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, May 14, 2013


There have been a few lines that have inspired the S&D, and I suspect one of the most surprising ones is the Lynton and Barnstaple. In fact there's a pretty strong case that the closure of the L&B inspired the WHOLE heritage railway movement. The picture above is of Woody Bay in 1980, a station perched on top of Exmoor and converted to an attractive house. There was at the time a small preservation group, but they hadn't made a lot of progress and the 'it'll never happen' lot were having a field day mocking them.
But persistence paid off and they now have fully restored a section of the line at Woody Bay. But more to the point, through their Exmoor Associates company, they own good stretches of the route distant from Woody Bay, including Chelfham viaduct and station. They are in for the long haul and have been persistent and patient from the start. They want nothing less than a full restoration of this most important route, and have even planned an extension at Lynton to meet the funicular down to Lynmouth.
I'll be visiting the line next month and I'm really looking forward to it! Oh yes, the shot below is of the line as it is now!


RailWest said...

Neither the L&BR Trust nor Exmoor Associates own Chelfham viaduct, which remains in the possesion of the BRB Residuary Board (or whatever it is called now).

Sunshiner said...

Sorry, thought I'd read that somewhere! Must be just the station. This is of course sensible - no point in exposing yourself to unnecessary expenses until you're actually using the thing for trains! We have the same attitude at the New S&D which is why we haven't been tempted by 'cheap' viaducts and tunnels!