Authors D Bradley & David Milton
The Somerset & Dorset attracted an enthusiastic following out of all proportion to its size. Under-powered locomotives were grossly overloaded and, in all weathers, sent forth to do battle with the Mendips, leading to interesting spectacles for the onlooker but headaches for the operating staff. In his general history Robin Atthill gave an outline of the locomotives employed but this book, for the first time, offers a comprehensive record of the motive power together with details of the personalities, the goods and passenger services and Highbridge works.
Commencing as the independent Somerset Central and Dorset Central Railways the lines were worked respectively by the Bristol & Exeter and London & South Western Railways. The first locomotives were purchased from George England & Co in time for amalgamation as the Somerset & Dorset Railway. Extensions were opened and, as finances permitted, further locomotives were ordered. However, the construction of the extension to Bath so strained the resources that agreement had to be entered into with the Midland and London & South Western Railways to take up the lease. With the former becoming responsible for motive power a succession of locomotives was supplied of basically standard Derby design, the exception being the renowned 2-8-0s. This state of affairs changed little with the 1923 grouping but in 1930 the locomotives were absorbed into LMS stock and lost their separate identity.
Details of all Somerset & Dorset classes are given in addition to rebuildings and other changes to withdrawal. For the period from 1930 until closure particulars of locomotives, other than those built specifically for the line, are recorded in one comprehensive section.