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!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A brace of STEAM for Shillingstone!





These locos could be found all over the place! China had loads of industrials that looked like USA type tanks but most were actually of Polish origin. This is a genuine Porter example, allegedly 7544 of 1943, seen at Benxi Steelworks in 1986.

Fantastic and surprising news from Shillingstone - not just one but TWO steam locomotives are coming to the station, making that three steam locos based permanently on the line - and all three should be working for the 50th anniversary of the original 'closure' in March 2016.

The following is from the Project 62 website

Both ‘Project 62’, representing owners of 0-6-0T locomotive 30075 and 30076, and the North Dorset Railway Trust are pleased to announce that agreement has been reached between the two parties to move the locomotives to the headquarters of the NDRT at the former Somerset & Dorset (S&D) line station at Shillingstone in Dorset. It is hoped that the move will be completed by the end of 2015 and both Groups are looking forward to working together in the future.
30075 will be moving from the Great Central Railway (Nottingham) base at Ruddington where it has been stored for display since early 2014. It has not seen any use there as it has been out of service since withdrawn at the Mid Hants Railway in late 2010. The locomotive requires repairs to its fire box and a 10 year overhaul of its boiler and running gear. It is planned to return this locomotive to operational condition first, and as quickly as practical.
On arrival at Shillingstone 30075 will initially be placed at the end of the main line but will be re-positioned in front of the station platform in time of the 50th Anniversary of closure of the Somerset & Dorset next March. 30076 will be placed in the Cattle Dock siding.
It is not known if USA type tank locomotives ever ran officially on the S&D. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that this design of locomotive was hauled over the line in the lead up to D–Day in WW2, and then after, for on-ward movement to mainland Europe. The secrecy surrounding all movements of troops and equipment at this time means that any such movements are believed to have gone undocumented.

About Project 62

Project 62 represents the owners of Yugoslavian built Class 62 USA type 0-6-0 tank steam locomotive 30075 (formerly JZ 62-669 acquired from Store Steel in Slovenia in 1990) which, having been most recently operational since June 2004, is now out of service pending firebox repairs and full overhaul. The group is also involved in the current project to construct 30076 from 62-521, which was acquired from ArcelorMittal Zenica in Bosnia & Herzegovina in December 2006. Class 62 "Yankee Tank" steam locomotives are a pattern build of the World War II USATC S100 Class 0-6-0T Switcher/Shunters designed by Colonel Howard G Hill. Many of these locomotives saw service in the UK - including 14 on the Southern Railway plus a number in industrial service with Austin Motors/BMC at Longbridge, the NCB in the North East and on the Longmoor Military Railway. Four original US built and two Yugoslavian built locomotives are preserved in the UK.

Further Project 62 information and photos

Technical Information - specification detail for 30075 (62-669) and 30076 (62-521) with dimensions, tractive effort and other data
Background to Project 62 - for more detail about the history of "Yankee Tank"
Share Scheme - buy a share to join us and be an owner of your VERY OWN steam locomotive.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gartell Railway 22.11.2015

Activity from last Sunday at the GLR. 'Out the line' with four teenagers and two, er... 'mature' types! The four lads did a great job, and their ages added up to just slightly more than mine, and just slightly less than C.J's. (John Penny)

A view from the 'other side' just prior to us heading out the line. The banner is off No. 14 (section signal) seen on the corner ahead.

Red set 101 gets the 'Santa' boards ready for a school bazaar on December 5th. We're just running the trains so know no other detail. Come along and support it anyway!!

Chandler gets stuck in on Common Lane No10 with the replacement signal head. Although only 16 years old there is not much he can't do in the GLR wiring department!

Meanwhile here is Chandler's Grandad working on the replacement signal head on the other 'road' at Common Lane. Along with Matt 1 they're tightening their nuts.

Down at the 'End of the World' the lads get stuck into the vegetation.

Matt 2 gets to grips with his big weapon.

C.J. sharpens up his tool.

What is it with blokes and bonfires? The dry detritus at the foot of the embankment is carefully burned off as Matt 2 is talked out of doing a headlong dive into the flames.

Having just had a look at the old cattle creep, I snapped the boys building up to the last bonfire of the day. Not the most exciting viewpoint but at least it is a new one!

The light is fading as we head for home to bath the innumerable scratches, remove the thorns from our anatomy and have a good soak in the bath to get rid of the smell of bonfire smoke.

(All pics, text and captions by John Penny at Gartell Railway).

The Gartell Railway has now finished running its regular trains for 2015. This is a great set of shots showing the really fun side of rail work - choppoing and bonfires! It's really good to see that the Gartell has a team of younger volunteers, something all lines need as older volunteers enter their dotage!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gartell work 15 November 2015

Between Chandler and myself we had decided that he was going to post the pictures of yesterday's activities, but mine are a little bit different, so here they are. We'll be spending the next few days removing thorns from various parts of our anatomies, ready for starting again on the remainder of the clearance with 'The Thursday Boys'.

Looking North at Park Lane before the work started.

The lads make a start.

This was just from the morning's activities!

Finishing up for the day. In 25 years of working on the railway, this is the first photo I have taken from the field. We certainly made an impact on the undergrowth! The Thursday gang can look forward to the rest of the clearance work.

C.J. picks up the last of the scraps for burning. A satisfying day.

