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 07, 2014

new DVD available

Just released, and just added to the New S&D's online shop, is the superb new DVD from 1st Take, covering the branch lines of Somerset, some of which crossed or interacted with the S&D.

Priced at just £14.95 (plus 50p post and packing) all profits go directly to the New S&D to help restore our magnificent line. Orders placed before 20 December will reach UK addresses in time for Christmas. We do only have a small stock though so please order early!

wanted at midsomer norton

The SDRHT at Midsomer Norton continues to look for a volunteer who can take on the role of minute taker for the Company so if you can help please contact Steve Ehrlicher on sehrlicher@phonecoop.coop

Likewise email Steve if you have skills for the role of Head of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering as we recommence train operations.  We will also be starting work on the restoration of the BSK in early Spring so that we have a two coach maroon train for the March 2016 commemorations and if anyone would like to help on this project and would be available on Monday working parties please email John Baxter on jbncer@btinternet.com

Saturday, December 06, 2014

tuck in tomorrow at midsomer norton!

Midsomer Norton South station - Sunday 7th December 2014 -- Buffet car open 10am --4pm. Full English breakfast served between 10-11.45am - Sunday roast this week is roast beef & Yorkshire pudding - roast potatoes served with fresh vegetables of the day - also hot and cold snacks available throughout the day .

Friday, December 05, 2014

7F at Midsomer Norton!

The first 7F to appear on track at Midsomer Norton will be over the weekend of 13th/14th December 2014.  No, not the full size version but a live steam 5 inch gauge model which will be providing train rides on both days from 11.30 to 13.00 and 13.30 to 16.00, so do come along and take a ride.  53808 and 53809 will eventually steam at our station but we need to get the next section to Chilcompton open first.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Spetisbury Report 5.10.2014

Plants kindly donated by locals await planting out. Another plant was delivered to the station today.

View from the bank behind the up platform building. The vegetation behind the wall was cut back today.

The view of the up platform building is now better after we removed lots of overgrowth.

All traces of the rubble mound here on the up platform have gone and the area seeded with grass.

(All pics and text by Kevin Mitchell).

The revival of Spetisbury on the Dorset section of the S&D proceeds apace, the weather today looking particularly amenable!

Remember if you want to help the rebuilding of the S&D there are work parties most Sundays at the station. To get involved simply contact Dean Cockwell, Spetisbury Project Manager, on deancockwell@ntlworld.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

achtung spitfeuer!

Come along to our Heritage weekend event and see a full-

size replica Spitfire at the station! (Cockpit visits are 

available.) Also on display will be vintage commercial 

vehicles, wartime action re-enactments, a vintage bus 

operating local tours (Sunday), a wartime singer (Sunday), 

guided railway track walks, museum, pillbox, shop, 

signalbox, stalls, refreshments and more! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

shillingstone light railway

(Both copyright Alan Kingston 1960s/70s)

After the original S&D closed the sound of trains could still be heard around Shillingstone. The 10¼ inch gauge Shillingstone Light Railway continued to operate for a good few more years. The line closed in around 1975 and was sold that year. It was a classic Heywood style agricultural line and apparently paid for itself within the first year of operation (1954). It only closed because Lord Salt, the owner, died. Amazingly it once used a Beyer-Garrett style loco!

More details and pics of the line will be most appreciated! Please email to leysiner@aol.com

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Right Lines 6

Right Lines 6 has now arrived (bigger than ever!) and we are now in the process of sending them out to all members. It may take a week or so to get them all out so don't worry if they are not with you immediately!

We were going to send out the new membership cards with the magazine run but it will be easier to get all the magazines out and then deal with the membership cards, which number about 50, most of which are for members who took advantage of the discounted three year offer.

You'll also find details of how to donate to the MIDFORD REBUILDING APPEAL!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Spetisbury 13.7.2014

(All pics copyright Kevin Mitchell 13.7.2014)

Some pics from yesterday's work party at Spetisbury. All New S&D members are welcome to join in, work parties are on most Sundays.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Gartell last weekend - freight 'n' all!

C.J. sits patiently with GLR no. 5 'Alison' at PW 29 signal, as the 'Pines Express' heads through with a non-stop to 'Park Lane' headed by GLR No.9 'Jean' with Driver Steve Rodd at the controls, and owner/builder/fireman Dr. Alan 'Chalky' White alongside him.

The rare sight of three trains at 'Pinesway Junction'

C.J. keeps his eye on Driver Mike Baker at the controls of GLR no. 1 'Amanda' as he takes a down train off the branch at 'Pinesway Junction'

The goods train waits in the platform at 'Pinesway Junction' as a non-stop service heads through for 'Park Lane'

The signal PW 29 comes off for a down train on the branch at the moment the photographer releases his shutter!

