West Somerset Express

The unofficial on line newsletter of the West Somerset Railway

Issue 20 – March 2004

Issue 12 - July 2003  Issue 13 - August 2003 Issue 14 - September 2003

Issue 15 - October 2003  Issue 16 - November 2003  Issue 17 - December 2003

Issue 18 - January 2004  Issue 19 - February 2004

West Somerset Express homepage

This page is part of the newsletter archive, photos of the year on the line can be seen on

WSR 2004  Spring Steam Gala 2004  Autumn Steam Gala 04  Diesel Gala 04



Dates in March

1 March: WSRA Taunton Group: "The Road to the Isles" - Bernard Mills

7 March: Steam services between Minehead and Williton

13, 14, 20, 21 March: Steam & DMU services between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead

14 March: The Spring Time Auto Train - see below

25 to 28 March: Spring Steam Gala - see below

30 March: WSRA Bristol Group: Members evening - slides, quiz and photographic competition.


Services continue with the "half term" services on 29 February plus 7 March between Minehead and Williton then services the full normal length start on 13 March on weekends for the rest of March, with the Spring Steam Gala on 25 to 28 March.  Train Timetables and other Services on www.wsr.org.uk has full details for the year.


Spring Steam Gala

This year is on Friday 26 March to Sunday 28 March with a preview day on Thursday 25 March.  The West Somerset Railway Spring Steam Gala has established itself as one of the heritage railway events of the year, the 2004 event promises to live up to the high quality successful Spring Galas over recent years. A four day feast of West Country steam!

The theme of the Railway’s 2004 Spring Steam Gala will be “The Big Four”, with a representative engine from each of the four main railway companies established at the 1923 Grouping.


Up to ten engines will be in steam and working trains at the Gala...
· LMS Black 5 4-6-0 no 45407*
· BR Class 4 2-6-0 no 76079*
· GER J15 0-6-0 no 65462**
· SR West Country Pacific 34027 "Taw Valley" (running as 34045 "Ottery St Mary")***
· GWR 4575 Class 2-6-2Ts no 5542 and 5552
· BR(W) Manor Class 4-6-0 no 7820 "Dinmore Manor"
· BR Class 4 2-6-4T no 80136
· GWR 64xx Class 0-6-0PT no 6412
* courtesy of Mr Ian Riley
** courtesy of the North Norfolk Railway

***courtesy of Mr Phil Swallow & the Severn Valley Railway

It is also hoped that the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust’s Peckett 0-4-0ST no 1788 "Kilmersdon" will be in steam and giving shunting demonstrations at Washford on all three days of the Gala.


For full details see www.wsr.org.uk



The Springtime Auto Train

Sunday 14th March 2004.

Start the New Season in true Great Western Branch Line Style

Join us for 46 miles of Auto Train travel with small prairie 5542 just as it would have been in the 1930s or 40s. The rare chance to recreate the full Great Western Railway Auto Train experience over the entire length of the West Somerset Railway.

The Day begins at Bishops Lydeard station at 10.30 for the trip to Norton Fitzwarren, thence to Minehead, and returns to Bishops Lydeard by about 4.pm.

Proposed extras include Photo stops, Run Pasts, and some ‘Non Stop’ Running.

There should also be plenty of opportunities to visit the Loco Footplate and Auto Driving Cab at station stops.

Cost for the Full Day Trip is just £8

Optional Hot Pasty + Tea / Coffee (details to be confirmed)

For Bookings or Enquiries phone 01823 257635(Answerphone) or visit www.loco5542.co.uk .

Hurry, space is limited to 60 places.

E-mail chairman5542ltd@aol.com to make a reservation.



The next New Volunteers’ Day – when prospective new recruits have an opportunity to visit the Railway for a day to learn more about what is involved in volunteering on the WSR and meet key personnel – will be held on Sunday 18 April, starting at Bishops Lydeard at 11am. A warm welcome is assured. Please contact us if you would like to come, would like more details, or would like to know more about what is involved.


You can join us at any time of year, if you would like to know more please write to: The Volunteer Co-ordinator, The Railway Station, Bishops Lydeard, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 3BX, visit www.wsra.org.uk, e-mail the West Somerset Railway Association or Tel: 01823 433856.


Visiting Locos

The visitors at present are:

80136 BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T which is on the line for a long stay.

5553 ex GW 4575 Class 2-6-2T from Waterman Railways - is currently at Tysley for maintenance but will return shortly.


Resident Locos

The lines resident steam locos currently operational are:

5542 ex GW 2-6-2T small prairie

6412 ex GW 0-6-0PT -back "home" for the early part of the year, including some of the February Half Term services and the Spring Steam Gala.

7820 Dinmore Manor ex GW Manor Class 4-6-0.


The creation of a small-boilered "Mogul", a locomotive designed by the Great Western Railway but never built, continues to make progress with entry into service planned this year.  Still no news on whether it will be 5193 or 9351 though!  Good progress is also being made with the S&D 2-8-0, 53808/88 which is also in the works at Minehead.  Work is also progressing on 34046 Braunton at the WSRA's works at Williton, her boiler has recently arrived back from Pridham's.


The sheds at both Minehead and Williton will be open during the Spring Steam Gala so you will be able to see progress on these locos for yourselves, details of opening times etc. on www.wsr.org.uk .


