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, February 25, 2013

huge missed opportunity


I hope not too many of you took my advice and bought the Independent yesterday. If you did I can only apologise. The Beeching article was the most hideous load of nostalgic, irrelevant and uninformed tosh I have ever read. I'm ashamed that four of my pictures accompanied the article, fortunately they didn't put my name to them!

So what was wrong with it? It had lots of inaccuracies - that the SDRHT have extended a quarter of mile towards Bath for example. (In reality they've extended half a mile towards Chilcompton). The last Somerset coalfield did NOT close in 1966, the S&D was slewed to the Bristol-Frome line after closure of the S&D so it could continue to take coal from Writhlington for several more years. Looe is not in West Cornwall, and the St Ives branch is hardly English, it's Cornish!

But what really irked was the absolute patronising hatchet job it did on Midsomer Norton. In reality Midsomer Norton South is a fantastic revived station. Talk of eccentrics in stationmaster's caps selling a useless ticket to look around the site would just about turn anyone off visiting. In reality your ticket gives you a trip on their heritage DMU and access to the site, without an accompanying puffer lover eccentric ...

But the worst was the journalist's extraordinary assumption that - with the money and will - of course the line can be reopened, if only the land hadn't been sold off in parcels!! Talk about getting it the wrong way round!! Land is no problem, CPO's will get anything we can't get on the open market.

The point is the whole article stank of 70s defeatism, misplaced nostalgia and an utter contempt for the people - the vast majority who are NOT railway enthusiasts and are more likely to wear a fez and ballgown than a 'stationmaster's cap' - that have put so much effort in getting the line restored.

Not a single mention of Peak Oil, though the main paper often alludes to it, and no sweeping story about how railways are returning all over the country. Why not just declare out loud that BEECHING WAS WRONG? And that, because he was wrong, even back in 1963, we simply have to reverse what the idiot did? And that NOTHING will stand in the way of a huge rail revival in this country BECAUSE WE HAVE NO CHOICE!!

And the patronising drivel at the top of this page? This will become part of the iconography of the S&D. When the first real train runs on the line we will reproduce this as a poster, tee shirt, fridge magnet and a host of other souvenirs, making even more money for the line which despite what the 'journalist' claimed is going to be everything BUT the thing he thinks it will be!



7 comments:

Eddystone said...

Made my blood boil. Still no point in getting upset by all this rubbish. 70's defeatism-what a metaphor.The mindless writer was trying to apply the misguided principles of growth and the bullshine economy to the work of preservationists!

Eddystone said...

Patronising garbage!

yamfaz said...

As a contributor to the article (pictures) why don't you write to the editor with the alternate view and tell them how it really is. Newspapers are always after material. If you do, I would mention Peak Oil, but wouldn't push to hard with it, as still a lot of people don't get it and you would lose the reader, however the Congestion angle everyone knows about!

It'll be another chance to get some pix of Midford and the other sites published.

Winchester Today said...

You could always try MY newspaper... ! Proud to be a new member, proud of the old S&D, proud of the NEW S&D. Kevin Gover, Editor, Winchester Today

David Airey said...

I went off and found the Independent article after reading your comments on the blog, I have to say I was quite shocked that the journalist had asked you to participate in this and then written such a single minded, biased and statistically outdated piece.
I decided to write a comment on the page about the lack of recognition for the effort, vision and for the need to restore this line for future public use and to regenerate the local economies. Even if this were simply a commercial venture judging by the success of the heritage lines such as Swanage and Bluebell then it would be worth all the effort but there was and underlying "mockery" of such ventures labeling them under the "trainspotter" umbrella.
I suggested that the journalist's views were misguided, that I had no idea what his evidence was based on, that his journalism was anything but "Independent" and predicted that he was probably traveling to work in London that morning by train although others in rural communities no longer have that option...unfortunately the comment only lasted half an hour before being removed...I'm sure you won't be deterred by the article, keep up the good work.

David Airey said...

I went off and found the Independent article after reading your comments on the blog, I have to say I was quite shocked that the journalist had asked you to participate in this and then written such a single minded, biased and statistically outdated piece.
I decided to write a comment on the page about the lack of recognition for the effort, vision and for the need to restore this line for future public use and to regenerate the local economies. Even if this were simply a commercial venture judging by the success of the heritage lines such as Swanage and Bluebell then it would be worth all the effort but there was and underlying "mockery" of such ventures labeling them under the "trainspotter" umbrella.
I suggested that the journalist's views were misguided, that I had no idea what his evidence was based on, that his journalism was anything but "Independent" and predicted that he was probably traveling to work in London that morning by train although others in rural communities no longer have that option...unfortunately the comment only lasted half an hour before being removed...I'm sure you won't be deterred by the article, keep up the good work.

Sunshiner said...

Not deterred at all. There will ALWAYS be idiots, but there are less each day, at least where rail is concerned. Since the article went out we've seen a huge increase in new members joining!