The Somerset & Dorset Railway. On Saturday 13 October 2007, the Southern Group of the club hired a coach and used this to visit and walk various sections of the old S&D between Shepton Mallet and Midford. Ron Strutt kindly acted as photographer for the day and later sent us this record of the event. Since parking a large coach in Somerset's narrow lanes can be a bit of problem (understatement), the sections visited were not in south-north order, as might have been expected. Rather, the group walked first from Shepton Mallet to Ham Green and back, then had lunch at the restored Midsomer Norton South station before continuing on to Midford for a walk back to Radstock. Anyway, so much for the convoluted logistics; here are Ron's pictures! P.S. Since this page is about one of Britain's most popular abandoned railways, we have squeezed in an extra picture, i.e. 9 instead of the usual 8.

Above: Our party photographed just north of Shepton Mallet, heading for Winsor Hill Tunnels. We were conducted over this section by Terry Marsh from Shepton Mallet Town Council, who proved to be an extremely well-informed guide; we are very grateful to Terry for his assiatance. 13 October 2007. (Ron Strutt)

Above: In breach of all railway operating procedures, we travelled 'wrong line' through Winsor Hill Tunnels, i.e. up the down line, and down the up line. This, the older of the two tunnels, includes a slight curve, as can be seen from the distant portal just visible behind the walkers' heads. For a time, British Aerospace used this tunnel for 'extreme testing' of the Rolls Royce engines to be used in the fleet of Concorde supersonic aeroplanes. Fortunately, all of the engines passed testing, otherwise this structure might not be here today! 13 October 2007. (Ron Strutt)
Left: Ham Green Viaduct was the end of our out-and-back walk from Shepton Mallet, but vegetation around the empty double track line has grown up to such an extent that it is almost possible to walk across this structure without realising that there is a deep valley below. Given all the vegetation, the viaduct is very difficult to photograph, but this image conveys an impression of its height and size. The area around the viaduct was once used by several quarries, all of which had links to the S&D in their heyday. Nowadays, nature has reclaimed everything, and the quarries – once scars on the landscape – are now so green that they require an expert eye to be detected. 13 October 2007. (Ron Strutt)
Above: The restored station at Midsomer Norton South. This site is now in the care of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust, which is in the throes of relaying the line back to Chilcompton. The protective green boards mounted over the windows are a precaution against vandalism, but are taken down for open days. Note the lattice girder signal to the right of the station building. This amazing survivor can be seen on the cover of Walking Old Railways by Christopher Somerville, entwined in wild roses. 13 October 2007. (Ron Strutt)
Above: Dining, or rather lunching, Somerset & Dorset style. This BR Mark III buffet car is now the centre of the SDRHT catering operation, and a very fine job its staff made of catering for us on the day of our visit. At the time, the trust did not have a licence to serve alcohol, so some well received samples were provided by Arundel Brewery in Sussex – note the tell-tale empty in front of Ivor Sutton on the right! Were it not for Dr. Beeching's infamous report, perhaps vehicles like this might have travelled through Midsomer Norton on their way from Bath to Bournemouth. We can but dream. 13 October 2007. (Ron Strutt)
Above: After lunch, the party's coach dropped members off at Midford, just round the corner from Midford Viaduct which can be seen here on the left. For anyone interested in transport history or industrial archaeology, Midford is an amazing place. Members are gathering on a bridge over the former Somerset Coal Canal, while, through the arches of Midford Viaduct, the remains of a separate viaduct on the GWR's Camerton branch can be seen. A few hundred yards to the right of the picture will be found Midford Aqueduct and canal basin, where a junction was made with a tramway from Radstock. This location was immortalised in 'The Titfield Thunderbolt', the popular Ealing comedy: the opening sequence shows an express on the S&D roaring over Midford Viaduct as a tank engine trundles along the lowly Camerton (i.e. Titfield) line. 13 October 2007. (Ron Strutt)
Above: In case this viaduct doesn't look quite right, that's because it is actually two viaducts which approach each other almost at a right angle. The lower structure to the left of the picture is an arch on the partially demolished GWR Midford Viaduct, while the larger arch to the right belongs to the S&D Midford Viaduct. This is where the two trains crossed at the start of 'The Titfield Thunderbolt' – though you'd hardly know it nowadays. The GWR branch actually passed beneath the S&D, through one of the arches of the larger viaduct. 13 October 2007. (Ron Strutt)
Above: Wellow Viaduct, just to the north of Wellow village. Thanks to the hard work of Sustrans and the good offices of the local landowner, there is now a very attractive railway path from Midford Viaduct to Wellow, the views from which repay a visit handsomely. Just before this viaduct, the trail leaves the trackbed so that walkers and cyclists have to continue through Wellow village on the minor road seen here. Unfortunately, the continued existence of the Midford-Wellow link is in some jeopardy. The landowner's agreement with Sustrans stipulates 'no dogs', which he is perfectly entitled to do in order to protect his livestock. Unfortunately, some path users insist on ignoring this restriction, but we would urge them to comply. As we say elsewhere on this website, we have waited decades for something constructive to be done with the nation's stock of disused railways. Now that this is at last happening, let's not make landowners have second thoughts (let alone rescind their agreements) due to thoughtlessness. 13 October 2007. (Ron Strutt)
Above: By the time the party reached Radstock, dusk had arrived. This is the site of the town's S&D station, which was known as Radstock North. Even now, you can tell that the railway once ran here because there is no housing development along its course. The colliery pithead wheel, seen in the middle distance, is near the site of the S&D's level crossing over the Bath road, which used to infuriate local drivers – especially since the GWR Frome-Bristol branch had its own level crossing next door on the left, which made its own contribution to local gridlock. Nowadays, all four lines radiating out of Radstock – the S&D in both directions, and the GWR in both directions – are open to the railway walker and cyclist, although currently the S&D to Midsomer Norton, realistically, can only be walked. Such was the state of the vegetation in August 2007 that secateurs or even shears are advised. We did not have time to visit The Waldegrave Arms (out of picture to the right of the pithead wheel), but this hotel used to overlook Radstock Basin at the end of the Radstock Canal. 13 October 2007. (Ron Strutt)