I also got a copy of Mike Oakley's 'Somerset Stations, Then ... and Now' from the Dovecote Press (ISBN 978-1-904-34994-5).
Very interesting I'd forgotten all about the union problems the WSR had about trains into Taunton. The aftermath of which is still with us today, although they do now have a fully signalled route on and off the mainline.
There were some realy dedicated people who kept the line going despite all the odds.
All of that union palaver is covered in great detail in the book I received also. Saving the West Somerset Railway - The Branch Line That Refused To Die
by John Parsons. (ISBN 978-0-7524-6403-9)
Whilst it was the National Union of Railwayman who were, 'blacking' the WSR it wasn't on behalf of their railway worker members but rather their bus driver members. The bus drivers were concerned that if the WSR were to reach Taunton it would affect the jobs of bus drivers working the Taunton-Minehead route. Trying to sort this 'blacking' was a frustrating endeavour for the WSR. They were told by the national executive of the NUR that this was a local branch issue, whilst the local branch of the NUR representing the bus drivers would say that the 'blacking' was a decision that could only be changed by the executive!! Very odd that the NUR were so militant when a few bus drivers jobs may have been affected, but oddly silent a few years earlier when many of their members were made redundant following BR's closure of the Taunton-Minehead branch.
Even after the WSR gave up on their ambition to run commuter services to/from Taunton, the NUR still continued to block any mutually beneficial cooperation that their members may've given to the WSR. This included the refusal to allow rolling stock to arrive by rail to the WSR, despite there being a rail link to the national network. Having to have all their stock arrive by road was a heavy drain on WSR. Also blocked were any potential freight movements, despite these being likely to provide work for NUR members! Also, whenever the Western National Bus Co. were approached to provide bus services in conjunction with special occasions and Galas on the WSR the militant bus drivers refused to do the work. In the early years of the WSR a bus link between Taunton Station and Williton and later, when the WSR was extended, Bishop's Lydeard, was provided by private operators.
It wasn't just the NUR that the WSR had problems with. Parish, Town, District and County Councils were all at one time or another hostile toward the WSR. Even Somerset County Council, despite purchasing the line in 1971 as part of a transport policy, were later very ambivalent toward their tenant.
The first 10 years of the WSR from 1976-86 were tough times, and it is testament to the dedication of staff, volunteers, shareholders and board members that the line survived and now thrives. During the dark days of the early 1980s the WSR came very close to going out of business thanks in no small part to the local branch of the NUR and it's militant bus drivers, as well as indifferent and fickle local politicians.