Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Winging its way to all New S&D members worldwide is our latest magazine, Right Lines. Most of you will also be receiving a form for the three year reduced membership offer, plus a standing order form, so you can still take advantage of the old membership rate until 31st December this year, after which the new rate will be the only one available.
I have been sending a few of these out at a time so you may already have your copy! However it was clear I needed to blitz the backlog, so I've just sacrificed a whole day to get the rest of them out! These will hopefully get posted tonight!
If you have been considering joining the New S&D the next seven weeks is the time to do so as we are holding our membership price to just £5 per year (hopelessly uneconomic nowadays with insurance at two sites, the mortgage on Midford plus production costs of 2 annual printed magazines!) until 31st December, after that the basic membership fee rises to £15 per year. Life membership has been held at just £250, an absolute bargain, especially for our younger followers! It also helps admin enormously this end!
So why not treat yourself or a friend to a membership this Christmas?
Saturday, October 19, 2013
This time last week I was on my way to chair the New S&D AGM, down at Hurn near Bournemouth. We always alternate AGMs from one end of the line to the other, to make it easier for members to attend at least every two years.
The location was excellent, the old Hurn station, which has an industrial loco and old carriage as an extension to the pub, now the Avon Causeway Hotel.
The meeting went very well with almost 10% of the paid up members present.
The three main issues raised were all passed unanimously.
The first was the need to raise membership fees. Membership fees were originally set way back in 2009 when the New S&D was really just an idea. You didn't get a lot for membership, just the occasional A4 home printed newsletter! Now we have insurances to pay on both sites, the mortgage payment on Midford and two printed magazines a year. The original membership fee of £5 was nowhere near enough to cover this, so general funds were subsidising membership. We worked out that with the current membership level we would need a charge of around £15 to cover these basics, but of course we were also aware that this is a 200% increase. However the average rail restoration group charges around £15 so in a way our members have been getting a bargain for a while now!
To ease the transition to the new rate the meeting decided the following -
Date of the change will be 1 January 2014.
Existing members will be given the one off option of buying a THREE YEAR membership at the new rate ie £15 for three years (£5 per year).
The junior and family rates will also rise at the same rate, with the same three year concession for existing members. Life membership will remain the same.
Members paying by standing order will get an additional 10% reduction.
All members will be receiving a 3 year membership option form plus a standing order form with the new edition of Right Lines and these will be sent out over the next 1-3 weeks.
The second major decision was to apply for charity status for the New S&D. This matter has been brought up regularly at previous meetings but the meeting agreed that now was definitely the time to proceed with this. A team consisting of Anna-Jayne Metcalfe, Ken Vater and Geoff Newman aew auctioning this. We are seeking members to become trustees if interested!
The final major decision was that the MIDFORD APPEAL will be launched in early 2014. The basic aim will to be raise the money to rebuild the station building and oil store. A rough estimate of £30,000 was suggested, this figure will harden up once we've done proper estimates of the costs involved. This will give Midford and the New S&D a much higher profile, give us a proper office (and address!), a sales point and an information point covering the history of the station and line plus comprehensive details of the whole line restoration. It should also convince people that this restoration, the third, will be the one that succeeds! We have felt for some time that there has been a credibility problem at Midford because of the two previous restoration attempts, despite those being just small projects for Midford alone, rather than as part of a much larger project. I'm sure that a fully restored station building with the facilities listed above will finally lay that ghost to rest!
All in all the meeting was great fun (and I hate meetings) and I feel that we have now stepped up a league with a proper membership fee structure, charity status and our first real base on the line soon to be a reality.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Sometimes it's difficult even for those of us intimately involved with the reopening of the S&D to REALLY picture what the future holds. And then sometimes something comes along to make it all clearer!
The above picture is one of those things. Painted by Steve Hiscocks, a member down at Shillingstone, it shows a possible future for the station once the line is rebuilt throughout. Ignore the diesel traction, that is unlikely to be seen, at least running under New S&D colours, though this could be a possibility with other train operators running some trains over our route. What I particularly like is the way that the restored Shillingstone fits in so well with the trains, that the heritage aspect doesn't jar and, perhaps more importantly for many of us, the modern trains don't either.
