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 just about to restore Spetisbury under license from DCC, but this is just the start. Why not join us today?
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!

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)

Sunday, June 01, 2014

1.6.2014 Today at Shillingstone

Today's work at Shillingstone included laying the first sleepers on the new siding. In true S&D fashion they are concrete sleepers which as well as looking right with have the additional advantage of not rotting on this notoriously damp stretch of the line! There is also a French drain running through the centre which is working well.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

a rare treat!

2nd June 2014

"The John Woods S&D Collection" - Mike Beale

A selection from the S&DRT's archive of superb colour slides of the line taken by the late John Woods between 1958 and 1967.

7.30pm, The Scout Hall, Eagle House Gardens off Whitecliff Mill Street, Blandford DT11 7BT.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shillingstone update 25.5.2014


The Wickham had its engine turn over for the first time at the station. Clouds of black smoke issued forth and the station environment bounced to the beat of the engine.

The drains are sorted! (Until the next discovery.)

Cattle dock loading-bay was cleared of concrete sleepers. They were loaded for their move to the Blandford end of the Up platform to create the carriage siding.(Levels are now perfect.) Permanent way guys were seen gardening...well...sowing grass seeds on the bank.

More work on the garden railway and the garden took place. New signage is beginning to appear. 'Ladies' will hang above the loo(well the sign will) and we hope the new sign in the gents, 'Wet Floor' is a warning...not a command!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Shillingstone 24 and 25 May 2014

This weekend will be busy in the shop with or without customers. All the show stock has to go back in and lots of new stock awaits collection including :- 'The S&D From Above Part II', Robin Summerhill's 'Cycling The South Coast' Ivo Peter's 2015 calendar and more metal signs. (They were selling them for £25 plus at the show last week - maybe our £12.50 is too cheap?). Lots of railway gear has been donated so that will be priced and sorted....after a coffee and a slice of home-made cake from the cafĂ©.

Plans for outside? The general maintenance programme is in full swing and weather permitting track-work?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The New Midford!

We have now launched the MIDFORD APPEAL, which will be used to rebuild the station in its classic 1950s style at our site in Midford, fully owned by the New S&D via its property company, Wessex Links Ltd.

The target is £40,000 but this is just an estimate. This should provide enough for planning and design, materials, construction and services for the site. The initial intention is to rebuild the station building and the oil store.

All members are asked to get involved, either in fundraising, the physical work of rebuilding or admin for this standalone project. Ideally a manager for the Appeal (as opposed to Project Manager at the station site) would proactively promote the appeal through the railway, local and national press, radio etc and liaise with the New S&D board throughout the rebuilding. If interested in this post please email Steve Sainsbury on leysiner@aol.com

If you have any appropriate skills, for example fundraising, cost and material control, carpentry, bricklaying etc please contact on the above email or telephone Steve Sainsbury on 0117 3738973.
Cheques are welcome (payable to New Somerset and Dorset Railway) for the appeal, you can also Paypal to SDRHTSales@aol.com

We can also use STAMPS and COINS to raise money for Midford. All stamps are wanted - these can be sent in (any amount!) still on the paper, ideally leaving about 1/4" of backing paper around the perforations. Also all coins are welcome - old British pre-decimal, holiday money etc. Please do not mix coins and stamps together! These should be sent to New S&D Midford Appeal, 10 Bellamy Avenue, Hartcliffe, BRISTOL, BS13 0HW

We can also use (to resell) railway tickets, model railway items (anything!) and railway and transport books! Have a clear out AND raise money for Midford!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

literary gartell ...

The new Gartell Light Railway (GLR) book, 'The Gartell Light Railway - the story so far' is now hot off the local printing presses and is in direct response to numerous requests for a published history and guide to this unique Somerset tourist attraction. This A4 sized soft cover book was written by a GLR volunteer who has been involved with the GLR since its very early days. The book details the development of the GLR from its inception right through to the present day including the extension of the line to its newest station at Tower View. Also featuring in its 32 glossy pages are a section on the GLR loco fleet complete with colour photographs of all the steam and diesel locomotives, sections on the comprehensive signalling of the line, a detailed description of the line and much more. The book, a 'must' for GLR aficionados, is keenly priced at £10.00 and is currently only available from the GLR shop which is open on all of the GLR 'open' days. For those unable to visit the GLR then the book is also available via mail order direct from the GLR for £10.00 plus £1.50 to cover First Class postage and packing via the Royal Mail. Please send your remittance to: GLR Publications, Gartell Light Railway, Common Lane, Yenston, Templecombe, Somerset. BA8 0NB.

Demand is expected to be heavy for this unique book so visit the GLR soon to obtain your copy or obtain one from the GLR Publications Department.