MIDSOMER NORTON SOUTH
The magnificent S&D Telegraph has just arrived and, as always, it is brilliant and an absolute gold standard for other rail restoration groups to aim for! There's a lot about the 50th closure anniversary and I also pick up a real sense, via the editorial and other pieces in the magazine, that they now have the bit between their teeth and they have become a real railway with BIG ambitions.
When I started at Midsomer Norton back in 2004 there was a big board attached to the goods shed proclaiming that the scheme was a 'steam museum and short demonstration line'. That used to wind me up so much, I felt it was a real ambition and passion killer! A few years later it disappeared and the line rebranded itself the 'Mendip Main Line Project'. That was the turning point intellectually for the group, and I think the 50th Anniversary coupled with the fantastic progress on the new section of line have been the turning point in engineering terms. The S&D is a railway again, soon it will be a mile long at Midsomer Norton with the next steps beyond that clearly in their sights.
A similar process seems to be happening at Shillingstone, which just a few years ago branded itself as a 'museum of farming' with the railway an afterthought. I suspect a similar process will happen at both Midford and Spetisbury over the coming years, with track appearing fairly quickly and then the transformation to a railway following hot on its heels. Things are happening so fast along the S&D it's hard keeping track!