• AGM report – 04-Sep-21

    DEPG members gather for the AGM at Williton on 4th September 2021 in the presence of WSR Assistant General Manager Kerry Noble while restoration work is paused on our flagship Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’. Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0


    The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the DEPG took place as planned on 4th September 2021 at Williton Diesel Depot, where members gathered for the formal presentation by Chairman Martin Howard, Treasurer Julien Weston and Company Secretary Ian Robins. WSR Assistant General Manager Kerry Noble also attended to provide a very useful update of WSR news and progress, further cementing the close relationship between the railway and the DEPG.

    Martin delivered his Chairman’s report which started by telling members about the almost total collapse in mileage income in the year 2020, caused by the lack of running during that year and the subsequent impact on DEPG activities. He explained that the group had continued to make progress on several projects in between lockdowns and as a result, two locomotives have been hired out to other heritage railways for the 2021 season, with Class 14 D9526 on hire to the Kent & East Sussex Railway and Class 47 47077 ‘NORTH STAR’ due to go out on hire to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (but temporarily stranded at Bishops Lydeard waiting for permission for onward transportation).

    DEPG Chairman Martin Howard addresses the AGM at Williton Diesel Depot on 4th September 2021. Photo by Andy Royal © CC BY-NC 3.0


    This left the DEPG with three operational locomotives, namely the two Class 33 ‘Cromptons’ D6566 (33 048) and D6575 (33 057) and Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7018 and three locomotives undergoing overhaul, namely Class 52 D1010 ‘WESTERN CAMPAIGNER’, Class 35 ‘Hymek’ D7017 and Class 14 D9518.


    The DEPG had also reached agreement with the WSR for a 10-year custodianship of their Andrew Barclay 0-4-0DH number 578 (ROF Puriton No. 1) which was operational but undergoing bodywork repairs and a repaint into the deep bronze green livery that she carried when she entered service with the Royal Ordnance Factory at Puriton, Bridgwater in 1972. This loco will be used as the ‘yard pilot’ at Williton.


    Martin also explained about our current shortage of drivers and secondmen and gave news of a training course that had just started with 6 more volunteers to continue the flow of trainees to support diesel workings in future years.

    In his summary, Martin gave thanks to all of our volunteers, including those who work in the background providing all kinds of support to ensure that our primary activities can move forward. 


    Next to speak was Treasurer Julien, and he walked through the numbers and explained that although income from loco running fell to just over £1,000 in 2020, the group had raised £11,567 in donations and memberships, plus £20,000 from Grants, the total being sufficient to support overheads and allow selective spending on projects such as new springs for D7017. The Group had also been awarded a £15,000 bounce-back loan that was not being used but was being kept in reserve.

    Julien made the point that the DEPG has to cover all of its own costs by itself, unlike many other similar organisations on other railways, where the diesel facility running costs are covered by the railway. This means that if the WSR does not use the DEPG, then the DEPG has no cost impact on the WSR. This is good for the WSR at a time when they are seeking economies, but the DEPG still has to keep going somehow.

    The appeals that are running for D1010 and D9518 are essential to allow continued progress on these projects, and the hire income from D9526 and soon also 47077 will allow the DEPG to reduce its dependency on the WSR by diversification of income. The online store is another example of progress in this direction.

    The gathered members responded with a vote of thanks to Julien and the Board for keeping the Group on an even keel throughout the most difficult circumstances.


    It was then Ian’s turn to guide the formal processes of nominations for Board members, which resulted in the current Board members retaining their positions, leaving the Board unchanged as follows:

    Position Appointed Tenure
    Chairman Martin Howard Appointed for 1 year tenure
    Vice-Chairman Neil McCannon Appointed for 1 year tenure
    Treasurer Julien Weston Appointed for 1 year tenure
    Company Secretary Ian Robins Appointed for 1 year tenure
    Staff Representative Andy Royal Appointed for 3 year tenure
    Without Portfolio Paul Tucker Appointed last year for 3 years


    With the formal business concluded, it was time for the WSR‘s Kerry Noble to give a talk on the issues that have been faced by the WSR over the past year and the positive results being achieved from this summer’s running, where revenue has exceeded targets and, on some days, has exceeded loadings achieved in 2019 (when a lot more services were being provided).

