An unofficial website featuring the West Somerset Railway

Latest news

Hymek no D7018 on duty on Saturday 7 August

WSR

A timely and helpful reminder from the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group:

Beyer-Peacock 'Hymek' D7018 is the booked locomotive for this Saturday's diesel-hauled excursion from Bishops Lydeard to Dunster and back plus an extension to Norton Fitzwarren on the return journey. This gives a total running distance of 42 miles, departing from Bishops Lydeard at 11.35am and returning from Norton Fitwarren at 3.25pm.

Advance bookings on this service are looking strong so book now to ensure that you get a chance to ride and enjoy the 'Maybach Music'!

Space will be allocated for walk-up passengers on the day, but book now to make sure that you don't get left behind.

Book now

3 August 2021
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

WSR privilege tickets and special passes available again

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Plc have announced that with effect from Tuesday 3 August 2021, all WSR privilege tickets and special passes will be available again. The availability includes the following categories:

  • Shareholder passes (Silver and Gold) and Travel Warrants
  • WSR Long Service Award passes (Silver)
  • HRA reduced fare passes
  • Staff ID cards and Travel Warrants
  • Network Rail and TOC Privilege reduced fare cards
  • Disabled and Carer discounts
  • Local Residents travel cards
  • WSRA discount fares

All privilege tickets and special passes will revert to their standard conditions, applicable to the particular ticket or special pass. The availability will also include connecting buses between Dunster and Minehead.

Please note that it will not be possible to make these tickets available unfortunately on the 10.15am train from Bishops Lydeard due to train capacity issues and the need to prioritise full fare passengers, but this will be reviewed as soon as possible.

And, if you are disappointed to discover that you do not yet hold one of these special tickets or passes, then one of the easiest ways to obtain one is to become an active volunteer or shareholder! You would be very welcome - just contact volunteers@wsrail.net

2 August 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

An update from the West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust have issued an update on recent and future events:

Further to the Acting Chairman's letter of June 2021 introducing an Extraordinary General Meeting on Friday, 23 July 2021, we are writing to let everyone know the outcome.

Members were asked to vote on a Special Resolution to adopt the revised Articles of Association produced following the Member vote at the 2020 AGM.

We are now pleased to confirm that the Special Resolution was passed at the EGM and the Articles have now been adopted and registered with the Charity Commission.

The previously announced AGM date of Saturday, 21 August 2021 is being moved to Saturday, 18th September 2021, please amend your diaries to reflect this new date.

Mike Thompson takes over as the new Chairman of the Trust this month. The Acting Chairman, Steve Williams wants to thank everyone who has provided their support to the Board and to him over the last 10 months.

To see a revised copy of the Articles of Association go to www.wsrht.co.uk

West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust website

2 August 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

News from the seaside end of the line

WSR

Here is a shortened version of the report to members by Martyn Snell, Chairman of the Friends of Minehead Station (FoMS):

Minehead Station is now very much alive with the Buffer Stop Shop, the Turntable Cafe and Readers Halt open most days. The Cafe opening has made a tremendous difference to the feel of the station and the regular customers are back and really enjoying the atmosphere of our station even with no trains running.

I must thank the wonderful staff who open up Readers Halt and provide a very welcome income to the coffers of FoMS. Contributions continue so there is always sorting and pricing to be undertaken before the all-important selling can take place.

The committee has been doing its best to comply with the Covid restrictions whilst arranging events on the platform. Anne Dowrick has been the driving force behind the sale in June and a sale of crafts in July. Plans are afoot for more events in August and September.

Our work party and gardeners have also been doing sterling work to keep the station looking in tip top condition. Much painting and cleaning plus the tending of our flower beds is so appreciated by those who visit our lovely station.

We at Minehead will be ready to welcome all visitors including passengers when they arrive here by whatever means.

The FoMS team will work hard but safely to ensure that our station is a place for people to come and enjoy. Please keep safe and keep supporting us as I know you will. Thank you.

FoMS members will find the full text of Martyn's report, along with reports, some illustrated, from the other FoMS departments in the latest FoMS newsletter. For more information about the Friends of Minehead Station, please visit the FoMS website.

The FoMS website

1 August 2021
Details kindly provided by Friends of Minehead Station

Bahamas returns to West Somerset

WSR

From the Bahamas Locomotive Society's Facebook page:

We're proud to announce that, following three highly successful railtours in six days, we will be running a repeat of last Saturday's railtour with The Railway Touring Company from London Paddington to the West Somerset Railway!

This tour will take place on Saturday 14 August, and is expected to follow the same timings as before, and will be our third railtour of the month.

We hope to see you there!

Bahamas Locomotive Society Details and Booking

27 July 2021
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

The latest figures for the WSR SOS appeal fund

WSR

Here is an update on the WSR Plc's 'SOS' Appeal:

The total now stands at £32,793.44 - an increase of £3,373.37 on the last published figure of £29,420.07 on 12 July, representing 6.55% of the £500K initial target and 3.27% of the full £1 million appeal target. We’re closing in quickly on £50,000 as the next interim target week by week which is good news.

