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!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Spetisbury - not just weekends!

A wooden bench has been created on the up platform to match the one that used to be here in railway days.

Work continuing on our new shed.

Fence post made of old rail near the site of the Louse Lane bridge.

The Stour Valley looking at its best.

(All pics copyright Kevin Mitchell 28.8.2015)

Taking the opportunity presented by wonderful weather yesterday some of the Spetisbury team popped up to the station to do a bit of work. And who can blame them looking at the last picture above?

I wished I lived closer! Anyone who would like to get involved please contact the Project Manager at Spetisbury, Dean Cockwell - deancockwell@ntl.world

Saturday, August 15, 2015

08 for Shillingstone!

[Shillingstone} ha[s] just won a sealed bid for a Class 08 08995 0-6-0 diesel-electric loco. Built by BR at Horwich in 1960.
The 08 has worked at Westbury and Eastleigh in recent years as well as appearing at various Railway diesel gala[s] in the past.
In December 1987 the 08 was named Kidwelly at Landore T&RSMD, during a ceremony and carries a nameplate. The name was previously carried by a steam locomotive class BPGV5, number 2194.
The loco will first go for an overhaul before coming to the S & D Railway at Shillingstone Station.
Technical description.
The Class 08 design was based on the LMS 12033 series (later TOPS Class 11) design.
The engine is an English Electric (EE) 6 cylinder, 4-stroke, 6KT. Traction motors are 2 EE 506 motors with double reduction gear drive. The main generator is an EE 801.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ropley - 39 years on!


(All copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing 'Then' (B&W) are 24.6.1976. 'Now' (Colour) are 18.7.2015)

Sometimes when we chance upon the remains of an S&D station, overgrown and abandoned and gradually fading into history the task ahead can look very daunting. But the New S&D isn't proposing anything that hasn't already been done elsewhere, and it's a good idea to look around and see what's been achieved by other people with a vision, and often working against a lot harder odds than we are!

I was lucky enough to visit the Watercress Line on Saturday, though sadly not able to travel on it. For a change I called in at Ropley and Medstead as I've always found the two termini hard to photograph. There were no such problems at the two intermediate stations!

I last visited Ropley in June 1976, before the line was reopened, and it was in deep sleep. The station is completely transformed now, as is the area it sits in, but fortunately there's no housing development and the location is still very rural. The station has of course been totally restored and the up platform and buildings have reappeared. There's a signalbox and also a large locomotive works. All in all a very pleasant spot and still with plenty of railway atmosphere.

I was lucky enough to travel on the line in BR days a few times, and I've also been a couple of times since reopening. I still find it odd that this useful line was closed, serving the large town of Alresford and also providing an excellent alternative route when the main line is closed or blocked. I'm sure the missing link via Itchen Abbas will be rebuilt in the future and the line morph into a community line with a proper 365 day service but with plenty of heritage atmosphere and trains of course!

More info (from Wikipedia)

Ropley railway station is a railway station in RopleyHampshireEngland, which opened on 2 October 1865.


The station was opened by the Mid-Hants (Alton Lines) Railway (MHR) on 2 October 1865. The MHR was leased to the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) in August 1880, which fully absorbed the MHR in June 1884. The LSWR amalgamated with other railways to form the Southern Railway on 1 January 1923.
The station was closed by British Rail on 5 February 1973.


Ropley railway station was reopened by the Mid Hants Railway (Watercress Line) on 30 April 1977. It is an intermediate station on the preserved Watercress Line, which runs from Alton to New Alresford.
The main locomotive shed and workshops for the Mid Hants Railway are located just to the east of Ropley station.
The station gardens feature notable yew topiary, which has been in situ for over 100 years (an 1898 postcard shows the topiary well established).
A footbridge was added to the western end of the station in 1986. This was recovered from the closed station at North Tawton in Devon in August 1983, restored and installed by volunteers.


In 2012/13, a footbridge, originally located at King's Cross station in London, was dismantled and later re-erected at Ropley station for a new lease of life, above the maintenance shed, where passengers can walk over and view the works below.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Gartell Open Day

(Gartell Open Day 2013 John Penny)

Try to get along to the Gartell Railway's Open Day this weekend (27/28 June 2015). As well as
 the railway being open there are many other attractions.

The weekend is a bit of a relaxed affair.  Now into our 8th year of the steam show & 20+ years of the railway running.

Please come along with your exhibits, relax and not do a great deal, if you wish.  The exhibit is what we’re interested in, so as long as it’s on display (and of course looked after) we don’t mind.  Its more of a weekend away on holiday, you just happen to have brought your exhibit with you.

Attractions include :-
Steam Engines (Large & Small)
Vintage Tractors & Stationary Engines
Vintage Cars & Motorbikes
Mini Model Railway Exhibition
Trade Stands
Crafts & Displays
Model Boats on the lake
Catering & Fully licenced bar

Website for this event.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blandford Arches

Good to see that this smaller project is going from strength to strength within the wider S&D revival!

Try to get along on Sunday 24 May 2015 if you can!

