After two very successful working weekends, members of the track gang were back on site on Sunday and with no slackening of pace were able to lay another three track panels - approximately 180 feet of track on the Sunday.
 
Building on the excellent preparation work from the previous weekend when the majority of the F27 concrete sleepers had been laid out, correctly spaced and aligned, the 10-12 members on site were able to position the rail, cut and drill where required and clip into place three more panels.  A dry but slightly chilly day provided excellent working conditions. The estimate now  is that another three panels should bring the line very close to the wooden electricity pole in the photograph and then another five panels will bring the extension within feet of the infill fence.
 
The track gang will be continuing laying rail throughout December with the target of having all the rail in place by late December / early January. A great deal of work will then be required to level and ballast the running line and install fencing with an Easter opening as the planned target opening day for the extension. 
 
Good progress over the last few months with the track laying together with some tree clearance has resulted in an opening out of the formation and there are now fabulous views over the Somerset countryside which in a few months time passengers will be able to enjoy from the train.
 
There is still a great deal to do to prepare the extension for an Easter opening. A third working weekend is being proposed for January with the focus on jacking and packing the line to ensure its suitable for the operation of passenger trains. A date and further details will be posted on the website once a date is confirmed. If you'd like to get involved and return another small part of this iconic line to operational use, please watch for an update and further details in the coming weeks.
 
From an operating perspective, the Board and Trust are still discussing various proposals for the operations of trains up to the infill.  A number of options including a run round loop and a small halt allowing passengers to alight have been suggested. However at this time no final decision has been made.

The second working weekend came to a close on Sunday evening with good progress made on the extension. Those regular volunteers on site also made some new friends and introduced them to the railway's aims and future aspirations and hopefully we will see them here again in the very near future.

The first of the two working weekends planned by the Track Gang got off to a great start with excellent progress made despite some variable weather over the two days. The intention behind the two working weekends was to try and make some rapid progress on completing the track laying for the extension.

The Signalling Team have completed the first distinctive S&DJR twin rail signal to be built since the 1890s.

The signal is based on the Evercreech Junction North down branch fixed distant.

The heavy L&SWR spectacle casting came from the Moorewood Sidings up distant - a favourite prop in Ivo Peter's photography, in commemoration of which, we have painted the signal exactly as it appeared in 1962. 

Sunday at the station saw a moving dedication to the railwaymen who worked the old Somerset and Dorset Railway with the dedication of a memorial bench to the late Ian Bunnett, Fireman of Bath Green Park some of whose ashes were scattered over his beloved S&D through the firebox and chimney of Andy Chapman's resident Sentinel Joyce last year. 

 

Thanks to the eagle eyes of volunteer Sean Dudden, who spotted the bits off an original S&D bench that once graced the platform at Bath Green park station, the Heritage Trust was able to get identical castings of the ends from a Bristol foundry using redundant railway chairs that once held the wooden sleepers in place. 

The making up and painting of the wooden seat panels was done by young volunteers Jack Young, Will Taylor, Will Ramsey with the help of Sean and Bob Freeman in the station workshop in time for the day’s ceremony.

Former Bath Green Park Fireman Roy Larcombe cut the ribbon on the bench with the help of Ian Bunnett’s daughter Sue. Ian's wife Jan and his brother were also there. Derek Coles made a moving introduction thanking Ian Bunnett’s wife and family for starting the process and Heritage Railway Trustee John Baxter thanked Sean Dudden for getting the first bench ready in time.  Ian's bench represents the start of a number of similar memorial benches that will be placed at the station over the next few months with suitable plaques attached.  

Station volunteer Sean Dudden was pleased with the resulting benches. He said

“I found the old bench ends but didn’t realise they would turn out so well.

I am pleased we now have a lasting memorial at the station dedicated to Ian and look forward to others in due course as we remember the old Somerset and Dorset Railway Bath Green Park men.

Visitors can see the benches in situ at the next events at the station.

The next events at the Midsomer Norton Station  are the B&NES Heritage weekend on September 9th and 10th when the station and Museum will be open. September 16th and 17th is a vintage 50s weekend with train trips. 

 

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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