Special events in 2003:
Special events have their own pages: Cross Country Weekend, Spring Steam Gala 2003, Teddy Bear's Picnic, Steam Fayre and Rally 2003, CAMRA 2003, Autumn Steam Gala 2003 and the Great Trains Extravaganza. There is also a separate page for Diesel Running Days which includes the Swindon Heritage Diesel Gala. This page has photos of the "everyday" scene on the West Somerset. There are also a pages for "ordinary" days , Saturday, 26 July 2003 and 7 December 2003
5542 needed to work up to Bishops Lydeard on Sunday 23 March at the same time as the Class 117 DMU came up ECS so the obvious thing was for them run together. The first view of them taken through the bridge as they approached Bishops Lydeard.
The next of them is as 5542 ran into Platform 2 at Bishops Lydeard station.
A last shot as they passed me.
The reason for 5542 being needed at Bishops Lydeard was that it was going to work a special for all those involved in getting it "Returned to Steam", a 23 year labour of love for many. The special is seen here running into to Blue Anchor.
A second view of the special as it ran into to the station.
As part of the preparations for the next weekend's Gala D7523 hauled the S&T Department's BG back from Bishops Lydeard to Williton, in this photo they were waiting near the signal box before departure.
Another view of the pair before their short trip.
Ex GWR 57xx 0-6-0PT 5764 from the Severn Valley Railway was the first of our visitors for the Spring Steam Gala to arrive and is seen in the loco compound at Bishops Lydeard.
An unusual one, to keep the lineside in trim every year these rail/road flails visit the line to "mow" the banks and so reduce both fire risk and the dreaded leaves on the line. They are seen here stabled at Williton.
Another bit of out of season maintenance work, relaid track awaiting ballasting at Bishops Lydeard.
D7523 and D3462 stood at Bishops Lydeard with a short (very short!) permanent way train.
The Class 25 had more interesting duties the next day, due to problems with the scheduled DMU it worked the diesel diagram on Sunday 16 March, it is seen here awaiting the off with the first train of the day from Bishops Lydeard.
Later in the morning D7523 had run round at Minehead prior to removing one of the coaches - a BG in addition to a BSK was slightly superfluous.
Lorna Doone, the specially fitted disabled carriage, is on her way to the sidings. All the WSR's brakes have been adapted for wheelchair access so facilities were still available.
D7523 setting back on to its train at Minehead, shunting over.
The June meeting of the WSRA's Taunton Group was a talk on the restoration of 5542 at Bishops Lydeard followed by trip to Crowcombe Heathfield and back behind her.
The first two shots are of her on display outside the meeting room, complete with Class A head code. It was difficult to link the loco outside with the slides of her at Barry shown inside, full marks to 5542 Ltd on their 23 year labour.
When the slides were finished it was across to Platform 2 to join the special train, seen waiting for us here.
The light was starting to go by the time we'd got to Crowcombe Heathfield but here she is boiler first now, a country branch line engine at a country branch line station. By an extraordinary coincidence 5542 had covered 5542 miles in service on the WSR at this point!!!
A last view of the evening a 5542 simmers in the twilight surrounded by admirers.
The following Saturday 5542 returned to Bishops Lydeard light engine in the company of D1010 Western Campaigner which was working the Diesel Running Day. Just before I switched my camera on a roe deer ran across the line near enough where D1010 is in this shot, there's more than trains to see on the West Somerset!
Another view of the pair as they emerged under the bridge.
Later in the day D1010 was working the Fish and Chips special from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead and back. There are more photos of the weekend on Diesel Days.
Problems during the Sunday led to D6566 being sent from Bishops Lydeard to Williton for "Thunderbird" duties via piloting 4160 on the Quantock Belle dining train, the pair are seen here at Williton. Photo by Jon Tooke
The cause of the problem was that one of 5542's pistons cracked while in traffic, she limped to Williton where she was declared a failure. Fortunately due to careful driving when it was realised there was a problem other damage was minimal and she was back in traffic in 2 weeks or so.
At the start of July was the Thomas weekend, during which this gathering of members of the Topica e-mail discussion group happened to be working the same train - l to r Jon Tooke (guard), Rodney Greenway (TTI), me (Steve Huddy, TTI and trainee guard), Dick Wood (driver). You can join us on the Topica group via the form at the bottom of the page or as volunteers on the WSR - see details on Volunteers or visit West Somerset Railway Association.
Ex GW 2-8-0T 5224 had been away at Barrow Hill's Great Western event, returning the following Saturday morning on a low loader. First pic is of it on the lorry with the first bit of linking track in place.