If you get the chance pop up to the station site where there is still some track set into the roadway plus an excellent walk northwards.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Spetisbury 17 May 2015

(All pics Spetisbury 17.5.2015 copyright Kevin Mitchell)

Spetisbury is looking fantastic as we proceed from spring into summer. The whole site has been tidied up and is now festooned with flowers. The Sunday team offer refreshments and a few New S&D sales items and also are more than happy to welcome new members to the work parties - so if you are interested in getting involved at this magical location please contact Dean Cockwell on deancockwell@ntlworld.com 

The team now feel confident enough to invite visitors to the site as part of the Spetisbury Open Gardens day on Sunday June 7, 2015 (details below). So if you can please come on that day to join in with the well-deserved event!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

new arrival at Shillingstone

(Pics via Shillingstone project)

A new arrival at Shillingstone this week is this gunpowder van that has been kindly donated to the site from the Washford group.

Shillingstone is going from strength to strength and as well as a number of railway vehicles on site it now has a working diesel locomotive (seen in picture 3).

It's good to see this sort of generosity happening between the various S&D groups, a harbinger of future co-operation between all 5 groups now actively involved in preserving and rebuilding the line.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Radstock recovery

The trackgang has been recovering more materials from the Radstock Regeneration land today, not a bad morning for it. Almost ready for another lorry load to come out now and move it to Midsomer Norton.

It seems strange to be lifting track from one line that has an active restoration group to move to another, two miles away - but such is the complexity of the various groups in the area that this has happened before! In the future no doubt lovely fresh new track will reappear here or very close by, as the North Somerset line extends from Frome up to Radstock with an eventual connection to the S&D.

This part of Radstock is, at last, having houses built. Remember that every house will contain future passengers for the lines in Radstock! The development company does support the two future Radstock railways, fully understanding that they will be essential transport links that, soon enough, people will factor into their decisions as to where they move to. A small piece of land has been secured for a future rail link through this site, thanks to the work of Pete Russell at the SDRHT.

Anyone who gets involved in the restoration of the greater S&D could end up just about anywhere if they are part of the hands-on team! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

website change coming!

Our current website hosting service has experienced interesting times - and the company has been wound up. We are in the process of changing our hosting service and the changeover should be seamless, but there is a chance that there may be some interruption of service during the changeover. Don't worry, if we do vanish or lose a page or two it is only temporary!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

new DVD available

Just released, and just added to the New S&D's online shop, is the superb new DVD from 1st Take, covering the branch lines of Somerset, some of which crossed or interacted with the S&D.

Priced at just £14.95 (plus 50p post and packing) all profits go directly to the New S&D to help restore our magnificent line. Orders placed before 20 December will reach UK addresses in time for Christmas. We do only have a small stock though so please order early!

wanted at midsomer norton

The SDRHT at Midsomer Norton continues to look for a volunteer who can take on the role of minute taker for the Company so if you can help please contact Steve Ehrlicher on sehrlicher@phonecoop.coop

Likewise email Steve if you have skills for the role of Head of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering as we recommence train operations.  We will also be starting work on the restoration of the BSK in early Spring so that we have a two coach maroon train for the March 2016 commemorations and if anyone would like to help on this project and would be available on Monday working parties please email John Baxter on jbncer@btinternet.com

Saturday, December 06, 2014

tuck in tomorrow at midsomer norton!

Midsomer Norton South station - Sunday 7th December 2014 -- Buffet car open 10am --4pm. Full English breakfast served between 10-11.45am - Sunday roast this week is roast beef & Yorkshire pudding - roast potatoes served with fresh vegetables of the day - also hot and cold snacks available throughout the day .

Friday, December 05, 2014

7F at Midsomer Norton!

The first 7F to appear on track at Midsomer Norton will be over the weekend of 13th/14th December 2014.  No, not the full size version but a live steam 5 inch gauge model which will be providing train rides on both days from 11.30 to 13.00 and 13.30 to 16.00, so do come along and take a ride.  53808 and 53809 will eventually steam at our station but we need to get the next section to Chilcompton open first.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Spetisbury Report 5.10.2014

Plants kindly donated by locals await planting out. Another plant was delivered to the station today.

View from the bank behind the up platform building. The vegetation behind the wall was cut back today.

The view of the up platform building is now better after we removed lots of overgrowth.

All traces of the rubble mound here on the up platform have gone and the area seeded with grass.

(All pics and text by Kevin Mitchell).

The revival of Spetisbury on the Dorset section of the S&D proceeds apace, the weather today looking particularly amenable!

Remember if you want to help the rebuilding of the S&D there are work parties most Sundays at the station. To get involved simply contact Dean Cockwell, Spetisbury Project Manager, on deancockwell@ntlworld.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

achtung spitfeuer!

Come along to our Heritage weekend event and see a full-

size replica Spitfire at the station! (Cockpit visits are 

available.) Also on display will be vintage commercial 

vehicles, wartime action re-enactments, a vintage bus 

operating local tours (Sunday), a wartime singer (Sunday), 

guided railway track walks, museum, pillbox, shop, 

signalbox, stalls, refreshments and more! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

shillingstone light railway

(Both copyright Alan Kingston 1960s/70s)

After the original S&D closed the sound of trains could still be heard around Shillingstone. The 10¼ inch gauge Shillingstone Light Railway continued to operate for a good few more years. The line closed in around 1975 and was sold that year. It was a classic Heywood style agricultural line and apparently paid for itself within the first year of operation (1954). It only closed because Lord Salt, the owner, died. Amazingly it once used a Beyer-Garrett style loco!

More details and pics of the line will be most appreciated! Please email to leysiner@aol.com

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!)