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w896andy

Military Event & Train on the West Somerset Railway March 2018

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As well as a Military Vehicle Collector I’m also a Volunteer Fireman on the West Somerset Railway in Somerset. I’ve been asked by the West Somerset Railway Gala Team to help organise a military freight train loaded with WW2 vehicles and a static display of military vehicles, displays and reenactors at Bishops Lydeard station as a part of their usual Spring Gala on 22-25th March 2018. The WSR will have an American S160 2-8-0 freight loco available to pull the train, these engines were made in the USA and shipped to England and Europe as a part of the war effort in the run up to and after D-Day. Many operated in the UK during 1944-45 including from Taunton shed. As there was a big military base on North Hill in Minehead a military train hauled by this type of loco taking vehicles down the branch is something the WSR wants to recreate as a part of its larger Spring Gala.

The WSR also has enough genuine war department wagons to make a train including flat wagons for vehicles, open wagons for kit, closed wagons and brake vans to ride in. Therefore the plan is to have a totally authentic military train loaded with WW2 vehicles running over the line, plus a display of static vehicles and displays at Bishops Lydeard next to the station platforms.

It’s in planning currently and I have some details to thrash out so is all subject to confirmation which I will give as soon as I can so I just need to know who is interested at the moment. No commitment of course and as always you can just turn up to be a part of the display as you wish. However I do need to be a bit more organised for the vehicles on the train and reenactors or uniformed owners to man it, as the plan is to allow you to ride on the military train in brake vans plus some will hopefully be able to get a trip on loco footplates over the line as well. Therefore could you contact me if you would like to:

1.      Have your vehicle on the train (up to GMC sized WW2 vehicles).

2.      Ride in the Brake vans on the train over the line (20 miles each way) and help ‘guard’ it when it sits in the stations ( In British, American, Home Guard, uniforms for this) and talk to the public.

3.      Just come along to Bishops Lydeard with a vehicle or display or re-enactment (not just WW2).

British, American, Home Guard & Civilian only please. No Germans or Axis.

I plan to try and arrange some footplate passes to ride over the line on the locomotives (others will be running as well over the gala) and to have some free tickets to travel on the normal passenger trains that will be running for those in uniform or civilian period dress who bring a vehicle or display in addition to being able to ride on the freight train itself.

Could you please drop me a line on andyfnorman@yahoo.co.uk or ring me on 07590 487885 or of course reply on here.

I have a meeting on the 5th Jan so if anybody is interested if you could come back to me by then that would be great, that’s not of course a deadline in anyway it would just help me to know some reaction when I’m talking to people then.

Edited by w896andy

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As an update to my previous post regarding a Military Train and Event on the West Somerset Railway during the WSR’s Spring Gala on 22-25 March 2018 I have a bit of an update. We will now be holding two Military events during 2018. The first on the 22-25 March 2018 is now being held at Minehead Station not Bishops Lydeard as previously planned. The second will be a full dedicated WSR 1940’s weekend held on the 15-16th September 2018.

Both events will feature the military train and both events will be held at Minehead with the September event also having some of the event & displays at Watchet as well. 

The March event is a part of the usual larger WSR Spring Steam Gala and will consist of military or period civilian vehicles and displays at Minehead station where there is space immediately outside of the Station next to the Turntable Café and platforms, plus space under the canopy on the platforms itself. The military train will run from Minehead in the morning, will stop in the platforms at Bishops Lydeard and then run back to Minehead sometime in the afternoon for each of the four days.

The September event is a dedicated 1940’s weekend with again the military train as before plus a replica Spitfire & RAF display outside of the station buildings at Minehead, a 1940’s dance on the Saturday evening under the platform canopy, military vehicles, civilian vehicles and home front displays at both Minehead & Watchet. Camping and parking will be available as needed. We will also put on Teas & coffees for exhibitors for both events.

As before I’m looking to arrange WW2 vehicles for the train and uniformed people to ride with the train in the Brake Vans on all six days it will be running. There will also be a limited number of Footplates rides available for people in uniform. The idea is to have as accurate a military train as possible with military personal ‘guarding it’ as it goes along the line as we expect a large number of lineside photographers to be present. Please let me know if you would like to be involved with this either with a vehicle or riding with the train or both.

For more details please ring or email me and you can also join on a Facebook page “WSR Forties Weekend 2018” to keep up with how things are progressing. You can also download a booking form, or we can post or email you one by request. Tickets for the trains and the 1940’s dance will also be available soon through the WSR Website.

We would like to represent things properly so for the train we need to have WW2 only. For the events any WW2 or Postwar vehicles are very welcome along with any classic cars, civilian, etc. but please no German or Axis displays or uniforms, as has been pointed out, luckily they didn’t get as far as Minehead during the war!!!!! You are also welcome to bring deactivated or replica weapons but please display them with respect in a non-aggressive way and no blank firing or gas guns as we don’t want to frighten the neighbours.

My contact details are andyfnorman@yahoo.co.uk, 07590 487885.

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