Donation page

27 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Online tickets available now for Mixed Traction Weekend

WSR

The first WSR Gala for a long time will be held on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 September 2021 which will be a true 'Mixed Traction' event.

There will be mainly diesel haulage on the Friday plus one steam loco in service, then a mix of three diesels and two steam engines on the Saturday.

Click or tap the button below for more information and to book tickets.

More information and Online Booking

27 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Dunster - Minehead vintage bus link proves successful

WSR

Friday 16 July 2021 saw trains running almost the full length of the line from Bishops Lydeard through to Dunster. The trains linked up with a small fleet of heritage buses travelling onwards to Minehead, and then returning later in the day. Two of the vintage buses were open-top types, both of which were very popular with visitors given the sunny weather; a 'disabled friendly' bus was on hand too to ensure everyone could travel.

The vintage bus shuttle services certainly proved their worth in carrying over 120 people on the Friday, and then many more passengers over the weekend, bringing Minehead back as a destination for the 20-mile line once more. The bus link service will continue now through the summer until the re-opening of Seaward Way Level Crossing.

And from Monday 19 July, the WSR opened all staffed stations between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead. This also means that passengers will be able to walk up, buy a ticket and travel, without necessarily pre-booking. Stations at Bishops Lydeard, Crowcombe Heathfield, Stogumber, Williton, Watchet, Blue Anchor, Dunster and Minehead will be open for business again. However, the stations at Doniford and Washford will remain closed for the time being.

Despite the easing of regulations on 19 July, the WSR team is working hard to ensure that passengers remain safe whilst Covid is still in circulation.

For this reason, the service pattern will be different from previous operations. Passengers from Bishops Lydeard, Watchet and Minehead will be able to purchase advanced reserved spaces at tables or in compartments, either by phone 01643 704996 on the internet (see button below). Various special food and drink options are also available, in addition to the regular buffet car sales.

The heritage buses will continue is service for most of the summer, but work on completing Seaward Way Level Crossing is proceeding well. A number of contractors, and the WSR's own technical team, have been working for several months, and the main technical contractors - Amey Rail - will start work on the ground shortly.

The crossing's new closed-circuit television system is also due to be installed shortly. At the moment, the crossing is unlikely to reopen for passenger trains before the end of September. But everyone involved is working hard to try to bring that date forward.

Online Booking

21 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR joins the 'Love Your Railway' 2021 campaign

WSR
© Don Bishop

The West Somerset Railway is joining fellow heritage railways next week in a new nationwide campaign to raise greater awareness of Britain's heritage rail sector.

Spearheaded by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, the 'Love Your Railway' campaign will run for six weeks this summer from 26 July to 5 September.

'Love Your Railway' will shine a spotlight on the important work heritage railways do for historic conservation, education and research, and will highlight how the nation's heritage railways have all been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of reduced capacities and income which have threatened their very existence.

The WSR is collaborating with over 35 other famous heritage railways, including the Bluebell Railway, Crich Tramway Village, Severn Valley Railway, and Snowdon Mountain Railway

WSR Plc Chairman Jon Jones-Pratt commented:

The WSR is pleased to support the 'Love Your Railway' campaign to highlight the work that heritage lines, such as ourselves, all over the country do to conserve, protect, promote, entertain and educate people about Britain's rich 200-year railway history and culture

Heritage railways in the South West, and across the country, have all had a very difficult time during the Covid-19 pandemic with severely restricted operations and mounting financial losses, so we need more people to come and visit us this Summer just to survive and keep the wheels turning for the future.

Chris Price, General Manager at North Yorkshire Moors Railway, said:

We're optimistic and excited about the summer ahead, but the last 12 months have been like no other year, with lockdowns, reduced capacities due to social distancing, and staff and volunteers falling victim to the virus.

There are more than 150 operational heritage railways in Britain, running trains over nearly 600 miles of track, which protect, conserve and bring to life part of the nation’s rich cultural heritage - giving enjoyment and learning to thousands of people every year.

We want to do all we can to raise awareness of every heritage railway across the country and the challenges we face; all the participating railways will be posting their own social media content across the six themed weeks, but we also want to encourage the public to get involved by sharing their favourite memories and inspiring imagery from their visits, using the hashtag #LoveYourRailway.

The six themed weeks will follow the following topics in this order: Heritage, Education, Volunteers, Family, Sustainability and Future.

The WSR's two main support charities, the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA) and West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust (WSRHT) are both supporting the 'Love Your Railway' campaign via the WSR plc, and some of their activities will be featured in the coming weeks.

WSRHT Chairman, and WSR Plc director, Steve Williams comments:

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust is delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to the 'Love Your Railway' campaign. As one of the two principal support charities on the WSR, the Trust is already taking a leading role in preserving, maintaining and managing a range of heritage items and activities across the railway, including museums and restoration of important heritage carriages.