    The forthcoming events being organised by the WSR will include DEPG diesels, starting with the 1940’s event next weekend, followed by the Mixed Traction event and the Steam Gala in October. The diesel-hauled excursion specials were also seen as a success, which bodes well for the future.

    Kerry ended by thanking the DEPG for their support and looked forward to working on the 2022 timetabling with the help and involvement of the DEPG. The gathered members responded with a round of applause and appreciation.

    The final act of the day was the auctioning of a painting that was donated by Wendy Howard and from which the DEPG is now offering a greeting card on its online store. The painting in acrylic was based on a photograph taken by Josh Brinsford and shows Class 33 ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) approaching Williton Bridge with a crew refresher training special, on 1st May 2021.

    D6575 down train approaching Williton in May 2021‘ painted by Wendy Howard © CC BY-NC 3.0 from a photograph by Josh Brinsford © CC BY-NC 3.0


    DEPG Publicity Officer Mark Bladwell took the role of auctioneer and after some entertaining bidding, the painting was handed over to a member in return for a £50 donation to DEPG funds. Well done to Wendy and Josh for their roles in generating this useful contribution, both as a one-off and as an ongoing sales item.


    The usual weekly roundup will be a little late this week due to the need to cover the AGM, but please remember that this coming weekend will see the return of the the very popular ‘1940s weekend‘ events on the WSR and as in previous years, the DEPG are delighted to be able to play a small part, even though our locos were just a glint in their respective designer’s eyes during WW2. This year, the event will be supported by our two Class 33 ‘Crompton’ diesel-electrics, D6566 (33 048) and D6575 (33 057) so please do try and get along to this event if you can. Click here for timetable details.


    Also don’t forget to book in advance for the MIXED TRACTION WEEKEND that will take place on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th of September. This will be the WSR’s first true ‘hop-on-hop-off’ event since 2019 and will feature our two ‘Cromptons’ plus ‘Hymek’ D7018 and will include running to Norton Fitwarren in the afternoons. The timetabling is quite intense and has plenty of interest for fans of both types of traction, so please do try and come along to support the event if you can.


    A very big THANK YOU to all who have bought and are buying tickets in support of our 2021 diesel-hauled services, and an equally big thank you to all of the volunteers who have been and are involved in putting on the shows !


    If you have a question, please reply to this email or fill in the contact form on our website. Thanks ! Please help us and help the WSR make these diesel-hauled services a success by buying a ticket to ride !

    That’s all for this special report from the DEPG AGM, but keep a lookout for this week’s roundup!



  • Lennie Renwick

    It is with sadness I have to report that long-time friend and previous DEPG member Len Renwick passed away peacefully at home on 9th March 2021.

    Len, known to everyone as Lennie, was a railwayman through to the core. He started his railway career on the Southern Region of BR, initially on steam but switching to diesel fairly soon after as steam was eliminated on the region. He drove diesel and electric units and diesel locomotives on the mainline for many years and amassed a wealth of driving experience.

    After finishing his career on BR and settling in Somerset, he found he could still put his mainline skills to good use on the WSR where he was often to be seen at the controls of the DMU or one of our Class 33s.

    A great story-teller, he enjoyed the messroom banter almost as much as the driving itself and he would often be found keeping other DEPG staff enthralled with his stories of life on the footplate, with no profanities left out! He was also kind-hearted and unstintingly generous when passing on his traction knowledge to our own crews.

    Many will recall that for many years Lennie was infamous for having a rather rotund shape and one delightful memory I have of him during this period is when he was conducting 56302 off the mainline in 2016. I was to accompany him for route-learning purposes and we were taken by car to Silk Mills to meet the loco. As soon as it stopped, Lennie was quickly up the steps before me but struggled for a moment at the top to squeeze his frame into the doorway. From down in the cess all I could see was his backside still out of the door! I remember thinking that I just hoped the handrails would hold!

