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!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

midweek at midford

Cleared platform.

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 leysiner@aol.com and I will put you in touch with Stuart.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

get stoking!

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

south of broadstone

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

new curve

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

not an issue

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!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

today's adventure

Had a bit of an adventure today right at the southern end of the S&D. I was helping out with a survey of the route between Hamworthy and Broadstone, to check its viability for reopening. It was a  successful day - I'll do a fuller report tomorrow when I've recovered from the five hours of driving!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


(Copyright Stuart Mills 2.6.2013)
Well, you could be forgiven for thinking so (but what gauge is it?) This is actually the pitch for the sales stand at Spetisbury. The station is looking good and I'm going down tomorrow (Wednesday) to get my first look at it since work started. Who knows, I may even get to pull a weed or two, although that's not the main reason I'm going! More news (and pics) tomorrow evening.

Monday, June 03, 2013

next stop masbury

You can hardly fail to have noticed that the S&D is attempting to acquire Masbury station - as well as Facebook groups and the front page of the SDRHT website, it was also announced to the world through the pages (and cover) of Steam Railway.

The appeal is being overseen by the SDRHT at Midsomer Norton, with the full support of the New S&D. It's planned that if the purchase is successful then the New S&D will manage the site in cooperation with the SDRHT.

This is fantastic news for several reasons. Masbury is an iconic S&D location (right up there with Midsomer Norton, Evercreech Junction and Midford) and is a sizeable station, especially for such a small village. It is the first big scheme that involves more than one (and hopefully ALL) the S&D groups. And it opens the way for the SDRHT to realise its banner - Mendip Main Line Project. It will also elevate the S&D into the stratosphere of the best heritage lines in the UK. It announces to the world that the S&D is on its way back and we don't plan to let anything stand in our way!!

Please please donate everything you can to this project. Remember to Gift Aid where appropriate. And if you don't want the money spent elsewhere it will be returned to you if the appeal fails ... but that's not going to happen, is it?

Full details on how to donate here.