Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Steam and diesel trains provide views of Somerset in Autumn

THE West Somerset Railway is offering a mixture of steam and vintage diesel hauled trains for its ‘Somerset in Autumn’ weekend of October 27 and 28.
Three of the steam locomotives will be guests from other lines, namely ‘Stanier Mogul’ 42968 from the Severn Valley, the tiny London, Brighton and South Coast Railway ‘Martello’, which dates to 1880 and is on hire from the Bressingham Museum in Norfolk, while Great Western tank engine 1450 will once again recreate the lost branch lines of the West of England with its ‘auto-train’ coaches.
Six steam engines currently resident on the West Somerset line will also see service, five being of Great Western origin and two, numbers 88 and 44422, which saw service on the Somerset and Dorset line.
The diesel engines will come from the fleet of 1960s machines cared for by the Diesel and Electric Preservation Group.
These will include Class 47 D1661 ‘North Star’, which was added to the Williton line-up earlier this year.
Apart from an intensive train service between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead which will run between 9.10 am and 6.30 pm on each day, visitors will find plenty to do and see.
A free vintage bus service will link Dunster Station and the village while the museums along the line and the Diesel Heritage Centre at Williton will be open to the public.
For those who would like to leave their car at home, Cooks Coaches is running a free half-hourly bus service from Taunton Railway Station (under the bridge, near the Booking Office), Taunton Castle Green in the town centre, and the Silk Mills Park and Ride scheme, on both days starting at 9.30 am.
The railway’s shops will be open for those who would like to do some pre-Christmas shopping.
WSR general manager Paul Conibeare said: “We have deliberately timed the Somerset in Autumn event for the half-term holidays and also for the weekend when the clocks go back to give visitors another chance to see both an interesting collection of engines at work and the beauties of the Somerset countryside from the comfort of our trains.
“Our main season ends on November 1 and then we will be hard at work on maintenance and more planning for 2008 in the gap before our ‘Santa Trains’ start on December 1.”
  • Our photographs show (top) diesel engine North Star arriving in Minehead, and (bottom) steam engine number 42968 at Williton. Photos by Claire Rickson.

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