The Signalling Team have completed the first distinctive S&DJR twin rail signal to be built since the 1890s.
The signal is based on the Evercreech Junction North down branch fixed distant.
The heavy L&SWR spectacle casting came from the Moorewood Sidings up distant - a favourite prop in Ivo Peter's photography, in commemoration of which, we have painted the signal exactly as it appeared in 1962.
Sunday at the station saw a moving dedication to the railwaymen who worked the old Somerset and Dorset Railway with the dedication of a memorial bench to the late Ian Bunnett, Fireman of Bath Green Park some of whose ashes were scattered over his beloved S&D through the firebox and chimney of Andy Chapman's resident Sentinel Joyce last year.
Thanks to the eagle eyes of volunteer Sean Dudden, who spotted the bits off an original S&D bench that once graced the platform at Bath Green park station, the Heritage Trust was able to get identical castings of the ends from a Bristol foundry using redundant railway chairs that once held the wooden sleepers in place.
The making up and painting of the wooden seat panels was done by young volunteers Jack Young, Will Taylor, Will Ramsey with the help of Sean and Bob Freeman in the station workshop in time for the day’s ceremony.
Former Bath Green Park Fireman Roy Larcombe cut the ribbon on the bench with the help of Ian Bunnett’s daughter Sue. Ian's wife Jan and his brother were also there. Derek Coles made a moving introduction thanking Ian Bunnett’s wife and family for starting the process and Heritage Railway Trustee John Baxter thanked Sean Dudden for getting the first bench ready in time. Ian's bench represents the start of a number of similar memorial benches that will be placed at the station over the next few months with suitable plaques attached.
Station volunteer Sean Dudden was pleased with the resulting benches. He said
“I found the old bench ends but didn’t realise they would turn out so well.
I am pleased we now have a lasting memorial at the station dedicated to Ian and look forward to others in due course as we remember the old Somerset and Dorset Railway Bath Green Park men.
Visitors can see the benches in situ at the next events at the station.
The next events at the Midsomer Norton Station are the B&NES Heritage weekend on September 9th and 10th when the station and Museum will be open. September 16th and 17th is a vintage 50s weekend with train trips.
There is no sea at Midsomer Norton but Sunday was a lovely sunny day for sand and water play at the station. Wansdyke Play Association organised the beach and shelter and station volunteers provided extra toys. Face painter Hayley Spiller added to the fun with her special artistic face painting. A special favourite with the toddlers was the Thomas the Tank engine roller coaster which was never still. Joyce, the station’s resident little steam engine, joined in by chugging up the line taking children and their families for rides in the heritage coaches. The buffet car was busy all dayselling lots of ice cream and seaside eats and the station shop set up an outpost stall near the beach, which did a roaring trade in seaside gifts.
Parents and grandparents were pleased to find a day which was directed towards children’s activities.
Jane and Bob Tucker brought their grandchildren. They said
“This was a well organised excellent ‘Fun Day out’. We took our grandchildren aged between 7 months and 3 years. They loved the steam train rides, sandy beach and face painting. All the Volunteers were so helpful and supportive to ensure that all our family could enjoy all of the amenities.
Event organiser Zaida Haworth was very impressed with the enthusiasm from families at the Play day
She said “Most of our events are directed to families so it was very good to have a special day here for children. We are hoping that they will return with their families to other events at the station.
The next events at the Midsomer Norton Station are the B&NES Heritage weekend on September 9th and 10th when the station and Museum will be open.
September 16th and 17th is a vintage 50s weekend with train trips.
The Railway at Midsomer Norton has taken delivery of a restored open brake coach borrowed from the North Yorks Railway for three years The coach is an example of the ones used in one of the last special trains that ran over the S&D on its last day as a through route on the 6th March 1966.
Trust Member, John Baxter said
“It is a remarkable survivor and all the more remarkable is the fact that one of the Trust's members, Mike Ware, travelled in this very coach on that day with his father, Bernard who was the Guard that day. The Trust has invited Mike to help with an internal repaint of his Dad's old compartment and he will have the honour, once the outside has been painted in Midland maroon, to add the BR lion emblem on the side.
“It had its maiden voyage at the ‘Real Ale day’ weekend at the station when it was found to be an excellent place for a bar. Visitors were treated to rides up the restored track and were able to sample some real ales from the Milk Street brewery in Frome and the Box Steam Brewery in Holt supplied by the Redan Inn in Chilcompton
“Its next outing will be for our Midsummer at Midsomer event on June 17th and 18th. Look out for a special offer for Father’s Day to include lots of lovely activities on the station.
More information about this and other events can be found on the recently updated website www.sdjr.co.uk - or you can call 01761 411221 on a Sunday (am or pm) or Monday (pm) or pop into the station.
50 years ago, our fabulous Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway was closed.
The two weekends' steam events of February 27/28 and March 5/6 commemorating this sad event saw smiles all round though, with the Jinty and Sentinel engines attracting thousands of visitors. Some 20 years after rebuilding began at Midsomer Norton, it's been an pleasure to be able to meet so many visitors and to see steam engines again running through the beautiful north Somerset countryside.