As the summer holiday season comes to a close and we approach autumn the activities of the Trust continue at a pace. Updates over the last few months have been scarce due to the large amount of work going on and the efforts of everyone to get as much as the collection on display as possible during 2021.
With Covid restrictions lifted the Board have started to alternate face to face meetings with video calls on a monthly basis. Friday the 17th saw a board meeting held in Wimborne. My journey to the meeting from my home just south of Bath took me through Shepton Mallet, Evercreech, Bruton, Wincanton and Blandford Forum. Whilst sitting in traffic on the outskirts of Blandford I was reminded that in a previous generation I could have completed the journey using the Somerset and Dorset.
Mid Hants Railway Update
As was widely reported in July, a large number of the Trusts larger items were moved to their new museum space in Alresford. The larger signs were delivered by a group of volunteers and the effective use of a one way system ensured the items were unloaded in a swift manner. Attention was paid to the themes we have agreed with the Mid Hants Railway. The rapid unloading allowed the group to spend the afternoon on the railway exploring everything the line has to offer.
The museum space is due to be opened during the Somerset and Dorset themed Autumn gala on the 1st to 3rd October. The loco line up is impressive and will of course feature the Trust’s own 7F 53808. There is an intensive timetable on all 3 days including a recreation of the Pines Express with 10 coaches across the similarly graded line. Information and Tickets can be obtained from the MHR Website https://watercressline.co.uk/autumn-steam-gala/
Midsomer Norton Moves
During August the trust concluded discussions with the Somerset and Dorset Heritage Railway Trust based at Midsomer Norton and reached an agreement for some of the SDRT’s collection to go on loan and display. The agreement allows for a longer term loan of larger items and a short term agreement for smaller items which will be regularly reviewed and renewed to enable items previously unseen to be displayed. Items to be displayed have an initial theme of the Northern Extension.
Saturday the 18th September saw the movement of items to Midsomer Norton from Washford. Work is now underway to set the displays up and they will be fully accessible during the End of Season Gala at Midsomer Norton between the 22nd and 24th October. Information and Tickets can be obtained from the SDHRT Website: https://sdjr.co.uk/events/view/end-of-season-gala
The glorious weather allowed me to capture a few select pictures with a new versus original comparison possible with a Midsomer Norton running in board. We have also returned a 7F to the Somerset and Dorset (all be it in 3 ½ Inch gauge!).
Work has continued at pace to protect and relocate the trusts collection of artefacts and rolling stock. In addition to the moves mentioned above several wagons have left site and the Burnham-on-Sea Box has been relocated to Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway. The removal of the Box has been long awaited and was an extremely complex move including the disconnection of electricity and Water supplies. It was lifted and moved in one piece with protection added to the roof to prevent damage in transit.
The Tuesday gang have taken receipt of the replacement wood for the CCT and continue to restore and reassemble it. They have also created some heavy duty storage boxes to support the transport and storage of the delicate concrete running in boards in the collection. I am continually impressed by the high standard of work from the regular volunteers, no job is too big or too small and their efforts continue to help the Trust protect its collection.
The Trusts BG Coach is due for collection from Washford and delivery to Alresford in the coming days ready for the Museum opening. In order to allow contractors to remove the Water Crane, Signal Posts and Lamp Posts the remaning vehicles have been shunted together in one of the head shunt. Apart from the CCT and Coach No. 4 these are the only waggons left on site. This has led to the Washford site looking rather bare. Together with the removal of items from the station side the site is beginning to resemble a scene from the late 1960’s.