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.
Trust and Company Directors have been working for a period of time to agree on a number of new projects and update the Strategic Plan with details of these. More information will be announced at the September AGM. Planning for two major new projects will commence very shortly to provide a new engineering facility for the railway and improved and expanded catering and retail facilities on the Midsomer Norton station site whilst not detracting from the overall appearance.
To manage the two new projects, a project team has been set up to manage and oversee the delivery of these two projects. At this initial planning state, a management consultant will be assisting with the preparation of a planning document. Engineering experts from Mott MacDonald Consultants will be advising on the optimal location for the engineering facility
Where possible internal skills and expertise will be used, however where the required skills are not available in-house, then management consultants and professional experts will be brought in to assist. In order to identify what skills and expertise are available amongst our volunteers, a skills audit will conducted.
We need 109 or 113lb flat bottomed rail in 60'(or near) lengths to complete our extension and to improve our existing running line, and a number of FB turnouts - B,C or D switches - with or without crossing timbers. We are prepared to pay a reasonable price for these or would welcome information on where these may be found other than on NR property.
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.
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.
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!