West Somerset Railway Association Station Jottings

What lovely weather we have had these last couple of months but for most of us it has been too hot we would like it just a little cooler! The passengers on the trains do so, too, as the carriages get really hot in high temperatures.

Most events have gone off as they should have done even if the Antiques Road Show was a trifle damp in the morning. The two trips out from Bishops Lydeard with the Flying Scotsman went well and were fully booked as are the September trains but I believe that some trains with this loco up front may run in the evening during the early part of September. To find out more ring: 01643 704996.

Unfortunately, Friday 29th June was not a good day for the railway as I understand that three of the steam locos for the trains that day failed; two on preparation for the day and one with a broken wheel spring whilst in service at Williton and diesels had to substitute for them.

Whilst I am talking of events, unfortunately, I have to inform you that the Railway Chairman John Irven has resigned for family reasons and that Ian Colby the Vice-Chairman has stepped into the breach until a new Chairman can be found. Ian has been associated with the railway almost from its inception and has written a couple of books on the West Somerset Railway. He was appointed to the board of directors early last year. Steve Williams has also resigned from the board of directors. Steve initiated the 3 and 10-year business plans, set up various groups to coordinate railway activities, worked with the Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane Council concerning restoring the link between Bishops Lydeard and the national rail network at Taunton. This is included in part of the GWR franchise, which is due for renewal in 2018. 

And talking of the franchise, the GWR are testing the new replacements of the High Speed trains that have graced the metals of the South West for over thirty years. The new units have reached Penzance, where a new maintenance depot is being constructed to service these and Cross Country trains in the future. The inception of the High Speed train by the then British Railways was a great leap of faith and saw Inter City rail travel revolutionised. These units will now form smaller trains when they come out of service and there is even talk of them forming postal trains for the future because of their speed, so their use is not dead yet. 

An ambition of mine is to travel from Kings Cross, London to Aberdeen in Scotland on a train called the Midday Scot and return to the South West from Aberdeen to Penzance using High Speed trains before they are relegated to lesser duties. We will see and if I go I will give you an update afterwards. 

For the Autumn Gala, we have a standard 3 class loco coming called Camelot. Rumour has it that the Blue King from Didcot will also be about at some stage and I think the strawberry and cream coaches that are in use we are up to a rake of five at present and could be six by the Gala. They could play a prominent part with the locos to make it a really special event. The event takes place over the weekend of 5th – 8th October and before that there is a mixed traction weekend on the 2nd & 3rd September.

But before all this can happen locos have to undergo an overhaul, every ten years, as I said in my last article and one undergoing just such an overhaul is 9351 at Minehead. It is or has just been re-wheeled i.e. uniting the wheels with frames. When the boiler comes back from Crewe, where it is being repaired, it will be set into the frames for pipework fitting and eventual steam.

Finally, a reminder that the WSRA Steam Rally takes place at Norton Fitzwarren over the weekend of the 5th & 6th August.

Ian Aldridge

Railway Correspondent

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Bishops Lydeard
Bishops Lydeard
Bishops Lydeard