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.
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust has now reached a historic milestone of laying the final lengths of rail and sleepers to the base of the in-filled cutting, one mile South of Midsomer Norton Station. After many weekends of hard work, the Track Laying team moved the final 60ft rails into place over the weekend of the 28th October onto the original railway trackbed. The Trust are aiming to open the final part of their southward extension in Spring 2019, which will see a full mile of former Somerset & Dorset Railway being brought back into use.
The task is not yet complete with more hard work required to drop over 400 tons of ballast and jack & pack the track before passenger trains can run on the line. The Trust are appealing for donations to their “£20 for a Ton’ fund-raising campaign, where the public can make donations towards the purchase of the ballast required. Donations can be made in person at the station, or via the Trust’s website. All persons donating are encouraged to complete a Gift Aid form to make their donation go even further. www.sdjr.co.uk/fundraising
Thank you for your continued support.
Our Santa season at the railway has been a big success and we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the visitors and their families who came to see us.
This is the first season that Santa and his Elves traveled on the trains and, by common consent, this proved even more popular than having his grotto in one of our static carriages.
We must also extend our thanks to all our volunteers who have worked so hard to make these three Sundays such a success and thanks of course to Santa and his Elves for finding the time in their busy schedule to visit us.
No event can run without a hitch and we are grateful for the constructive comments from our visitors about their experience of their visit. Our planning for the 2019 event gets underway early in the New Year. The lessons we have learned from this year’s event will be taken into account so that we can build on what has been achieved for next year.
One obvious area will be heating in the carriages. The carriages we have at the railway can be upgraded to provide steam heating but, being an elderly design, the necessary parts are not easy to come by. Not only that, but our gallant little steam engine Joyce was only expected to shunt wagons in its working days, so no provision for steam heating was ever required.
Our ever resourceful engineering team are working on a solution to this limitation and we hope to be able to offer nice warm carriages next year.
During the year we put on a variety of events and we would like to do even more. Consequently we need to increase the numbers in our volunteer teams. So, if the idea of helping out at the railway appeals to you, but you are not so keen on the engineering, restoration and maintenance side of things, there is plenty to be done as a member of our events planning, publicity and customer facing teams. Pop into the station and have a chat with us. You will be most welcome.
In the meantime we send you all our best wishes for Christmas and The New Year
For several months now the Trust have been working with a consultancy company – Context Logic - on the preparation of a combined Outline Planning Application and Vision document which sets out the Heritage Trusts ambitions to both develop the Midsomer Norton station site and also the ambition to extend the line.
Trustees and Company Directors receiving a final briefing on the OPA and deciding to submit the application.
The Trust and Company are in agreement that in order to expand both the facilities at Midsomer Norton and the expansion of the running line that we must embrace new business opportunities and also expand those currently open at the station. Amongst the proposals that the Trust have included in the OPA are an improved café/bar, business and retails units and a small number of apartments for volunteer / tourist use. The Trust is committed to improving the facilities on site to provide an enhanced visitor experience and also provide social, economic, health and connectivity benefits to Midsomer Norton and the surrounding communities.
The OPA also includes planning for a new carriage and locomotive maintenance shed which will provide better workshops and training facilities. The Trust is exploring the commercial use of these premises and the option to create a number of employment opportunities in the town.
The Trust is very keen to maintain the heritage value of the unique station site at Midsomer Norton and to this end the development work undertaken at the site will be in keeping with the buildings already in situ.
At a planning meeting on the 3rdNovember, Trustees and Company Directors voted unanimously for the outline planning application to be submitted to BANES planning department. The OPA will –once granted – permit the Trust to undertake planned development and building work over the coming years.
At the same time as the OPA was submitted, a major stakeholder engagement exercise commenced with key Politicians and Financial people being informed of the plan and further details provided to them. To date, we have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, together with offers of assistance and support – both political and financial - to assist the Trust with making these plans a reality.
Further details will be provided at a number of staff briefings being arranged for volunteers. Further website updates to follow.
The Vision / OPA document – produced by Context Logic.