Steam Trip


While St Ives basked in early April temperatures of 15c (70f) and cloudless blue sky, fifty St Ives folk were getting the same only some 150 miles up the M4 on the West Somerset Steam Railway, the largest privately run Steam Train operator in Britain.  The occasion the unveiling or switch on of a long forgotten piece of St Ives Great Western Railway (GWR) memorabilia.  A trackside lamp now fully restored to its former glory in situ on the platform of the film-set, picture postcard station of Stugumber midway between Bishop Lydeard (Taunton) and Minehead, a round trip of some forty plus miles.  Sun, smoke and scones are cream were the three ingredients which made it a ‘day out to remember’ for the St Ives group who courtesy of Oats travel left St Ives at 8.00am bound for Bishop Lydeard, Somerset.  Where the first opportunity came to photograph on the station and nearby museum many artefacts from the great days of Steam, before a certain Doctor Beaching over half a century ago wielded his axe to many of the branch lines.Then at 12.30pm it was all aboard in a specially reserved carriage for St Ives folk heading for Stugumber some twenty miles down the line for the formalities, press photographs, short speeches.  Welcoming the party group the multi tasking lady Station Master Jenny Davidge and St Ives Mayor Councillor Yvonne Watson, before everyone were treated to a slap up buffet lunch including scones and cream(zummerzet style) much enjoyed over two hours in the station garden.  Then it was back on the 2.47 heading for Minehead passing through Dunster, Watchet and Blue Anchor.  A short break at Minehead to stretch legs, more photographs of rolling stock, platform furniture and signs from past eras, and quickly enjoy the view across the beach up the Bristol Channel before boarding the train again for the return journey through rolling countryside teeming with wildlife and new born lambs.

Summing up the day for the youngest of the group, 9 year old Dyland Sharps who remarked it was “real cool”.  Councillor Yvonne Watson who headed up the party which consisted of Deputy Mayor Councillor Joan Tanner, other Town Councillors, Old Cornwall Society, Museum Stirling Rail (St Erth) Camera Club and some St Ives Tourist Information Staff said “The staff at West Somerset did us proud, we all thoroughly enjoyed our visit and pulled out all the stops to ensure our day was a memorable one”.

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Report / Pictures:  Colin Sanger