BooksHistory PressBOOK: Saving The West Somerset Railway

SKU: BHP1409


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The West Somerset Railway opened in 1862, linking Taunton, Watchet and Minehead. Popular with tourists travelling the Somerset coast, it was nonetheless closed by British Rail in 1971.

This book tells the story of the small group of enthusiasts, many of whom still work on the railway today, who refused to let the line die, a dream that was thwarted not only by British Rail, but also by the rail unions. Their efforts were not appreciated by the local authorities, despite volunteers struggling for 5 days to open the line to Bishops Lydeard for urgent supplies when Minehead was cut off by snow drifts.

There were many bad days, when the line was unofficially called ‘Will Something Run’ and volunteers brought sleeping bags with them, because they had no idea if they would return home that day. There were financial crises and the district council deserted them, but local residents persevered and eventually, with the assistance of Somerset County Council, therailway was able to overcome its problems and become one of the leading heritage railways in the UK. Featuring events from as early as the fourteenth century right up to the present day, this fascinating selection is sure to appeal to everyone interested in the history of one of Britain’s most beautiful cities.

(160 + 8 colour pages / Paperback)


JOHN PARSONS grew up in East London with a strong interest in the railways and train spotting. Unable to find work on the railways at the end of the war, he pursued his interest through volunteering on heritage railways. He has been a volunteer on the West Somerset Railway for the last 24 years, first as a guard and then as a tour guide. He has previously written two books based on a Victorian stationmaster’s diaries. He lives in Minehead.

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