THE world is mourning the loss of renowned physicist and best selling author of 'A Brief History of Time', Professor Stephen Hawking, who passed away this morning (Wednesday, March 14).

On August 27, 2014 Professor Hawking became one of the first passengers to travel on the West Somerset Railway's new specially adapted wheelchair accessible carriage.

Professor Hawking was greeted and welcomed at Bishops Lydeard station by Professor John Irven, chairman of the West Somerset Railway plc and Alan Nicholson, the Stationmaster at Bishops Lydeard.

Professor Hawking thoroughly enjoyed his time on England’s longest “heritage” railway accompanied by members of his family, and the WSR said it was delighted to have him visit.

Mr Irven explained that as well being one of the greatest scientists of our age, Professor Hawking had a personal interest in steam railways.

Professor Hawking made a private visit to the railway after seeing WSR's publicity about having a specially adapted carriage which allowed wheelchair users, including those on powered mobility wheelchairs, to travel alongside their family members in comfort, rather than being consigned in a wheelchair to the guard’s van.

Mr Irven said: "He wanted to travel as any other disabled passenger but especially with members of his family on a private visit and ride on our steam hauled railway.

"I and the WSR are very saddened by the death of this great scientist and person, who was an inspiration to so many, but we have very fond memories of being able to give Stephen a wonderful ride on our railway that he and we will remember with great affection."