On Monday 4 March 2019 a 3 carriage train was operated on the Somerset & Dorset Railway at Midsomer Norton for the first time in 53 years! This train was operated as part of the preparations for the Diesel Locomotive Gala event that is planned for this coming weekend.
Extension Work – Jacking and Packing!
Another Sunday and another day of steady progress with members of the track gang continuing to ‘jack and pack’ the track on the current extension. The track gang are making good progress with the work to get the remaining ¼ mile extension ready for passenger use in March.
The work involves positioning sight-boards along the running rail and in conjunction with a track gauge incorporating a spirit level, the track is lifted to the desired height using hand operated jacks. The ballast is then packed under the ends of the sleepers using shovels to ensure that when the jacks are then released, the sleepers don’t drop and the track level remains in the desired plain. It’s hard but satisfying work and the track gang members are making good progress and expect to have to drop another 200 tons of ballast before the work is completed.
If you fancy getting involved and helping to rebuild a part of the iconic S & D then please come along and assist. No prior experience is required, ideally you just need some old working clothes and steel toe-capped safety boots. Training and plentiful cups of tea will be supplied.
If the idea of a Sunday wielding a shovel is not your idea or you live too far away, then you can still get involved and assist by donating to our ballast appeal - £ 20 for a ton – please see the fund-raising page.
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust has now reached a historic milestone of laying the final lengths of rail and sleepers to the base of the in-filled cutting, one mile South of Midsomer Norton Station. After many weekends of hard work, the Track Laying team moved the final 60ft rails into place over the weekend of the 28th October onto the original railway trackbed. The Trust are aiming to open the final part of their southward extension in Spring 2019, which will see a full mile of former Somerset & Dorset Railway being brought back into use.
The task is not yet complete with more hard work required to drop over 400 tons of ballast and jack & pack the track before passenger trains can run on the line. The Trust are appealing for donations to their “£20 for a Ton’ fund-raising campaign, where the public can make donations towards the purchase of the ballast required. Donations can be made in person at the station, or via the Trust’s website. All persons donating are encouraged to complete a Gift Aid form to make their donation go even further. www.sdjr.co.uk/fundraising
Thank you for your continued support.
For several months now the Trust have been working with a consultancy company – Context Logic - on the preparation of a combined Outline Planning Application and Vision document which sets out the Heritage Trusts ambitions to both develop the Midsomer Norton station site and also the ambition to extend the line.
Trustees and Company Directors receiving a final briefing on the OPA and deciding to submit the application.
The Trust and Company are in agreement that in order to expand both the facilities at Midsomer Norton and the expansion of the running line that we must embrace new business opportunities and also expand those currently open at the station. Amongst the proposals that the Trust have included in the OPA are an improved café/bar, heritage craft units and a small number of apartments for volunteer / tourist use. The Trust is committed to improving the facilities on site to provide an enhanced visitor experience and also provide social, economic, health and connectivity benefits to Midsomer Norton and the surrounding communities.
The OPA also includes planning for a new carriage and locomotive maintenance shed which will provide better workshops and training facilities. The Trust is exploring the commercial use of these premises and the option to create a number of employment opportunities in the town.
The Trust is very keen to maintain the heritage value of the unique station site at Midsomer Norton and to this end the development work undertaken at the site will be in keeping with the buildings already in situ.
At a planning meeting on the 3rdNovember, Trustees and Company Directors voted unanimously for the outline planning application to be submitted to BANES planning department. The OPA will –once granted – permit the Trust to undertake planned development and building work over the coming years.
At the same time as the OPA was submitted, a major stakeholder engagement exercise commenced with key Politicians and Financial people being informed of the plan and further details provided to them. To date, we have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, together with offers of assistance and support – both political and financial - to assist the Trust with making these plans a reality.
Further details will be provided at a number of staff briefings being arranged for volunteers. Further website updates to follow.
The Vision / OPA document – produced by Context Logic.
The railway now has ambitious plans to expand in a number of key areas as stated in the Strategic Plan & New Projects article. To deliver these projects a project management team has been set up – reporting to the Trust – and this small team will be coordinating and planning the many tasks required to successfully deliver the work.
The railway does currently does have a range of skills and experience in-house, however with the increased demands that the two main projects will put on our volunteer workforce, we are keen to attract both new volunteers and also obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the skills that we have amongst our current volunteers.
The railway therefore is asking that all working volunteers, together with those members who would like to get involved at this exciting time in the railways growth contact any of the following people below with details of your skills, experience and contact details which will be added to our skills database.
The Project team are especially interested to hear from people with administrative skills, engineering and mechanical experience, together with various trades.
Please send your information to Brian or Stephen.