WSRA Chairman Mike Sherwood said:

The WSRA is pleased to be supporting the WSR plc in this great initiative for the railway heritage movement in the UK.

20 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Covid-19: Notice to passengers after 19 July 2021

WSR
© Dunster Info

The West Somerset Railway's General Manager's Office issued this notice on 18 July 2021:

Government Advice is that the general public should continue to wear masks in crowded places, including busy shops and on crowded trains.

We urge you to wear a face mask whilst on West Somerset Railway premises and in West Somerset Railway trains and buses, both for your safety and that of others, including our staff. You will notice that staff are usually wearing masks.

Some passengers on your train will be travelling in reserved coaches, and have paid in advance to travel in areas with significant circulation space. We regret that 'walk-up' passengers cannot travel in these areas of the train, and staff have been instructed to ask any passengers without advance reservations to leave these areas of the train. In extreme situations it may be necessary to ask you to take a later train. These areas of the train are clearly marked 'reserved'.

We thank you for your co-operation in these still difficult times. (This guidance is being regularly reviewed as circumstances change.)

Details of steam services Details of diesel services

20 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Going red on the West Somerset Railway

WSR

The West Somerset Railway's 2021 'Red' timetable starts on 16 July 2021 with more trains on offer and more mileage too. Excursions from Bishops Lydeard to Dunster will be hauled by steam, with some additional workings headed by classic diesels.

Steam hauled excursion trains between Bishops Lydeard and Dunster

  • These trains also stop at Watchet (only)
  • Before 19 July, these trains also stop at Watchet (only)
  • On and after 20 July, these trains stop at all intermediate stations except Washford and Doniford Halt
  • A bus link will be provided between Dunster and Minehead
  • At least one bus will be wheelchair accessible
  • No other stations will be served

Diesel hauled excursion trains between Bishops Lydeard and Dunster

  • These trains do not stop at other stations
  • These trains also stop at Watchet and Blue Anchor. No other intermediate stations will be served
  • No bus link between Dunster and Minehead

Click buttons below for dates, times and booking information

Steam Diesel

15 July 2021 (amended same day)
Details gleaned from West Somerset Railway Plc

First Gala events in almost two years

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Gala Planning Team has confirmed two small Gala events are planned for September and October 2021 as Government Covid restrictions are eased - the first enthusiast Gala events held at the Railway since the winter steam event in December 2019.

Friday 17 September and Saturday 18 September will see a 'Mixed Traction' weekend which will be mainly diesel haulage on the Friday plus one steam loco in service, then a mix of three diesels and two steam engines on the Saturday. Diesel locos planned to run are Hymek Class 35 no D7018 and Crompton Class 33 nos D6566 and D6575. Steam haulage will be drawn from nos 5199, 9351, 7822 or 7828.

Then, a couple of weeks later, the WSR plans its long awaited and ever popular 'Autumn Steam Gala' on three days between Friday 1 October and Sunday 3rd October inclusive.

All of the four home-based steam fleet of former GWR locos - nos 5199, 9351, 7822 or 7828 - are expected to be in action with one diesel - probably the Hymek - to give a distinct British Railways Western Region branch line feel.

A breakfast meal is planned to be available for advance bookings on the 'Quantock Belle' dining train, which will be attached to some trains during this weekend.

For both events, all trains are expected to run between Bishops Lydeard, Blue Anchor and Dunster Stations, plus maybe a couple of workings over the little used Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren section. The short section between Dunster and Minehead will be unavailable, however, as engineering works continue on the renewal of the Seaward Way Level Crossing at Minehead, however, a heritage bus link will be provided for passengers to travel on to Minehead [we understand a wheechair accessible bus will also be available].

All of the above is subject to availability, budgetary pressures and Covid 19 restrictions of course, so would-be visitors are advised to check the WSR websites and social media pages for updates.

Tickets will be released as soon as possible, but not before Monday 19 July 2021.

14 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

D7018 to head first diesel hauled passenger service of 2021

WSR

Saturday 17 July will see the first diesel hauled diagram of 2021 and in fact since 2019. BR Class 35 'Hymek' no D7018 will be doing the honours by working the 11.35am Bishops Lydeard to Dunster and 1.25pm Dunster to Bishops Lydeard.

Click the button below for dates, times and booking details.

Full details

13 July 2021
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

Meercat Associates help WSR with big energy savings

WSR

The West Somerset Railway received an unexpected cash boost just days after launching its recent £1 million Emergency SOS survival fund in early June. On hearing of the crisis appeal, the Railway was then contacted by Meercat Associates, a business procurement service operating across the UK and, after investigating the WSR's energy systems installed, then saved the railway £12,800 off their gas and electricity bills - vitally needed money which will now go towards the WSR’s SOS appeal. WSR Plc Chairman, Jon Jones-Pratt explains:

We operate 10 stations, gift shops and cafes, but had multiple energy and other suppliers with an array of contracts ending on different dates.

