WSR Group Projects

The WSRA supports small heritage projects run by volunteer groups and  contributing to the heritage of the railway.  Volunteer Groups on the West Somerset Railway range from Station Groups to enthuiast groups dedicated to restoring a particular carriage or locomotive.  All are welcome to apply for support and funding from the WSRA.

All grant funding applications must meet WSRA funding guidelines and be approved by the Trustees.

Trustees consider each bid on merit and will either:

  • agree and fund the project outright
  • agree and fundraise for the project and underwrite any shortfall or delay
  • agree and fundraise for the project and rely entirely on donations and associated gift aid payments to fund the project.
  • decline the project and give feedback as to why that decision was made.

The WSRA grantfunding policy and process are available for download HERE and the Grant Application form is available HERE


Examples of Small Group Heritage Projects supported by the WSRA


In Spring 2022, the WSRA Trustees agreed to a grant funding request from Crowcombe Heathfield Station staff to help with costs for repair and replacement of the station boundary fence.

The picket fence provides a safety barrier between the Bakers Orchard service road and the railway and has now been repaired in heritage style partially funded by the WSRA.

The WSRA has paid for the repairs, with a contribution from station funds of just under 30%, so it is very much a joint effort.

Station staff and local residents are pleased that the fence is now repaired and the safety barrier restored.


The WSR Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) is comprised of 3 historic class 115 vehicles. Two DMBS vehicles with a modified TC in the centre. The TC is modified to include a small buffet area for serving refreshments. The DMU is in operation on the railway on the majority of running days, often on the quieter diagrams, delivering a much needed support service to the popular steam locomotive hauled timetables.

A group of volunteers, known as the DMU Spanner Bashers,  undertook to repair the door handles, locks and striker plates to  ensure that the unit remains safe to run. 

The £5000 budgeted for the work was raised from individual donors during 2020, mainly via a Justgiving campaign.   The volunteer group removed the old locks, handles and striker plates and arranged for them to be refurbished by an external contractor. When they were returned, the volunteers re-attached them to the Unit for the safe conveyancing of passengers.

MOD goods brake van

The Wagon Restoration team turned their attention to a 1942 MoD Goods Brake Van owned by the WSR PLC.  This brake van needed replacement tongue and grooved timber boards for the body, new roofing materials, paint and a tarpaulin.

These brake vans, commonly known as Pill Box Brakes, have the unusual 2 X wide boards , 2 X narrow boards configuration that increases the costs of machining.

The materials needed were:

20 X 105 finished T&G boards, 20 X 170 finished T&G boards, roof timbers and waterproofing, Williamsons Paint, Small tarpaulin.

The total cost was £558 and all the work was done by volunteers.

The funds were raised by 26th June 2018.

Stogumber Station Cattle dock

The Stogumber Station Cattle Dock was in a state of dereliction until station staff and supporters embarked on a staged reconstruction, which is planned to achieve a complete restoration over a period of time.

During preparatory works to expose the retaining wall alongside the dock ramp, an offset chamfered stone plinth was uncovered to the base of the wall which had previously been concealed by vegetation and top soil. The plinth is part of the pre-existing Goods Office, demolished in the years running up to closure.  In due course it is planned to use the stone found on site to re-create the extended plinth.

In 2018 the WSRA was pleased to contribute the cost of the materials for volunteers to rebuild the steps to the cattle dock as part of the first phase of the work.

Lever Leads for Williton Signal Box

The Williton Signal Box is a Grade II listed building and the only original Bristol & Exeter box on the West Somerset Railway.

Lever leads in the Williton Signal Box have been replaced and changed over the years, leaving some old faded leads and some hardboard leads, plus the new Williton layout has required new lever leads on several of the levers, which are currently stuck on paper labels!   This situation was detracting from the education and heritage value of the signal box and so the WSRA Trustees agreed to fund the project to supply a complete set of 25 new levers.

The new leads were commissioned from a local engraver, and copy the design, typeface and font of the old British Railways Western Region.

The new lever leads, funded by the WSRA, were installed on 3rd September 2018.  S&T team leader Peter Mann said “We are pleased with the final result, the leads look very good and they help to complete the WN loop extension project.

Tarpaulins for restored open wagons

At the beginning of 2018 a group of  volunteers were working to restore two open wagons for use in an authentic WWII goods train. The wagons required tarpaulins to preserve them and secure their loads.  The volunteers approached the WSRA for help with funding and a crowd funding campaign was launched to pay for two new canvas tarpaulins.  The money was raised within 48 hours.

The tarpaulins were supplied in dark olive 16 oz Cotton Duck, the authentic material for covered wagons and have the dual purpose of sheeting down the load and also keeping the wagons aired and dried, preserving the restored finish.   The restoration provided two typical open wagons to make up an authentic  military freight train which was introduced at the Spring Steam Gala 2018. The Train was hauled by S160 USTC 2-8-0 locomotive, funded by the WSR plc.

WWII is on the curriculums of both junior and senior schools. The WSR owns a typical military brake van and several authentic wagons as well as several ‘replicas’ (newer wagons but of the same appearance). With the arrival of the S160 which is an authentic locomotive of the war period (several examples of these locomotives were shedded at Plymouth during the war and photographic evidence exists of S160s pulling freight trains through Taunton) a representative train could be recreated to demonstrate the logistics of moving military equipment.

The Wagon Restoration team of volunteers completed the restoration work and the tarpaulins were purchased to preserve the restoration and safeguard the loads they carry on the railway, demonstrating how equipment was moved around the country.

The military goods train was re-created for use during the West Somerset Railway’s first 1940s weekend on 15 and 16 September 2018.

Seats for Stogumber Station

In 2017, the Friends of Stogumber Station funded the purchase, restoration and rep-upholstering of 6 GWR chairs. Four in the platform waiting room and two in the booking office.  In order to complete the seating arrangements it was necessary to upholster two remaining bench seats in matching fabric and return them to their original appearance.

The WSRA Trustees agreed to fund this work.

The purpose of  WSRA small project grants

is to support volunteer led projects that enhance and improve the heritage of the West Somerset Railway and that fulfil the Charity’s Objects.

Grand funding documentation is available for download:

Please help

Donations for small group projects are always welcome.  Depending on the project the Trustees will sometimes agree to fund it from the charity (general) funds and sometimes authorise a specific fundraising campaign for the project.

If you would like to donate to WSRA general funds please do so using the link below.