Midland Railway No. 255 was built, along with 699 others, as a 5 compartment, 3rd Class, 6-wheel coach in the period between 1884 and 1896. Many of the earlier versions were oil lit, but gas lighting was introduced around 1892. Each coach could carry up to 50 passengers (5-a-side seating, knee to knee – quite cosy).

No. 255 was unusual, inasmuch as it was one of eight identical coaches sold to the Brecon & Merthyr Railway in 1920. It retained its Midland Red livery, but with new ownership branding.

This did not last long, as the B&M was amalgamated with the Great Western Railway in 1922 and the coach was rebranded again, being one of 90 B&M carriages taken into GWR stock. The GWR renumbered the coach as 4318, which records tell us was allocated to B&M No. 112. Traces of the GWR number (with the letters B M below) were uncovered, thus proving a true ancestoral line.

As an aside, another of these eight Midland coaches still exists, near Stratford upon Avon, B&M No. 111.

After a few more years service, this coach was declared redundant. Normal practice by the railway companies of the day was to retain the chassis and sell or otherwise dispose of the body. The chassis would be reused, probably with a van body on for stores or the like.

The body of No. 255 was sold around 1930 to become a cafe on the A30 near Exeter at Tedburn St. Mary. A door was cut into one end to allow access and most of the internal partitions were removed, creating an eating area in three compartments and a kitchen in the remaining two compartments.

It stayed there until the mid 1980’s, when it was acquired by filmmaker Andrew Johnston for a garden shed. He managed to rescue it two weeks before demolition. It was seen in his garden not long after he had acquired it and thought it to be Midland. He thought that it may have been from a Welsh railway company, as he had found a pamphlet inside referring to an event in Merthyr.

Approximately 20 years later, a Trust member was in the general area again and he looked to see if he could find the coach body. Eventually he discovered it (The owner had moved it down the garden a bit and built a garage in front of it). To the Trust member’s astonishment he was offered it there and then, as the owner and his wife were moving and the new people did not want it.

After much research and negotiation, it was agreed that it could be brought to Midsomer Norton. At the same time, another Trust member had offered to help with the restoration project, for that was what it was to be. 

A year later they tracked down a suitable Midland Railway 6-wheel chassis and negotiated its acquisition. This was discovered to be from coach number 1753. 

Eventually, after much work on the chassis, the two elements were united and work commenced in earnest on the repair and restoration of the body by the small team that has been drawn to the project.

It is planned to restore it in Midland livery initially, but it could legitimately be in S&D livery, as identical coaches were built for ‘our’ railway.

 

Suspension of Public Services

Suspension of all Public Services                                                                                                                                                                                Updated 26th March 2020.

All public services have been stopped and there is no public access to any of the site. 

 This is going to be a challenging time for all heritage railways as we rely on footfall to keep us running. Your understanding, patience, and co-operation is appreciated and we thank you all in advance for your ongoing support.

 

Guidelines for Working Volunteers

The station site is now closed to all working volunteers.

The site is under constant CCTV surveillance and local observers are conducting regular site checks. 

 

 

 

Thank you.

Please note that the Company has now taken the decision to suspend all passenger trains and operating days until further notice.

 

 

Like many other businesses, the Somerset and Dorset Heritage Railway is monitoring the situation and following government guidelines. 

As everyone's health and welfare is our priority, we will take all necessary precautions to ensure this.

We have asked that all our all staff and volunteers follow this advice:

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
• Put used tissues in the bin immediately
• Wash your hands often with soap and water
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
• Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth when your hands are not clean

Visitors if you are planning on visiting from an area that has been directly affected by the coronavirus and you are showing symptoms similar to those associated with the virus (fever, cough, breathlessness), it is best that you do not visit until you have contacted your local health authority or doctor for further advice and instruction.

We will continue to monitor the situation and government advice and will issue further updates if the situation changes.

The latest government information on coronavirus can be found on the Department for Health and Social Care’s website.

Given that the advice from the health authorities - for the moment has not changed - we are operating as normal for the time being

We will advise you further should this position change.

‘Outstanding’ say South West in Bloom about Midsomer Norton Station

Members of the Gardens team met at the station on Monday March 2nd and were presented with their certificate from the South West in Bloom ‘Outstanding’ certificate in the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ class.

 

 

‘Outstanding’ is awarded to groups who have achieved a level 5 which is the highest level in the ‘Its Your Neighbourhood’ event.

The ‘Its Your Neighbourhood’ is a development of the Neighbourhood awards scheme and is not competitive but is designed to give support and recognition to community action groups across the South West. Although the plants on display are a large part of the award other factors are equally important. The Judges are looking for community participation and environmental responsibility and recognised that Midsomer Norton Station has shown high levels of all three.

In 2019 the ‘In Bloom’ judge Denise James visited and was able to observe the result of work done not only by the gardens team but also students from the Fosse Way School and a group of volunteers from Sainsbury’s who were celebrating 150 years by doing some local community work. Trustee with the responsibility for grounds and gardens, Gail Coleshill, took the judge not only around the site by the station buildings but also up the line in the Wickham Trolley so that she could see the environmental improvements and wildflowers lineside as a result of judicious clearing by the track work volunteers.

The official awards day took place towards the end of last year in Newquay but as there were too many volunteers from Midsomer Norton Station to make the trip it was decided to hold a small presentation in the spring.

Trustee Gail Coleshill said, “Although we have entered the Its Your Neighbourhood class before we have never achieved Outstanding before and I would like to pay tribute to all the hard work from the team. There is no doubt that the station looked its best not only with all the flowering borders around the station but also the wildflowers up the line.

We would also like to pay tribute to Denise James who has been a great help and support over the years and we were very sad to hear of her death last autumn.

Fosseway School took over the Dig for Victory bed near the Pillbox and planted it with flowers and vegetables are grown from seed at the school. Sainsbury’s volunteers continued making the front road border by clearing the weeds, filling the ditch with home grown compost and planting shrubs and perennials.

Trustee John Baxter will be presenting the certificate and a cake to celebrate the ‘Outstanding’ work of the volunteer gardens team at Midsomer Norton Station.

The Station volunteers would welcome more volunteers for the gardens team.

WAGON APPEAL!

The Trust are pleased to announce the purchase of two BR 16Ton Mineral Wagons. These wagons, once restored, will kick start our plans to recreate a demonstration coal train. 

Coal traffic was the lifeblood of the S&D, with the many collieries along the northern section of the line, seeing hundreds of these wagons every week.

The Trust is appealing for donations towards to the transportation and restoration of these iconic vehicles. Both currently reside at the Swanage Railway and will require replacement flooring and a good rub down prior to painting. 

Any donation will be great fully received, and will help the once common sight of coal wagons return to the S&D! 

Donations can be made via our website, or in person at the station! Remember to fill in a Gift Aid Form to make your donation go even further! 

 

https://www.sdjr.co.uk/fundraising

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.

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