Managing our supply costs is very complex and time-consuming for us so, as well as the annual savings gained so far which will go towards our SOS appeal, we’re delighted that Meercat is now monitoring our ongoing consumption of core services and will give strategic advice as and when we should switch suppliers again in the future.

With the cost of energy continuing to rise, it's re-assuring to have this important support and expertise in place, and all of our meters are now aligned with common end dates, and managed through Meercat's portal. 

This not only allows the WSR full access to all meter details, usage and forecast costings, but also peace of mind when the contracts are approaching renewal that Meercat will drive the prices down for us by approaching all of the energy suppliers again.

And I'm delighted that Meercat are now keen to offer their free-of-charge services to other heritage railways around the country too who can benefit as well.

Meercat Associates

13 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

SOS appeal fund boosted by significant energy savings

WSR

Here is an update on the WSR Plc's 'SOS' Appeal:

After the West Somerset Railway (WSR) launched its £l1 million 'SOS' appeal recently on 7 June, the 20-mile line has now raised almost £30,000 (£29,420.07 actual) in a month, so has made a good start towards the target.

The 'SOS' appeal was launched to keep the WSR going until next May after the unexpected rejection of the railway’s bid for £432,200 to the Government's Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) under its Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage (CRFH), and an anticipated poor 2021 season with limited income as a result of Covid restrictions and enforced lower capacity, plus the delays to re-open Seaward Way Level Crossing outside Minehead affecting normal trade badly too.

All this has left the railway facing an immediate need to raise £500,000 of the target total this year to just keep going, and then, if successful, another £500,000 for infrastructure. Otherwise, the WSR will have to look at other commercial methods to raise money, such as loans, overdraft and other measures that might be available, but that are expensive to implement and cost more longer term.

The second £500k from the 'SOS' Appeal is money that would allow the railway to then develop the railway's infrastructure over the winter as an investment for the future because the current budgets simply have no capital expenditure allowed for with cash being so tight at present. This would allow the WSR to make some big inroads into getting the infrastructure back to being a higher axle loading 'Red Route' railway again, so is considered to be high priority.

We aim to update the 'SOS' appeal figures every Monday, and the WSR's Facebook 'appeal thermometer' will become a regular feature again. Today's figures helpfully include an uplift of another £12,800 in monies which will count towards the appeal in savings from our utility bills. [further details about this project will be published soon]

So, £30,000 is a decent start for the ‘SOS’ appeal in around a month since launch, representing 6% of the £500K initial target and 3% of the full £1 million, especially with so many other appeals around in our sector at present. The WSR is now looking to expand its 'Fiver/Tenner a Month' regular donation scheme for supporters to help raise the monies required.

As yet, we have to determine with the WSR Association (WSRA) and WSR Heritage Trust (WSRHT) as our official support charitable bodies how, when and if they will be able to support the plc's 'SOS' appeal as they both did previously, and the plc is still considering launching the share appeal option too, although that costs money to hold of course, and has to be for specific purposes. It's still early days of course...And there might yet be a chance to bid for further CRFH monies from DCMS.

SOS appeal information

12 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Class 69 loco named after former DEPG Chairman

WSR

At Waterloo Station on 10 July 2021, Class 69 no 69002 was proudly named Bob Tiller CM&EE by the man himself - GB Railfreight's Engineering Director Bob Tiller - a fine tribute to Bob's 42 years of railway engineering experience. The new class 69 locomotive was Bob's brainchild and a new class of locomotive was born by using the redundant bodyshells and bogies from stored and no longer used old BR designed Class 56 locomotives and fitting them with a power unit, controls and electronics very similar to a class 66.

Bob was an early member of the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group (DEPG). His official posts started in 1983 as Publicity Officer then in 1984 moved to Secretary in 1984 and continued in that post until 1990 when he became Chairman and finally stepped down in 2009. In 2011 he became President and resigned this post and the Group in 2018. His many successes for the DEPG and for the West Somerset Railway include the moving of D1010 and D7018 to Williton, along with 50149 and the 'Kennedy' locos, and the purchase of North Star

Bob's unveiling of the nameplate bearing his name will be applauded as a fitting recognition of all that Bob has done for railways in general including the DEPG at Williton.

Youtube video of the unveiling ceremony

11 July 2021
Details kindly provided by local correspondents

First diesel hauled passenger service for some time

WSR

Saturday 17 July will see the first diesel hauled diagram of 2021 and in fact since 2019. BR Class 35 'Hymek' no D7018 will be doing the honours by working the 11.35am Bishops Lydeard to Dunster and 1.25pm Dunster to Bishops Lydeard. Further details are awaited, watch this space.

11 July 2021
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

No 5199 ready for duties after repaint and minor works

WSR

Andy Forster has kindly provided information about the recent work carried out by the Minehead Loco team on GWR 'Large Prairie' no 5199:

The repaint of GWR 2-6-2T no 5199 was a contract job at the request of the owners 'The 5199 Project'.