It's poignant as well. Of course the S&D is returning as this scene shows, or something very similar will, all the way down from Bath and Bristol to Poole and Brockenhurst. But why oh why has the area been deprived of this for the last 47 years? The S&D is a main line of huge importance and value, it's closure was laughable, a ridiculous mistake that the whole area has paid for since then. When the window of opportunity arises we will do a very thorough study of the shameful and pointless closure of the line, and the truth will finally be out.
So keep this image in your mind as you do the work up and down the line that will ease its return!
Copies of this picture, as an artist signed print, are available from Shillingstone - orders need to be in by 10th November 2013 to guarantee a signed print. Please send orders to Alan Wiseman, Platform Magazine Dept SHP, Wayside, Plush, DORCHESTER, Dorset, DT2 7RN - please make cheques payable to 'NDRHT', cost is £20 to include post and packing - all profits will be used to further the work at Shillingstone. Prints will be despatched at the end of November.
Midford int he rain - looking good!
Looking towards Wellow - and car access on site at last!
Mick getting ready ...
Posing with chainsaw
The rain at its heaviest!
Reward - butchers sausages cooked on the still smouldering embers from Tuesday!
It was rainy and quite gloomy when we arrived but within a couple of hours enough trees had come down to let the light in.
Our neighbour Pat also turned up and we discussed the remedial work on the concrete facing of the embankment that abuts his house down below us.
Stuart, lacking a chainsaw of his own, cooked some sausages for the chainsaw boys!
To me this is always the best part of rail restoration, the hands on stuff out in the open. Meetings and office work leave me cold, even though that takes about 95% of my New S&D time.
There's a real buzz all along the route now, with Masbury very close, new local groups forming in Shepton Mallet, Evercreech and Whitchurch, Shillingstone going great guns and a real feeling that the whole route is stirring at last.
We are now planning to launch the Midford Appeal in 2014, with the aim of raising the funds to rebuild the station and oil store, which will transform the site.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
NEW SOMERSET AND DORSET RAILWAY
2013 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
This year's AGM will be at Avon Causeway at Hurn, Hurn, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 6AS on Saturday 12 October 2013, 14.00-16.00 with the room booked to 17.00. ALL paid up members are invited to attend.
Food/drink available on site.
Please let us know if you are coming as we need to give the venue an attendance figure in advance. Please either email to email@example.com, telephone 0117 3738973 or write to New S&D, 10 Bellamy Avenue, Hartcliffe, BRISTOL, BS13 0HW quoting your name and membership number.
Apologies for the late notice - this was intended to go out with the latest RIGHT LINES, but there has been a delay in the production of the magazine which will not now appear until around the date of the AGM!
Friday, September 13, 2013
(Courtesy SDRHT via Telegraph 30)
One way is to use CPOs (compulsory purchase orders) to purchase blocking properties. A second way would be to bridge/tunnel. A third way would be to utilise street running, though this may be a little radical for some!
But I suspect that often the option will be a by-pass. The above map was drawn to show how this would work at Shepton Mallet. Actually seeing it on paper shows that there can be other advantages to by-passing, at Shepton for example the station set up can be rationalised, a joint station would be accessed by both the S&D and East Somerset lines. This is cheaper and also handier. The above map also includes a Parkway station, though I suspect that by the time this becomes reality there will be few cars still on the roads!
So the principals established can (and will) apply to anywhere on the S&D and of course on the wider network. The old excuse of 'there's a house/building/car park/tree in the way can be ignored!
Thursday, September 12, 2013
There will be a work party up at Midford this Sunday. It looks like a few more people are now getting actively involved with restoring the station, probably as a result of the influx of new members we've seen since the Masbury Appeal hit the outside world!
Stuart is now inviting through Facebook events (as well as all the usual channels including this blog!) and details will be on there.
The station is now just about cleared (although the summer does tend to be something of a battle with the weeds) and we'll soon be looking at actually rebuilding the station. We are just waiting for the Masbury Appeal to be concluded (I have a meeting at Midsomer Norton on this very matter this Saturday) and we will probably launch a similar Midford Appeal (but with a much smaller target). There's no better spot to work and the Hope and Anchor next door does fantastic food!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The Masbury Appeal has far exceeded my wildest expectations. The last figure we have is £62,000 but this is now almost two weeks old, and more has doubtless come in. If we conservatively estimate £80,000 now in the pot, then this equates to over £6000 a week coming in!
