June 9th will mark the 40th Anniversary of the West Somerset Railway re-opening the section of line through the Quantock Hills between Stogumber and Bishops Lydeard for timetabled passenger trains, becoming England’s longest “heritage railway” in the process.
Over the weekend of June 8th and 9th 2019 we will be holding a special Anniversary Weekend to mark this historic occasion. Normal fares will apply so why not come along and celebrate with us?
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.
EVENING CELEBRATION SERVICE
During the West Somerset Railway 40th Anniversary event, the West Somerset Railway will hold an evening celebration.
It is planned for the evening service to depart Bishops Lydeard at 19 15 heading to Minehead. It will be hauled by both 'Odney Manor' and 'Bradley Manor'.
This double headed service will be one not to be missed, and will carry up to 14 coaches!
If you hold a valid Rover ticket for the event, there will be an additional charge for this service.
A fish and chip ticket will also be available for those that wish to dine on the evening excursion.
Special Dietary Options are available on this service, however we ask that you inform us of requirements at the time of booking.
We are able to offer alternatives which are listed below:
- Fish and Chips cooked in Gluten Free Batter
- Vegetarian Option - Veggie Burger and Chips
To book tickets for this special service please click here
THE FEATURED STEAM LOCOMOTIVES WILL BE
Great Western Railway 57xx pannier tank 7752. The 64xx panniers were primarily intended for passenger trains but the 57xx were powerful maids of all work and very powerful for their size. 7752 is “guesting” on the WSR for the 2019 from its normal base at Tyseley in Bitrmingham.
Great Western Railway “78xx 7802 “Bradley Manor” and British Railways 78xx 7828 “Odney Manor”. The “Manors” are the ideal motive power for the modern day West Somerset Railway. 7802 was built at Swindon in 1938 and 7828 was one of a further batch dating from 1950. “Bradley” is normally at home on the Severn Valley Railway.
Somerset and Dorset 7F 2-8-0 53808. This big freight engine had come to the Railway with its owning group the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust and in 1979 it was being restored at Washford. Since entering traffic in 1987 after the work was completed at Minehead it has been a popular performer on the WSR. During the weekend it will be on static display at the Trust’s home at Washford and will be joined by the small tank engine 1219 “Caledonia Works” which will be giving shunting demonstrations.
TWO DIESEL LOCOMOTIVES WILL BE IN ACTION.
One loco that was active on that day, two generations ago, and is still very much part of the WSR was “Hymek” diesel hydraulic D7017, owned by the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group who were then becoming established at Williton and whose current facilities there will be worth visiting over the weekend. “Hymeks” were a familiar sight and sound with holiday trains to Minehead from 1963 to 1970.
The other will be Class 37 D6948, guesting from the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway. The Class 37's were a feature of the West Somerset Railway in the 1990's when they worked stone trains for Minehead Sea Defence Works. Their distinctive "growling" became a familiar sound in the evenings in the Quantock Hills as they climbed to Crowcombe Heathfield.
STEAM ENGINES UNDER RESTORATION AND WILLITON DIESEL DEPOT
A trio of steam engines were purchased by the West Somerset Railway Association for future use on the line, numbers 4561, 5521 and 5542. Today numbers 5521 and 5542 are privately owned and not based on the line, although both have visited, whilst 4561 is owned by the WSRA and is being overhauled at Williton courtesy of funds raised by the Association’s Locomotive Restoration Fund. Progress can be speeded along by donations to the Restoration Fund. During the weekend it will be possible to visit the Restoration Workshops to see work carried out on 4561 and what is to be done. Approaching the end of its overhaul is GWR designed “Mogul” 9351 which is due to return to WSR service in the summer. Funding for the completion of 9351 has been raised by the WSRA who have also recently funded provision recreations of original station nameboards for Dunster and Stogumber stations amongst other work.
Also at Williton it will be possible to visit the Depot and Heritage Centre of the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group who maintain and operate a fleet of “first generation” diesel locomotives dating from the 1960’s. Admission to the Depot and Heritage Centre is by donation.
Museums have been established at Bishops Lydeard, Blue Anchor and Washford stations. The first two are part of the work of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust whose remit is interpreting the history and assisting the maintenance of historical artefacts from the WSR’s history. The WSSRT also has a “Heritage Carriages Project” which is restoring historic Great Western Railway vehicles. Their Edwardian sleeping car can be seen in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard and number 6705, which will enter traffic shortly, will be on display at Williton. The Washford Museum is part of the work of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust, dedicated to the memory of the now lost S&D. They too have a historic carriage restoration project and number 4, dating from 1886 will be on display.
Younger WSR volunteers will be operating the “Gauge Junction” model railway on the upper floor of the Museum at Bishops Lydeard. Also at Bishops Lydeard it will be possible to visit the club room of the Taunton Model Railway Group.
EATING AND DRINKING
There are licensed buffet cars on most WSR trains whilst at Bishops Lydeard it’s a very short walk to the Quantock Brewery, who are brewing a special beer to mark the 40th anniversary. There are cafes at Bishops Lydeard, Williton and Minehead stations (the Turntable Café at Minehead is licensed). Light refreshments are available at all stations except Doniford Halt. Crowcombe Heathfield and Stogumber offer home cooked cakes etc. and visitors to the latter can purchase two recipe books published by the Friends of Stogumber station.
There are shops at Minehead and Bishops Lydeard stations and sales counters at all others except Doniford Halt. Washford specialises in items relating to the old Somerset and Dorset Railway and Dunster sells railway memorabilia and second hand model railway equipment.
SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY BOOK
The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust has funded a book which will be launched at the 40th Anniversary Weekend. Entitled “Tales of the West Somerset Railway” it has 130 pages of memories of people who worked on the line in the early days and is illustrated in colour with pictures from four decades ago. The book is also modestly priced at £8.99.