The Somerset & Dorset

Welcome to the page for the second of the routes hosted at BVE Cornwall- The Somerset & Dorset, by Richard Scott.
I’m very pleased to say that Richard Scott has given me full permission to repair this excellent heritage route for OpenBVE and to post it here.
The following description is ‘lifted’ from his readme, as he describes the route better than I can!

We start our journey at Shillingstone
Sturminster Newton
On approach to Sturminster Newton......
Passing traffic at Stalbridge

The Route:
This route is based on a short stretch of the Somerset and Dorset, which closed down in 1966. It originally ran from Bournemouth to Bath (or Broadstone to Midford if you want to be pedantic). I have ‘modelled’ Shillingstone (in North Dorset) to Templecombe (in Somerset). Its an area that receives little coverage in books and videos, as most concentrate on the Somerset end of the line. In fact, the station building and platforms at Shillingstone are still intact and have been restored by an enthusiastic preservation group. The signal box has been rebuilt and some track is in place. Although no trains run, the site is well worth a visit.

As always with these things, I can’t claim it to be 100% accurate. However, it does give the flavour of the line. After years railway modelling, where I was always condensing station layouts to make them fit its odd that in BVE I find them stretching out a little because of the way the trackwork geometry works. This part of the line ran alongside the River Stour, through the beautiful Blackmore Vale. The land is actually fairly flat for this section so BVE is ideal to represent it. As the Vale floods regularly, the line ran along an embankment most of the way (again, much of this embankment is still there).

The Journey:
You start out from Shillingstone station, the goods platform can be seen to your left and an LSWR railbuilt semaphore signal on the right. Passing the signal box you will see the Whittaker apparatus. This device gives the fireman the token for the single line section you are entering. You then see Blandford and Webbs goods shed on the left, Okeford Hill can be seen in the distance. The goods yard is obviously quiet at the moment! After clearing the station trackwork you cross the road and after a mile or so arrive at Tan Hill Copse and two cuttings. Another mile on and you should see Fiddleford Mill in the distance on your left and you then cross the River Stour. A right turn brings you towards Sturminster Newton, a busy Market town. A long passing loop signals the station and its busy goods yard. The small station building was typical of this end of the line. After Stur station you pass under two road bridges and cross the river again heading towards Stalbridge through Bagber. Stalbridge had a long platform and was one of the stops for the famous Pines Express. Keep a look out, you may be lucky and see it! A short run across the Dorset/Somerset border brings us to the small station of Henstridge. Not all trains stopped here, but we can. Finally, a run through the fields and woods of Abbas brings us to Templecombe Lower. In reality, the trains rarely used the platform you see. It would actually run on a short distance, then reverse back up into the main Templecombe station on the Southern’s Waterloo-Exeter line. You might have noticed the main line crossing crossing over your train as you arrived at Templecombe; with its large water tower in the background. BVE could not represent this, maybe MSTS will!

Further Notes:
Originally, the default train for this was set to Don Clarke’s J36-

I however, have changed it to the equally innapropriate 81xx 😉 :
This posesses an external view, which actually works surprisingly well with a route of this age. If you start spinning the camera, then unfortunately you will find buildings built in part relief etc, but in general it’s very usable!


Update 17th August 2020:
A couple of small glitches have been fixed, noted by Alan Palmer- Thanks!

The Future:
At present, in the short term I’m not planning to do much more work to this route.

Installing working semaphores is on my medium-term todo list, but I’ve got a lot of other matters on my plate at present 🙂
Smooth trackwork and upgraded platforms would be nice, and these are on the longer-term list, so please don’t expect movement on that front soon!