Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust faces eviction from Washford

Maybach

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I don't think this has been posted anywhere else (I couldn't see a separate thread):

http://www.sdrt.org/images/files/news/press_release_22-02-20.pdf

The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust has received 12 months notice to quit its Washford site after West Somerset Railway terminates tenancy agreement.

20 February 2020.

Ian Young, S&DRT Chairman, is sending the following letter to members:

"Dear member,

I am sorry to tell you that we have received a Notice to Terminate the agreement at Washford by February 10th 2021. It has been sent by solicitors acting for the West Somerset Railway plc.

This is very disappointing news for the Trust. The reason cited by the letter from their solicitors is that the WSR wishes to use the site for their own purposes though they have not furnished any further detail.

We cannot be certain of the outcome of this move but, whatever that might be, it will bring challenges to the Trust. At the same time I would ask you all to be assured that this does NOT indicate the end of the Trust, we will continue with our present activities as usual. I have no doubt that it will cause us to evaluate, as never before, what our strengths, weaknesses and ambitions are. However the Trust has faced difficulties in the past which have been overcome and we must seek the opportunities which will lie ahead.

We are seeking legal advice, and a response has already been sent to the WSR via their solicitors.

In the meantime, we will endeavour to keep you informed via the website. Please note that certain information may be reserved for the Members’ area."

Ian Young,
Chairman, Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust Ltd.
Of course, there are two sides to every story and here's the WSR's press statement:

https://www.west-somerset-railway.c...et-railway-board-statement-regarding-washford

"In the past few months...the West Somerset Railway has been undertaking a strategic review of its entire operations, and completely overhauling its finances.

The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust seems governed in such a way that it meant they felt unable to assist us financially other than by allowing the WSR to hold and retain the modest profits from a Real Ale Festival last year. They wished to pursue their own specific charitable aims and, in our crisis period, acted rather like a ‘cuckoo in the nest’ which the plc found unacceptable. As a result of this and other concerns, they have been served with a year’s notice to remove themselves from the Washford site completely."
 
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RailUK Forums

Engineer

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Thanks for posting Maybach, very sad after all the S& D Trust work since 1977 to transform this once derelict site. The reality we have mentioned on other Threads, is that preserved railways have become under serious financial pressure for a number of reasons; before this Coronavirus epidemic further damages passenger income. The March issue of The Railway Magazine on page 71, has a short piece about the S & D Trust situation. Better for the WSR to survive in a good shape, to realise more value from its assets, so many other very tough decisions to make; like selling off the Prairie to the Dartmouth Steam Railway. Lets hope the S & D Trust find a new home..
 

Meerkat

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Possibly a negotiating tactic - forcing the Trust to make hard decisions?
Site access isn’t great for reletting, they would lose the rent they are getting, and have they got any funds to do anything themselves?
 

221129

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Possibly a negotiating tactic - forcing the Trust to make hard decisions?
Site access isn’t great for reletting, they would lose the rent they are getting, and have they got any funds to do anything themselves?
Did you actually read the WSR statement? Which contains details about their intentions for the site.
 

Engineer

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alexl92

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What's the actual truth here? The S&D Trust clearly feel hard done by and feel that the WSR haven't been fair in their actions; the WSR seem to suggest that the S&D Trust aren't very supportive of them. Both have refuted each others' accusations (though that in itself isn't suprising).

I'm not so familiar with the WSR; is the Washford site on an as yet un-used branch or is it simply a station part-way along the line that the trust have managed?
 

6Gman

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The S & D Trust have published a new statement on the Rail Advent website. I hope the link below works, or Google info if interested. This is a very polarised situation, legal action will involve one party losing money they cannot afford. I agree with 221129, as WSR want to control all their infrastructure, for future financial security..

https://www.railadvent.co.uk/2020/03/somerset-and-dorset-railway-trust-release-washford-update.html
Chances are that both sides could end up out of pocket !
 

Cowley

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What's the actual truth here? The S&D Trust clearly feel hard done by and feel that the WSR haven't been fair in their actions; the WSR seem to suggest that the S&D Trust aren't very supportive of them. Both have refuted each others' accusations (though that in itself isn't suprising).

I'm not so familiar with the WSR; is the Washford site on an as yet un-used branch or is it simply a station part-way along the line that the trust have managed?
The S&D Trust are set up in the former (and I think) expanded goods yard in a modern(ish) shed opposite Washford station*.
They often run demonstration freight trains/brakevan rides on their own bit of track next to the WSR main running line (Washford station is single track and one platform).

