If you are familiar with the Somerset & Dorset railway, then you probably know the name Ivo Peters. Of the many photographers who recorded the line when in operation, Ivo is perhaps the best known, and his superb black & white still images and colour cine film cover most aspects of the line. Although Ivo never actually visited Spetisbury station as far as we can tell, he did take photographs nearby and we are grateful to his son Julian Peters for allowing us to reproduce a selection of images from The Ivo Peters Collection, most of which have not been published before. Click here to view all six images plus others in our photographic archive.
Well here we are into October but the first work party of the month was a bit of a wash out due to the wet weather, although despite this there was a steady stream of walkers, runners and horse-riders passing through on the North Dorset Trailway. Instead the team took the opportunity to discuss plans for the coming winter and next year. Apart from the ongoing task of keeping the site neat and tidy, we hope to improve the station signage and provide better information panels around the site. We also plan to clear the site of the signal box which has become rather overgrown and neglected again. New hedging to protect nearly residents’ privacy and more benches are also in the pipeline.
Progress on the proposed café and information kiosk has unfortunately stalled whilst we await approval for a licence from Dorset County Council. Likewise, work by DCC on the improved Trailway access at the station site has stalled as reported previously, due to higher than expected costs. We shall continue to try and persuade DCC to resolve both of these issues as soon as possible.
Our friend Mike Lees has kindly shared his computer simulation of a First Class trip on ‘The Pines Express’ as it was in the late 1950’s and 60’s. From Shillingstone to Stourpaine and Durweston Halt, Blandford Forum for Bryanston School, Charlton Marshall, Spetisbury Halt, and Bailey Gate. Includes amazing views from the First Class carriage and a look around the goods yard at Blandford and the Bailey Gate cheese factory.
We think you’ll agree it is quite incredibly realistic! Click here to view it on Mike’s Youtube channel.
Lately we have been reporting on progress on the two new running in boards for the station. Here they are all finished with fresh paintwork glistening in the sunshine – we are quietly proud of how they have turned out.
A special work party was held on Monday 14th August when members of the team installed two replica running in boards on site. Until the station closed in 1956, large timber boards such as these would have been located one on each platform, clearly visible to passengers as the train ran in to the station. Thanks to a grant from Spetisbury Parish Council, we have been able to construct and paint these boards and provide concrete to secure them firmly into place in the approximate position as the originals. Firstly the ‘up’ platform (trains for Blandford and north to Bath) sign was located, then the ‘down’ platform (trains for Poole and Bournemouth) sign. For the latter, we made use of an old and still very firm railway concrete fence post to secure one of the wooden sign posts to. All they need now is a final coat of paint to finish them off. They really help make the station come alive again, and we hope to provide other authentic looking station signage in the future.
We have just taken delivery, hot off the press, of a stock of this reprinted booklet all about the Somerset & Dorset railway – known to its admirers as the Swift & Delightful (and its critics as the Slow & Dirty). This informative publication provides an introduction to the once important S&D, a brief history, a descriptive trip along the line and the work of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust, as well as colour and black & white photographs. A bargain at £2.50, we shall be selling copies at our station work parties and other events.
Earlier in the year we hosted two community work parties to clear vegetation from the access ramp onto the North Dorset Trailway at Spetisbury station. You might be wondering what has happened since. Well, here’s the story.
Spetisbury station is situated in an elevated position and access is only possible up a long flight of steps, or up a steep inclined footpath. The Spetisbury Station Project has been campaigning landowner Dorset County Council to improve the angle of the ramp, making it more suitable for all users of the Trailway including wheelchairs, prams and horses. Before the council could obtain quotes from contractors to undertake this work, vegetation had to be cleared from the sides of the ramp. We hosted two work parties at the beginning of the year when local volunteers turned out to clear this vegetation. The council then brought in a contractor to quote for the groundwork, but unfortunately the quote was double the budget for this work set aside by the council. No further progress was made, and the vegetation has started to take hold once again. We appreciate that council budgets are being cut back, but we feel that improved access onto the Trailway will encourage more people to use it. With the support of the local community, we therefore plan to petition Dorset County Council to look at ways of completing this work in the near future.
On Sunday 11th June we took part in Spetisbury Open Gardens, one of ten locations in the village open to the public. Thanks to some fine weather, there was a steady stream of visitors during the day which raised awareness of the work the Spetisbury Station Project is doing. We set up an exhibition tent on the ‘up platform’ (trains for Blandford and further north) where we provided refreshments, sales items and a display of artefacts found at the station site. On the ‘down’ platform (trains for Poole and Bournemouth) we displayed one of the two replica running in boards which have been funded by Spetisbury Parish Council. In the near future these large timber signs will be fixed to posts on each platform in the approximate position of the originals. The team also finished off a children’s ‘Pines Express’ log train for the ‘down’ platform. This has been made using left over logs following recent tree clearance near the station bridge by Dorset County Council.
The Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway was formed on 1st November 1875, following the merger of the Dorset Central Railway and Somerset Central Railway some years earlier. The new company decided on a shade of dark blue, known as Prussian Blue, for its locomotives and carriages, and this must have looked wonderful, especially with the staff uniform of dark green corduroy. This colour scheme had been introduced by 1900 but unfortunately it was rather short-lived, as from 1st January 1923 Britain’s independent railway companies were grouped into the ‘Big Four’ and the S&DJR fell into the hands of the Southern Railway and London, Midland & Scottish Railway. From the following year goods engines began to be painted black, and passenger engines soon followed suit. Carriages were repainted standard Southern Railway green, so the trains must have looked rather less colourful. Although we cannot appreciate the splendour of S&DJR Prussian Blue trains through black & white photographs, thankfully the colour scheme lives on in this little 0-4-0 tank engine ‘Kilmersdon’ and an original S&DJR first class six-wheeled coach on the West Somerset Railway. They can been seen at theSomerset & Dorset Railway Trustat Washford station. ‘Kilmersdon’ was built by Peckett of Bristol in 1929. It is not an original S&DJR locomotive and never actually carried the Prussian Blue livery during its working life, but it did work in Somerset at the Kilmersdon Colliery near Radstock. Coach number 4 was built at the S&DJR’s Highbridge works in 1886, and has recently been beautifully restored.
So we can only imagine how delightful this train would have looked approaching Spetisbury circa 1900, with locomotive and carriages all in Prussian Blue!
Unfortunately we have to report more vandalism up at the station site. Sometime between Saturday 3rd and Monday 5th June, a table was deliberately smashed on one of the platforms. If anyone spots any damage on site, or notices anyone acting suspiciously, please contact Moira on 07761 383563 or the police 101 non-emergency number. Thank you.