The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust has sent RailAdvent a statement regarding the ongoing issues with the West Somerset Railway and the Washford site.
The SDRT has confirmed that they have received a letter from the solicitors of the West Somerset Railway PLC to terminate the 50-year agreement for the SDRT’s site at Washford.
This is regardless of the fact that the WSR signed an extension of the tenancy with the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust in 2018.
The West Somerset Railway has said that the reason for this is that they wish to use the site for their own purposes.
The trust has also had its attention drawn to the West Somerset Railway’s News From The Board, on the 16th February 2020. The SDRT has said that the comments contained within this document regarding “The trust does not support the WSR” and “the SDRT has, itself given notice to leave” are inaccurate and untruthful.
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust has said that it has done everything within its power to support the WSR whilst continuing to work with its financial restrictions.
The document also states that the West Somerset Railway wish to pursue their own agenda. The agenda, says the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust, has always been to promote the memory of the old S&D through the museum at Washford, and exhibits include a restored S&D carriage and numerous wagons with S&D history.
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust has said that they had no contact with the West Somerset Railway prior to the letter being received, which was a ‘bolt out of blue’ moment.
The trust has also said that no formal discussions had taken place before the letter was received. The trust has also said that they have assisted the WSR through their recent financial crisis, to the extent that the proceeds from the 2019 Real Ale Festival at Washford mainly went to the West Somerset Railway.
Furthermore, the SDRT has also purchased items from the WSR to satisfy their urgent cash requirement. The SDRT has also said that they were unable to give the WSR any physical money due to the charity restrictions they have to deal with.
The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust is currently seeking legal advice and will consider options when this has been received.
The site at Washford has been transformed by the SDRT since it moved into the derelict location in the mid-1970s
No further comment has been made about S&D 7F No. 53808, which is under a separate agreement with the WSR.
What did the officials say?
Ian Young, chairman of the SDRT, commented
“whatever the outcome might be, it will put the Trust under severe stress and cause a great deal of concern to our dedicated membership, if not the heritage movement generally.’’
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