Author: Ian Coleby, Allan Stainistreet, Ian Tabrett
Format: Paperback, 130 pages
Status: In Stock
When the former British Rail closed the once-bustling former Great Western Railway 25-mile branch line to Minehead from Taunton in 1971, a local businessman and railway enthusiasts simply refused to let it die.
They all thought the railway was well worth saving, as did many in the local community, and so they battled with both the National Union of Railwaymen and British Rail to be allowed to run their own trains again as a private line to be called the West Somerset Railway (WSR).
Crucially, the WSR lobbyists gained the support of Somerset County Council which bought the track bed from British Rail with a view to perhaps turning much of it into new roads if the embryonic line failed.
The WSR company and support organisations were set up and steam locos, coaches and diesel multiple units were gradually acquired to use on the nascent line’s planned services.
After five years, their persistence finally succeeded and, in April 1976, the new West Somerset Railway was born and it reopened initially on just the three miles from Minehead to Blue Anchor.
Over the next three years, the line was steadily reopened in stages. First to Washford, Watchet and Williton, and then to Stogumber, and finally to Crowcombe and Bishops Lydeard as the line’s new southern terminus which was reached in 1979 making it the country’s longest heritage line at some 20 miles.
Now, the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust (WSSRT) has produced a new 40th anniversary book chronicling some personal memories and momentous events of the last four decades years. The book is illustrated in colour.