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We are pleased to announce that the rally dates for 2020 have been confirmed as 1st and 2nd August.

Feedback was gathered by the section marshals and other team members, via social media, written response  and general word of mouth. The overwhelming response reported by the team was a desire to keep the dates as the first weekend in August for 2020, which we have done.

We recognise that it is almost impossible to avoid clashing with some other event during August and have done everything we can to minimise the inconvenience.  We are also aware that the WSRA rally has become known for its ‘first weekend in August’  slot in the timetable and the team feel disrupting that could be a disadvantage.

Keep an eye on the rally section of this website for rally news and application forms as they become available.  The planning starts again now and we look forward to seeing you on 1st and 2nd August 2020 for an even better show.

The WSRA Rally Team

The WSRA and WSSRT are pleased to announce that donations to the WSR Rail Renewal Appeal have now exceeded £70,000. Individual donations vary range from £5 to £8000 and the railway is very grateful for all of them. There are also donations from groups and commercial enterprises, demonstrating the important part the West Somerset Railway plays in the life of the local community as well as the wider heritage movement.

We’d like to especially acknowledge the donations made by friends and family in memory of Michael John Gay. Michael Gay was a steam and railway enthusiast and a long-standing supporter of the West Somerset Railway from its very early days. He retired to Loxton, near Weston-super-Mare, after a lifetime in the newspaper industry, finally becoming Managing Director of the then Bristol United Press, publishers of the Western Daily Press and Evening Post. His friends and family have made their donations to the WSR Rail renewal appeal in his memory.

The figures quoted for the appeal here and elsewhere on this website are donations received to date. Associated Gift Aid forms part of the original gift (unless otherwise specified by the donor) and will be added to the Rail Renewal Fund as and when it is recovered.

Please follow the link to our online donations page to make your donation https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/railrenewal2019

GWR 0-6-0PT no 9466 will be a surprise operating guest exhibit for the West Somerset Railway Association’s Steam and Vintage Rally at Norton Fitzwarren on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 August 2019, As a red route engine, no 9466 is restricted to the Norton – Bishops Lydeard section of the WSR but is likely to head the empty stock of the evening Somerset Coast Express from Bishops Lydeard to Norton Fitzwarren on Friday 2 August 2019. The Somerset Coast Express is a special excursion for those folks involved in the Rally. The loco will then bank the excursion from Norton to Bishops Lydeard, then cut off and return to Norton.
Over the Rally weekend, the loco will spend some time on static display and footplate visits, plus will also share duties with Barclay 0-4-0ST no 1219 on brake van duties on the Barnstaple Branch section of the Norton Triangles helping to raise more funds for the WSR’s current £250,000 track appeal.

Download the full press release HERE

The WSRA has two pieces of good news to share with supporters.


Firstly, we are very pleased to announce that on Friday Locomotive 9351 was handed back to the WSR plc in Minehead.  After a little more gentle running-in the loco is expected to return to traffic within a few days. The overhaul of this locomotive was a truly collaborative venture.  The boiler was overhauled at LNWR Crewe and the bottom end was overhauled at Minehead. The re-assembly and refurbishment of a suitable tender were then completed at WS Restoration in Williton. The total cost of the re-assembly and tender work was just short of £30,000, which has been funded by donations from supporters and by the WSRA.

 


Our second piece of good news relates to our own locomotive, Small Prairie 4561.  On Friday we received a cheque for £20,000 towards the cost of the restoration of the loco, from Garfield Weston Foundation. This is a result of the work of our Trusts and Foundations fundraiser Kate Williams.  Kate has also sourced £5,000 from the Veronica Awdry Charitable Trust and £15,000 from the Pilgrim Trust for this project and the total now held in donations and pledges for restoring 4561 is over £120,000.  We still need more, but we are well on the way and now that 9351 has been returned to Minehead the team at Williton will be able to turn their attention to 4561.  More details on the restoration of 4561 can be found at https://www.wsra.org.uk/restoring4561/


9351 resting at Minehead after delivery ready to enter service after some more loaded test runs.


Ryan and Liam Pope with 9351 as they wait in Williton station to collect the token for the light engine return trip to Minehead, with driver Colin Henderson and fireman Liam Pope.

FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR RETURN TO MINEHEAD


Regulator rod with handle removed to allow additional gland packing to be added behind the oval flange to cure the leak shown below flange


9351 being weighed on equipment provided by the South Devon Railway. This allows the whole engine to be “floated” on hydraulic load cells that are bearing on the rail head and lifting the wheels clear of the rail head (just). At this point reading the pressure gauges on pump units provides a pressure reading that as the bore of the load cells is known, the weight of each wheel on the rail head can be calculated. Thus the engine can be weighed, the spring bolts adjusted balance the weight across the locomotive on each axle as well as bringing axle loads for each wheel set to the required weight front to back.


