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, April 10, 2012

where it all started

If you ever wondered where the idea of a rebuilt modern S&D came from you need look no further than the constitution of the SDRHT at Midsomer Norton - 'to assist with any 21st century reconstruction as part of the national network or as a heritage railway'.

Like many other New S&D members I am also a life member at Midsomer Norton. They have always been an incredibly forward-looking group and have inspired all of us working towards rebuilding the S&D as a real railway. They have worked wonders at Midsomer Norton in seemingly impossible circumstances, the site was once earmarked for sub-standard 20th century housing! Yet even 20 years ago, whilst being told by the dinosaurs 'Midsomer Norton will be demolished and vanish forever' they had the foresight to plant the idea of a fully restored line, an icon buried deep in their constitution yet, in its own way, every bit as powerful as the 'Perchance it is not Dead but Sleepeth' wreath placed on the buffers of the L&B line at Barnstaple Town station in 1935, or the Festiniog leaving Blanche at Blaenau years before the rails reached her.

Everyone involved in restoring the S&D; whether a ticket office person at Midsomer Norton, a narrow gauge signalman at Gartell, the shop staff at Shillingstone, the people restoring old carriages at Washford, the Seales clearing the platform at Midford, Dean Cockwell powering ahead the taking over of Spetisbury, the New S&D legal team studying CPOs, Environmental Assessments or trackbed arrangements and all the thousands of others supporting and rebuilding this line are all working towards the same thing - making the inevitable possible!


Anonymous said...

As I said in one of my previous articles from an acorn a mighty oak is born. The S&D is starting to be reborn. Once the Southern extension to Somervale is built will it be the intention to build to Radstock and link up with the stub of the North Somerset line before heading North to Midford? I know the missing bridge over silver street will be an issue however I would suggest that an eye is kept on Network rail as they are carrying out some major renewals and backlogs and one might be lucky to get a couple of decent spans. I know the bridge at Reading that was recently replaced has been given to the Great Central Railway for their future intentions to bridge the gap at Loughborough and to reconnect the two preserved halves of that line togeather. Maybe the S&D could do the same, that would still leave the problems of abutments plus the highways and legal issues but it would be one thing less. Just a thought for all

Neil S. said...


Very good points. It is vital for us to contribute to Local Plans in Bath and North East Somerset and the Structural Plans in Somerset and Dorset: these show each authority's intention for planning and zoning. These are made every few years.

A ready example of keeping the eye on the ball is Pike Bridge on the Stroudwater Canal. Gloucestershire County Council rebuit it during a road scheme. It took time. This has also been done in the centre of Stroud for the road bridge crossing the Canal.

If they can do it, so can we.

We have enough know how among members to build let alone sink a battleship.

ANY possiblity of railway restoration should be acted upon professionally and without delay.

Time has not waited for Peak Oil, it's caught it up.