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!

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Greatest Show on Earth!


The Jinty arrives (all via Somerset and Dorset Railway Facebook)

Also in steam - the SDRHT's very own Sentinel (via Somerset and Dorset Railway Facebook)

The last Jinty at Midsomer Norton - July 2005 (pic copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

The S&D just keeps getting better and better. The next two weekends will be celebrations up and down the line of the original (and now quickly being forgotten!) closure. Midsomer Norton will be leading the way with two engines in steam, the Gartell will be operating 2 foot gauge versions of the last trains and the last Pines, Shillingstone will be showing off its two steam locos and Spetisbury has a small display. Let's see how many of you can visit all four sites (with a stop off at Midford as well of course, with big news from there being announced after all this is over!)

I shall be going down to Midsomer Norton on a sunny day (if available) or a gloomy one if not! There's no way I'm missing this. I was there for thr 2005 visit of a Jinty and it was an amazing experience. I seem to only have the one photo of that event though, it was the year before I switched to digital!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Yet another giant step for the S&D


Thursday 18th February 2016: 
After many years of hard work, Sentinel 7109 finally leaves the shed under its own steam.
Pic copyright Alan Price

The triumphant restoration duo of Andy Chapman and Nigel Dickinson are joined by ex Bath Green Park fireman Geoff Akers after a successful
test run of the Sentinel up the 1:50 bank from Midsomer Norton . 

This restoration is a marvellous achievement. ThisSentinel Steam Loco 7109 is planned to be in steam over the two commemorative weekends. Come along and see it. You will be made very welcome.

Video of the event

I remember the Sentinel loco arriving at Midsomer Norton many years ago. It's steam, but not as we know it! The boiler sits astride the footplate which makes it the most inconvenient working area I've been in since DJing in Germany with the lighting console - and lighting operator - being between the two decks!

I think I own a share or two in the loco! Whilst I was there working 2 or 3 days a week occasional work would be done on it, amongst a thousand other jobs. But now she's finally in steam and actually running! A huge step forward for the S&D and great to see that such an unusual loco is back in the land of the living.

So Midsomer Norton will be running TWO steam locos over the coming two weekends, I shall wait for a nice sunny day and get down there myself to see a little bit of history in action. Whatever next?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Half hourly Steam on the S&D!


This is great news! Steam is returning to Midsomer Norton South on the weekend of the 50th anniversary of closure and the week before. And they will be running a HALF HOURLY service! 

The locomotive will be Jinty no 47406, and the Sentinel loco no 7109 will also be in steam on the anniversary weekend itself! There will be a vintage bus link from the car parks at Somervale School and the town centre as there is no parking at the station itself.

Deja vu! Jinty at Midsomer Norton in 2005.