Application of clear coat prior to delivery

The West Somerset Steam Railway Trust are to host a railway themed Retrospective Exhibition of the work of the late Peter Barnfield,  in the Gauge Museum on platform 1 at Bishops Lydeard.  The exhibition will run from 13th to 28th July and will feature over 50 artworks as well as models, books and greeting cards.  The exhibition will launch with a private view on 13th July at 2:00pm.

For more information about Peter Barnfield and his work please visit the website

Peter Barnfield’s books will also be on sale in the WSRA station shop on platform 2 where you can also relax with a tea or coffee or if the weather is favourable why not treat yourself to an ice cream.


Fire well alight over the grate, to bring 9351 to test pressure. Welsh steam coal giving a clean, bright smokeless fire.


Pressure climbing to the red line to provide steam for the boiler inspector’s safety valve accumulation test which checks that the safety valves lift at the correct pressure and will discharge excess steam effectively.


Ryan Pope adjusts the piston rod gland while his brother Liam takes a break from tending the fire prior to the initial test runs.


9351 waiting in Williton south yard for another short run inside station limits to check that everything is correct.


9351 running onto Williton down platform as part of the early proving tests.


Inspector Henderson checking all is shipshape with the valves and motion approaching Williton down platform during the station limits test run.

 

What comes next?
The next part of the testing program will be weighting the locomotive and tender to set the springs to provide correct loadings on all wheels.
Then some light engine runs Williton to Crowcombe and return will be undertaken between the service trains to prove the bearings, valves and lubrication are all doing what is expected. The firebox and tubes will be kept under close observation for any emerging leaks or fizzes.
Once 9351 has had a couple of days running with no issues, the brick arch will be installed and some further loaded ECS test runs will be conducted. Then if all is well, 9351 will be handed over to the Minehead loco and be back into front line service as part of the WSR home fleet, just in time for the peak summer season.


Outside in ex-showroom condition, awaiting the first steaming of 9351’s 2nd decade of preservation operation. WSR Inspector Colin Henderson has checked the boiler for plugs and fittings being all present and correct plus the oil boxes and pots have the correct trimmings in place.


Tender for 9351 on jacks, the old wheel sets have been removed. The underside of the tank has received patches. The main draw bar clevis with new pin and very large nut can be seen on the set of steps.


Tender wheel sets with axle boxes being prepared to be run under
the jacked up tender.


Tender being lowered onto the axle boxes.


WSR fireman Liam Pope has the honour of lighting the first fire.


The first fire takes hold.


Smoke from the chimney.


9351 with express headlamp code displayed.


9531’s completed front end, new chimney casting now with copper cap, old chimney casting in foreground acting as a donations box. The BR style cast smoke box door number plate provide a clue as to the finial livery 9351 will carry for the next 10 years.


An overview of 9351 ready to receive visitors over the 40th Anniversary celebrations weekend with viewing platform strapped to the rear of the locomotive, note the tender behind.
The boiler cladding is now with a flattened gloss coat to provide depth of colour when the final gloss coat is applied. Copper injector feed pipes to be fitted to the top feed/safety valve casting, then the covers can be fitted to allow for the final gloss coat to be applied. Brass bonnet under repair. Expansion link assembly on the bench to the rear of the locomotive to show visitors this normally hidden key item of steam locomotive engineering.


9351’s current tender being prepared to receive the overhauled wheel sets “donated” from the WSR plc spare tender chassis that was moved to Williton in January. The tender wheel sets on 9351 were at the end of their service life hence being swapped with those from the WSR plc spare tender. Tender brake rigging and pipework on floor as part of the preparation to lift the tender off it wheel sets.


Another view of the new tender wheel sets that are part of the final push to complete 9351. The collared ends to the axle journals are shown, as well as the large root radii where the journal meets the wheel. This arrangement reduces the stress raising aspect of the change in section of the axle but allowing the replaceable bearing bronzes (white metalled) to provide side control on the wheel sets via the axle box castings when installed in the frame.


9351’s footplate, new hardwood floor now fitted with just the boiler pressure gauge to fit. The displacement lubricator (bronze casting behind regulator handle) shown clearly. Sanding controls are below the reverser handle. Fire-hole “flap” and chain to flick it open or closed shown. With the tender attached, this wide view would not be so easy to obtain.