This has been a win-win operation all round, the locomotive returns to GWR livery, the owners get the repaint they wanted, and the income has enabled some of the WSR shed staff to stay off furlough.

Other minor works have included attention to the pony truck frame, spring stops, replacement jumper ring and clamps, cladding repairs, cab door repairs, and one replacement buffer.

No 5199, with Foxcote Manor, will head for Bishops Lydeard in a few days time. Each loco will be put to work heading trains from Bishops Lydeard to Dunster and back as the Railway extends the number of trains, on more days, and with longer journeys. More details of these services have been promised and will appear on this page as soon as received.

9 July 2021
Details kindly provided by local correspondent

The story of the new REB at Seaward Way Crossing

WSR

An interesting account by Rail Signalling and Power of the Relocatable Equipment Building recently installed at the site of the Seaward Way Level Crossing upgrade works is available online. Click or tap the button below.

Rail Signalling & Power webpage

7 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Not bitter and now not twisted says the 169 blog

WSR

The folks behind the rebuilding of GWR Autotrailer no 169 report on how they tackled a small matter of twisting and warping:

A few weeks back we reported that we had recovered the pair of 9"x3" oak sole plates for the final section of the carriage. These had been gently seasoning for 4-5 years in our workshop and whilst not expecting them to be perfectly straight (oak rarely is) one of the two was quite badly warped and twisted. One of the lessons learned from earlier sections was to ensure the scarfing joints between sections is manufactured prior to erecting the previous section. So we needed to attempt to straighten the timber to allow the joints to be made...

Click or tap the button to load the 169 blog for the rest of this story and lots more.

The 169 Blog

7 July 2021
Details kindly provided by The GWR 169 Autotrailer people

An update on the WSR Plc One Million Pound Appeal

WSR

A £1 million 'Emergency SOS Survival Appeal' was launched in early June to help keep the West Somerset Railway going. WSR Plc, who run the Railway and who launched this Appeal, issued an update on 6 July announcing a running total of £13,725. Details of the Appeal and how to donate can be found on the official WSR website - just click or tap the button below.

Fundraising information

6 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Railway at risk of closure without additional funds

WSR

ITV's Ben McGrail reports that the West Somerset Railway could close next year unless 'urgent fundraising takes place'. On his Facebook page, Ben writes:

A heritage railway in Somerset will run out of money and be forced to close unless urgent fundraising takes place. That's the warning from the boss [pictured above] of the West Somerset Railway, which has been hit hard by the Covid pandemic.

Trains are now running along most of the line again this summer, but the organisation says it needs to raise £1 million to survive.

Click the button below to hear the stark message from the WSR Plc Chairman in the ITV News West Country report on Ben's Facebook page...

Facebook report ITV West Country news item Fundraising information

5 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Excursions to Watchet, Dunster and Minehead

WSR

From 16 July 2021, the Railway is offering excursions to Watchet, Dunster and (via bus link) Minehead, running to the 'red timetable'.The dates and times and booking details are available on the official WSR website - see buttons below for links to the official webpages.

There are several options - these are explained on the official webpage. These 'red timetable' trains will only call at Bishops Lydeard, Watchet and Dunster and will not stop at other WSR stations. Please note the bus transfer between Dunster and Minhead due to ongoing works at Minehead's level crossing - at the time of posting this news item it is not clear if the bus is suitable for wheelchair users so please discuss with the Railway 01643 704996 before booking.

Dates and Times Times and Online Booking

1 July 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Date and venue of next Association Annual General Meeting

WSR

The date and venue of the next West Somerset Railway Association Annual General Meeting has been announced:

The 26th WSRA AGM will take place on 4th September at 10:00am in the Crowcombe Village Hall. There will also be a remote attendance option, details to be announced closer to the time. For those who attend in person, we are hoping to arrange a visit to Williton to view 4561 and the progress of the restoration work. Details will be announced nearer the time and are dependent on COVID restrictions in place at the time.

Meanwhile, the Association needs more Trustees:

The WSRA needs more trustees. People with a passion and a vision for the WSR, aligned with an understanding of the duties of a charity trustee to safeguard the charity and its assets and to deliver on its objects for the benefit of the community. It's not always an easy position and sometimes difficult decisions need to be made, so an objective outlook is essential. You will need to be able to work with a diverse range of people, not all of whom you will agree with all of the time. You will need to be able to focus on shared aims and objectives and work your way through differing opinions about how to achieve them!

To be eligible for election as a Trustee you must be over 16 years old and have been a WSRA member for at least a year. Being a Trustee can be a very rewarding role, especially when a project plan comes together, the funding is realised and the railway benefits. There are still huge heritage projects on the railway that need WSRA support and input and for that we need a full compliment of Trustees. Please consider whether you have the time and skills to help make a difference.