(All pics, text and captions courtesy John Penny at Gartell)

I really miss this - I started at Midsomer Norton on the Monday (mainly) Track Gang, and it was a real pleasure and privilege to be on the line cutting back undergrowth, repairing fences and, eventually, helping out on tracklaying. Hopefully in the not too distant future we'll be doing this at Midford and other locations along the line!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

S&D Telegraph 46


Arrived this week - the latest edition of the SDRHT's superb magazine, the S&D Telegraph. As always this is the best magazine from a small heritage outfit in the UK. They outline their plans for the March 2016 commemoration of the closure of the original S&D, which include running trains over the weekend using a hired-in 4MT tank engine and three coaches, representing a typical S&D local service of the 60s. The Sentinel loco may well also be in steam at Midsomer Norton South.

It's worth joining the SDRHT for the magazine alone!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New S&D AGM 16 January 2016


The next AGM of the New Somerset and Dorset Railway will be on 16 January 2016 at the Avon Causeway Hotel, Hurn near Bournemouth, from 1.30pm to 4pm.

This is a very important meeting as we shall be looking at bringing in a lot more committee members and volunteers - if you care about the S&D it will definitely be the time to start making a difference!

The New S&D will be just short of 7 years old in January 2016. We own Midford and are of course cosmetically restoring Spetisbury. I've been Chair since the group formed in 2009, prior to that I was a committee member holding several posts at Midsomer Norton. I shall be stepping down as Chair at the start of the AGM as I simply no longer have the time to do anything outside of promotion, a role I hope to retain! I'd originally announced I'd be officially retiring as Chair in August 2016 but events have simply caught up with me (as anyone who's been following The Rail Thing will realise!) So if you feel you have the skill set needed for this role please let us know!

The venue is a Pullman coach at the site of the former Hurn station on the Ringwood to Christchurch line, which closed in 1935. There's still plenty of railway interest there so worth a visit just for that. We've always allowed non-members to attend meetings including the AGM, but not to vote of course.

We have two main vehicles for S&D activity on the route - The New Somerset and Dorset Railway and Wessex Links Ltd. It may be that we need to redefine each part's focus, so there's a lot to discuss.

It's imortant that anyone planning to attend give us notice of attendance as the venue's owner needs to know numbers. Food and drink will of course be available at the Avon Causeway (highly recommended!) and if more than 10 want to eat before the meeting we will need to pre-book the meals.

So would ALL members please email me on leysiner@aol.com to let me know if you are coming or not - non-members should also let me know if you are planning to come just so we have some idea of numbers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ballasting at Midsomer Norton


A couple of fantastic shots from Sunday's ballast spreading operation at Midsomer Norton South. This is as far as I know only the second stretch of double track restored railway in the country - I remember it when it was an overgrown footpath, buried in the woods

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Gartell progress



(Both copyright John Penny)

Two pictures, about four years apart! Note the bush behind the pickup (Feb 2011) and behind the loco (Jun 2015) - this shows the amazing progress on this gem of a narrow gauge line on S&D trackbed just soith of Templecombe.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Shillingstone 1.11.2015


Tony has managed to get these sides back on and has put the windows in for winter! He will now take a rest. When he returns he will paint the Nasty Ruston in the same colour as the other 'nasty Rustons' at Bala Lake the home of the 'Little Alice' story books.

Do I stop, Go or pause in the Distance, perhaps pass at caution? Probably stop at home! Wish I had paid more attention in the Induction Course!

A little sad. These were lovingly made to replace the machines that were taken off site when there was a change in management. Now the Signal Box has a full set, including one original from the Shillingstone Box and one to spare.

The gates have their undercoat and look resplendent......trouble is the rest of the white paintwork looks like it needs to be painted! Sorry guys....once you start something.

Look the correct colours have returned - no one will notice the hiccup! (I have the photos....)

I know...THE WALL....actually looking good....from this angle. — at .

Not so good from here but ready up to the Down Shelter.

It's a long way up and a long way along- not to mention the trees (dead) rooted into the wall. I think that this topic may continue for a while!

Today the mist blocked the sight and the site was misty, However those volunteers that made the weekend had the results of their labour shown in full later in the day. Photos show new stock, new paint, new things, new bricks and things replaced by new acquisitions. (The Porter)

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Spetisbury 1 November 2015


(Text and pic by Kevin Mitchell 1.11.2015)

After a misty start it turned into T shirt weather again for today's work party. We are now looking ahead to next year and the events to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of the S&D. Our aim is to make the 'up' platform building remains as tidy as possible, as this is the main focus point of the site. Of the three rooms, we want to clear the booking office and gents' waiting room of the bricks we have stored there, moving them into the ladies' waiting room. So to start off, we cleared the ladies' waiting room foundations and cleaned and photographed the ventilation for the natural chalk floor. Then we started to move the many re-useable bricks into the foundations.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Masbury - another S&D station that is returning!


Masbury - and its new owner (radio interview)

It was a shame, not to mention a shock, when the appeal to purchase the Masbury station site did not reach its target a couple of years ago.

Of course we all know that EVENTUALLY trains will return to Masbury, but we were always aware that, even with the site in railway hands, that was going to be more of a multi-decade process than something that would happen within a few years. Personally it means I'm not getting down there once a week as project manager - but I've got lenty more to do anyway!

But the really good news is that the new order has plans to restore the station to its pre-closure condition, rebuilding the signalbox (like at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone) and reinstating the booking office etc.

NOTHING is going to keep the S&D down - the line is on its way back and more and more people are geeting involved. This blog will follow progress at Masbury with great interest over the coming years!

Please remember that Masbury is private property and a family home. Please do not trespass under any circumstances. Just let it happen!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Behind the scenes - fun AND hard work!

(All courtesy John Penny at Gartell)

Some fantastric shots from John Penny showing the singular mix of fun and hard work that goes into keeping an iconic narrow gauge railway going!