* As an aside Washford station is painted in Southern Region colours (the only one on the ex GWR line) as a nod towards the S&D connection.
 

theblackwatch

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The whole thing seems a bit odd - the WSR agreed a 50 year lease with the S&D Trust in 2018 - now they want to back-track on it. As to their accusation about the S&DT not being supportive, it does worry me that some within the WSR may not fully grasp charities - they have objectives, agreed with the Charity Commission, which they have to stick to. The S&DT's, from their 2018 Annual report, are:

The charity’s objects are specifically restricted to the following:
 to advance the education of the public about the history and social and economic impact of the Somerset & Dorset Railway, its antecedents and its successors, on local communities, in the context of Britain’s railway heritage;
 to establish and maintain a museum for the benefit of the public relating to the Somerset & Dorset Railway and railway heritage generally, and to preserve or restore historic railway items for public display and demonstration;
 to provide or assist in the provision of facilities in the interests of social welfare for recreation or other leisure time occupation of all individuals, including those who have need of such facilities by reason of their youth, age, infirmity or disability, financial hardship or social circumstances, with the object of improving their conditions of life.
To start assisting WSR plc financially (which seems to be one of the WSR's beefs according to its Board Statement) could, I suspect, have landed up with the S&DT getting into bother.

The WSR is a lovely line, but it has had a lot of problems in the past year or two. Pressing the self destruct button is not the best way to deal with them.
 

DelW

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A news item on the WSR website details a joint statement from WSR PLC and the S&D Trust, issued on 17th June, that they have held a teleconference meeting to discuss the future use of 53808, and plan another to discuss the future of Washford station. Both parties "confirmed their intent to work collaboratively" and "share the desire to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome".

Hopefully this leads to an agreement, I think the last thing either party needs just now is to be spending money on legal actions.


20.06.17 PLC & SDRT Joint Statement-page-001.jpg
(Image of statement)
 

Amlag

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seems like a standard landlord and tenant situation to me. There seems to be a lot emotional language in use which really has no bearing on the situation.
S&DRT owned 2-8-0 loco 53808 is the most powerful and only steam loco (currently based on the WSR) that can haul UNASSISTED lengthy charter trains off the national network, between Bishops Lydiard and Minehead, and is thus important to the WSR Plc until and if a replacement loco can be hired.
 

DarloRich

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S&DRT owned 2-8-0 loco 53808 is the most powerful and only steam loco (currently based on the WSR) that can haul UNASSISTED lengthy charter trains off the national network, between Bishops Lydiard and Minehead, and is thus important to the WSR Plc until and if a replacement loco can be hired.
OK. What does that have to do with a landlord and tenant issue? If the use of that locomotive is subject to formal hire agreement it cant be simply set aside.
 

Flying Phil

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Apparently the WSR has said that it will not be able to overhaul 53808....which was a condition of the hire agreement. It does seem a Very messy situation and I think people have been a bit wary of supporting the WSR during this crisis because they don't want to see some of the money going to lawyers fees.....
 

Cowley

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Apparently the WSR has said that it will not be able to overhaul 53808....which was a condition of the hire agreement. It does seem a Very messy situation and I think people have been a bit wary of supporting the WSR during this crisis because they don't want to see some of the money going to lawyers fees.....
I must say that I am very worried for the line. It’s been really uncomfortable watching what’s been going on this last few years, and I felt that there was a glimmer of hope that they’d hopefully start getting on top of it last year and then this (the virus).
 

Amlag

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I must say that I am very worried for the line. It’s been really uncomfortable watching what’s been going on this last few years, and I felt that there was a glimmer of hope that they’d hopefully start getting on top of it last year and then this (the virus).
It would make a very attractive and well used all year round cycle/multi use trail throughout from Minehead to Taunton.
 

Worf

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It would make a very attractive and well used all year round cycle/multi use trail throughout from Minehead to Taunton.
Spoken like a real railway enthusiast.
The last thing we need is more blooming cycle tracks!
 

theironroad

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Spoken like a real railway enthusiast.
The last thing we need is more blooming cycle tracks!
Many more people (though possibly not on here ) would probably argue that what we need is a lot more cycle tracks and alot less pollution spewing diesel and steam emissions. :)
 

alexl92

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Many more people (though possibly not on here ) would probably argue that what we need is a lot more cycle tracks and alot less pollution spewing diesel and steam emissions. :)
Maybe in the countryside; they keep building them on roads in Leeds and a grand total of about 3 people per day use them!
 

theblackwatch

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I must say that I am very worried for the line. It’s been really uncomfortable watching what’s been going on this last few years, and I felt that there was a glimmer of hope that they’d hopefully start getting on top of it last year and then this (the virus).
You can add what appears to be a dispute between the plc and the WSRA (the line's supporters association). See the letter at https://www.wsra.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/CC-Report-Members-letter.pdf where the WSRA trustees have had to involve the Charity Commission in what has happened.
 

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