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The WSRA strives to be transparent, ethical and responsible in all fundraising activities.

In order to demonstrate this we have published our own fundraising policy and registered with the fundraising regulator, an independent, non-statutory body that regulates fundraising across the charitable sector in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The Fundraising regulator publishes a code of fundraising practice,  which we will abide by in all our fundraising activities.

The fundraising regulator promotes best practice in fundraising, in order to protect donors and support the vital work of fundraisers.  We are proud to carry the logo in our fundraising publicity.

An unusual view of the smoke box main steam pipe connected to the super heater header castings with the super heater elements attached.  The regulation housing would be fitted between the upper most flanges.

All of this is normally hidden in the smoke box and boiler flue tubes. It is assembled ready for hydraulic (water Pressure) test.

Items of note are the very convoluted main steam pipes, welded steel pipe fittings in this case however Swindon would form these from copper (somehow!)

The upper most ends have captive 3 bolt flanges and spherical olives that allow the joints to be accurately made against spherical seat rings on the regulator housing. The loose 3 bolt flanges have the same effect as a 3 legged stool.

The super heater header is a complex casting where “wet” steam from the boiler is kept separate from the superheated steam after passing through the super heating elements (the smaller tubes to the rear)

This is a single row, 6 element arrangement

Just waiting the chimney, regulator, main steam pipes and the superheating arrangement to be installed to complete.

Piston valves now all installed and clad. Shown here is the outer end of the valve spindle, the nut holds a replaceable ground sleeve on the valve rod on the exhaust (low pressure) side of the piston valve. There is one at both ends of the piston rod either side of the valve heads. The high pressure steam is between the 2 valve heads on the valve spindle within the piston valve assy.

The jumper ring on the blast pipe cleaned up ready for further service.
The jumper ring allows a sharp exhaust by the ring lifting under load to increasing the blast orifice but as the exhaust rate decreases, the ring drops back thus reducing the blast. This is a standard GWR fitting.

New Crank pin retaining washer being fitted, It is screwed onto the crank pin and “fitted” by machining the back face off until the tapered cotter pin (not shown) screws in correctly to lock the main washer onto the crank pin.

Following the monumental success of the inaugural Three Chefs Express service last October, the West Somerset Railway Association’s   Quantock Belle Dining Train will again host the services of three of the area’s finest cooks on Monday 8th April.

Exmoor’s Claire Lynch, a regular feature on the Quantock Belle, will be joined by Michelin-star chef Mark Dodson and Wiveliscombe based Olivier Certain, a previous Somerset Chef of the Year. The menu is set to include a Chicken and Ham Hock Terrine, Red Mullet Bouillabaisse and Coq Au Vin, complemented with canapes and dessert to create a wonderful 6-course offering. An accompanying wine list and bar menu will also feature.

With an evening departure from Bishops Lydeard and strict Black Tie dress code, the service aims to once again replicate the nostalgic, high-quality atmosphere which graced the railway last October. Tables of 2 or 4 can be booked online  HERE or by calling 01643 700398.

This is a one-off combination of top culinary talent which should not be missed and seats on the train are limited, so early booking is strongly advised.

It was ‘standing-room only’ as 320 supporters of the West Somerset Railway (WSR) attended a packed, three-hour meeting for stakeholders at the Oake Manor Golf Club, near Taunton on Saturday 2nd March.

WSR plc Chairman, Jonathan Jones-Pratt, and a number of other directors and senior figures from the railway addressed those present and they all set out a very open and honest appraisal of the various financial, governance, regulatory, compliance, mechanical and infrastructure difficulties which the WSR has faced over the winter months.

The various far-reaching steps and fund raising measures that have been taken so far and will be implemented soon were outlined to the audience, the aim of which is to put the railway onto a firm footing for the future.

Commenting after the meeting, Jonathan Jones-Pratt said: “It was heartening to see so many committed railway staff, volunteers and supporters at the packed and professionally run meeting. So many people wanted to attend that we had struggled to find a local venue big enough to accommodate everyone, such is the strong support for the WSR! Over the last six months, we have had to take some very tough and painful decisions to safeguard the railway’s future after a significant £500,000 funding gap became obvious, and also in the light of various recommendations made by the Office of Rail & Road ORR) regulators following an inspection in October 2018.

We have had to cut rapidly our costs and staffing, quickly sell some of our assets such as unrestored steam loco No. 4110, introduce new safety, training, competence and operating systems, totally overhaul our finances, and invest in and improve our infrastructure significantly at a considerable cost of £140,000, with even more spending on it needed every year from now on just to stand still.

But I was very pleased to tell everyone present that the WSR has been pulled back from the precipice of potential insolvency by our firm and decisive actions so far, and we can now face the 2019 season, and our 40th anniversary of running to Bishops Lydeard, with much more confidence and a much brighter future too.

I was particularly glad to have the Chairman of the West Somerset Railway Association, Paul Whitehouse, and the Chairman of the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust, Chris Austin, speaking alongside me and fellow directors today to share our ‘One Railway’ vision. We will all now put the difficulties and squabbles of the past few years firmly behind us and move forward as one railway acting in unison.”

Many of the people who asked questions at the end of the meeting also complimented all of the speakers for giving the audience such an open, honest and frank appraisal of the situation which faced the WSR in terms of improving regulatory compliance, strengthening the Board and management via new appointments, completely overhauling the finances, and investment in infrastructure .

This was evidenced by the fact that a cash collection after the meeting raised £3,250 towards work on GWR locomotive 9351 (which is due to return to traffic in July) and further sums towards infrastructure work on the line.