Nominations for Trustee will open on 6th July and the nomination form is available for download from the members' section of the WSRA website, or by direct request to jacquie.green@wsra.org.uk

Association website

30 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Association

First Gala events in almost two years lined up for the WSR

WSR

The West Somerset Railway (WSR) Gala Planning Team is pleased to announce that two small gala events are being planned for September and October 2021 as Government Covid restrictions are hopefully further eased. These will be the first enthusiast gala events held at the WSR in almost two years since the winter steam event in December 2019. The Team say:

The first gala will be held on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th September which will be a true 'Mixed Traffic' weekend complete with diesel-only haulage on the Friday, plus a mix of steam and diesel on the Saturday, and then a more normal steam-only service will operate on the Sunday.

Diesel locos planned to run for the September event are: Hymek Class 35 no D7018 and Crompton Class 33s nos D6566 and D6575, plus maybe one 'guest' diesel loco that is under discussion, but subject to budgetary constraints following the limitations enforced on the railway by the Coronavirus pandemic.

On the Saturday, the home-based WSR steam fleet of former GWR locos in Large Prairie no 5199, Mogul no 9351 and Manors nos 7822 Foxcote Manor and 7828 Odney Manor will join the diesels, and some of these locos will also haul the Sunday services.

All trains are expected to run between Bishops Lydeard and Blue Anchor and Dunster stations, plus maybe a couple of workings over the little used Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren section.

The short section between Dunster and Minehead will be unavailable, however, as engineering works continue on the renewal of the Seaward Way level crossing at Minehead, but a heritage bus link will be provided for passengers to travel on to Minehead if desired.

Then, a couple of weeks later, the WSR plans its long awaited and ever popular 'Autumn Steam Gala' on three days between Friday 1st and Sunday 3rd October inclusive. Once again, the home-based steam fleet of former GWR locos will be in action with Large Prairie no 5199, Mogul no 9351 and Manors nos 7822 Foxcote Manor and 7828 Odney Manor will give a distinct British Railways Western Region branch line feel.

The Gala Planning Team also hopes to bring in a guest steam loco to join the line-up too, but this cannot be guaranteed at this stage, so would be visitors are advised to check the WSR websites and social media pages for updates.

As with the 'Mixed Traction' weekend, WSR steam trains for the October 'Autumn Steam Gala' are planned to run between Bishops Lydeard and Blue Anchor and Dunster stations, plus maybe a couple of workings over the little used Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren section.

The short section between Dunster and Minehead is also likely to still be unavailable then as engineering works continue on the renewal of the Seaward Way level crossing at Minehead, but a heritage bus link will be provided for passengers to travel on to Minehead if desired.

A breakfast meal is planned to be available for advance bookings on the Quantock Belle dining train, which will be attached to some trains during this weekend.  

The WSR has repainted most of its coaching stock into a variety of liveries during the lockdown period, and it is planned to run a Maroon, Red/Cream and Choc/Cream sets for these galas in order to recreate some authentic scenes of BR Western Region secondary and branch lines.  

Tickets are not yet available because the WSR awaits to hear what the next stages of easing Covid restrictions might be so that seating plans can be worked out. These will be released as soon as possible, but not before Monday 19 July 2021.

29 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Class 14 no D9526 heading east for the rest of 2021

WSR

A couple of announcements from the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group:

The Class 14 'Teddy Bear' no D9526 will soon be heading southeast to the Kent & East Sussex Railway for the rest of this year.

Since our earlier announcement about dates, the WSR have had confirmation of a mainline railtour that will run through to Dunster on 14 August, so there will not be a diesel-hauled service on that day. Sorry about that. The revised date for the diesel haulage is now 7 August.

28 June 2021
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

Enjoy a Cream Tea at Stogumber Station this weekend

WSR

Friday 25 June 2021 is 'National Cream Tea' day. Sadly, Stogumber Station's celebrated Cream Teas will not be available on the day, But good news! The Station is open all weekend from 10am so why not celebrate with a Stogumber Cream Tea! Simply irresistible and a lovely tea garden to sit and enjoy it in too, with the odd passing steam train. Mmmm...

23 June 2021
Details kindly provided by Friends of Stogumber Station

Pat Langan

Sad news of the passing of Pat Langan who died peacefully last week at the care home in Williton where he had resided for a year or so. John Jenkins writes about Pat and his time on the West Somerset:

Born in the early 1950s into a commissioned Army Officer's family, he grew up in Evercreech and spent much time on the S&D in the locality, both before and after closure.

Following an Army career as a junior NCO he'd been a WSR employee for 17 years from 1996 to 2013, and for the last ten years of his WSR career he had very much been part of the S&T Dept, whilst remaining Deputy Ops Superintendent. Known for no nonsense, as a brilliant organiser we accomplished much during his time. The boot of his car resembled a small S&T store, and many a job was saved through last minute recourse to it.

