‘A Cuckoo In The Nest’… West Somerset Railway issue Washford statement

6960 Ravingham Hall
Credit: Ian Knight

The West Somerset Railway has issued a statement over them giving the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway notice to leave their Washford site.

Last year, the West Somerset Railway had severe financial and operational problems, which put the railway at risk. The money had run out, the track condition was getting worse and the ORR had concerns over the West Somerset Railway.

However, in the past few months, the railway has been undertaking a review on its entire operations and overhauling its finances.

The West Somerset Railway has said that ‘The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway Trust seems governed in such a way that it meant they felt unable to assist us financially other than allowing the WSR to hold and retain the modest profits from the Real Ale Festival last year’

The West Somerset Railway has also said that the SDJRT acted like a ‘cuckoo in the nest’ during their crisis period, which the PLC found unacceptable.

As a result of this, they have given the railway a year’s notice to remove themselves from the Washford site.

Currently, the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust occupies some of the land adjacent to Washford railway station, and have done so for many years.

However, the West Somerset Railway has said that the rent the SDJRT pays is far lower than any other organisation occupying space elsewhere on the railway.

The WSR has a plan to develop the Washford site to meet their needs which will include P-Way vehicle and equipment storage, workshops and covered winter accommodation.

The S&D Trust has suggested they might seek to change the WSR’s Light Railway Order at Washford and operate the rail lines there separately. However, the WSR has said that they would object to this due to ‘concerns about how they have operated the site’.

Currently, SDJR 7F No. 88 (53808) is owned by the S&D Trust and is operated on a separate contract. The WSR has said that it is committed to this engine and proposes to honour this contract separately.

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  1. I feel that the statement of the WSR is unprofessional and unworthy from what should be a professional body. The finances of the WSR are of their own making and not the S & D trust. It appears that the giving notice in such a way is a punishing response.

  2. I totally agree with Don Sharpe. The S&D Trust has had no part in creating the financial difficulties suffered by the WSR. If the WSR feel that the S&D Trust has not been paying adequate rent, the WSR board should have entered into negotiations to attempt to correct that. Giving notice to quit should have been a last resort. With the weight restrictions on the WSR at the moment, 53808 is an essential part of WSR motive power. The WSR should be grateful for that even if the 7F is covered by a separate agreement. To describe the S&D Trust as a “Cuckoo in the Nest” is quite out of order on the part of the WSR Board. The WSR trackbed is owned by Somerset County Council anyway so presumably it the S&D Trust is a sub-tenant of the WSR. Cannot the S&D Trust appeal to Somerset County Council about their eviction?


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