(all pics 29.6.2014 copyright John Penny/Gartell Railway)

Scenes on the GLR taken 29th June. What a day; the weather was fine and several visiting parties enjoyed the show. Good to see the motorbike club, the lads from Yeovil Junction, the Plymouth railway circle, the 'G' scale crew and of course all our other visitors. A two-train 25 minute service (always sufficient on our June date) allowed other staff to provide breaks - and we even ran goods trains for the benefit of the photographers and the entertainment of the rest (including ourselves!) 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Midsomer Norton Working Weekend

Come and make a difference - volunteer working week, August 18 - 23, 2014.

The railway is holding a working week to consolidate efforts around specific tasks which require urgent completion, in some cases by a group of people. Running from Monday 18th to Saturday 23rd, this is open to existing members/volunteers only, due to insurance considerations. The type of jobs available and working times will be drawn up by Volunteer Co-ordinator Alan Price, who hopes for a good turn-out and the satisfaction of jobs well done. If you can spare a day or two, or even more, then Alan wants to hear from you! Please email and your enquiry will be forwarded to Alan.


You can sign-up online for a very modest fee here. You'll not only contribute to our efforts, but receive free magazines and newsletters to keep you abreast of things on the S&D at Midsomer Norton.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Shillingstone report - Saturday 28 June 2014.

(via Shillingstone facebookA quiet day at the station, not sure what kept the visitors away (weather?). The tyres arrived and the trailer was in action moving sleepers South for the siding. The rear wall of the parcel shed has been repaired and re-painted, the oils-store side is now getting attention. The down-platform running in board has been repainted ready for the lettering to be replaced. The garden rail was getting attention and the coach signage is being applied.

Tomorrow.....could the first 60ft section of the coach siding be laid?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Gartell Railway minutiae

(Words and pic via John Penny 15.6.2014)

We are good at re-using stuff at the GLR - no doubt about that! One only has to look at the signals for a start. We do phones as well, and having been presented with a whole bunch of redundant SPT's (Signal Post Telephones) from the Seaton Tramway, where they had been re-used from the 'Big' railway and rebuilt and re-wired to their own requirements, Gradually over the years I have been rebuilding them. Feeling a bit off-colour today I decided not to go to the GLR but spent the day on and off in the garage doing major surgery on this one. I've removed the dial that I had previously put in as it will now be 'Hot-lined' to Common Lane Signal Box. Here it is during the operation (which of course took much longer than anticipated). Fellow telephone anoraks will, I'm sure, note the use of a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) from a Tele 2/722, better known to normal people as a 'Trimphone'.

More info (from Wikipedia)

The Gartell Light Railway is a privately run narrow gauge edutainment railway located at Yenston, south of Templecombe, in Somerset, England. It operates a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway running for 34 mile (1.2 km), partly along the track of the old Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway.The railway has 4 stations - Common Lane, Pinesway Junction, Park Lane and Tower View. The railway is controlled using a comprehensive signalling system operated from two signalboxes - Common lane and Pinesway Junction. Both signalboxes control a mix of semaphore and colour light signals with mechanically operated points. The railway is open to the public on selected dates through the year when it normally operates an intensive 3 train operation with departures from Common Lane station every 20 minutes through the day between 1030 and 1630.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Midsummer at Midsomer - again!

A reminder that we have Midsummer at Midsomer over 21/22 June.  As we are still in the throes of training new drivers under our newly introduced competency regime, we have decided not to run any public trains over that weekend but we will be taking members along the track on some walking trains something that would not normally be permitted.  We have a new WW1 exhibition in the Museum, the buffet and shop will be open and there will be a Children's Quiz for book tokens.  We are also using this as a new volunteer weekend so if you have some talents we can use pop along on either day. Entry is free.

John Baxter

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Gartell progress

The regular 'Thursday gang' was busy again this week - 'CJ' and Keith completed the external repaint of Pinesway Signalbox (and what a fine sight it looks too!) whilst myself and Ian continued with the mini overhaul of one of our fleet of maintenance wagons. Even maintenance wagons need maintenance and some TLC!

Further info (from Wikipedia)

The Gartell Light Railway is a privately run narrow gauge edutainment railway located at Yenston, south of Templecombe, in Somerset, England. It operates a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway running for 34 mile (1.2 km), partly along the track of the old Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway.The railway has 4 stations - Common Lane, Pinesway Junction, Park Lane and Tower View. The railway is controlled using a comprehensive signalling system operated from two signalboxes - Common lane and Pinesway Junction. Both signalboxes control a mix of semaphore and colour light signals with mechanically operated points. The railway is open to the public on selected dates through the year when it normally operates an intensive 3 train operation with departures from Common Lane station every 20 minutes through the day between 1030 and 1630.

Wincanton request

Can anybody help with the following request (please email any info to leysiner@aol.com)

I am interested in finding out where in Wincanton the rail track and station
are. I live in Wincanton and I don't know where it is I understand it was ripped up in 1968 or so.

Friday, June 06, 2014

June 2014 Right Lines

New S&D members have been waiting with bated breath for the latest issue of the members' magazine RIGHT LINES. This edition (June 2014) will have 4 more pages than before as there was so much content! As well as all the usual material there is a feature on walking the line and also details of the Midford Appeal, to rebuild this iconic station, which we own.

