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, November 07, 2016

Wellow station


(All pics sourced via Google)

Wellow station

Wellow station opened on 20 July 1874, closed for freight on 10 June 1963 and completely, with the rest of the S&D, on 7 March 1966.

The station had two platforms with a goods yard and sidings, all being controlled from an 18 lever signalbox.

The station still exists havin g been converted into a house by the artist Peter Blake (of Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club cover fame). The signalbox also survives having also been converted into a residence after closure. This section of the route was double track and had a very intensive service in the line's heyday. It's rural location made it a favourite photographic location along the route.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chilcompton ahoy!


(16.10.2106 source)

A wonderful picture taken south of Midsomer Norton today (16.10.2016) showing the team laying sleepers for the extension to Chilcompton. Tracklaying has been progressing for about 15 years now and the team have become very expert at the job, these days aided by heavy equipment. In the early days all the tracklaying was done by hand. Notice the countryside starting to open up, the fantastic scenery along the line was always one of the main points of interest on the original S&D.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Midford today and tomorrow


BR Class 4, 2-6-4T 80134 brings a Bath to Templecombe train into Midford station towards the end of S & D services sometime in 1965 (Source)

Just a quick reminder to all New S&D members that we are having a two day working 'weekend' today - Sunday 9.10.2016 and tomorrow - Monday 10.10.2016 up at Midford. Members should start turning up from around 10am on each day, towards the latter part of each day there will be a barbecue (please bring food!) over the bonfire from each day's cuttings!

The work will involve cutting and clearing, with some smaller trees being pruned by Mick Knox's chainsaw. The weather's looking good and there is no better location on Britain's railway network than Midford. There is also the fabulous Hope and Anchor pub right next door to the station for those wanting sustenance at lunchtime. Come and join the S&D adventure at its most iconic location.

(Sadly due to sciatica I won't be able to make it, but I'll be there in spirit!)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Two Day Work Party and Barbecue at Midford


(Both pics copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

There will be a two day work party and barbecue up at Midford on Sunday 9 October 2016 and Monday 10 October 2016. ALL New S&D members are invited to attend, non members are welcome to join in advance. 

Work parties will begin each day at around 10 am. If you need more info please email me at leysiner@aol.com. Steel toe-capped boots are recommended and please bring your own tools - hedge trimmers, clippers, shears etc, also a wheelbarrow if you have one!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bigger and Bigger ...


(All pics 18.9.2016 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)



It was the last of four days over the last two weekend when the SDRHT at Midsomer Norton had the 4MT tank loco on site. It was running from 10.30am this morning puling two coaches in BR (LMR) maroon towards Chilcompton.

I got there just after eleven and got some nice shots of the train as it left Midsomer Norton up the 1 in 53 grade towards Bournemouth. The station and train were packed of course!

The locomotive, hired from the Llangollen steam railway, is ex BR number 80072, and has run in the guise of both 80041 and 80043 over the two weekends, commemorating the locos with those numbers which double-headed the last northbound train (in BR days) to Bath on 6.3.1966.

The costs of hiring in the loco were part sponsored by Midsomer Norton Town Council, who are becoming increasingly aware of the huge value this unique asset has for the town.

Planning permission has been granted to complete phase one of the line up to the infill near Chilcompton and the money raised from these two weekends will go a long way towards laying the track on and completing this section. After then the new challenges of returning to Radstock and heading south through the tunnels to Shepton Mallet and beyond will start to take over.

The next step will be a tender engine and eventually a 9F will return to the line. Just imagine that with 12 coaches on! It'll be a good few years yet but the line has come on enormously since my first visit in about 2003 when just two track panels were laid, the line was blocked and there were just a few freight wagons on site.

Make no mistake, the S&D is back!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

It's Really Happening!!


(All 11.9.2016 source)

Wonderful stuff continues to happen up and down the S&D - but I suspect the arrival of a big engine at Midsomer Norton has to be the best thing yet (since 1966 anyway!) They are now just one step away from a tender engine ... and only a few more to a 9F!