It is still short of the Appeal total of course, but that shouldn't be too big an issue. The cost of the property will be £375,000, the extra £125,000 is for various things such as legal fees etc, but a big slice is initial repair and restoration costs.
I suspect the Appeal will continue to run after 30 September until the full £500,000 is raised.
This Saturday a few of us have a meeting with the current owner of Masbury station. Hopefully we will be able to negotiate an extension or possibly look towards a mortgage, share issue or some other similar way of raising the balance, so we can get in and start the work.
So thanks to everyone who has sent money - I know of one individual donation well into 5 figures for example. This Appeal has really caught the imagination of S&D fans nationally, and further afield. We've worked together to really make things happen and caught the imagination of the entire railway heritage community.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
I got the chance to visit TWO S&D sites yesterday, for the first time! First stop was Midsomer Norton where the signalbox/greenhouse section looks amazing. The greenhouse in particular looks like it's been there for a hundred years or more. It was nice to see the stone cold frame to the south of the signalbox as well. The whole site looks amazing.
Then, via Bristol (Wulfric wanted to see two of our cats for the first time), I popped in at Midford. This is the first chance I've had to visit two of the S&D sites in one go. It's a strange feeling, a nice one of course! You could now, in a day, travel south from Bath and visit FIVE active sites (hopefully soon six!) all being restored along the line. I don't think there's any other place in Britain (or even the world) where so many sites on the same line are being restored and rebuilt. The S&D is really coming back ... and in so many places!
The vegetarian choice at the Hope and Anchor wasn't impressive so, with the road south to Frome being closed at the viaduct, we headed back towards Bath and popped in the Cross Keys for a fantastic curry. And who should be there but Stuart and Tom Seale, the heroes of Midford! We're having a big session next Thursday (4.9.2013) so if interested please pop along, if only to see me in a flourescent jacket and Mick Knox yielding a chainsaw like someone out of a 1970s horror film!
Monday, August 19, 2013
There was always something very odd about the Waverley closure - it came right towards the end of the Beeching cuts, the line was a double track main line running through difficult terrain that experienced severe winter weather. It clearly needed a railway, and surely closure would be abandoned eventually. It made no sense. But the line WAS closed, with huge protests, and the area fell quiet. But only for a few weeks, closed at the start of the winter perhaps it was inevitable that the line would have to be reopened when the first big snows of the winter came and all the roads were blocked!
Soon afterwards a scheme was proposed to reopen the line using a mix of 'real' trains and heritage scheme. Sadly it was decades ahead of its time and withina few years the tracks were lifted and towns like Hawick and Galashiels had to manage without modern transport. As the article below reveals, Hawick suffered enormously from the loss of its railway.
Now the line's coming back, but for now only the top 30 miles. Hawick is STILL without modern transport, but the line will soon be 'just up the road' and pressure to reopen to Hawick will be irresistible. And once Hawick is reached surely the next step will be to reopen south to Carlisle? And the people of Hawick will then have the option to travel to Edinburgh OR Carlisle, or indedd anywhere else they wish to go! But why oh why has it taken over 40 years for people to see sense?
Sound familiar? Of course it does, the Waverley situation is very similar to that of the S&D, though down here things are moving even more slowly. Of course we run through far more heavily populated countryside with many stranded big towns (and indeed a CITY!) en route. But the story is inspiring andf one more nail in the coffin of the 'it'll never happen' brigade!
Extend Borders Railway to Hawick, ministers urged
Friday, August 16, 2013
We've just had the surveyor's report for the bank above Lynwood, the ex canal property that sits at the foot of the embankment at Midford.
Basically the embankment is sound, although some concrete needs replacing. Now we have the report we can put a plan for regular maintenance in place.