If you're not already a member why not join the New S&D? Membership allows to you to work (fully insured) at Midford and Spetisbury, gets you a 10% discount on sales items and you also receive two quality magazines each year, bringing you news from all along our famous line.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Sentinel progress at Midsomer Norton

Something a little different for today! Reprinted from the Sentinel Steam Loco 7109 blog. Words and pictures by Andy Chapman.

Pipe Reality Come True

My previous main steam pipe article was at the stage of it being persuaded into a shape that should fit. In practice, it wasn't that easy.

The first challenge was that, being such an awkward shape, it would have been easy for Sentinel to make it fit with 7109, the pipe and all tooling collocated in the factory. With the pipe being made five miles from 7109, it could only be made to approximately the right shape using a jig made using the old pipe geometry. Mendip Steam's Andy Melrose eventually gave in that some heat was going to be needed in the cab to make it fit. Thus 7109 had her first fire lit since 1968!
First fire in 46 years
Not much steam was created but it did seemingly allow the pipe to ease into place, or so we thought.

Everything was fine until the second challenge. The nice new end pieces were made to drawing size but that did not mean to say that the original mating joints were made that way.
Nice new end fitting exactly to drawing size
The mating end under the water tank had at one time been repaired and the hole into which the new pipe had to fit was not actually round! The two parts would not fit together.

There was nothing for it but to grovel about underneath with a miniature grinder (it's not made for a human to squeeze under the water tank) and make the mating hole bigger, not a lot of fun!
The underneath end finally in place
The fitting in detail...
...fed by a pipe around the firebox...
...fed from up here in the cab...
...from the regulator all the way up here!
So the pipe is at last in place. The white insulation is made from glass fibre ladder tape wound over partly dry, tacky red oxide paint to keep it in place. Finally the ends and a centre join are secured in place with galvanised wire.
Glass fibre ladder tape
The pipe joints are sealed using 3mm thick annealed copper washers, made from copper sheet, with lashings of SteamSeal. The copper washers were made by cutting the outer perimeter with a hole saw and the inner hole with a screw tightened hole punch. Glad I wasn't in a hurry for these, it took ages.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

how to make passengers feel at home!

(Above Bedminster 1.6.2014 copyright Steve Sainsbury)

In a rather desperate attempt to reduce costs in the 60s and 70s many stations were stripped of their buildings and lumbered with 'bus shelter' type replacements. Whilst this did indeed cut costs it also went some way to making the whole experience of rail travel diminished. Whilst the average punter perhaps didn't have an intimate knowledge of rail history and didn't really feel any great attachment to buildings per se, the loss of facilities and, possibly to a greater extent, railway employees on a station led to a sense that rail travel was in decline and also was less safe than the alternatives. To some extent this was true.

This was eventually acknowledged and the new wave of stations (Mouslecoombe, Templecombe for example) were given neat and functional buildings. But to those stations that were victims of 60s cuts, they still struggle on today with the utilitarian and soulless stations we see at Bedminster above.

Go back to the pre-Beeching era and Bedminster had a lovely, human scale set of buildings, connected by a neat footbridge. The above picture is displayed on the wall at Bedminster and shows the station in its prime. Except of course the railways are busier than they've been for nearly 80 years, and Bedminster's prime is now, not then. The station is well used, but surely would be even better used if there was a member of staff on site, and neat buildings that give both shelter and a sense that you're travelling on something with a future, rather than through some faded glory which the facts don't support.

And what has this got to do with the S&D? Well the S&D was 'lucky' in a way (though this also helped kill the line!) that it wasn't rationalised. It kept its human scale, staffed stations to the end. And the New S&D will carry on this tradition. Because where economics are concerned its not all about the cost side of the equation, but the income side too. I firmly believe that staffed, neat stations will generate more income than bleak, lifeless ones. And that that income can not only cover the extra costs of staff and building maintenance, but can exceed the savings made by rationalising everything.

Stations on the New S&D won't be bleak and unwelcoming, but the complete opposite. And the line will earn even more money, when takings are offset against costs, than it would if the Bedminster bus shelters 'welcomed' travellers at Midford, Wincanton, Blandford, Glastonbury and all the rest!

Monday, June 02, 2014

More Shillingstone images

(All copyright Shillingstone Railway Society 1.6.2014)

A few images from Shillingstone from the weekend showing various features around the site. It's incredible just how much this group has achieved over the last few years! To get involved please join the Shillingstone group!


Gartell heaving 1.6.2014

Fabulous day at the railway today - a whole Class 159 full of visitors came from London thanks to 'UK Railtours' Wow! What a day - we were crazy busy with our 'normal' train service seeming to be even more busy than usual. A couple of minor hiccups with some techy issues on the steam locos caused mere challenges which resulted in even more variety for our guests as the Big Baguley 'Andrew' was brought into service. Six coach loads of visitors (in two groups) came via Templecombe Station or Yeovil Railway Centre. The compliments never stopped all day...

As always, many, many thanks to all those who made the day go so well (and good to see James and Adam being able to be back carrying out duties again)