Let’s get 4561 rolling

WEST SOMERSET RAILWAY HOSTS ‘OPEN MORNING’ FOR PROSPECTIVE NEW VOLUNTEERS TO HELP BOOST ITS WORKFORCE

West Somerset Railway Open Morning – 30th October

Anyone who has ever considered becoming a volunteer heritage railway worker or maybe fulfilling childhood ambitions of getting actively involved in the romantic world of running steam trains will find a warm welcome awaits on the West Somerset Railway (WSR) at the end of this month when the 20-mile line holds an ‘Open Morning’ for prospective new workers.

As the WSR nears the end of what has been a very busy summer holiday period, and one in which volunteers have played a crucial role in the railway’s slow recovery from Covid 19, the WSR is now seeking new people who might be interested in volunteering on the line to come along to the ‘Open Morning’ at Bishops Lydeard station, near Taunton, between 10:00 and 14.00 (2:00pm) on Saturday 30th October.

The ‘Open Day’ presents a great opportunity to find out about volunteering on the WSR in general and to speak to some existing railway volunteers in different departments and organisations about their many different roles along the line. Volunteers have kept the WSR going for the last 45 years since the line re-opened as a heritage railway in 1976, and there are almost 1,000 regular workers today but more are always needed.

As the ‘Open Morning’ is being held on the last Saturday of the 2021 regular season, visitors will be able to watch steam trains leaving and arriving at Bishops Lydeard during the day, and so share some of the excitement which visitors experience on a popular steam railway, as well as gaining an insight into what happens to make it all work behind the scenes.

The West Somerset Railway is run by a veritable army of men and women of all ages and almost 1,000 strong, who work as a family in different roles and teams all along the line.  These teams provide the wide range of skills necessary to run, rebuild and maintain the line’s infrastructure, its locos and rolling stock, and everything involved in running a heritage railway.

Volunteers guide, inform and look after the WSR’s 170,000 annual visitors and customers; run and staff the ten stations and two museums on the line, and also run the support organisations that make up the railway family.  New volunteers are always needed, especially now as the railway is steadily building back to a full service after lockdown and as the 2022 season beckons.

All new WSR volunteers will need to undertake some basic training of course before undertaking their duties. For example, for some customer facing roles such as station staff or museum stewards, there is a relatively short safety training programme. And, at the other end of the scale, certain safety-critical technical roles, such as engineering, engine crews, guards or signalmen, need many years of development and progression as well as medical examinations.

But, above all, volunteering offers people a great chance to build new friendships and companionship within groups; do a satisfying job and learn new skills, or continue to use their existing skills once they have stopped formal work or retired.

WSR volunteers come from all sorts of social and work backgrounds, age ranges and interests but, whatever role they choose on the railway, they will be with like-minded people who are there too because they enjoy it!

Potential volunteers who cannot attend on 30th October can contact the West Somerset Railway Volunteer Coordinator on volunteers@wsrail.net.

Commenting on the WSR’s ‘Open Morning’, event organiser Roger Ellis, the Station Master at Bishop Lydeard said:

“Volunteers are the very life blood of the West Somerset Railway and always have been during our 45-year history – it’s a simple equation: No volunteers = No railway. So, we need you!

“Whilst we have a good, dedicated support volunteer base already of almost 1,000 people in the WSR family who support us regularly in almost every role and department, we still need to recruit new volunteers every year to replace those who have moved away through work, education or have changed family commitments, or those who have retired or stopped working through ill health. We need to attract about 100 people a year if we can in order to keep going.

“Every new volunteer we recruit will not only help us to offer visitors a good heritage railway experience, but also provides volunteers with a truly valuable personal benefit too. WSR volunteers gain from their own satisfaction and working within a team doing something useful which is valued.

“Running the WSR has always taken a lot of planning and effort, but none of this is achievable without the continuing help of our amazing team of volunteers and staff.

“So, we’d like to invite any new prospective volunteers to come along on Saturday 30th October and see whether WSR is right for them, now or in the future.

