wait ...


Anonymous said...

Why was this viaduct demolished?

Anonymous said...

Probably somebody wanted to sell the stone to build roads or twee little houses

Anonymous said...

Probably somebody wanted to sell the stone to build roads or twee little houses

Tom said...

I used to drive past this lovely viaduct on a regular basis, on my way between Bristol and Wincanton, and always used to look at it as I drove by.

I would always imagine the Pines Express traversing its majestic spans and wish that they could do once again, as I am sure they will one day.

I was not aware of the plans to demolish it and so it came as a great surprise to pass by one day and to see it had disappeared. I shed several tears that day at such a wanton act of vandalism.

If the motive of the person or persons who sanctioned this was to try and ensure that trains would never more travel between Bath and Bournemouth then I am happy to say that he (or she) will eventually be proved wrong.

Sunshiner said...

I'd even go so far as to say that it was stupid and pointless acts like this that inspired the revival of the S&D because they should never be allowed to get away with this vandalism. It's not as if thisWhen I lived in Scotland they were planning to demolish Risping Cleugh viaduct on the Leadhills and Wanlockhead line. It was the second all concrete viaduct built anywhere in the world, and it framed the little valley perfectly. It was an icon in the area. But it still went ahead despite me and about five others standing on the viaduct whilst the dynamite charges were in place underneath! As dusk came and sleet started to fall we finally left, police approaching on both sides (but not of course daring to set foot on the viaduct). They blew it up anyway. But even that may return one day ...

will said...

I read somewhere it needed work done on it to keep it structurally sound, so.....boom.
A terrible shame it was demolished, a big expense to put back up.

will said...

Looking at the location, wouldn't one want to re-route a future railway 200m to the west, to take advantage of the enormous Bath and West showground anyway?
The terrain is not ideal, but there should be an obligation to serve such a large showground.

Sunshiner said...

I assume that we'd build a branch into the showground, rerouting may well cause more problems than it solves - there was usually a reason why a railway took a particular course.

The showground is already rail served of course by an internal 7 1/4" railway - I laid a few panels of it many years ago!

Freddie said...

Hopefully most or all the other viaducts are listed buildings so this can't happen again.

Anonymous said...

Demolished in 1993 as 'unsafe', originally built as a single viaduct, then another was built along side it when the line was doubled. One of the arches has 'bulged' (started coming away from the other), Visited and walked underneath it shortly before demolition in 1992, took a shot of the viaduct luckily from the main road nearby, glad I did.

Sunshiner said...

Thanks for the info! Can quite understand why this was a problem!

The rebuilt one will no doubt be of normal construction for double track to avoid this reoccuring. Perhaps there's some slight subsidence in the area which caused the bulge?

Sunshiner said...

I think most of the others are listed. Of course there's no better way of protecting this sort of infrastructure than to have trains running over them again!

sebastian said...

Prestleigh Viaduct

So that old excuse of bulging arches, dodgy masonry and other dubious reasons, have again been used to destroy this Viaduct. so many old
structures and buildings, have been lost this way, and once they have been demolished, for what may be a short time financial gain it is not long that the general public, start to se what we enthusiasts have been saying for years. for an example look at the wanton destruction of our S & D.J.R a well loved and unique Historical railway, that if left for a few more years would have been well used. as there have been some more homes and workplaces built along the line since dr beachings's odious rep port which would mean that contrary to the line not being of a viable route, it would have made a profit.

What can we do, well the obvious and safest way to do that, would be to purchase the whole lot, Stations, Tunnels, Viaducts, Bridges. Not to mention the more effemeral structures lines man huts water tower bases. and formation from Bath to Bournemouth, Glastonbury, Wells, But we do not have the capital to do this.

So what can we do. Well we are lucky to have a band of very loyal enthusiastic people who care about the future of this historic line. and a railway which was well documented and photographed.

Well let me float an idea, no not the purchase of all the S & D J R. but a survey of what is left, of the civils along the line from bridges, viaducts, tunnels and the lesser but necessary structures like stations water tower bases goods and engine sheds P.W huts etc. this is not as daunting as it sounds. If each member or people living near these structures photograph, what is there at present, those who are able, list a detailed report of condition, others could research as to the listed status of these structures. this would be available council web sites, also finding out whether any development or demolition orders are in the planning office. As well as the owners of these structures and changes of owner ship. As the removal of these vital parts of our railway would have major cost implications
not to mention planning permission in conservation areas.

Once we have this data on file, we will have the means to fight these decisions as and when they crop up. Campaign for some listing of the structures when appropriate this can be by forming local groups or preservation society's, maybe even sponsoring certain structures. until the trains are back.

Lastly I do not wish to come over as negative on this most magnificent venture. Because I have nothing but admiration for the groups who have been an excellent job of restoration of the stations up and down the line. and if I say a first class job
to. Well done