SOMERSET & DORSET ALLAYS FEARS OVER MIDSOMER NORTON
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust is reassuring its members that proposed development of its Midsomer Norton headquarters will be in keeping with the station’s character.
Some members of the SDHRT have voiced concerns over an outline planning application submitted to Bath & North East Somerset Council, which includes expanded and improved locomotive maintenance facilities – including a carriage-cum-maintenance shed and boiler workshop – but also the provision of tourist accommodation; a lecture/ meeting and educational space and mixed retail units, as well as space for “artisans” and a microbrewery.
Responding to the reported concerns, trust Chairman Stephen Lacey says: “People have been saying that we would annihilate the site, but that is absolutely not the case. We obviously need to improve our locomotive and catering facilities, but not everything including in the outline planning application is necessarily going to happen.
“It is more of a case of ‘let’s include all the options available’, but we won’t necessarily do all of them. We want the trust to move forward and to improve Midsomer Norton, but we want the station to retain its charm. Anything that is pursued will be done with the greatest respect for the railway’s heritage.”
The application comes as the railway laid the last section of track on its southern extension towards Chilcompton, with the final 60ft rails being moved into place on October 28, taking the railway to the base of the in-filled cutting. The trust is aiming to open the extension, in which a full mile of the former S&D will be brought back into use, in spring 2019.
Mr Lacey says: “The task is not yet complete with more hard work required to drop over 400 tons of ballast, and jack and pack the track before passenger trains can run on the line.”
The trust is appealing for donations towards its ‘£20 for a ton’ appeal, to raise funds to purchase the ballast required to commission the extension. To contribute, visit www.sdjr. co.uk/fundraising