On Summer Saturdays in the 1950’s and 60’s one of the attractions that brought railway enthusiasts of all ages to Taunton station, was the flow of holiday trains heading for resorts in the South West. Further north in Somerset, the special station for excursion trains at Locking Road in Weston-super-Mare was being worked to capacity. Many of these services originated in London but there was also another stream of trains arriving from the Midlands and North of England or wending their way around the Severn coast from South Wales. Until the end of the steam age there was no predicting with any certainty, what might appear at the head of the holiday trains which added to the interest. Another interest at Taunton was the trains which arrived and were then divided into portions for onward journeys to Minehead or to Barnstaple and Ilfracombe.
Not that cross country trains were purely a summer phenomenon. Taunton saw regular services running from Plymouth to Merseyside via the Severn Tunnel and the Welsh borders, plus the “Devonian” linking Bradford with Torbay via Derby, Birmingham and Bristol and the “Cornishman” using former Great Western routes to link Wolverhampton and the Duchy.
On the eastern side of the county the “Pines Express” between Manchester and Bournemouth was a daily feature of the Somerset and Dorset line, which was worked to capacity and beyond in the holiday season. The S&D also saw a holiday Saturday train that ran between Exmouth and Cleethorpes via Birmingham as an outstanding endurance test for a passenger making the whole trip. Elsewhere there was a regular train on the Southern Railway (later Region) between Brighton and Plymouth and the Great Central route was used by a daily service between Newcastle and Bournemouth. In earlier days there was a Great Central/Great Western service which linked York and Barry via Cheltenham and Gloucester. And the “North Country Continental” was an institution that ran for years between Manchester and Harwich. There were too many other examples to list here.
So why not join us for a day or more between September 27th and 30th as the West Somerset recalls those cross country steam trains of the past? Rover tickets for the event can be purchased at discounted prices now on this website or via 01643 704996 and once again we’ll offer a special £2 fare for young persons on Sunday September 30th.
Multiple Events are in this category
Prices for this event could vary from day to day, click the links above to see prices for your chosen date.
British Railways Southern Region Light Pacific 34046 “Braunton”
British Railways (Western Region) 7820 “Dinmore Manor” and 7822 “Foxcote Manor”
USTAC S160 6046
Our other visiting locomotives will be announced in due course, our Special Events Planning Team is currently working on the line up for you.
Thanks go to locomotive owners and other heritage railways for making their locomotives available to us for hire.
Full details of locomotive workings will be found in the Souvenir Gala Programme which can be ordered in advance now or bought on the day at WSR stations (except Doniford Halt)
Home Fleet Locomotives
Great Western Railway “Modified Hall” 6960 “Raveningham Hall”
British Railways (Western Region) 7828 “Odney Manor” (subject to completion of overhaul)
Somerset and Dorset Railway Class 7F 53808
Andrew Barclay saddle tank 1219
Other attractions during the event
Other attractions during the event include:-
The “Quantock Belle” dining car train will offer breakfasts, lunches and teas on selected services during the event. More details and advanced bookings for breakfasts to follow..
The Hawksworth Inspection Saloon attached as an observation car on selected services (supplementary fare payable)
Minehead Workshops being partially open on Saturday and Sunday
The Depot and Heritage Centre of the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group at Williton open on all four days.
Railways Museums open at Bishops Lydeard, Washford and Blue Anchor.
The Club Room of the Taunton Model Railway Group at Bishops Lydeard open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Heritage Freight Train.
Planned chimney first running of all locomotives on Saturday and Sunday with Minehead turntable and Norton Fitzwarren turntable in use. Turning may be possible on Thursday and Friday but will be confirmed at a later date.
Licensed buffet cars on most trains plus cafes at Bishops Lydeard and Minehead and refreshments available at stations except Doniford Halt.
Model Railway Sale at Watchet station on Saturday October 6th 10.00 to 15.00
Model railway of Stogumber station in action at Stogumber station
Book signing by Richard Derry at Bishops Lydeard station (details to be confirmed)