The history of our railway starts with plans for a railway between Highbridge and Glastonbury. These date from June 1852 with an Act for the Somerset Central Railway. This railway opened in August 1854, as a Broad Gauge line, operated by the Bristol & Exeter Railway. Extensions to Burnham on Sea (May 1858) and Wells (March 1859) extended its influence.

Another short line, the Dorset Central was opened in November 1860 and was operated by the London & South Western Railway. This line connected Blandford Forum with Wimborne.

Both companies saw an amalgamation as being of interest and, to that end, they each extended their route. The Dorset Central opened between Templecombe and Cole in February 1862, as did the Somerset Central’s extension from Glastonbury to Cole. This latter extension had to be dual gauge, to facilitate through services. 

As well as providing standard gauge track, the Somerset Central also acquired its own rolling stock and used this to operate trains from Burnham through to Templecombe.

The two Companies amalgamated in September 1862 to become the Somerset & Dorset Railway. The missing section, between Templecombe and Blandford was opened in August 1863.

The original drive, to open a line between the Bristol and English Channels, was not sufficiently financially rewarding, so the directors of the new company looked for other sources of potential income.

This drew them to the stone and coal being won in and around Mendip, with the added attraction of the newly arrived Midland Railway, in Bath.

In remarkably short time, a new line was forged from Evercreech (now Junction) over the Mendips to Bath and opened in July 1874, one month after trains reached a new station on the south coast, Bournemouth West. 

The finances of the Company were depleted and they cast around for help. This came in the form of a joint approach by the Midland and the London & South Western Railways, culminating in a 999 years lease from November 1875. Thus the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway came into being, confirmed by an Act of Parliament dated 13th July 1876.

The Bath Extension was originally single line. It had a ruling gradient of 1 in 50, to get it up and over the Mendip Hills. Stations were also often on a gradient, but not as severe. Midsomer Norton Station was built on a 1 in 300 gradient with a passing loop and three sidings. The line from the station towards Chilcompton was at a 1 in 53 gradient  up to and through the tunnel, and at a 1 in 50 gradient down towards Radstock.

The line was eventually doubled through Midsomer Norton in 1886. The station was re-named Midsomer Norton & Welton in October 1898 and sidings into Norton Hill Colliery were added in 1890.

A further change of name to Midsomer Norton Upper took place in September 1949, with a final change in September 1950 to Midsomer Norton South. 

The Station first won the Best Kept Station award in 1913 and was a regular winner from 1953 to 1960.

Opening Times

Sundays 10.00 to 16.00 for viewing, museum, wartime pillbox, buffet coach, gift shop and second-hand bookshop. 
 
Mondays, but for viewing only, rather than full facilities, shop and museum open from 13.00 to 16.00. Buffet coach open from 10:00 until 15:00.

Contact

Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust
Midsomer Norton Station
Silver Street
Midsomer Norton
BA3 2EY

01761 411 221
Phones are manned when the shop is open.

Location

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