August 3, 2016
Somerset and Dorset railway exhibition comes to Burnham-On-Sea

A travelling exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of closure of a railway is touring venues across Somerset and Dorset during 2016 and the next stop is Burnham-On-Sea this weekend.

On Friday 5th and Saturday 6th August the exhibition will take place in the Baptist Church Hall, College Street from 10am-4pm and will include S&D museum objects, archive photographs, film and model railway of the Burnham-On-Sea layout. There will be free entry to the exhibition and other activities.

Other attractions include a book signing on Friday 5th by author and curator Steph Gillett whose recently published book 'The Somerset & Dorset Railway Through Time' includes many previously unpublished photographs.

On Saturday 6th there will be performances from the 'Curator of Memories' Kate McStraw. Kate has been collecting memories and stories of the S&D Railway and will share these through her curious travelling memory museum.

The performances will take place at 11am & 12pm at Burnham Library, Princess Street, and then at 2.30pm at the Baptist Church Hall. They are suitable for all ages.

The first public train arrived at Burnham on 3rd May 1858 along with public celebrations including a tea party for local dignitaries.

After the introduction of the Bank Holiday Act in 1871, the original platform was found to be too short to take the number of coaches required to bring visitors to the town.

A longer, grass covered, excursion platform was made on the opposite side of the station building and part of this still remains today.

It was also on this platform that troop trains disembarked their passengers, including evacuees to the town. So many people wanted to use the train to come to Burnham over the Easter Bank holiday weekend in 1936, 15 trains an hour had to be laid on.

The exhibition is part of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust’s project to mark the anniversary, supported by a £58,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

During 2016 the Trust is marking this significant event with a travelling exhibition, events and activities in communities along the routes of this iconic railway and at their own base at Washford station on the West Somerset Railway.

The project will further keep alive the spirit, history and heritage of the railway as a major cross country rail route, its importance to the communities through which it passed, and the social impact of its closure.

The Trust is not just looking nostalgically backwards but hopes to enthuse and inform younger people and children who may have family connections or live along the line.

2016 is also the 50th anniversary of establishment of the Trust and members will celebrate half-a-century of preserving the line’s heritage.

The Trust promotes the spirit and history of the Somerset & Dorset Railway through exhibitions, publications, events, and through its museum and restoration centre at Washford station. (Photos by Nick Tolley and submitted).


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