Join the Dean Forest Railway Society
The Dean Forest Railway Society (DFRS) was formed in 1970 to become the volunteer support organization for the Dean Forest Railway (DFR), whose objective was to preserve the last remaining section of the Severn & Wye Railway. In June 2019 the Dean Forest Railway Society became a registered charity, number 1183538.
The Dean Forest Railway is built, maintained and operated almost entirely by unpaid volunteer members of the Dean Forest Railway Society.
It’s thanks to the enthusiasm of the volunteers that the Dean Forest Railway exists. If you want to help or simply want to keep up to date with activities at the Dean Forest Railway, why not become a member of the Dean Forest Railway Society?
You can find out more about our society at www.dfrsociety.org
The DFRS raises funds for DFR projects. By joining the Society you will be given every encouragement to help plan, construct, maintain, market or operate the railway. There is even a working volunteer mailing list that can let you know weekly of tasks ahead.
Alternatively, you may simply wish to be associated with our enterprise and be kept in touch with progress. Membership of the DFRS allows cardholders to enjoy a very favorable discount on travel during normal operating days. Annual Membership commences on January 1st or July 1st and is renewable each year on those dates.
How to join
You can refer to the subscription rates below and send a cheque payable to “Dean Forest Railway Society” along with your name and address and details of the membership type and length that you are applying for to the DFRS Membership Secretary – Adam Williams at- DFRS Membership, Dean Forest Railway, Norchard, Forest Road, Lydney, GL15 4ET
If you would like to ask any questions before you join and after you have explored this web site, you can leave a message for Adam in the shop on 01594 845840 or email him: [email protected]
If you would like to actively help as a ‘working volunteer’, we welcome your interest! Please contact the Volunteer Co-ordinator, Rob Alpin in the first instance, call (Norchard Shop on) 01594 845840, by email on [email protected], or call in at Norchard and take a look around to see what interests you. Alternatively, when applying for Society Membership, there is a space where you can identify your areas of interest for volunteering.
There is plenty to do from operating the trains as driver, fireman, guard, signalman, station master, crossing keeper (training required for all these tasks), to helping to restore, build and maintain the stations, track, signal equipment, locomotives, carriages and wagons, to being involved with the various committees tasked with running the various functions, planning and running the Dean Forest Railway.
If you are not too physically able and would like to work largely from home but could find time to attend Norchard say once a month, then why not consider joining a committee and help an area that interests you. All help is very much appreciated to spread the load. We are all volunteers, often with full-time day jobs to hold down too!
Join the DFRS Membership Application Form, which includes a bank account standing order mandate form if prefer to support us in this way, can be downloaded by clicking the link below.
The Dean Forest Railway Society, which acts as a support organization for the railway, was originally formed in 1970 to preserve the Lydney to Parkend branch line. Operations at that time were centered on Parkend as British Rail had not set a date for closure.
The first Steam Open Day took place in October 1971, with Peckett locomotive Uskmouth I hauling brake van rides over 200 feet of siding. Members were soon keen to shake off a reputation as being the “World’s Shortest Passenger Railway!”
With no immediate prospect of British Rail relinquishing ownership of the branch line and restricted by the space available at Parkend, the Society decided to seek alternative accommodation, eventually identifying land next to the branch line at the former Norchard Colliery. Together with land vacated by West Gloucestershire Power Station, this site had all the potential to become the Railway’s center of operations.
Norchard, as it would continue to be known, was acquired in 1974 and a lot of hard work followed before it was possible to stage the first open day in 1978. This time the length of running line was some 150 yards and not long afterward more track was laid allowing push-and-pull trains to operate to Middle Forge, a distance of some 450 yards.
A period of consolidation followed during which time the running line was extended twice more, first to Goatfield Curve and then to Thomas’s Yard (just short of the main A48 level crossing). Train services finally crossed the main road in 1991 to terminate at St. Mary’s Halt (then known as Lydney Lakeside).
Visits by HRH The Duke of Gloucester in 1983, the GW150 Exhibition Train and the Broad Gauge loco Iron Duke in 1985, and by various film crews and TV personalities all helped enhance Norchard’s reputation. British Rail finally announced the closure of the line to traffic in the early 1980s and this decision enabled DFR to complete the purchase of most of the track and land in 1985.
It later went on to buy part of the redundant Lydney Junction site, situated adjacent to the town’s station on the Gloucester to Newport/Cardiff main line, and to successfully apply for a second Light Railway Order to complete the link from the Junction to Parkend. It was to be 1995 before the former Severn & Wye station at Lydney Junction could be opened to DFR passenger trains. The junction site also provides the potential for additional preservation projects.
Lydney Town station, just yards from the main A48 in the town, opened in April 2001.
In 2006 Parkend Station was re-opened to the first regular passenger trains since 1929 and the DFR returned to its birthplace. Six years later, Whitecroft station (between Norchard and Parkend) was also reopened.