    Fairly soon after this Lennie retired from his work with the WSR and began a quieter period of his life. I next saw him a year or two later when he surprised me when he turned up at Williton. The small slim man who appeared before me was almost unrecognisable with his greatly reduced frame having given up the booze and hand-rolled cigarettes which had been for so long an integral part of his life. He kept in occasional touch with developments at Williton and I’m sure he was waiting to see us running again in 2021. Alas it was not to be, but I hope to arrange some kind of Class 33-based memorial for him in the near future when circumstances allow.

    Len Renwick, Diesel Driver and Railwayman. RIP

    Martin Howard, DEPG Chairman



  • DEPG 2021 calendar

    The first batch of DEPG 2021 calendars sold out really quickly, so we have ordered another batch to give everyone a chance of obtaining their own copy. Stock will be available next week, in time for New Year.

    This glossy 14-page A3-sized calendar (double that of A4) has been printed in “landscape” format to make the most of the high resolution images that have been so kindly donated by our members. Here’s the overview of what is included in the calendar:

    Dimensions : 297 mm high, 420mm wide (A3), 14 pages in total.

    Priced at £12 plus £3 p+p, this calendar is great value at £1 per page and is definitely not to be missed!

    How to Order:  email to get a calendar allocated to you, then when you get confirmation, use the DEPG payment options for electronic payment. If you prefer to send a cheque, please send it to our registered office address.

    We have already received many messages of appreciation, so we are certain that you will not be disappointed. Being a fully-volunteer-run organisation, all proceeds (after printing costs and VAT) go directly to our locomotive repair and restoration fund.

    Many thanks for supporting the DEPG !

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  • Help us when shopping (2)

    The DEPG has registered with another online shopping site that generates charitable donations for the DEPG AT NO COST TO YOU, the shopper !

    The additional site is GiveasyouLive


    This service has been in use by the DEPG for a while and has already generated a useful contribution to funds. This service differs from Easyfundraising by also providing donations when you are shopping in-store and when topping up store cards, so it is well worth considering.

    It is very important to make sure that, after registering, you START your shopping from the charitable giving site to make sure that your purchases count.

    More information about How to sign up to GiveasyouLive

    See our Help Us When Shopping page for details about all three of our charitable giving services !

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  • Weekly Roundup

    Originally established as a means of keeping our active volunteers up to date with what was going on at Williton Depot, the “roundup” was expanded during Lockdown 1.0 by including items of interest such as “on shed” photos from past and present, along with book reviews and WSR news.

    The circulation was also expanded beyond volunteers to all DEPG members for whom we held email addresses, then all DEPG supporters, then for anyone else who wanted to join the list!

    We now reach almost 200 people with a page of news EVERY WEEK.

    To join the mailing list, email with the subject ROUNDUP ADD.

    In the unlikely event of you wanting to be removed from the list, make the subject “ROUNDUP CANCEL”.

    If you have previously signed up for “roundup” but are not receiving it every week, it is probably due to some ISPs deciding that it is spam – which it most certainly is not! Let me know if you don’t receive it every week – because it is sent out every week for sure.

    Here follows an example of the roundup, as published on Saturday 21st November 2020:

    Hello all,

    Work continues at Williton depot to make preparations for a survey that has to be conducted to assess the safety of the roof of the Old Goods Shed. Our lovingly restored Class 14 ‘Teddy Bear’ D9526 has had to be woken from hibernation and moved outside the shed for one week to allow access for the elevated working platforms.

    The attached capture from the Williton webcam shows the gleaming loco in a line with ‘Hymek’ D7017 and ‘Crompton’ D6575 (a hopper wagon is sandwiched between the two ‘Type 3s’). Many thanks to Railcam UK and the WSR for providing the webcam service from which this image was captured.

    Class 14 D9526 emerges from the Old Goods Shed at Williton on 21NOV20. Image captured from the Williton North webcam courtesy of Railcam UK and the WSR. © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Last week, we mistakenly reported that the Class 14 in the below photograph from 1982 was D9526.

