The bridge at loughboro waiting to be put in place by Phil Marsh

Bridge those gaps

Published 22nd November 2013

Tornado’s expensive tender behind requires £200,000!

‘Bridge to the Future’ appeal tops £250,000

The Great Central Railway’s £1million ‘Bridge to the Future’ appeal launched on June 1 had raised a quarter of its target by mid-October. The GCR needs to raise the remaining £750,000 by mid-2015.

The cash is needed to finance construction of a bridge over the Midland Main Line at Loughborough, crucial in achieving the dream of reunifying the Great Central Railway and GCR (Nottingham) to create an 18-mile heritage railway from the south of Nottingham through to Leicester North.

The bridge will be built by Network Rail – but the 2015 target is critical since it must be installed in advance of the Midland route to London being electrified. If this goal is missed costs will become prohibitive.

Other elements of the reunification project include building a new 300 metre embankment and repairs to two existing bridges. The aim is to have works completed by 2019, the total project cost being £6-7million.

Donations can be made via www.gcrailway.co.uk/unify or sent (cheques payable to the David Clarke Railway Trust) to Bridge Appeal, Lovatt House, 3 Wharncliffe Road, Loughborough, Leics, LE11 1SL.

Bridge spans for Ardingly branch

Two bridge spans which originally carried the Malvern to Ashchurch branch over the M50 were delivered to the Bluebell Railway on October 2.

The Bluebell, which opened its northern extension to East Grinstead earlier this year, has long-term ambitions to reinstate the Ardingly branch from Horsted Keynes to Haywards Heath. The branch trackbed was purchased by the railway in 1997 and spoil from excavating Imberhorne cutting on the East Grinstead extension has been used to extend the embankment beyond the surviving spur of the Ardingly branch at Horsted Keynes.

The key to reinstating the Ardingly branch is dealing with the gap left after Sheriff Mill viaduct was demolished in 1968. The plan is to extend the embankments at each end and finally replace the centre section with a bridge. While the project is not a current top priority, when the bridge spans were removed from their Ashchurch location in March 2012 the Bluebell took the opportunity of securing them with an eye to progressing its long-term ambition.

Resolution of planning issue enables spring opening of S&CR halt

The Swindon & Cricklade Railway should be able to officially open its Taw Valley Halt station adjacent to Mouldon Hill Country Park next spring.

Although track to the new southern terminus came into use over the 2012 August Bank Holiday weekend to give passengers a longer ride, planning problems prevented the platform from being used.

Planning Permission now secured, which requires the railway to provide a footway between the park and the halt to Swindon Borough Council ‘Access For All’ standards, will resolve the problem. Work on the path and other issues should be completed in order for the platform to come into full use for 2014.

Blunsdon will remain the S&CR’s main centre, but Taw Valley Halt is important since it provides a station with access to local bus services linking with Swindon’s main line station enabling much easier access to the heritage line by public transport.

Ultimately, the S&CR aims to extend further from the halt to a permanent terminus within Mouldon Hill Park.

A1 trust needs £200,000 to buy Tornado tender outright

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is entering the final stages of its effort to clear all residual debts related to building A1 No. 60163 Tornado and preparation of support coach E21249. The remaining step is to raise £200,000 so the trust can take ownership of the tender, hitherto held on a lease arrangement.

Bridging and personal loans which financed the push to complete Tornado have been repaid and the trust had previously announced repayment of £500,000 of bearer bonds issued in 2004 to provide cash to build the boiler would be made three years early.

Although not previously publicised, in 2006 Andrew Cook, chairman of William Cook Cast Products Ltd (a major Tornado sponsor) provided the money to build the tender so the trust could direct funds towards other parts of the locomotive. The trust has a 15-year lease for the tender and the objective is to raise £200,000 to buy it outright before the lease expires in 2021.

‘The 163 Pacifics Club’ has been launched seeking 163 people willing to donate £10 per month over eight years – or make a single £960 donation. The scheme carries benefits for participants.

The ‘163’ derives from Tornado carrying No. 60163, the next number after the last of the original Peppercorn A1s (No. 60162 Saint Johnstoun) and it logically follows that pre-nationalisation Tornado, had it been built at the time, would have been LNER No. 163.

The ‘Use your loaf’ scheme to finance the support coach has raised £79,350 in cash and pledges, leaving £6,850 needed by December 31. The trust is also reintroducing its Covenantor Awards Scheme. See www.a1steam.com for details of the fundraising initiatives and incentives.

Written by Cliff Thomas

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