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Baby for Gartell

(Pic and text courtesy John Penny)

EXCLUSIVE! The newest steam locomotive in the country - possibly even the newest in the world - is scheduled to appear at the Gartell Light Railway next Monday 29th August, 2016. Subject to final inspections and running trials* the locomotive - as yet un-numbered and un-named - has been constructed over the last 17 years by John Uphill. Similar in design to the GLR's first steam loco (No. 6 'Mr. G' of 1998) and again an 0-4-2, the loco has been designed to spend much of its time with the GLR, increasing its traction numbers to three steam and three diesel. (*Please note: Loco is subject to availability)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Midford update


(All pics 18.8.2016 Copyright Peter Sandell)

Peter Sandell has been making regular trips up to Midford station to help with the site clearance, and he's sent in these pics, all taken on 18 August 2016, of some of the progress at the site. This has built on the work done by the work party we had earlier in the month when the south end of the platform was cleared of vegetation. The station is beginning to emerge again from its lush summer coat - and we are now moving swiftly to the easier (if colder) time of year when clearance becomes much easier as almost everything has stopped growing!

Remember that as a New S&D member you are perfectly able to go up to the site and do some work on the platform and alongside the trackbed, though work on the steeper bank is best left to when we have an official work party with first aider and the right equipment.

If you do go to the site to work please let us know and also if possible send a brief summary of the work done together with pictures!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Very special September!!


MIDSOMER NORTON: The Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust is pleased to announce that we will be hosting their third Ex-British Railways Steam Locomotive for two weekends: 10th & 11th/ 17th & 18th of September. Courtesy of the Llangollen Railway, BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4T No.80072 will be hauling passenger trains, and recreating scenes from the swansong years of the S&D. 

Prices are £5 per trip (no concessions) with children under 5 travelling free.

Please come and join them and travel behind the largest steam locomotive to grace Somerset and Dorset metals since 1966!

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Midford - we're back!


(All pics 3.8.2016 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Well, it's official. Midford work parties have started again, and yesterday saw 5 of us cutting back undergrowth plus some smaller regrowth trees at the station and further along near the Long Arch bridge.

We made a good deal of progress, despite a 2 hour pub break!

What really stood out was the amount of cycle and pedestrian traffic on the path through the site - a huge increase from a few years ago before the Two Tunnels route was opened. It suggests an excellent future for the site, even before the trains return!

After the pub we took a look at the cutting and decided on a weekend (or perhaps Sunday/Monday) big clear out in October, together with a barbecue, Final date to be set, but please keep it in mind. All members are welcome to come along and help! Further news as I get it.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Midford Wednesday 3 August 2016 Work Party


There will be a New Somerset and Dorset Railway work party at Midford this coming Wednesday (3.8.2016). ALL New S&D members are invited to come along and help with ongoing clearance of the site. You can become a member on the day if you wish. Bring your own tools - most of the work will be the cutting back of undergrowth. Parking is limited in Midford, there are a few spaces dotted about including space for one or two cars above the station site. 

Members should be aware that insurance for the site has lapsed pending setting up a new insurance scheme, so the work will be very low risk. If concerned please arrange your own insurance for the day. It may be that we have set up insurance by Wednesday, we are waiting for the responsible member to get back to us on this. If there is a change I'll announce it on this page and elsewhere.

Work will start around 10am and the day will almost certainly include a long break for lunch and/or refreshments at the adjacent Hope and Anchor pub!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bigger and Better!


(Picture sourced from the internet)

Fantastic news from Midsomer Norton. Whilst we've got used to steam there over the last eleven years the locos have been getting better and better, though we still haven't got beyond an 0-6-0 (even if it was a Jinty!)

But now the third ex-BR steam locomotive booked to visit the line has taken us up a league - it's BR Standard Class 4 2-6-4 tank locomotive number 80072, which is visiting us from the Llangollen Railway.

She'll be at the station over the two weekends of 10/11 September and 17/18 September 2016 - and will be an unmissable event for all S&D fans around the world. The 50th anniversary of closure events were packed out, but to be honest I suspect the coming two weekends in September will be even busier.

Cancel everything and come - and experience the true S&D atmosphere of this iconic location. Just one step away from a tender loco ...