    Class 35 Hymek D7017 and Class 14 D9551 stand outside the Old Goods Shed at Williton in 1982. Photo by Brian Hart via © CC BY-NC 3.0

    We have since been advised that it was in fact D9551. DEPG member and Class 14 team leader Simon Purvis reports: 

    “D9551 was a long term resident on the WSR, being bought from Corby steel works in 1981,  arriving on the WSR 6/6/81. She worked until 1999, and was sold by the WSR in 2000 to the Royal Deeside Railway in Scotland. From there, she was sold in 2013 to a group on the Severn Valley Railway and has been working there since 2015.”

    Many thanks to Simon for this information. He also provided us with the attached photo of D9551 wearing “Golden Ochre” livery. This photo was taken at Bridgnorth on the SVR on 16th August 2018, and shows DEPG Class 14 team member Terry Deacon doing some checks on the Paxman engine prior to startup.

    Class 14 D9551 undergoing inspection by DEPG member Terry Deacon at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway. Photo dated 16AUG18 by Simon Purvis © CC BY-NC 3.0

    The fourth photo shows D9551 leading D9526 as it runs around it’s train at Minehead in the Autumn of 1983. Thanks to Ian Grady and for the photograph.

    Class 14 D9551 leads sister loco D9526 as they run around their train at Minehead in the autumn of 1983. Photo by Ian Grady via © CC BY-NC 3.0

    On Friday 20th November 2020, ‘Crompton’ D6575 (33 057) was in action, hauling a coach from Williton to Minehead for maintenance, and returning with the WSR’s Class 115 DMU which is now stabled in the North Yard at Williton. The webcam image below shows the ’33’ doing the ‘DMU drag’ and slowing for the token exchange at Blue Anchor signalbox.

    Class 33 D6575 hauling the WSRs Class 115 DMU approaches Blue Anchor on 20NOV20. Image captured from the Blue Anchor webcam courtesy of Railcam UK and the WSR. © CC BY-NY 3.0

    On Saturday 21st November 2020, sister D6566 (33 048) was used on crew refresher training workings between Bishops Lydeard and Williton, during which DEPG members and drivers Robin Fisher, Paul Fleet and Neil McCannon renewed their Class 33 tickets under the watchful eye of Traction Inspector John Leach.

    Class 33 D6566 waits at Bishops Lydeard on a crew refresher training special working on 21NOV20. Image captured from the Bishops Lydeard webcam courtesy of Railcam UK and the WSR © CC BY-NC 3.0

    Thanks again to Railcam UK and the WSR for installing and operating these webcams. They really do help us all keep in touch with what is going on at the WSR. Links to the Railcams can be found on the website:


    Moving on to an update about the status of our fleet:

    D1010: Work has been suspended for the duration of the lockdown.

    D6566 and D6575: As stated previously, both locos have been in use during this week.

    D7017 and D7018: No change from last week.

    D9518: Work has been suspended for the duration of the lockdown.

    D9526: This loco has now been moved outdoors but this is only a temporary move while the surveying of the Old Goods Shed takes place. The loco will move back in the shed after the surveying is completed, because there will be a length delay while the required work is put out to tender, and then a further wait for contractors that are qualified to work on this Grade II listed building.

    47077: No change from last week.

    The DEPG depot at Williton is classed as a workplace and is maintained Covid-safe as per Government guidelines. Work will only take place if deemed essential by the Board and our volunteers will only attend if it is necessary to do so.

    BOOK REVIEW – This week, our attention has been drawn to another brand new book, this time by Steve Ireland and titled “THE WESTERN REGION in the 1970s – A Decade of Standardisation“. We look forward to hearing from those of you who have obtained a copy of this book and we look forward to sharing your reading experience.

    ISBN: 9781912695386 – “THE WESTERN REGION in the 1970s – A Decade of Standardisation” by Steve Ireland, published by Visions International on 18NOV20.

    NOTE: A CLARIFICATION about Amazon Smile

    As we have stated previously, the DEPG has registered with Amazon Smile. It is not entirely obvious how to start shopping with this option activated, but search on Amazon Smile and there will be a page where you can sign up. Alternatively, use this link:

    Go to the How to sign up to Amazon Smile page

    Select The DEPG as your nominated charity. Amazon will make a charitable donation of 0.5% of the value of every eligible purchase that you make (eligibility is shown on every purchase page). This may sound small, but it all adds up and there is no cost to you, BUT YOU MUST START YOUR SHOPPING SESSION FROM or else your purchases won’t count.

