On Saturday 11th May, the S&DRHT welcomed over 60 people to the station for a special ‘first train’ to run over the new extension. The latest ¼ mile extension now brings the running line to a total of one mile, and just a few yards short of the infilled cutting.
The special day was a thank you to supporters who have donated £100 or more to the extension appeal, and also a thank you to several members of the permanent way team who have helped build the extension over the last few years, in all winds and weathers.
Stephen Lacey – Trust Chairman – welcomed invited guests including a number of ex S&D footplate crews to Midsomer Norton where the special train was ‘topped and tailed’ by the Trust’s two Diesel electric shunters D1120 and D4095
Several journeys up and down the line were made, whilst the guests enjoyed a complimentary packed lunch and views through carriage windows not seen by train passengers for over 50 years.
During the day, a raffle was held which generated over £225, with a number of lucky winners returning home with various bottles of wine, a fine food hamper and a coffee machine!
The glorious spring sun was the perfect backdrop for the Trust to show its guests a number of ongoing projects, such as the Wickham Trolley restoration. The positive response from the guests was extremely gratifying for the Trustees to hear, with many complementing the Trust on its work to date.
The Trust would like to thank all those who have donated to the extension appeals, and its working volunteers who have all helped revive another section of the S&D.
A formal opening of the extension is planned for later in the year, however passenger trains will be operating over the Extension from Saturday 18th May, starting with our ever popular Real Ale Train, tickets for which can be purchased via our website.
As with any railway, whether it’s part of the national rail network or that of a Heritage Railway there is always regular maintenance to be undertaken in order to ensure that the permanent way is in good condition for the coming operating season.
As part of this regular maintenance task, for the second week running members of the ‘track gang’ were carrying out the work of removing all the fishplates at each rail joint, applying grease along the contact points between the fishplates and the rails - to ensure that the rails can expand more easily in hot weather - then putting back the fishplates and tightening up the nuts and bolts.
With the aid of the petrol 2 stroke ‘nut runner’ excellent progress was made in the warm Somerset sunshine and all of the fishplates on approx. 1/3 mile of the running line from the engineers siding to the Hunt Crossing were completed.
The track gang went home, very tired but very pleased after a productive days’ work.
Once this maintenance task is completed, then the next task is likely to be the dropping of more ballast and then the hiring in of a tamper machine to pack the ballast under the sleepers and ensure that the rail head is level. Our ballast appeal is still open for those wishing to donate.
We are always on the lookout for new volunteers who fancy trying their hand at the numerous tasks that there are on a heritage railway. You don’t need any prior experience and don’t have to be super fit. If you would like to get involved or simply find out more then why not come down to the station at Midsomer Norton on a Sunday or Monday and have a look around
Brian Litherland 15th April 2019
Come and join us for for a train ride behind one of our resident diesels. Trains operating between 11.00am to 3.30pm.
Enjoy our gardens and grounds.
Shop, buffet and museum open for your enjoyment.
Tickets Adults 6.00 Children 3.00.
On Monday 4 March 2019 a 3 carriage train was operated on the Somerset & Dorset Railway at Midsomer Norton for the first time in 53 years! This train was operated as part of the preparations for the Diesel Locomotive Gala event that is planned for this coming weekend.
Extension Work – Jacking and Packing!
Another Sunday and another day of steady progress with members of the track gang continuing to ‘jack and pack’ the track on the current extension. The track gang are making good progress with the work to get the remaining ¼ mile extension ready for passenger use in March.
The work involves positioning sight-boards along the running rail and in conjunction with a track gauge incorporating a spirit level, the track is lifted to the desired height using hand operated jacks. The ballast is then packed under the ends of the sleepers using shovels to ensure that when the jacks are then released, the sleepers don’t drop and the track level remains in the desired plain. It’s hard but satisfying work and the track gang members are making good progress and expect to have to drop another 200 tons of ballast before the work is completed.
If you fancy getting involved and helping to rebuild a part of the iconic S & D then please come along and assist. No prior experience is required, ideally you just need some old working clothes and steel toe-capped safety boots. Training and plentiful cups of tea will be supplied.
If the idea of a Sunday wielding a shovel is not your idea or you live too far away, then you can still get involved and assist by donating to our ballast appeal - £ 20 for a ton – please see the fund-raising page.