Published 23rd March 2012
BRIDGNORTH - The Severn Valley Railway is setting up to launch a £4million share issue this autumn. The full list of projects to be financed is still being assembled, but around £2million seems likely to be earmarked for a major redevelopment of the line’s Bridgnorth terminus.
A Bridgnorth Development Team has been working up ideas over the last 18 months and has now commissioned plans from local architects, with artists’ impressions expected to be available very shortly covering four of eleven potential projects at Bridgnorth station. Several of the elements inter-connect and development over the next decade is envisaged. In addition to the share issue, grant giving bodies including the HLF and European Regional Development Fund will be approached.
Key features of the Bridgnorth proposals will include an all-new station building immediately north of the existing building accommodating a buffet, shop, information/exhibition area, toilet facilities and staff dining facilities. The waiting room (currently a shop) of the original 1862 station building will be restored and the lounge bar of the ‘The Railwayman’s Arms’ extended, together with provision of office and staff facilities.
The disconnected siding alongside platform 1 which accommodates volunteers’ dormitory coaches will be returned to use. The coaches will either be refurbished and relocated, or replaced by purpose-built volunteer accommodation. Both station platforms will be extended, enabling platform 1 to accommodate eight-coach trains and creation of a new locomotive run-round.
The cottage and garden close to the shed coaling point could provide a location for a new-build volunteer hostel, although an alternative is to use the site to locate a turntable.
At the north end of the station a second footbridge linking the two platforms and a new first-floor public viewing gallery in the locomotive workshops (to become an interpretative ‘SteamWorks’ visitor attraction) is projected. This could also connect to the overflow car park.
Numerous other improvements are envisaged covering the station approaches, surfacing and lighting of the field overflow car park and creation of a circular vehicle route, enhancements to the locomotive yard, shed and workshops area including new staff facilities and upgrades to site security.
While funding upgrades to Bridgnorth will feature high on the share issue list, expect returning ‘favourite’ locomotives to steam and replacement of the buffet building at Bewdley to figure in the prospectus.
As to which locos are most likely to move up the queue for overhaul, some clues may be gleaned from the outcome of changes to the displays in the SVR’s Highley Engine House.
Almost all exhibits at Highley will be moved out during April to enable a significant refreshment of the displays in the building. Almost all will return, but in different locations – with the order taking account of the most likely candidates for overhaul. It could be significant if (as some anticipate) GWR ‘Hall’ 4-6-0 No. 4930 Hagley Hall returns in a position close to the doors and ex-Longmoor Military Railway ‘WD’ 2-10-0 No. 600 Gordon is rather closer to the exit than was previously the case!
Other changes include the return to the building of the TPO vehicle, joining the Royal Saloon to provide two carriage exhibits in addition to locomotives.
However, some changes previously anticipated will not occur, including an envisaged exchange involving Pannier No. 5764 going to the NRM and York’s LNWR 2-2-2 No. 3020 Cornwall coming to Highley. In the expectation of the Pannier going to York it was moved out to Kidderminster prior to Christmas, where it remains. It has been offered to the STEAM museum in Swindon, but it is not clear if this offer is being taken up.
Pannier No. 7714 is definitely heading for Bridgnorth MPD this spring to receive the Pannier boiler which has already been receiving attention.
Having completed the major renovation of the Severn Valley Railway’s Bewdley Tunnel and re-connected the line in time to run February 11-19 half-term holiday services, the planned series of mid-week engineering possessions while the SVR only ran at weekends commenced. Work being completed through the tunnel has included welding the newly laid rails to produce a continuously welded section through the 480yd bore.