The owner of Lynwood has kindly agreed to share the costs with us for the report on a 50/50 basis. The total cost to the New S&D will be around £500 but it means we have an excellent survey of the site which hopefully will not need to be repeated for many years. I know it's not as glamorous as Masbury purchase or hiring in a steam loco, but as an additional cost we will need to raise the money for this. ALL donations very welcome, please include 'Midford Survey' in the address line or somewhere on a Paypal payment so it can be allocated properly! Cheques can be sent to New S&D, Midford Survey, 10 Bellamy Avenue, Hartcliffe, BRISTOL, BS13 0HW, Paypal payments can be made to SDRHTSales@aol.com
Conclusion of the report -
5.01 The embankment appears to have changed very little since the construction of the railway line. The
overgrown vegetation has however damaged the embankment directly behind the house, where the
management of surface water is inadequate.
5.02 During the investigation of the embankment, we found no evidence of instability. This was difficult
however due to the mass of vegetation. There are many rocky outcrops suggesting a natural rock
face below, but also areas of sandy soil suggesting slip. However, the profile of the slope appears
the same as noted in historic photographs.
5.03 As such we do not feel there is any evidence to suggest the embankment is unstable. There may be
isolated areas that have slipped but the house appears to be well protected.
5.04 However, the concrete face to the steep embankment behind the wall is in poor condition and water
is getting underneath. We therefore would advise that the loose concrete render is removed and
replaced with newer frost resistant concrete render.
5.05 The existing gully at the back of the lean to should be enlarged and maintained regularly to avoid
further blockage. Also an allowance should be made for protecting the lean to against running surface
Thursday, August 01, 2013
They say it takes all sorts but sometimes I wonder!
The phone rang this evening, just before dinner. Railway call. New member.
'I'm a little surprised that I haven't received my membership card yet'.
'Okay, I'll check'.
I drew a blank.
We eventually worked out who he was. He'd sent Paypal payment using a generic name (Company Secretary). I'd immediately emailed him to ask his name so I could produce his membership card. TWO days ago!! As he hadn't emailed me back I couldn't produce the membership card anyway! It reminded me of the character in Fawlty Towers 'Well it's not good enough!!'
He then started criticising the website, informing me that it takes hours to load a single picture! Doesn't sound like our website at all. He then informed me that as well as being a businessman he was an engineer AND a webmaster.
This wasn't going well.
'And WHY are there FIVE different groups restoring the S&D. There should only be one'.
I tried to explain the issues of history, gauge differences and the long length of the line, and that I also would love to see just one group eventually.
'Well it isn't good enough! It should happen right away!'
'Oh, and have you asked the Bluebell to help with sourcing track?'
'No, we don't need any track, and we have a number of Network Rail employees who source track WHEN we need it'.
'Well, you should be in touch with the Bluebell Railway'.
'I can assure you that all the various Chairs etc have informal networks that involve other railways'.
'Hmmmm. Your real problem is that you don't have anyone organising you. You lack organisers'.
(Personally I reckon we do OK. Just look at the lovely organised station at MN pictured above, all done without the help of the Bluebell Railway!)
'And another thing. In France they have a thing, I don't know what it's called, where you can ride a bike thing along closed railways'.
'Yes, the SNCF is obliged to leave track and infrastructure in place for 20 years after closure. They are called velorails'.
'Oh, well we need those on the S&D'.
'We don't have any closed but in-situ line s in the UK, we have a different system.'
'Well, it's NOT good enough. Surely you could just lay a few miles of track, you'd make loads of money? You need organising'.
'But the S&D is just a trackbed, we are buying it a piece at a time. When we have a decent stretch we'll run trains, like they do at Midsomer Norton'.
'Well I'm buying a property very near to the Gartell Railway. It's a terrible line, no signposts and they only run once a month'.
'Yes, it's a private line. That's what they do, they are very good'.
'Hmmmm. Well, what are you doing to do about all this? I've written to all you groups and none of you have emailed me back and I can't find any contact details anywhere'.
'Well, you're talking to me. And I did email you right away when you sent Paypal payment, asking your name so I could make up your membership card'.
'Well, that's from my overseas address'.
'Yes'. (I should have asked Basingstoke, Westphalia? at this point).
'Well. You shouldn't be using Paypal. There are thousands of county court judgements against them. And NEVER give them your bank account details'. (But you PAID me using Paypal!)
'So what are you going to do about all this?'
