Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust release Washford update

11
Kilmersdon at the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust Washford site
Credit: SDRT

The Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust has sent RailAdvent another statement regarding their position with their Washford site and the dispute between themselves and the West Somerset Railway.

Since the last update, which is available to read here, the railway has received no reply from the West Somerset Railway regarding the number of questions the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust (SDRT) had about the Notice to Quit.

Now, the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust has appointed solicitors to deal with this situation.

The SDRT has said, “We are disappointed by the attitude of the WSR plc towards an organisation that has invested so much time and money at Washford on both track and buildings on what was a brown-field site.”

During the last season, the SDRT’s shop and museum were open on all days that the WSR was running. The SDRT has said that it isn’t true that they were asked to be open more frequently.

The WSR plc has put part of the reason for the Notice to Quit down to the SDRT’s lack of contribution towards their financial difficulties. However, the Trust’s charitable objectives would make donations unlawful.

However, the SDRT has said that they have assisted the WSR in other ways, such as providing most of the proceeds from the 2019 Beer Festival to them and purchasing items from them.

It has also been said that the SDRT has refused to help with the fundraising for a new tender top for S&D 7F No. 53808, which has been hired to the WSR for the last 33 years.

In response to this, the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust (SDRT) has said that this is not the case. However, under the agreement, this is the responsibility of the WSR PLC – although the SDRT had indicated that they were prepared to help with the fundraising.

The SDRT has continued to say that there were apparently safety concerns at the site; however, the Trust complies with the WSR’s requirements as laid down in their SMS (Safety Management System) for Washford.

On the Light Railway Order that the WSR mentioned, the Trust says that they had only looked at that in outline. There were no definite plans.

Steam Railway Magazine had claimed that someone, who wanted to stay anonymous, that the Trust would accept having WSR ID cards, however, the SDRT already have them.

The WSR has previously stated that they want to pursue their own agenda at the Washford site. However, the SDRT’s agenda is to promote the memory of the S&D through exhibits, locomotives and carriages, just as they have done since forming in January 1966.

Following on from this, the SDRT has said that “the refusal of the WSR plc to engage with the Trust on these serious issues means that we have no alternative but to step up our efforts to challenge this eviction order.”

The SDRT will be setting up an appeal for fundraising to ensure that the Trust can secure its future and safeguard the heritage they have been entrusted with over the last fifty years.

What do you think of this? Let us know in the comments below.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Hard not to take sides on this….so much goes on behind closed doors we can never know who said what to who, but on the basis of the S&D statement it does seem the WSR are not acting responsibly in relation to their neighbour. I would like to think cool minds will intervene and end this silly feud.

  2. Whatever the real reasons, the S&D group will never have the goodwill and facilities at the WSR and starting a ‘slanging match’ will do nothing to help the situation. They can’t trun back the clock and the best solution is to find a new home where they will be welcomed. The loco should be put on notice to terminate the hire to the WSR and another railway will welcome the loco.

  3. The S&D should either move to Midsomer Norton and take everything they added to Washford with them, or consider whether they can take over the route of the WSR as, lets face it, the WSR is not likely to make it through this closure period when they couldn’t even balance the books when they were operating.

  4. Lots of questions for the WSR. Why won’t they discuss the situation with the S &DRT, why no negotiations before issuing the notice to quit and how can they afford solicitors and take on the Washford site given their financial problems? Re-think this please.

  5. The WSR steaming on into oblivion run by a bunch of bloody minded fools.
    Good luck SDRT i am sure there are other railways that would welcome you
    with open arms.
    Time to quit and let them stew in their own juice.

  6. I am an outsider looking in but it seems that the WSR is a bit of a basket case that is sadly likely to become financially unviable especially in the strange times in which we find ourselves. The SDR might be eventually be better off jumping ship leaving a scorched earth policy on their WSR site. Neither will profit in the short term but construction follows deconstruction apparently. MGB North Yorks.

  7. I am an outsider looking in but it seems that the WSR is a bit of a basket case that is sadly likely to become financially unviable especially in the strange times in which we find ourselves. The SDR might be eventually be better off jumping ship leaving a scorched earth policy on their WSR site. Neither will profit in the short term but construction follows deconstruction apparently. MGB North Yorks.

  8. As if the railway heritage business doesn’t have enough problems at the moment! It’s certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility that the WSR (and quite a few other ‘big’ ones) won’t survive the Covid crisis and the SDR will be left isolated. Don’t waste time and money on lawyers, get out before the big ship sinks.

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