The next one shows the chains needed to hold her bulk on to the truck.
The lorry's crew making progress with the link track.
A close up of how the final connection to the normal track is made. I didn't have time to watch the rest of the operation as I was on duty on the railway so haven't a photo of the actual unload, which was done fairly quickly.
The last Saturday in July was wet but busy, I've put some views of the day on a special page at Saturday, 26 July 2003.
2 August 2003 was small prairie 5542's 75th anniversary of entering service with the Great Western Railway, she was adorned with an appropriate headboard before entering the days service at Minehead.
A view of 5542's bunker top without the small fender later added to protect the tail lamp from the coal - it comes and goes from 5542 so keep watch on these pages for the next time I see her with it!
Two views comparing the Swindon front ends of 5542 and 7820 Dinmore Manor at Minehead loco.
The West Somerset is a Heritage Railway but we still use some modern equipment, including a power shovel for coaling the locos, such as 7820 seen here at Minehead.
BR Standard 2-6-4T 80136 stands gleaming in the sun at Minehead.
Our main visiting loco this summer is 4936 Kinlet Hall seen here arriving at Williton with a down train.
The first weekend of August, the 2nd. and 3rd., saw the Steam Fayre and Vintage Vehicle Rally at Bishops Lydeard which has its own page.
The following weekend saw the Swindon Heritage Diesel Gala which is featured on Diesel Days, here is D9526 at Stogumber with a demonstration goods.
D6566 at Bishops Lydeard with a set of stock on the Norton line. Photo by Jon Tooke
The next day saw 4936 Kinlet Hall taking water at Bishops Lydeard prior to working the 16.05 to Minehead.
She then ran through the station before coming back onto her stock.
Here she is, back onto her train, nearly ready for the off.
A last view of her for the day, working an up train at Williton.
In the evening I was on the Quantock Belle dining train which stopped at Blue Anchor to enable the diners to finish their meal with some lovely sea views - and the sunset. Click on the thumbnail for a page of views of the sunset.
On 29 August the BBC were filming a scene for a period drama at Williton station, the following day these three carriages from the Vintage Carriage Trust (based on the Keighly & Worth Valley Railway in Yorkshire) were at Williton having appeared in the filming.
The outer two were L&NWR liveried composites with central luggage compartments. The centre vehicle was a brake composite with no identification on this side, see the next photo for the other side. The guards lookout is very noticeable in this view of it.
On this side it was lettered S&DJR, the old Somerset and Dorset, it is, however, ex Great Northern Railway no. 589 of 1888. Photo by Jon Tooke
This carriage was arranged 2 firsts, luggage, 2 thirds and is ex Midland Railway no. 358 of 1886 . Photo by Jon Tooke
On this side (the side that was filmed) it carries an S&DJR coat of arms, it is arranged third, first, luggage, first, third, one of the firsts was originally second class. It is ex Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway no. 176 of 1876. Photo by Jon Tooke
The Somerset & Dorset coat of arms on the carriage in the above photo. Photo by Jon Tooke
The L&NWR coat of arms on the other end carriage. Photo by Jon Tooke
Further details of these carriages can be found on the Vintage Carriages Trust website.
Possibly confusingly for passengers, one of the Lessborough station name boards was still in situ after the filming. Photo by Jon Tooke
Before and after: across the yard Class 08 D3462 was in the early stages of a well deserved overhaul while Class 14 D9526 shows her after overhaul shine.
BR Standard 4MT tank 80136 arriving at Blue Anchor with an up train viewed through the windscreen of a dmu on a down train.
GW 2-8-0T 5224 arriving at Williton with a Minehead to Bishops Lydeard train.
80136 arrives at Williton with a Minehead train while 5224 waits with its up train.
Two views of 7820 Dinmore Manor arriving at Blue Anchor with a wedding special as the shadows lengthened on Saturday 6 September.
The following weekend there was the Somerset CAMRA Beer Festival on Minehead station, 5542 (seen here) worked her 75th. Anniversary Special and there was a through excursion from Paddington hauled by an EWS Class 66. So much that there is a special page of photos at CAMRA 2003.
...started with the Autumn Steam Gala 2003 which has its own page.
It continued with the Great Trains Extravaganza with a wide variety of steam and diesel locos in action on the line.
On Sunday 7 December 03 besides the "normal" Santa Specials there was a charter consisting of small prairie 5542 and auto trailer 178, 7 December 2003 has a few photos of the day.
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This site was last updated 15-07-2012
Photos not otherwise credited are ©2001-2003 S G J Huddy. Other photos are included with permission of the copyright holders.