The frames of ex GWR 2-8-0 3850 have now been moved to Tysley to be reunited with the boiler, the plan is for 3850 to return to the WSR when restoration is completed.

Large prairie 4160 is now away at Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway for overhaul,  return to the WSR is expected to be in about 15 months.  7828 Odney Manor is at Minehead, she is at present up for sale by her owner and it is believed that the WSR has made an offer. Small prairie 4561 is on display in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard while she awaits her turn in Williton Works.

Diesel Locos

The line's resident operational mainline diesel locos are:

Class 52 D1010 Western Campaigner

Class 35 Hymek D7017

Class 25 D7523 / 25 173

Class 33 D6566 / 33 048

Class 14 D9526

The other resident Hymek, D7018, is undergoing a major overhaul at Williton.


Work in Progress

During the "close season" work is under way to provide a crossover in the bay platform at Minehead to enable locos to run round saving the need for shunt releasing at busy times.  The railway is also installing their own cabling for the Electric Key Token block between Minehead and Blue Anchor which will replace the BT lines used at present.  There will be an intermediate instrument at Dunster which will aid working in and out of the Permanent Way yard there.  Following on from this EKT block will replace Train Staff and Ticket on the Blue Anchor to Williton section.  There are photos of the progress on www.wsr.org.uk .


This Month's Photos...

...are of this winter's activity on the West Somerset.  The first is of 7820 "Dinmore Manor" with Santa Special and Autotrailer 178 (propelled by 5542) at Crowcombe Heathfield.

7820 and autotrailer 178 at Crowcombe


Next is 5542 with the autotrailer at Minehead, simmering in the December sunshine.

5542 at Minehead


A little later 5542 was seen again enjoying the sunshine at Doniford Beach Halt

5542 at Doniford


The season started in February with services between Minehead and Williton, on 15 February they were worked by the WSRA's ex GWR 0-60PT 6412 seen here running round at Williton passing the DEPG's depot with D9526, D6566 and the two Hymeks visible.

6412 and diesels at Williton


Another view of 6412 running round, this time with the WSRA's workshop in the background with the Lynton & Barnstaple's diesel loco, a steam roller and West Country Braunton's smokebox on view.

6412 running round at Williton


One of the main developments on the line over the 2004 "shut down" is the installation of a crossover in the bay platform at Minehead to enable locos to run round thus saving shunt release movements. Here the S&T gang are installing bases for the ground frame and rodding etc.

Work on the new crossover at Minehead


These photos and many more can be seen on WSR 2003 and WSR 2004.

Note: you need to be connected to the Internet to view these photos. 


West Somerset Railway Association

Area Group Meetings:

Taunton Group:

In 2004, meetings will be held on the first MONDAY of the month (July & August excepted) at the usual venue – the Great Western Staff Association Club (at the north east corner of Taunton station) – starting at 7.45pm.


1 March: "The Road to the Isles" - Bernard Mills

5 April: "The Atlantic Enigma" - Roger Hennessey

3 May: Visit to the BRISTOL HARBOUR RAILWAY & INDUSTRIAL MUSEUM – at 5pm [Joint visit with WSRA Bristol Group and GWS Taunton Group]


For the full programme for 2004 see West Somerset Railway Association, for further details e-mail



Bristol Group:

The Bristol group meets on the last Tuesday of the month between September and April at the BAWA, Southmead Road, Filton, Bristol starting at 7.30pm for 7.45pm:-


30 March: Members evening - slides, quiz and photographic competition.

27 April: "Railway Horses, Railway Art" - Ian Cryer

25 May: “Diesel Railcars” - Stuart Smith


For the full programme for 2004 see West Somerset Railway Association, for further details email.


Events for 2004

The next big event is the Spring Steam Gala on March 25 - 28, after that there is the Spring Diesel Gala on 7 - 9 May.


The full programme for the year is now available on Stop Press, now you can plan ahead to get to all of the West Somerset's great events!



Groups on the line which would welcome support include:

5542 Limited
Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

Diesel & Electric Preservation Group
Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd
4160 Limited

Friends of Minehead Station
Friends of Blue Anchor Railway Museum

West Somerset Steam Railway Trust - icoleby@tiscali.co.uk

Telephone the West Somerset Railway on 01643 704996 for contact details of these groups.


WSR Links:

West Somerset Railway - an unofficial site full of information and photos of the West Somerset

West Somerset Railway Association - the Association is the main support group on the line.

The Official West Somerset Railway Web Site - for trains times and fares etc.

West Somerset Railway, heritage steam and diesel trains - pages of photos of the WSR.

Diesel & Electric Preservation Group Ltd (DEPG) - the main diesel group on the line

West Somerset Express Archive

wizzer.me.uk is a new site about the West Somerset Railway by a fellow volunteer, Jon Tooke. He often finds odd places to take photos from and even odder things to take them of so check it as it grows!


The next issue is due 27 March 2004.





© 2004 Steve Huddy.  This newsletter is independent of, and is not officially supported by, the West Somerset Railway plc or any of the affiliated organisations, unless specifically mentioned in the appropriate article. All information is believed correct but neither the publisher nor the Railway can be held responsible for any errors.