'THIS!' I put the phone down and immediately refunded his payment, plus alerted the SDRHT and Gartell about him!
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Excellent news today is that the Masbury Appeal has now raised £40,000! Some will see this as a glass 92% empty but in reality it is a glass (and leverage!) that is 8% on its way.
These are difficult times for most people, but there's been a huge amount of generosity from a lot of people. Whilst we are almost half way through the appeal period remember that 30 September is merely the date when the station may appear on the open market. The appeal will continue after that date of course, and it may be a decent sized pot may delay it a little longer, which is all good news. And we'll be entering the season of rail enthusiasm, the winter, when the pace of donations should go up.
So whatever you can do please do to raise money! We'll keep pushing the appeal this end but we can only do so much. It would be fantastic if we did have the whole £500,000 by 30 September, it will make life a lot easier!
Sunday, July 21, 2013
There will be a big jazz event at Midsomer Norton on 10 August 2013 (details on above poster).
Shades of the S&D in the sixties when a DMU worked a special service to an open air jazz event at (I think) Wellow!
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The latest figure for money raised to purchase Masbury is £29,300. It's a tidy sum but there's still a long way to go!
I think we need to be proactive - all of us. We need to look at ways to raise money individually and also make sure as many people as possible know what is happening.
I'm not one for saying 'this is our only chance'. But it is our best chance and to have Masbury saved forever for rail use will be a huge step towards getting the S&D back.
Progress at Spetisbury, Midford, Midsomer Norton, Shillingstone and Gartell continues. The S&D is coming alive all along its route - and it would be great to see activity up on the Mendips!
So start spreading the message and keep thinking of ways to raise money for the station. We are part of the way there, but there's still a lot to do!
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Oh dear, just endured a forty minute earbashing by the people that own a property next to Masbury. Despite an earlier phone call about a month ago where I thought I'd allayed their fears it was not to be!
The latest communication was thanks to some TV and radio publicity for the appeal. The callers seemed to think that we shouldn't be publicising this appeal, and they also picked up on some of the spin about when trains will actually be running at Masbury.
Don't get me wrong, I understand their fears of the place buzzing with people and the whiff of steam, I can understand the non-rail fan mindset. Except this rather benign image wasn't the one they had in their head. I used psychology and asked them what THEY thought would happen from 1 October if we get the site. 'Well you'll be running trains almost right away, and it will scare the horses and our house price will plummet'.
Let's analyse that. Even the most optimistic person (not me) doesn't expect trains of any sort to be running here for 4 years at least. Real through trains carrying freight and passengers are decades away yet. The first few years at Masbury will be gentle restoration.
Horses? Well any sensible horse will go to the other end of the field, and will soon get used to the occasional train.
House prices? ALWAYS go UP, and go up more the closer they are to a station, even a heritage station. Utility you see. The really interesting thing (and perhaps they shouldn't have told me!) was that they had an INSURANCE to cover any shortfall 'IF THE RAILWAY IS REOPENED'. They were more far sighted than most of us!!
They even dared to compare Masbury, that idyll of railway perfection on the finest line in England, to a SEWAGE FARM opening on your doorstep!
Their fears are not real. They will USE the railway when it's reopened, we all will as there won't be any other realistic option. Their house price will shoot up as the railway returns. And their horses will soon learn that trains are fun and will chase them the length of their field.
The world simply is not as many people see it - it is far nicer than that.
All that 40 minutes of nonsense did was to make me even more determined to GET THE STATION BACK!
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Here's a great way to build up the fund - I am buying stamps, coins and postcards in bulk. £10 a kilo for stamps and £5 a kilo for coins and postcards.
ALL proceeds will go to the Masbury appeal.
Just send to Stamps for Charity (077 MAS)
10 Bellamy Avenue
More info at - http://
ALL proceeds will go to the Masbury appeal.
Just send to Stamps for Charity (077 MAS)
10 Bellamy Avenue
More info at - http://
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Looking towards Long Arch Bridge.
Classic fencing starts to reappear - and makes the narrow road safer.
Midford main mover Stuart Seale chats to New S&D Press and Publicity Officer Kevin Gover.