And another £6,200 was raised in new plc Shares showing solid support from existing shareholders that were at the meeting, plus another £1,000 promised by email, so over £10,000 was raised in just one afternoon. All 4,000 WSR plc shareholders will also be contacted shortly to seek further necessary investment which is expected to be at least £500,000 a year.

Jonathan Jones Pratt continued: “After we decided to extend the usual winter shut down period from January this year to carry out essential infrastructure works, the West Somerset Railway is now expected to re-open partially again on Saturday 30 March after a follow up inspection by the ORR in late March.”

So, our steam services will run initially from Bishops Lydeard to Williton, with a Diesel unit shuttle to and from Watchet so we reach the seaside, but the full line should re-open to Minehead on Saturday 6 April following completion of major track works at Blue Anchor which have proven to be more extensive than first thought sadly.

I know this phased reopening will disappoint everyone at the Minehead end of the line, especially those in the local accommodation, retail and catering sectors, who have been looking forward to our steam trains returning, but we will be running to and from Minehead in good time for Easter, and our teams are working very hard to get everything ready in time.”

In June this year, the WSR will be celebrating 40 years of running heritage services between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard, and a special celebration is planned to mark the significant date.

A more detailed note of the stakeholder meeting on Saturday 2 March will be posted onto the WSR websites shortly.

Photo: Jonathan Jones-Pratt speaking to the assembled supporters at Saturday’s meeting.

Right hand side injector with delivery pipe (black) and overflow pipe installed

Left Hand side coupling rods installed awaiting Cross Head and connection rod to be fitted

Right Hand side coupling rods installed, connecting big end brass on middle crank pin to establish fit of Top hat washer that retains rods on the middle crank pin. The front crank pin shows special coupling rod retaining washer with recessed drive, the forerunner of a Hexagon socket drive. This is required on the leading crank pins due to restricted clearance behind the crosshead, yet to be installed

Valve gear connecting link on Left Hand side between the rocking arm (on left) the transmits the valve gear motion from inside the frame to outside the frames to the valve spindle (on right). The special castellated nuts (also called castle nuts) allow a split pin to lock the nut once tightened . These GWR special nuts have 4 slots unlike the normal propriety castle nuts that have 3 slots. Thus the GWR nut can have 8 positions per revolution rather than 6 for the standard nut. Split pins yet to be fitted.

All images on today’s update are © Liam Pope  and  licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
Any re-use of the above images must conform to the requirements of the Creative Commons Licence

In the past few weeks the West Somerset Railway Association has launched funding appeals for the final work to put GWR Mogul locomotive 9351 back in service on the West Somerset Railway (£14,000) and to cast four replacements for historic Bristol and Exeter Railway cast iron station signs for the Railway (£3,200).  In each case the appeals are within sight of the finish line.

WSRA Manager Jacquie Green said:  “Supporters have been very generous.  We now only need £4,000 plus gift aid to reach our target for loco 9351 and only a further £800 plus gift aid for the station signs.  Remember that, as the principal supporting charity for the line, for every £1 donated by a UK tax payer, under the ‘Gift Aid’ scheme, the UK government adds 25 pence.

Work on loco 9351 can be followed on the blog HERE which is updated as the work progresses. Donations can be made by visiting THIS PAGE and either clicking through to make an online donation or following the instructions for cheque donations.




Locomotive 9351 in service on the West Somerset Railway






Locomotive 9361 being worked on the WS Restoration shed at Williton







Original Bristol & Exeter sign in place at Williton.





Further comment can be obtained from:

Jacquie Green
WSRA General Manager
T: 01823 433856

Smokebox door now hung on door ring.

Internal baffle plate has been installed and riveted in as shown by bright patches on the door where the riveted areas have been ground back flush.

Left hand coupling rods installed, they have been fitted with new felt pads that wipe the journal to keep a film of oil spread across the bearing faces but ensure control of oil used


Both injectors have been inspected and cleaned up. The LHS injector is shown mounted on footstep bracket with the overflow valve fitted.  Awaiting the feed pipes (steam and water), delivery pipe and overflow pipe (shown lying on the floor) to be fitted.


Both piston rods have been reground and polished ready to install. The dull areas are the wear limit indicators, the rods are scrap once this diameter is reached.


Connecting rod little ends (fits inside the crosshead) have side thrust plates  – 4 new ones have been fitted, 2 on each rod,  these are drilled with shallow holes to aid oil retention


Right hand coupling rods installed







Chimney casting showing the part located in the smoke box. The blower/ejector ring casting and the petticoat pipe are hung off the bolting holes shown additionally some of these are missing.

The casting is very thin and  requires repair.  Cast iron can be welded however building up  to restore the original thickness is a specialist process.  The security of the blower/ejector ring casting is very important as any derangement within the smoke box could  cause a blow back on the footplate from the firebox. A quote for this repair is expected in a few days time. This additional work may require an increase of the funding appeal

Fundraising update

A combination of online and offline fundraising and donations, together with associated Gift Aid, has so far yielded just over £4,500 towards this project.  Thank you very much.  We are determined to have this locomotive running on the West Somerset Railway for the Summer season.  Can you help?

The 2019 WSRA  AGM for members is to be held on Saturday 13th April at 2:00pm at Crowcombe village hall.

Nominations for Trustee are now open and the form is available HERE

Please note that the closing date is 14th March and all completed forms must be received by that date.

The requirements for serving as a WSRA Trustee can be found in the WSRA Articles of Association and also the Trustees Code of Conduct recently agreed by the current board.

More general information is available from the Charity Governance Website


One Eccentric strap installed, lock nuts and split pins to complete, then install the adjacent strap, then ready for the eccentric rods. Photo:Josh Chivers









Preparations being made in the firebox to install the much-praised and appreciated by loco crews, Minehead-pattern drop grate. Photo:Josh Chivers