He pretty well organised all the 20 miles of cable laying, and although we finished the last bit after he'd retired it was done to his principles. In true Army style he was a hard worker, impatient of prima donnas, fools and slackers, and I often wondered what he'd have made of recent events. There would have been much colourful language I'm sure - directly applied in person when he felt necessary. He had few days off - and our joke was that when Pat had a week off the rest of the railway could 'stand at ease'.

23 June 2021
Details kindly provided by colleagues

North Star prepares for two years in the north country

WSR

Volunteers from the Diesel & Electric Preservation Group (DEPG) are making final preparations to send the Group's BR Brush Type 4 Class 47 no 47 077 North Star on hire to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for the next two years. After receiving some 'tlc' from the team last weekend, the loco is positively gleaming and showing off the excellent paintwork applied by West Somerset Restoration in 2019.

The loco recently passed its Vehicle Inspection and Brake Test (VIBT) examination and the loco moved to Bishops Lydeard on 21 June 2021. Next is the long 300 mile road trip to Grosmont. DEPG banners will be attached to the loco cab ends when 'on the road'.

21 June 2021
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

The Minutes of the latest Heritage Trust Board meeting

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust has published the minutes of the recent meeting of the Trustees held on Thursday 20 May 2021.

Click or tap the button below:

Minutes

20 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

Trains are running again in West Somerset

WSR

For full up to date details of services consult the official WSR website at west-somersetrailway.co.uk/timetables (or click the button below). This year trains do not run every day of the week. At the moment, the plan is as follows - from 5 June trains will run to Blue Anchor and then from 16 July trains will run to Dunster with a bus connection to Minehead. There will also be a regular train out from Dunster (bus from Minehead) to Watchet and return. Trains will run up until the end of October, but at the moment it is intended that all trains will be 'excursion trains' offering a pre-booked out-and-back journey. Some walk up tickets may be available depending on take up. There are a range of catering options on offer including fish and chips, and cream teas, and, of course, tea and coffee, and a served service from the bar. Booking is available on the internet (click the button below) or by phoning 01643 704996 during normal working hours.

Train times and online booking

19 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

A new Trustee for the Heritage Trust

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust has announced the appointment of Martin Brown as a Trustee joining the Board.

Initially, Martin will take on Board responsibility for the restoration of the Trust's heritage carriages, working alongside and continuing the excellent work of former Chairman, Chris Austin.

For the full story on the Trust website, please click or tap the button below:

Full story

17 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

The future of the Quantock Belle dining train

WSR

The future of the West Somerset Railway Association owned Quantock Belle dining train now seems to be in some doubt according to Association Chairman Mike Sherwood writing to Association members in the latest WSR Journal (no 173):

I must prepare you to specifically consider the question of the possible disposal of the QB set when we get to the AGM. We have been in discussion with the WSR Plc for many months and once they have honoured the 2021 bookings they can currently see no future in the operation of a dining train as they cannot see a way to turn a profit.

Mike adds:

I may be forced to...ask for your permission to sell the QB set off the WSR.

The full statement can be read in the latest Journal. The Quantock Belle set is owned by the Association who had operated the dining train since 1980 but its membership voted to transfer the commercial operation to the WSR Plc in accordance with the Coombes Report which had recommended the Association shed its commercial activities.

The Coombes Report 2015

14 June 2021
Details gleaned from West Somerset Railway Association documents

The REB has arrived at Seaward Way Crossing

WSR
© Kevin Bridgwater, SCC

The arrival, unloading and fixing of the new Seaward Way level crossing REB (Relocatable Equipment Building) containing switching for the new level crossing and associated signalling. The building arrived at 8am on Friday 11 June 2021 after a road journey from Saltash, Cornwall, where it had been fitted out. The REB was built in the Republic of Ireland and completed in Northern Ireland.

13 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

WSR Plc launches new emergency survival appeal

WSR

After the West Somerset Railway Plc had two formal appeals turned down following the recent rejection of its second round bid to the Government's Department of Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) Second Round for 'Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage' (CRFH) financial support, the WSR Plc has launched an emergency 'SOS' funding appeal for £1 million to see it through to next May.

The WSR's first CRFH bid, made jointly by the WSR 'family', was very successful when the railway was granted £864,900 last October, and the final instalment of that grant of £86,490 was paid just before Easter this year.

The WSR Plc was confidently hoping to receive a further DCMS grant of up to £432,200 from its CRFH scheme, which was the permitted maximum under bidding guidelines for the Round 2 bid. At a recent (virtual) meeting of the Railway's Partnership Development Group, Plc Director Steve Williams said that the bid had been rejected as the Railway was now considered a commercial organisation and not a 'not for profit' organisation.

This would have provided further funds to help the former GWR branch line recover from the enforced closure of the railway since March 2020 during the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.

As a result, the WSR Plc has announced the launch of a new £1 million 'SOS' funding survival appeal of its own in order to see it through to 2022 and beyond.