 For further information please contact:

WSRA Trustee meeting report 12 October 2021

The WSRA Trustees met on Tuesday 12th October at Bishops Lydeard Station and by TEAMS.  Amongst the items discussed were:
  • Minutes of the Previous meeting – on 14th September were approved and are available for members to view in the members section of this website.
  • 4561 – Trustees approved the proforma payment of half of the next phase of work to the PLC and noted that the wheel sets had gone to Tyseley locomotive works for journal turning and polishing etc.
  • Quantock Belle – Trustees noted the report written by JSDG and JAG and approved the proposed terms for a single year hire agreement to the PLC, whilst a full on-train catering review is undertaken and the WSRA assesses future plans for the set.
  • Covered Accommodation – The Trustees agreed to allocate up to £1000 from the Preserve and Protect fund to match fund with the WSRHT for site investigation at BL for potentially extending the goods shed to accommodate two MK1 carriages, including the Hawksworth Saloon.
  • Rolling stock Agreements – The Chairman undertook to remind the PLC that these need to be finalised as the current agreements expire at the end of the month, and to request confirmation that any stock without a current hire agreement is adequately insured.
  • WSR PLC AGM – Trustees reviewed the reports of this meeting and were pleased to note that some useful, if unofficial, conversations had taken place.
  • Trustee resignation – Trustees accepted with regret the resignation of Robin White as Trustee with immediate effect. Robin has been volunteering on the WSR for over 40 years. Her contributions are many and varied and include operational duties such as guarding and signalling and acting as RO as well as serving on the WSRA board.  Robin’s knowledge and skills will be very much missed and the Trustees wish her well with her commitments elsewhere.
  • PDG – Trustees were disappointed to observe that a meeting of the PDG was overdue and there was no date in place for the next meeting.

WSRA Trustee resignation

The WSRA Trustees have, with regret, accepted the resignation of Robin White as Trustee with immediated effect.  Robin has been volunteering on the West Somerset Railway for over 40 years.  Her contributions are many and varied and include operational duties such as guarding, signalling and acting as RO as well as serving on the WSRA board.  Robin’s knowledge and skills will be very much missed and the Trustees wish her well with her commitments elsewhere.

Quantock Belle GALA breakfast tickets go on sale

The West Somerset Railway is delighted to announce that the Quantock Belle Gala Breakfasts are back for the Autumn Steam GALA on 1st – 3rd October 2021.

A full english breakfast will be available on the following departures:

Friday 1 October 2021

9.35am Bishops Lydeard – Blue Anchor
11.15am Blue Anchor – Bishops Lydeard

Saturday 2 October 2021

9.35am Bishops Lydeard – Blue Anchor
11.15am Blue Anchor – Norton Fitzwarren

Sunday 3 October 2021

9.35am Bishops Lydeard – Blue Anchor
11.15am Blue Anchor – Norton Fitzwarren

The breakfast menu for this event is: Orange Juice, Fried Egg, Lean Back Bacon, Pork Sausage, Black Pudding, Hash Browns, Baked Beans and Tomato. Toast and Marmalade. Tea or Coffee with free refill.

Please note that a valid Gala travel ticket and a valid Gala breakfast ticket is required. Both tickets must share the same date.

Book GALA tickets and breakfasts online HERE  or by telephoning 01643 704996

The Quantock Belle dining train is owned by the West Somerset Railway Association and a proportion of the income is returned to the charity and held in a designated fund for future restoration and improvement works.

Image © Robin Moira White – Quantock Belle Breakfast on 30.12.2017

Image © Jacquie Green – Quantock Belle Breakfast on 21.03.2010

WSRA Trustee meeting report 14 September 2021

The WSRA Trustees met on Tuesday 14th September at Bishops Lydeard.   Amongst the items discussed were:

  • Minutes of the Previous meeting in August and also the additional meeting after the AGM were approved and are available for members to view in the members section of this website.
  • 4561 – The proposed Trustee visit to view progress was postponed and is now planned for the afternoon of 12th October. Trustees were pleased to note that the brass plates are now being fitted to the axle boxes and Ryan expects to achieve a rolling chassis around the end of this year.
  • Quantock Belle – Trustees noted that an appendix to the current short term agreement had been signed to allow the PLC to fill the additional seats with new commercial bookings. Negotiations are ongoing for the remainder of 2021 and the whole of 2022.
  • Rolling stock Agreements – The Chairman undertook to remind the PLC that these need to be finalised as the end of the current agreements is imminent.
  • WSR PLC AGM – Trustees discussed and decided how the WSRA votes would be cast and agreed that Trustee Diana Ricketts-Tanner would attend as the WSRA representative. The opportunity to ask 2 questions would be taken up and the questions would be finalised by email in time for the submission deadline.  Diana will also submit a write-up of the meeting for the next Journal.