Published: 28th September 2015
Closely following Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway announcing updated proposals for a new station at Caernarfon ( www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2015/whr-plans-2-million-station-for-caernarfon/ ) several other station-related stories are currently headline news – and all seeking help to bring ambitions to fruition.
Dean Forest Railway has launched a £20,000 appeal to secure Griffithstown station for future DFR use. This is the estimated cost of dismantling, labelling components and transport into storage.
The Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company opened the station near Pontypool in 1879 to serve the town named after local station master, Henry Griffiths. A year later Griffithstown station came under the auspices of the Great Western Railway and continued as an operational station until the 1960s.
A private museum dedicated to the railway heritage of Pontypool was set up in the goods shed by Martin Fay in 1993 and opened to the public in 2001. Having financed purchase of much of the memorabilia displayed himself, by early 2011 he conceded the attraction was no longer viable and it closed.
The site of the station building needs to be cleared to make way for a housing development. Torfaen Council, recognising the appeal and interest of the station building for railway preservationists, offered to make it available for removal to another site as an alternative to demolition. Dean Forest Railway declared their interest, viewing the building as perfectly suited to form a new terminus on its planned northward extension.
DFR currently operates over four and a half miles of the former Severn & Wye Railway between Lydney Junction (with a main line connection) and Parkend. The projected extension will continue further into the Forest of Dean.
Discussions with The Forestry Commission, owners of the land near their Beechenhurst leisure site on which the station would be reconstructed, are described as very positive.
“Historically, the building is ideal for DFR as the S&WR was later run as a joint LMS/GWR line and north of Parkend GWR buildings were used,” commented a DFR spokesman. “So, a GWR building is appropriate for the setting and, aesthetically, it will merge into the forest surroundings beautifully. In addition, in relocating the station to the Forest of Dean, we will be putting the building in a place with a similar industrial history to that of Griffithstown. The local coal and iron/steel industry were the key source of revenue for the railway in both locations.”
DFR has also made presentations to the Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucester County Council Highways Department and Cinderford Town Council and received unanimous support. "All of the local stakeholders have been very excited about the project to re-site the Griffithstown Station in the Forest of Dean and see it as an important stepping stone to the extension of our line towards, and eventually onto Cinderford, linking it to Lydney," commented DFR Civil Engineering Director, Jason Shirley.
Formal notices of DFR’s intentions have been posted outside the building and all being well dismantling could commence during October.
The Griffithstown Project
Dean Forest Railway
Cheques should be made payable to the DFR, but marked ‘Griffithstown Project’ on the reverse or on the submitting envelope.
Leighton Buzzard Railway’s push to finance a new station building to replace the existing life-expired structure at Page’s Park has received a major boost with a renewed ‘double your money’ offer by a benefactor.
A race to raise £50,000 in three months which would then be doubled to £100,000 by a benefactor launched earlier this year (www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2015/lbr-aims-to-double-the-money/) was rapidly fulfilled. Continued efforts have seen the total raised pass the £220,000 mark.
In an effort to maintain momentum and push the appeal total up to that needed to complete the building and help finance interior fitting out and exterior detailing the benefactor has now made a further £1 for £1 offer. Every £1 donated in the next three months will be doubled up to a limit of £50,000 – potentially adding another £100,000 to the station fund.
The new ‘Double Your Money’ offer followed news that planning permission for the station development was granted on September 1. The railway already had planning approval for a new station building at the site but changes to the original Museum Gateway plans necessitated seeking new planning permission. The need to secure revised approval means the projected start of construction this year has been put back by a few months, work should now commence shortly after the turn of the year.
Donations can be made via the Railway’s website at www.buzzrail.co.uk or by post to the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway Society Limited, Page’s Park Station, Billington Road, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 4TN.