West Somerset Railway
It was on Good Friday March 28th 1976 that Lord Montague formally flagged the first train on its way from Minehead for a trip to Blue Anchor and back on the initial section of the West Somerset Railway to be re-opened. It was just over five years after the Minehead Branch Line was closed by British Rail on January 2nd 1971.
By the end of 1976 trains were running between Minehead and Williton and in 1979 trains were running over the whole distance between the seaside town and Bishops Lydeard, four miles from Taunton. The 32 years since that landmark was reached have not always been smooth going and many difficulties have had to be overcome but today the Railway is a major contributor to the economies of West Somerset and Taunton Deane, carrying over 200,000 passengers per annum.
Our road trip starts at the Southern terminus of Bishops Lydeard, which is just off J25 of the M5. The route then takes you to Crowcombe Heathfield, the highest station on the line and then on to hillside stop at Stogumber, which is unusual in its layout with its building standing on one side of the line and the platform on the other. After Stogumber comes Williton. Trains passing through Willington station have been under the control of the same signal box ever since the line opened in 1862. Then Doniford Halt after which comes the old harbour town of Watchet and then the home of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust Washford, followed by Blue Anchor, which is close to the beach. Then on to Dunster, a hearty walk from the medieval village. The line's Northern terminus is Minehead, which is on the other side of the road from the beach and just off the town centre.
Address: West Somerset Railway, the Railway Station, Minehead, Somerset TA24 5BG
Telephone (bookings, information & enquiries): 01643 704996
Group/party bookings: 01643 700398
Timetable: See website. Talking Timetable telephone: 01643 704996 (out of office hours)
Email: Send email
Website: West Somerset Railway
Directions from M5 to Bishops Lydeard Station: Leave the M5 at Junction 25 Taunton (If you are continuing your road trip from the A358 you'll arrive at juntion 25) and follow signs for Minehead (there are also brown tourist signs for the Railway itself but following the signs for Minehead works as well) until you are approaching Bishops Lydeard. DO NOT GO INTO THE VILLAGE. Remain on the by-pass until you see signs directing you to the Railway and also the village of Halse. Turn left here and Bishops Lydeard station is directly in front of you behind the Broad Gauge Industrial Park. There is a large free car park at Bishops Lydeard Station.
Parking: Yes, free
Gift shop: Yes
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