Full details on the official WSR website Donation Form

7 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Seaward Way Level Crossing - a joint statement

WSR

A joint statement by West Somerset Railway and Somerset County Council on the situation with the upgrade of the level crossing at Seaward Way, Minehead.

Following resumption of services in May, we're delighted that visitors are once again enjoying the very special experience offered by the West Somerset Railway.

Though it is disappointing that installation of the Seaward Way Crossing could not be completed in time for the summer as hoped, due mainly to the impact of the Covid emergency, WSR is ensuring there will still be a service the full length of the journey from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. Passengers will travel by bus between Minehead and Dunster, until the crossing is operational later in the year. In keeping with the unique traveller experience offered by the WSR the journey will be by vintage bus at weekends.

We are keenly aware of the importance of this service to local businesses in Minehead which is why the WSR is providing this bus service.

This is a complex project involving a number of agencies and equipment suppliers and it has unfortunately been hit hard by the Covid crisis. There have been supply chain issues for some key parts and most of the specialist rail contractors needed for this work are also currently required by Network Rail for vital works across the main UK network. Initial planning started in 2018 and the design was completed in 2020. It was finally approved by the Office of Rail and Road, the regulator, in February.

A great deal of preparatory work has already taken place, including a significant amount of work off site. Despite the difficulties, it's anticipated the crossing will be operational in time for the festive season.

Notes accompanying the joint statement

7 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Booked runs this summer for Hymek no D7018

WSR

The dates agreed so far for the popular Diesel & Electric Preservation Group (DEPG) owned Class 35 Hymek no D7018 running are 17 July, 31 July, 14 August (please note this date was previously wrongly listed as a week later), and finally 25 September. In addition, the Group hope to run both of their Class 33s in multiple on 21 August as a tribute to the 60th birthday of the pair.

7 June 2021
Details kindly provided by Diesel & Electric Preservation Group

WSR Plc Board and Management changes

WSR

New faces for the WSR Plc Board of Directors as announced in 'The Platform' (click the button below for full details). Arthur Diejomoah (Human Resources); David Fisher (Commercial); John Gibbins (Civil Engineering); and Bob Meanley (Mechanical Engineering).

Meanwhile, Justin Kerr-Peterson has resigned as Director and has withdrawn as General Manager(Designate). Jonathan Jones-Pratt will continue as Acting General Manager, supported by Kerry Noble who takes the role of (temporary) Assistant General Manager. The role of Operations Manager will be taken up shortly by Malcolm Dean. Clive Robey takes up the job of temporary Site Manager, Seaward Way Level Crossing.

View 'The Platform' June 2021 on the official WSR website

5 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Brief update from the Seaward Way Crossing Site Manager

WSR

Preparatory work is underway for the upgrade of Minehead's Seaward Way Level Crossing. The concrete base will be ready for the REB (Relocatable Equipment Building) due for delivery within the next ten days. Also, the route of the trench for the troughing has started. A fuller report on the background and the current situation appears in the latest 'The Platform' newsletter (click or tap the button below).

View 'The Platform' June 2021 on the official WSR website

5 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Draft minutes of recent Partnership Development Group meeting

WSR

The draft minutes of the Partnership Development Group meeting held via Zoom on 26 May 2021 are now available. Click or tap the button below to download and read.

PDG minutes

4 June 2021
Details kindly provided by the Secretariat of the Partnership Development Group

The June 2021 edition of The Platform now available

WSR

Lots of really useful topical information about the West Somerset Railway can be found in the June 2021 edition of the new electronic newsletter. Topics include:

  • The Railway is running again
  • Board and management changes
  • Minehead Seaward Way Level Crossing
  • News from the WSRA
  • News from the West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust
  • Items in brief
  • News from the Mechanical Engineering Department
  • News fron the DEPG
  • Station news
  • West Somerset Railway 2021 Funding Appeal

Click or tap the button below to view The Platform newsletter...

View 'The Platform' June 2021 on the official WSR website

4 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Plc

Mike Thompson to take over as Chairman of the Heritage Trust

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust board has announced that Mike Thompson will take over the role of Chairman of the Trust from the date of the next AGM. During the interim period, Mike will work alongside Steve Williams in his current role as acting Chairman to effect a smooth transition of duties. Steve will remain on the board as Vice Chairman and Company Secretary.

More details

3 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

The Gauge Museum Souvenir Guide

WSR

The West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust has just published a Souvenir Booklet to the new look Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard. Packed with historical information and images from the museum's displays it also records the history of the Model Railway Group the Trust's 1897 sleeping car and outlines the education and learning programmes within the museum. Priced at £2, it is available from the Museum on days when trains are running. If you want a copy by post, please write to Chris Austin, 20A Park Road, Bromley BR1 3HP, enclosing a self-addressed and stamped A5 envelope with a 'large letter' stamp (£1.53 second class), and allow two weeks for delivery.

1 June 2021
Details kindly provided by West Somerset Railway Heritage Trust

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