Had a nice (and rare) trip to Midford on Wednesday to meet with our new Press and Publicity Officer Kevin Gover and get a chance to catch up with progress on the site.
Stuart kindly showed Kevin around the site and I did some radio stuff for the Masbury Appeal.
Interestingly Kevin walked from Freshford to Midford and I may well try to reach Midford by train and foot in future, rather than use the slow and rather ridiculous car. It's about a two mile walk in each direction.
Television is also taking an interest in developments at Masbury so expect to have it rammed down your throats (in the nicest possible way!) over the summer months!
Midford is looking great and the litter problems we suffered from anti-social visitors after the Two Tunnels route opened seem to have calmed down somewhat. New fencing has appeared along the top of Long Arch Bridge, together with some new safety bollards, much improving this part of the site.
Remember if you would like to help in restoring Midford to its former glory please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in touch with Stuart.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Julian Jefferson has just added a neat graphic to the Facebook Masbury page, which will show how much has been collected towards purchase of the station.
Although it looks like it's set at zero it is just off first base, but we've all got a lot to do over the next four months to get all that cash in!
I was at Midford today chatting to our new Press and Publicity Officer who has excellent contacts in the media - and hopefully the first fruits of that will be visible soon. Until the end of September I'll be pretty much concentrating on the Masbury Appeal as it's so important to the future of the S&D.
Sunday, June 09, 2013
Route was just to the left of the footpath.
Looking north past the road pinch.
Overview of the site - the railway took a route from this point to a point close to the road in the distance.
Back to last Wednesday's site visit this was the potential third pinch point. There's been some road works here that whilst not impeding on the route does make it a little more difficult than had the trackbed been properly protected as a transport corridor. The biggest issue is the road that joins the main road and this may require some (expensive) remodelling in the area. But still of course doable! It would be interesting to see how the railway and roads originally coexisted here as it may of course be easier to simply restore it as it was. Whatever the outcome Broadstone is desperately in need of its railway and surely can't go much longer without modern transport?
Saturday, June 08, 2013
S&D bridge in Hamworthy.
S&D embankment in Hamworthy.
Open ground ideal for new curve.
The main Bournemouth-Weymouth route near Hamworthy - the new curve can connect near here, there are many options!
The new curve would intersect the SW corner on this map.
One of the conclusions from our southern site visit on Wednesday was that a brand new curve could be built to the north of Hamworthy station, allowing New S&D trains and, eventually, Park and Rides from north of Broadstone and of course main line trains via Ringwood and Wimborne access directly to Bournemouth. At the same time reopening of the original curve into Hamworthy station would allow direct access to Weymouth and also possibly Poole Quay where freight trains and passenger trains in connection with cruise liners could be run.
This whole area is going to become a hive of rail activity in the future, with Broadstone offering a huge variety of trains.
Friday, June 07, 2013
Corfe Mullen 5.6.2013 Route used as footpath.
The original line.
Line has been cut into here but not a problem.
Original fencing remains.
After Hamworthy we continued to Corfe Mullen where we determined there'd be another pinch point. This part was easy, behind the industrial estate. Part of the line had been levelled off, but correction of this will be simple. There is a footpath here which uses part of the route, and fencing will need to be modified. At the south end the footpath goes its own way and there was original trackbed, overgrown with small trees. This reminded me of a more overgrown section that used to exist south of Midsomer Norton, now part of the double track main line.
North of this point the line has been built over in places by housing development. As always this is double edged - more customers for the railway but possible CPOs and demolition of three houses if an alternative route is impractical.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
A few shots from yesterday's survey visit to Hamworthy, Corfe Mullen and Broadstone. These are from the Hamworthy end of the line.
Top shot shows the S&D bridge with the main line bridge behind. Second shot is of the S&D bridge and the third shows some encroachment on the embankment near here.
This was the first identified 'pinch point', it can be overcome by some slight modification of the buildings (2) or by some reprofiling of the embankment.
This was of course the original route of the 'Castleman's Corkscrew' route via Ringwood and was not part of the S&D. It is the subject of a possible scheme to link Hamworthy to a park and ride north of Broadstone. We also identified scope for a chord line linking just north of this stretch to the main line with a junction facing Bournemouth (more useful for the S&D) of which more tomorrow!