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, September 30, 2012

Right Lines 4!


Expect mail soon, as one of two hundred and fifty copies of the first edition of our new look Right Lines will be popping through your door if you are a UK member of the New S&D soon! This edition outlines the latest progress at Speitsbury and Midford and other S&D groups' sites too, plus a past and future section to give you plenty of reading material! Overseas members will receive copies in due course.
Enjoy your new look magazine!

The Editorial Team.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

the best fun you can have wearing an anorak

Up and running for just a few days is the Rail Thing Facebook page. This is a totally random site where anyone can upload photos and add comments. We've been to a lot of strange places in the few days it's been open! Miami, Monsal Dale, Snailbeach, Corfe Castle, Itchen Abbas, Switzerland and a host of other places (and times). ANYTHING is welcome! To join up please click this link.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


There have been changes to the locomotive line-up for the West Somerset Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala which takes place on the 20 miles of line between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead over the 4 days October 4th to 7th.

Sadly the Midland Railway Centre has been unable to release the Caprotti British Railways 5MT 73129 but in its place the WSR has been able to hire Ivatt 4MT 2-6-0 43106. The "doodle bugs” came to the S&D before their original steaming problems were resolved but they were part of "Joint Line” history. In addition not merely is 43106 the only survivor of the 162 which were built but it will be the first time that any member of the class to work on the line to Minehead.

The superb recreation of Green Park in 4mm scale by the Taunton Model Railway Group will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in their Club Room at Bishops Lydeard station.

92203 "Black Prince” will be heading a non-stop "Pines Express” in both directions on Saturday 6th and there is pre-bookable dining space on the trains for those who wish to join various visitors including Peter Smith and Aubrey Punter on a special day out. More details and bookings via 01643 704996 or online. Or if you prefer a different view of the line there are a limited number of places to travel in the brake vans of the goods trains.

So the full line up of engines due to be at the Gala is as follows:-

9F 2-10-0 92203 "Black Prince”:- "Black 5” 4-6-0 45379 (making its WSR debut):- Ivatt 4MT 2-6-0 43106;- Somerset and Dorset "7F” 88:- GWR 4936 "Kinlet Hall”;- GWR 3850:- GWR 4160:- GWR 6960 "Raveningham Hall:- GWR 7828 "Norton Manor”; GWR designed "Mogul” 9351.

The loco diagrams will be part of the Souvenir Guide which is now at the printers and will be on sale for £4 at West Somerset Railway Stations (or can be ordered in advance by ringing 01643 with card details or by sending a cheque to West Somerset Railway, The Railway Station, Minehead, TA24 5BG).

Alan Hammond will be book signing on all four days and some of the newly issued range of buildings based on Shillingstone are on sale in the Minehead station shop (01643 700387 direct line)
And of course the Washford Museum will be open, offering an essential place to visit for all lovers of the Somerset and Dorset.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

it's all happening

Both Midford and Spetisbury will be having work parties tomorrow. Remember that as a New S&D member you can just turn up at each station, make yourself known, and start work right away - all for no pay! Non-members can also join on site and will be covered by insurance immediately.

There will also of course be work parties at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone. The days of the S&D being a dead line are long gone!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012



 Dear Member/ Volunteer,

 I am going up to the station on Sunday, and hope that you can join me. I hope to be there between 10:00 and 11:00am.
Could you let me know if you are coming up to help.

Dean Cockwell

Sunday, September 16, 2012

pining ...

Almost everybody approaches the S&D from a different angle. Some love the locos that worked the line, others the trains, others the stations, many (like myself) the whole look and feel of the line. Others celebrate its history and many also are working to build a new S&D that will serve its communities throughout the 21st century.
To this end quite a lot of Facebook groups have sprung up celebrating different aspects of the route and one of the more unusual is one which celebrates the Pines Express. To take a look (and hopefully join) please click here.


(Picture copyright and courtesy Kevin Mitchell)

This is great! The New S&D now has a permanent sign at Spetisbury echoing the classic SR totems that were such a feature of the railway scene from about 1960 to 1980. The addition of the website address will no doubt increase the number of the visitors to the website.

This is announcing to passers-by that the station is at last waking from its long sleep - it was closed the same year as I was born, ten years before the rest of the S&D.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

bath green park

Just found on Facebook is a page just for Bath Green Park. It would be nice if all S&D stations had a Facebook group as it will be a way of gradually building up a network of interested people joining the great S&D revival via their local station. Facebook group for this iconic (and surviving!) station here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

midford - today!

From Stuart Seale
‎Tom Seale and I will be down at Midford doing some tree clearance work from 16:45 tomorrow (Wednesday 12 Sept) if anyone fancies a bit of graft.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

shillingstone/templecombe memories

(Copyright Dave Clarke)

It's not all electrification and super modern trains on the New S&D! We also are putting together an archive of the original line. Latest addition (see the website) is the following short piece from Vince Everleigh.

As small children living in Child Oakford we used to board at Shillingstone Station and travel to Templecombe to visit my grand parents . My grand mother worked on the station for many years in the buffet ( Doris Sanger ) and my Uncle Ron was Porter there . Time wise this was maybe 1965? I remember running along the platform and talking to the driver and fireman and then crossing the overhead connecting bridge . Those wonderful smells of smoke and hot oil ...
Happy days indeed.

Friday, September 07, 2012

helping out another vital line

(Ashbury, further along the route, 1960s. Copyright The Rail Thing)

The excellent Launceston Steam Railway is having problems with its local council which seems to have lost the plot big time!

The railway has been working with Cornwall County Council for some time with the intention of extending to Egloskerry - and on the strength of this purchased land in Egloskerry for the new line.

But now the council is planning to build a multi purpose route (walking, bikes, horses) which the railway fears may make it's future unviable if they can't get through to Egloskerry. Personally I don't believe anything - least of all a mere trailway - will stop the huge rail revival in the UK, but all the same it will make extension more difficult if too many users object to the railway returning, not an issue at all now but could be in the future.

To this end I think we should ALL sign the petition to CCC to get them to rethink this plan. the petition can be signed here.