Published: 15th November 2016
On November 1 Severn Valley Railway launched a share offer programme aimed at funding major development plans for the line’s main destination station at Bridgnorth. Hailed as the most ambitious and far-reaching development and restoration project in SVR’s 51-year history 2.5 million shares, valued at a price of £1 each, will be on sale for the next 12 months. The entire share offer proceeds are destined to provide much-improved visitor facilities whilst conserving and enhancing the architectural integrity of the neo-Jacobean style station built in 1862.
The Bridgnorth Development Programme sets out three key work phases, the first two of which will be funded through proceeds of the share offer.
The first step is construction of a new refreshment room and toilet building. The design follows the style of a typical Great Western Railway ancillary building dating from c.1900 and construction will employ traditional materials.
In addition, early stage works will see alterations to the existing Grade II listed buildings to increase space within The Railwayman’s Arms pub and relocation of the existing shop to allow the original booking hall and waiting room to be reinstated. Extensive tree planting will complete the first phase of planned works.
The second phase of the development will see installation of the former Bristol (Bath Road) turntable in the locomotive yard. For the first time this will present the opportunity to turn locomotives at the northern end of the 16-mile long Severn Valley line. There is an existing turntable at the Kidderminster end of the line. Other improvements in the Motive Power Depot area include removal of incongruous modern sheds, opening up access and views to the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Pan Pudding Hill, the station and the skyline of historic Bridgnorth town.
Plans under Phase Two also include improvements to customer car parking west of the existing boiler shop and enhanced road access enabling SVR to target more customers living to the north and east of Bridgnorth, considerably increasing the potential visitor catchment area.
Although not covered by the share offer, Phase Three of the Bridgnorth Development Plan will be construction of a new accommodation building, based on a ‘modern movement’ design built by the Great Western Railway for their staff at Didcot in 1944.
The development plan represents the vision of Severn Valley Railway’s Bridgnorth Project Team, a group set up by the SVR’s Conservation and Heritage Committee which is dedicated to conserving and enhancing the heritage of the railway in modern times. The team is led by long-time SVR volunteer and curator of the Kidderminster Railway Museum, David Postle.
“All along we’ve been mindful of the very special history and heritage of the site,” commented Mr Postle on behalf of the team. “In one way it has been our inspiration, yet in another, it has restricted what is possible given the station’s listed-building status and the fact that the site is flanked by two Scheduled Ancient Monuments. ‘That’s why we’re especially pleased our hard work has paid-off and our unwavering commitment to preserving this valuable historical site whilst while making it fit for modern purpose has been recognised by Historic England and the local planning authorities.”
‘Now, after three years, planning is secured, preparatory works are already underway and we’re ready to deliver our vision: giving Bridgnorth the facilities for the future all the while making sure the station takes its rightful place at the forefront of railway preservation.”
Severn Valley Railway General Manager, Nick Ralls, added: “We are delighted that after many years’ planning the Bridgnorth Station Development, this share offer launch puts us within reach of these exciting developments”
“The £2.5 million target is ambitious but we understand appetite for the Bridgnorth development is extremely strong among existing supporters and we expect this offer to reach new audiences too. Whether you are looking to buy many thousands or a few hundred shares, rest assured you are investing in an enormously important piece of railway preservation that not only respects the historical integrity of this extremely important site but also brings the facilities needed to engage future generations of railway enthusiasts.”
Severn Valley Railway celebrated its 50th anniversary of preservation in 2015 and currently welcomes over 200,000 visitors a year. The standard gauge line runs over a scenic 16-mile route between Kidderminster in Worcestershire and Bridgnorth in Shropshire which includes six stations along the route together with the Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley containing interactive exhibits and up to eight steam locomotives on display. SVR’s Kidderminster station is a short walk from the national network station and there is a main line connection to the heritage line.
Share Offer information can be found at www.svr.co.uk/shareoffer.