Members will have received invitations and documents for the AGM, to be held on 26th September 2020, at 10.00am. There is detailed information on this website under Membership/AGM 2020 explaining how to book your place at the AGM, either in person, or via the weblink.

All places at the AGM must be pre-booked and will be checked for valid membership in the normal way.

Clearly, this year’s AGM will be different from normal, as the Covid-19 restrictions limit the numbers of members who can attend the meeting, and have forced us to set up the remote online meeting, with postal voting for online attendees (as well as anyone else who wishes to use it)

Some members have told us that these arrangements make it difficult for them to express their views and have asked us to consider postponing the AGM. This is not possible, for two reasons:

  • We are required to hold our AGM by 30 September 2020 by legislation (Corporate Insolvency & governance bill 2020). The same legislation allows for AGMs to be held virtually.
  • If we postponed the meeting, there is no guarantee that Covid restrictions would be less onerous at any foreseeable future date. Indeed, they could become more restrictive.

Your Trustees therefore believe that it is right to go ahead and want to make it as easy as possible for members to ask questions, receive answers and air their views. The website and the information posted to you shows how you can vote at the AGM. In addition, we would like to offer further support:

Joining the virtual meeting
This is easy, requiring only a laptop PC or tablet or mobile with an internet connection. You will need an entry code and link, which will be sent to everyone registered for the remote meeting. There will also be detailed instructions on the simple process to be followed, for those who are not familiar with joining online meetings. These emails will be sent out in the days before the meeting, with the meeting link being the last email sent.

Asking questions, or expressing views
As an alternative, you are offered the opportunity to ask a question by email, which will be publicly asked and answered at the meeting, and the answer emailed to you afterwards. If you would like to take this up, please email to the trustee appointed to receive these questions:
geoff.garfield@wsra.org.uk with the title “AGM question”

If emails are not your thing, you are welcome to phone Geoff on 01643 863574. If he is not available, there is an answerphone that will take messages, and calls will be returned if you leave a contact number. Anything received by 18.00 on 25th September will be followed up.

You can also listen to the debate by phone, by ringing a dedicated number and entering the conference ID. IF you would like to do this, please let Geoff know at least 24 hours before the meeting and he will arrange for you to have the necessary information and joining instructions.

By these means, we hope to make sure your views are heard at the AGM in a way that suits you.

WSRA Trustees 21/9/2020


If you have any technical queries on the joining process for the meeting (online or in person) please email jacquie.green@wsra.org.uk or call the WSRA office on 01823 433856.

Not yet a WSRA member?   You can JOIN US NOW

National Transport Trust (est. 1965 as Transport Trust) is the only national body which promotes and encourages the preservation and restoration of Britain’s transport heritage in all its forms – road, rail, wings and water.

The National Transport Trust Commemorative Awards comprise four Commemorative awards named after key founding members of the Transport Trust and represent the very best of the year’s nominated projects.

Small Prairie 4561 Steam Engine
Owned by the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA)
The Alan Moore Awards for restoration assist preservation projects that are underway but not completed. Applicants need to show that some progress has already been made, that there is a clear and costed future plan and a realistic likelihood of completion within 12 months of the application being made. Applications will assessed on the basis of rarity, technical historic or social significance, quality of workmanship, proportion of work being carried out by applicant, originality of design and materials. in addition The Trust needs to be satisfied that, after restoration, the item will be seen and enjoyed at reasonable intervals by the general public and that, as far as is reasonably foreseeable, the item is not destined for the market place and will be retained by the restoring owner/s.

Designed by G J Churchward and built at Swindon Works in 1924, Small Prairie 4561 is typical of the steam locomotives that would have run in the West Country and beyond between the 1920s and the mid-1960s. It spent 32 years of its working life on branch lines in Devon and Cornwall, before finally being withdrawn from service and scrapped in May 1962, having notched up 997,635 miles.

