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, December 30, 2012

inspiration ...

The main inspiration for the New S&D was the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway's associated land purchasing group, Exmoor Associates. They now own 17.9% of L&B trackbed, making them the largest landowner on the line. The New S&D is slightly different as we have membership and sadly were not set up or absorbed by the existing S&D groups at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone, but the principal aim of acquiring trackbed and infrastructure is identical. This is done though our non-profit making landowning arm, Wessex Links Ltd.

Snapper Halt Is Ours!

We are pleased to be able to announce that we have completed the purchase of Snapper Halt and the adjoining trackbed.
Snapper Halt
Snapper Halt served the adjacent hamlet of Snapper and the nearby village of Goodleigh. After the closure of the railway in 1935, two of the railway’s coaches were left isolated at Snapper having been purchased at the railway’s auction. The first was coach 6991, which was left in the platform and of which the remains were eventually burnt. The other was coach 6993, now better known as Ffestiniog Railway coach 14 – the buffet car in B-set, which was rescued by volunteers from the FR. Coach 6993 was left a little way out of the station, further along the trackbed we have secured in this package.
Coach 6993 at Snapper Halt (L&GRP)
Snapper Halt itself is in remarkable condition considering that it is now 75 years since the railway closed. Whilst the surrounding area is somewhat overgrown, the waiting shelter is virtually intact (begging to be restored) and the platform edging is still in place in its entirety under the vegetation. Other features in the package being purchased include bridge 15, and the remains of one of the stone-constructed platelayers’ huts.
Coach 6993 near Snapper beside the platelayers' hut in 1947
We had been in regular contact with the owner of the land at Snapper for a number of years and following her passing we have remained in discussions with her heirs for the securing of the land. It is not often that the opportunity comes up to buy a station on the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, not least one with a significant stretch of trackbed, and so naturally we are delighted to have been successful yet again in this acquisition.
The site of coach 6993 at Snapper today
Between Exmoor Associates and the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust, we have now collectively secured 17.9% of the trackbed required for the rebuilding of the whole railway between Lynton and Barnstaple. Exmoor Associates is now also the single largest owner of L&B trackbed.
A few shareholders on newly acquired bridge 15
We would of course like to thank everyone who has supported this latest push, it is great to have now secured this important piece of the jigsaw. If anyone is still interested in joining Exmoor Associates who hasn’t done so already, please still get in touch – we are expecting another significant length of trackbed to come up for sale soon so we will be needing your support!


Neil said...

I like this approach very much: intelligent citizens on the ball.

We need to be connected to all such people throughout the country. We can all mutually benefit from such connections, seeing that Peak Oil etc does not seem to be taken seriously at the highest level.

All we need is a right of way-an easement- across land to run rails. Station sites can be leased or purchased.

In my view rolling the sourcing of rolling stock could present a difficulty but I stand to be corrected.

Sunshiner said...

I suspect that as the triple crisis (peak oil, climate change, economic decline) becomes obvious to everyone many small engineering firms will switch to producing bespoke or small-run railway and tramway rolling stock. The engineering works at the larger heritage (or ex-heritage as they will be then) lines will also have the mix of skills, equipment and knowledge to produce low-energy items for their own lines and others. Sourcing steel and labour might be harder, but there will probably be loads of recycled steel from all those abandoned cars, lorries and buses!