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Report of the illustrated talk regarding the Baie de Somme Railway

Presentation given by Michael Bunn on the Baie de Somme Railway held at Mizens Saturday 3rd August 2019.

 

Michael gave a most informative, detailed and well presented illustrated talk on the Baie de Somme Railway with fifteen of us in attendance.

The line, which is 27 kilometres long effectively going around the Bay de Somme, was built in 1870 to the one metre gauge and links with the SNCF at Noyelles sur Mer. The railway which is in Picardy is 45 kilometres north of Boulogne.

There are four stations the main one being the very busy resort of St Valery sur Somme. Part of the track is dual with standard gauge and we were shown a photograph of a standard gauge loco pulling narrow gauge coaches. A rare sight indeed.

In 1970 the Railway was derelict and a group of volunteers set about restoration. They had the great advantage that the track was intact with its infrastructure, albeit in very poor order, and they were helped considerably by the local authorities who provided capital assistance since a restored railway would benefit the local communities and economy. It would be special if the same help was forthcoming with the L&BR in North Devon but the likelihood does not exist. The railway which is open March to December attracts over 150,000 passengers a year, a remarkable number, and is mainly run by volunteers on a non profit basis.

Michael gave a detailed history of the line from its beginning, the restoration, and the present day service. The railway has extensive rolling stock together with many steam and diesel locos and a large photographic selection was shown to us. Michael is a member of the Kent and East Sussex Railway who exchange locos and rolling stock with the Baie de Somme Railway and there are close links between the two organisations. Michael is also a member of the French Railway Society.

The presentation lasted just over two hours, with a short break in between, and for me one of the best talks I have listened to including many amusing anecdotes. Inspiration as to what can be achieved given the will, and encouragement for us at the L&BR that we will get there in the end.

Many thanks to Fran Smith for the above article also to Barry Marshall for the photography.

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