The West Somerset Railway is a heritage railway. But what does that really mean? Does it mean that we want to faithfully recreate a GWR steam age branchline? If so, what era? Our railway in 1950 looked entirely different from how it looked 80 years before in the late Victorian period with broad gauge engines crewed by men dressed in their best Fustian White. So what exactly do we rebuild then? Do we faithfully try and recreate a particular period or time in the railway's life, and if so how accurate would that be? Or do we try and recreate an example of a 'generic' railway - nothing specific but redolent of a GWR branchline. And what about if we need new things that the GWR never built - do we build those in a sort of heritage pastiche, or put something in modern?
As an example, I recommend to you an image from the excellent Stogumber Station website.
Here we have a picture of two railway signs. The "Beware of Trains" sign is a newish sign that has been made to resemble the sort of thing the GWR might have done, but in fact never did. Although it might look the part, it is not authentic. The modern sign behind "Stop Look Listen" could be said to be a modern intrusion, but it is a genuine, authentic sign, albeit not 'heritage'. I guess you might say that it will be heritage in 30 years time, if we can wait that long.
I do not offer a solution, apart from saying it's a problem! How can we reconcile these seemingly mutually exclusive features?
I heartily recommend Stogumber station as a haven of tranquillity in quiet west Somerset. There was once a brewery here that brewed Pale Stogumber Ale, recommended by the medical profession as ideal for the weak and feeble.