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, 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.