    The attached image pops up when the link to the DEPG has been made (there is no need to install the Amazon Assistant, but that’s your choice). Please consider starting your Amazon shopping via whenever you buy ANYTHING from Amazon. Thanks !

    ON SHED: This week, we feature a photo that has been provided by Mike Cale via Paul Mear, showing a pair of Westerns arriving at Newport station, heading in the Cardiff direction, thought to be in 1968. Several things are interesting here. The use of two locos, the very long train with at least 13 vehicles in the photo (and probably more out of the photo) and the train destination boards that are hanging on the middle doors of the Mk II stock.  Thanks to Mike and Paul for sharing this image with us. Can anyone provide any detailed information? Can we identify the photographer so that we can credit him/her ?

    Double-headed “WESTERNS” at Newport, thought to be in 1968, photographer not yet established.

    DEPG NEWS: We have now registered for “Easyfundraising” (an online shopping-based donation scheme that is similar to Amazon Smile) and the instructions are very similar to those for Amazon Smile. Here’s the link to get you started, then the same rule applies – start your shopping session from easyfundraising then go the shopping sites that you would have gone to anyhow.

    Go to the How to sign up to Easyfundraising page

    There is an option to install an “assistant”, but this is not a requirement and such tools have been known to put additional load on your device, so you may choose to ignore it or install it on a trial basis and see what happens.

    We have already applied to be registered on the direct fundraising site “JustGiving” and as soon as our application has been validated, we will post an appeal for fundraising to keep our most important projects moving along. These fund raising options will also be posted to our website and social media channels. Let’s see what we can all do together, to keep funds flowing and make sure that our locos are available for service at home on the WSR and on visits to other railways next year.

    Also, we are taking orders for DEPG branded merchandise including a new A3 “landscape” format calendar for 2021, along with some good quality clothing items – see our flyer for details.

    DEPG merchandising 20NOV20

    DEPG WEBSITE: We have changed the “theme” or template of the site to make better use of widescreens and to automatically re-format into a compressed mode on small screens. There are some useful new features in the new theme, such as a menu at the bottom of each page that automatically includes newly added pages. We have appointed four more people as authors and editors to increase the flow of new or updated material and we continue to improve the structure and accessibility of the site. Keep viewing the site to see what is changing. Thanks!

    WSR NEWS: The WSR are fully intent on re-opening in December and have adjusted their Christmas timetable to allow some time between the end of Lockdown 2.0 and the start of the festive service. For details, go to the WSR site below:

    The WSR have also posted an update to the overall fundraising efforts, the details of which are available from the following link:

    That’s all for this week – thanks to all for your ongoing support of the DEPG and the railway upon which we run – the WSR !

    Please STAY SAFE and STAY WELL.



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  • Help us when shopping

    The DEPG has registered with two online shopping sites that generate charitable donations AT NO COST TO YOU, the shopper !

    The two sites are Amazon Smile and Easyfundraising.


    See our Help Us When Shopping page for more details !

  • Website template changed


    As a result of feedback from viewers, we have changed the template (more accurately termed the “theme”) that we use for our website to make better use of widescreen displays and to automatically resize when used on smaller displays such as smartphones.

    The format changes will mean that each page needs to be re-optimised to get the best layout and that will take some time, so please bear with us while we do this work.

    It is important to get the template right at this early stage, because the rework task will get much larger as we add more pages.

    A useful feature of this new template is that is includes a menu bar at the bottom of the page, along with a “back to top of page” arrow button. This menu automatically includes pages that have been added recently.

    Let us know if you find any issues with this website. We we will do our best to improve it on a continuous basis.

    Thanks !

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  • Going Live !

    Welcome to the “interim” DEPG website. We will be developing this site further and we are developing other features in the background, such as e-commerce, to be rolled out in the very near future.

    Please send your comments or observations to

    Thanks !

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