The West Somerset Railway Association and the West Somerset Railway plc are pleased to announce the appointment of Catherine Dance as the Railway’s Community Engagement Officer.

This post is designed to foster closer links between the Railway and local communities. It is a two-year appointment paid for by a grant from the Hinkley Point ‘C’ Community Fund managed by the Somerset Community Foundation as part of their Community Cohesion focus.

Catherine lives in Bishops Lydeard near Taunton. She has worked in the Devon School Library Service and for the National Trust on Membership and Volunteer Retention. She was appointed as a result of a competitive interview process conducted by a panel made up of Mark Smith, WSR Plc Director; Paul Whitehouse, WSRA Chairman; and Katherine Nolan, Director of Spark Somerset. The panel were pleased to note that they had a choice between three eminently appointable candidates and Catherine was the strongest candidate.

Paul Whitehouse, WSRA Chairman said:
“Our community links are really important to us. I am sure Catherine will make a great contribution to the life of our Railway and strengthen its relationship with all our local communities. I must also pay tribute to West Somerset Railway volunteer Andy Norman who worked for over a year to achieve the successful application to the Hinkley Point C Fund for this project. It would not have been achieved without his hard work.”

Catherine Dance at Bishops Lydeard Railway Station.

By agreement between the West Somerset Railway plc and its principal supporting charity, the West Somerset Railway Association, GWR loco 9351 has been moved by road from Minehead to the WSRA’s restoration base at Williton for final reassembly of the locomotive to take place.

Locomotive 9351 was built for the GWR in 1934 and ran on the West Somerset Railway after it was first restored in 2004. That restoration included conversion from a 2-6-2 tank engine to a 2-6-0 tender configuration. 9351 came out of traffic in 2015 for a heavy overhaul which has been proceeding steadily since then. At their meeting on 14 January 2019 the WSRA Trustees agreed to carry out the remaining work at the charity’s expense, using their own staff, BESST scheme trainees and voluntary labour.  Volunteers wishing to help with this work would be very welcome and should contact the WSRA.

Fortunately, a tender from another locomotive had also to make the same journey by road from Minehead to Williton and the part-completed locomotive was transferred as part of the same movement on 19th January. The locomotive is expected to return to service in May 2019 in time for the WSR’s peak summer season.

The WSRA are pleased to be able to offer this assistance to the WSR plc in accordance with their charitable objects and the WSR plc is looking forward to having another of its home fleet return to traffic following the recent return of loco 7828 Odney Manor. The line should have a fine stable of steam locomotives for the 2019 season which starts on 29 March 2019.

Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Chairman WSR plc
Paul Whitehouse, Chairman, WSRA

The Trustees have announced the date of  the 2019 AGM.  The meeting will be held in be held on  Saturday 13 April at 2:00pm at Crowcombe Hall.
It is hoped that travel concessions on the railway can be arranged for members to Stogumber, which is the nearest station, and from there a shuttle bus to the Hall and back.  Further details will be confirmed as soon as possible.