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!

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 on thursday

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!
A REALLY good day at Midford last Thursday, tree clearing again. Mick Knox was down from Milton Keynes with his chain saw, local boy Tom also brought his!

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 S&D 2013 AGM

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 leysiner@aol.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

shepton by pass

(Courtesy SDRHT via Telegraph 30)
One of the issues that often comes up is along the lines of 'what will you do where there are houses/factories etc blocking the route?' It's not as big a deal as some people think, because there are various ways of addressing this. The actual choice will be based on a number of factors including cost, practicality, engineering issues and public relations.

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

midford this sunday

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

Masbury countdown


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.