Progressing our Future

With COVID-19 and our situation with the WSR, the Trust seeks your help to secure our future for another 50 years

The Trustees of the S&DRT are pleased to announce a special fundraising appeal to our members and supporters.

We are launching this appeal to take the Trust forward into the next period of its long existence and to make all of the hard work put in by volunteers of the past, a worthwhile tribute to the well-loved Somerset & Dorset Railway.

The Trustees of the S&DRT want to make certain that our great track record in saving these crucial items for the nation and our huge library of photographs and plans etc, are protected for future generations. We ask for your generous support to make sure we can achieve this long-term ambition and protect all that has been achieved by the Trust over the past 50 years.

The Trust has been in existence since the mid-1970s and evolved from the Somerset & Dorset Railway Circle which was established when the S&D was being closed down as a main line railway. The Circle was able to collect an outstanding number of artefacts from the railway, including station signs, photographs, important memorabilia from the opening of the railway and a whole host of other items. Added to these priceless items, the Circle was able to purchase one of the last remaining S&D 2-8-0 locomotives which had survived at the famous scrapyard at Barry in South Wales.

Initially the Circle had established its base at the redundant site at Radstock where the rolling stock and locomotives would be restored and, in some cases, operated along a short length of track. When it was revealed that the base at Radstock was required for a new road system and housing, the Circle had to relocate its items of stock and locomotives. It was agreed to take advantage of an offer by the fledgling West Somerset Railway to establish a new base at the dormant station and site at Washford, near Watchet.

Many items, including the 7F No. 53808, were moved by rail from Radstock to Washford with other smaller items by road. There then began the huge task of building a completely new base on the empty site opposite Washford station which was once the goods yard. Buildings were erected, track laid, and a large display of signalling and eventually the narrow-gauge peat railway established for visitors to watch and enjoy. The station building was renovated to house a museum and a replica of Midford signal box was erected.

Our sole purpose is to tell the story of the much-lamented S&D and bring back memories of that famous railway. We are very fortunate in having the most comprehensive array of artefacts of the line and an impressive line-up of rolling stock. Our 7F locomotive 53808 is our most precious example from the days of operations on the S&D and our 0-4-0ST engine, Kilmersdon, kindly donated to the trust by the owners of the coal mine near Radstock, has its own important history.

There are many challenges facing our trust in the near future. Added to these is the Covid-19 pandemic. Our income has dropped dramatically from our activities at the shop and museum at Washford, so we ask you to please donate as much as you can to help us sustain our efforts to preserve what we have built up over some 50 years.

Your donations will go directly towards our future aims and will be most warmly welcomed.