The next 13 years were spent languishing at Woodham Bros scrap yard in Barry, South Wales. In 1975 it was purchased by a group from the West Somerset Railway and transported by road to the WSR. After some repair work, the 4561 became a regular feature on the West Somerset railway between 1989 to 1998, and was a popular part of the locomotive fleet. Since this time it has been stationed in our restorative workshops awaiting repair.

In April 2018, a small group of WSR engineers, including the Head of Mechanical Engineering and the WS Restoration Engineering Foreman, met with a group of trustees and the ex-CME Andy Forster and all confirmed their agreement that Small Prairie 4561 was the right locomotive to prioritise for restoration. That decision was endorsed by the full board of WSRA Trustees and it was agreed to re-start the restoration project in earnest. The bulk of repair work will be completed at the Restoration works in Williton by a team of trained staff, volunteers and apprentices. It is a smaller locomotive than some of the others which are regularly run which makes it ideally suited to the West Somerset railway, which mainly transports visitors and tourists along the 23-mile line.

The Small Prairie offers a cheaper alternative to some of the larger steam trains as it is more efficient and designed for a smaller track. Furthermore, running their own locomotive would reduce the cost of renting steam trains for the line, in turn saving  around £40,000-£50,000 a year.

The West Somerset Railway (WSR) is a 23-mile long railway running through the heart of West Somerset. WSR is one of the largest tourist attractions in the area, bringing around 200,000 visitors each year. The organisation has become an integral part of the wider local community, providing employment and volunteering opportunities and contributing around £9 million a year to the local economy through tourism.

West Somerset Railway Association is a community led, member driven, charitable association that supports the West Somerset Railway. The aim is to preserve and restore the heritage of the WSR, to fundraise, promote education, ensure community involvement, and to leave a legacy for future generations. The WSR operates heritage steam trains along its line as its core activity, however, it also has a large number of other activities including educational visits, heritage restoration, museums, local events like the 1940s weekend, to steam galas and even Santa trains for the younger generation! Thus the restoration of this iconic locomotive will secure its place in the local and national transport heritage scene and is therefore thoroughly deserving of a restoration award.

The award, which under normal circumstances would have been presented in June, is now hoped to be presented in October at Brooklands.

WSRA fundraiser, Kate Williams, reports that we have received a grant of £3,500 from the Aurelius Charitable trust to help towards the restoration costs of 4561. This brings the total secured towards this project from trusts and foundations to £82,940.67. The Aurelius Charitable Trust makes donations reflecting the founder’s interests in the conservation of culture inherited from the past and the dissemination of knowledge, particularly in the humanities field although not in the educational field.

Together with individual and regular giving commitments we have now raised almost £150,000 towards the restoration of Small Prairie 4561. Work is ongoing at Williton and the blog can be read HERE

The trustees of the West Somerset Railway Association (WSRA), and the board of the West Somerset Railway PLC (PLC) are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement which will financially support the railway during these challenging times. Today’s agreement means that:
• The WSRA has sold their promotions business (which operates a shop & café at Bishops Lydeard and a restoration workshop at Williton) to the PLC
• The PLC will pay the WSRA an agreed sum of £90,721 for the assets of that business
• The WSRA will loan £70,000 to support the PLC, which has been prevented from operating by the Covid-19 restrictions. The low-interest loan is secured by charges on two WSR PLC owned coaches.

Mike Sherwood, acting Chairman of the WSRA said “I am pleased that we have been able to conclude this matter to the satisfaction of both parties. The WSRA will now be able to give its full attention to fundraising on behalf of the railway, to further supplement the financial support we are already providing at Williton, Minehead and via the rail renewal campaign”

Jonathan Jones-Pratt Chairman of the PLC said “Both parties have worked hard to bring this matter to a successful conclusion. We can now move on to focus on the preparations and funding necessary to bring the railway back into operation”.

Further details from:
Mike Sherwood, WSRA Chairman – mike.sherwood@wsra.org.uk or 02920 890055

Steve Williams PLC Director- steve@williamsemail.uk or 01823-462898

Statement Ends