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!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

present idea ...

Superb new release from our friends at 1st Take is Branch Lines to Gloucestershire. This is of course available from our website at £14.95 and each one sold raises £5 for the New S&D.

Blurb to accompany the DVD is -

The Beeching cuts prompted a massive reshaping of Britain’s railway network in the 1960s, when almost a third of the country’s track was closed. Most of the victims were minor routes which linked rural locations; they were axed as they were simply deemed uneconomic. But they remain fondly remembered today and this film is intended as the first in a series which will celebrate the branch lines of England, in association with railway author and historian Colin Maggs MBE.

You will see a wide range of routes, from those initially worked by horses to one which boasted the longest railway bridge in England. These lines provided vital services for the industrial heartland of Bristol, and key places such as Gloucester Docks and Lydney harbour. They also reached out to towns and villages in the Cotswolds, the Forest of Dean and many other parts of the county.

The story is illustrated by extensive use of rare archive photographs, and is enhanced by informed commentary from Colin Maggs, who has seen so many changes in the county’s railway network during a lifelong interest in the subject. You will also enjoy stunning modern film, excerpts of archive footage and visits to two of the county’s preserved lines - the Dean Heritage Railway and Avon Valley Railway – and the GWR Museum at Coleford. There are also fascinating interviews with former railwaymen and those who recall how important such branch lines were to rural areas.

Numerous locations are visited, including Avonside Wharf, Severn Beach, Mangotsfield, Westerleigh, Yate, Thornbury, Berkeley Road, Coaley, Dursley, Stroud, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Tewkesbury, Cirencester, Kemble, Tetbury, Lydney, Cinderford and Chepstow.


Neil said...

I'll be investing in this little gem.

I've walked most of the Yate to Thornbury line several times. The intermediate stations in Iron Acton and Tytherington are long gone: a shame but who knows these days. The line's refurbishment is on the agenda as part of the Greater Bristol Metro. Tytherington Quarry provides stone and the line is still extant. The raised line beyond here towards Thornbury goes as far as the A38 but is lost to development. However, part of the line into the old Thornbury terminus is still there. It is not impossible to restore the line along its original path but one or two of the modern houses and industrial units will need demolition. Magg's book has some on the line has some very interesting photos. A relative of mine went to Thornbury Grammar School and still recalls the toot of the 3.45pm train, just before the school bell.
Chepstow and the Wye Valley are another shame. Chepstow Station in part still operates. A partially restored Wye Valley line might provide improved services to Bristol,Cardiff, Gloucester and beyond. They're needed desperately, judging by the traffic jams most days around the Severn Estuary area. It needs a proper feasibility study full stop.

I'd like to look at running trains around the circle of Gloucester, Stroud, Severn Tunnel, Swindon, Bristol Parkway and Chepstow.

Sunshiner said...

Neil - you seem to be going through a similar process to me, suddenly seeing potential new lines everywhere! The New S&D has been a group member of Railfuture almost from the day we started, so this larger responsibility has been there for some time. I'd like to see Railfuture develop enormously over the coming years, as it is so important that there is a strong and respected campaigning group, with smaller groups like ours as the foot soldiers. I think there is now a group looking at restoring the Wye Valley line, and I think they have amodern transport element. Of course the old Thornbury line had been closed and lifted for many years, then relaid to Tytherington, again one of the inspirations for the New S&D for this reason. I think it was the first major track relaying since Beeching, breaking a psychological barrier.