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!

Monday, April 02, 2012


Things are starting to buzz down in Dorset as the restoration of Spetisbury looms close!

Dean Cockwell has just updated the Spetisbury page on the New S&D website.

Current Status

The platforms remain and the ruins of the up line buildings are still discernible, and the rear wall of the main building is still standing. There appear to be remnants of the brickwork buried underneath the overgrown weeds etc! There are a number of missing edging concrete slabs, which will have to be replaced.
The down platform is also overgrown with plants and weeds. It also appears that it might be narrower than when the original platform was built, which may cause problems as we work to clear this platform. This may have been caused by erosion due to the building of the adjacent houses that have sprung up after the railway was built, and 2 tracks were laid.
Adjacent to the bridge, on the steps side, there could be evidence of the signal box foundations. This can only be confirmed after clearance and further examination. There could also be evidence of the foundation of the starting signal that appears in early photographs of the station. Again, this will have to be confirmed after the clearance work has been completed.

Future Plans

We are in the process of speaking to Dorset County Council about taking control of the station area of Spetisbury. We want to take the area that currently is overgrown with various plants and weeds, and as time permits, the platforms will be cleared and restored to how they were back in the days when trains were a regular sight along this part of the trailway. This will include the rebuilding of station buildings, to look the same or similar to the original ones that were erected before.
We plan to do this in the main using a volunteer workforce, but for certain tasks we will have to employ the skills of trained craftsmen.
It is with this aim in mind that we plan to establish an information point (with an associated shop / cafe where viable) on the station in these buildings. With its location, wonderful views across the Stour Valley and walks on the North Dorset Trailway, we believe that the station site at Spetisbury would be an ideal location for such a venture.
This clearance work once completed along with the rebuilding of the station buildings will potentially encourage more people to use the trailway as a means of leisure activities, and / or commuting away from the dangerous A350 road through Spetisbury. There will also be the possibility that people will use other facilities within the village, for example, they might want to have a meal and a drink at the pub. Or if coming from further afield, stop overnight in one of the local bed and breakfast establishments. Thereby bringing revenue to Spetisbury.
Our intention is to restore the station buildings as they would have appeared in the early 1950s. Externally they should be identical to the original designs, subject to modern health and safety and building regulations.
Internally they had a booking office, waiting rooms and toilets. We intend to set them up as they used to be, but we would like to set the waiting rooms up so that we have an information centre / shop. The information centre would be where people could get information about us, and the history of the original Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. We could also have information about the Trailway and surrounding area. In the shop, in addition to books, DVDs and souvenirs, we would like to sell hot and cold drinks, and light snacks for Trailway users. In the summer months when the shop etc is open, we may have some tables and chairs out on the platform, so that visitors can take a rest in the fresh air and enjoy a look across the Stour Valley whilst enjoying a cup of tea with a slice of locally made cake.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a thought here, if you read the excellent steaming to Broadway 2015 blogsite where a team of volunteers are currently rebuilding the long lost platforms they have engaged the assistance of young apprentice bricklayers from the college at Worcester. Would it not be an excellent idea if you could do the same here using young people from the Poole/Blandford area colleges /Senior schools. I know the red tape is a nightmare but if we can get the younger generation interested in learning REAL skills and the history of the S& D and why we must rebuild it and the criminally insane who closed it back in 1966 instead of dossing about street corners and playing rubbish on computers this can give them that esteem they require as adults and the respect and voice they wish to have and more good can come of this in Britain today. Again my late Father who as I stated earlier worked for the Southern Railway and BRSR ensured I left school into the adult world with that ethos of working for a living and enjoying a basic degree of knowledge of DIY skills and about the world we all live in, and this has helped out on countless times. This would be a brilliant chance to try and demonstrate to today,s young adults why the world of crime and drugs and binge Britain is not cool and maybe these youngsters would enjoy a physical challenge as well. I know some youngsters would deride us but this is not about playing trains, there are serious life skills involved in this fine project including Community, team work and fitness as well as the trade skills to be learnt. You only need to look at the friendly banter on many of these preservation projects between the young and not so young! the side kick from this, these youngsters would then pick up the right ethos and would be better armed ready to take up employment. (Sir Terry Leahy the Tsco chairman a few yrs ago bemoaned about todays youth.) Academics are fine to a degree but it is practical work that makes the world go round!