Cotswold Festival of Steam:
the s & d rememberEd
How the S & D is remembered: Sadly we won't be able to feature a 2P 4-4-0 at the S & D-themed Cotswold Festival of Steam, but West Country class Pacific, no. 34028 Eddystone, will be there! In c.1960, Eddystone, piloted by LMS 2P class 4-4-0 no. 40654, tops Masbury summit with what is thought to be the southbound Pines Express. This is on the northern half of the celebrated S&D Bath - Bournemouth West line, closed in March 1966; the firemen can now rest for the next 8 miles to Everecreech Junction. A peaceful rural scene in the Mendip Hills (copyright Mike Esau / courtesy SLL collection)
The Cotswold Festival of Steam 'Somerset & Dorset Remembered' - 3rd to 5th June 2022
Event postponed from 2020 celebrates the Somerset & Dorset Railway
60 years since the last 'Pines Express' used the S&D
The first locomotive to be confirmed for the GWSR's 'Somerset & Dorset Remembered' is rebuilt West Country pacific no. 34028 Eddystone which was a regular performer over the lamented S&D (Copyright David Ensor)
The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway has rightly passed into the stuff of legend. The route from Bath Green Park to Bournemouth through the Mendips was challenging with steep greadients, yet it handled heavy summer expresses not least of which was the 'Pines Express' which first ran in 1910 between Manchester and Bournemouth West. The line ran through stunning scenery and was much loved by photographers, not least Mike Esau and Ivo Peters who took hundreds of outstanding photographs and cine film of the route, often including his beloved Mk VI Bentley. Closure of the line, parts of which were first built in 1862, finally happened as part of the Beeching cuts, on 7 March 1966 against considerable protest from the communities it served.
At the time of closure an amusing book by W Mills was published by Ian Allan, described as a 'sort of railway history' and called 4ft 8½ And All That . It neatly paid homage to the S & D:
Oh Wellow, Wellow, down the line.
And Blandford Forum too,
Dear Evercreech is out of reach
Now the 'Pines' does not pass through
Will Bournemouth West go with the rest
Now that the S and D,
Has heard its last "West Country" blast?
Ask Beeching, don't ask me!
Well at the GWSR's event in June, it's an opportuntiy to pay homage to the S & D with a kind of recreation in the Cotswolds, rather than the Mendips, of the trains that once plied the route. The team organising the event is doing its best to bring appropriate locomotives to the railway as a reminder of a much-lamented route that really, should never have been closed.
STOP PRESS! All locomotives have now been confirmed for the Cotswold Festival of Steam. The final piece in the S & D jigsaw is 9F class 2-10-0 no. 92203 Black Prince. The 9Fs were very much associated with the S & D during the twighlight years of this much-loved route, ideally suited to handling heavy passenger traffic such as thge Pines Express without the need for double-heading. 92203 was a long-term resident on the GWSR when it was owned by the late wildlife artist David Shepherd, founder of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which does a huge amount of work to protect endagered animal spieces across Africa and Asia. This is the first time that the engine has left its present home, the North Norfolk Railway, since it moved there from the GWSR in 2011 at a time when the railkway was divided thanks to the embankment collapse at Chicken Curve, Winchcombe.
Tickets are now on sale so book up now to enjoy the return of the celebrated 'Cotswold Festival of Steam' after a two-year gap and be taken back to the glorious sun-filled days of trains that plied the stunning S & D countryside.
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Mortons to support the Cotswold Festival of Steam
We are thrilled to confirm that Mortons, the publishers of Railway Magazine, Heritage Railway, Railway Express and many other popular titles and books is once again supporting the Cotswold Festival of Steam. They will be sponsoring the event guide which will be given free to every ticket holder.
Booking Office now open
Our Second Guest Loco Announced
Announcing our second visiting locomotive; Sentinel 7109 'Joyce' courtesy of owner Andy Chapman & S&DRHT. Read about this delightful locomotive, which will be shunting wagons at Winchcombe, recalling days when sister locomotives did just that at Radstock, here
Third guest confirmed!
Another class associated with the latter days of the Somerset and Dorset Railway was H G Ivatt's Class 2 2-6-2T's. Bath and Templecombe had allocations and they were regulars on the Highbridge branch - indeed, working on the S&D's last day before closure in March 1966. We are delighted to welcome no. 41312 by courtesy of the Mid-Hants Railway. Read more in our locomotives section!
92203 Black Prince rests at Toddington on 10 December 2007 (pic Ian Crowder)
I spy another Ivatt...
This summer, Ivatt Class 2 2-6-0 no. 46521 is visiting for an extended stay, arriving before the Cotswold Festival of Steam and remaining based at Toddington until the end of August. So naturally the engine will take part in the Festival, even though this class had nothing to do with the Somerset & Dorset Railway! Nevertheless, it is a welcome visitor and bound to be a popular addition to the railway's 'home fleet', albeit only for a short period of time. The engine appears by courtesy of joint owners Loughborough Standard Locomotives Limited / Charles Newton and its home railway, Great Central Railway.
Last visiting locomotive confirmed
Celebrated 9F class 2-10-0 no. 92203 Black Prince has been confirmed as the final visitor for the GWSR's Cotswold Festival of Steam - a welcome return to the GWSR for this fine locomotive, which was purchased from BR by wildlife artist David Shepherd, in 1968. Visitors to the GWSR today sometimes still ask: 'Is Black Prince running today?' Well anyone coming to the Cotswold Festival of Steam and asking that question will get a resounding 'Yes!!' The engine appears by courtesy of the North Norfolk Railway and Friends of Black Prince.