SVR chases final million as Bridgnorth share offer campaign enters final weeks

The Bristol (Bath Road) turntable is the focus of the second phase of proposed works, pictured here in 1985 with the SVR’s own 4930 Hagley Hall. Raising the final £1 million could reunite turntable and engine.

The team behind the Severn Valley Railway’s ambitious £2.5 million share offer plan to fund the restoration and development of Bridgnorth Station has this month published a set of questions and answers in a bid to help raise the final million.

Developed in response to a wide range of queries received by the railway in recent months, and written up by volunteers leading the development, the comprehensive list will be hosted on the Severn Valley Railway website share offer page. The list spans topics from how some of the proceeds raised in the 2012 share offer have already funded important Bridgnorth planning and groundworks, through to further detail on the generous travel benefits offered to shareholders.

Tony Bending, long-time volunteer and SVR board member said: “We have received over 3000 web enquiries, which is very encouraging, and 20% have already converted to share sales. Along with our existing shareholders and members these have helped to take our current fundraising tally to £1,500,000, which will enable us to complete the new refreshment room and refurbish the existing station building.

“We would really like to achieve our target of £2,500,000, however, so that the second phase of the Bridgnorth project, including the installation of a turntable, can become a reality. While we still have £1 million to go, previous share offers have been very productive in the final few weeks.

“We are now entering the final weeks of the campaign – the share offer must close on October 31 – so we do ask potential purchasers to allow enough time for administration. If you’ve not yet requested a share offer pack, do please apply now and for those with a pack wanting more information, look at our online FAQs or call us to find out more.”

Work on-site is also progressing as the building of the new refreshment room (funded by the offer) in the style of a typical Great Western Railway building of the early 20th century continues. Remaining true to the English Bond brickwork pattern used by GWR has involved painstaking work as more than 13,000 bricks will have been cut on site to achieve the traditional design involving alternate rows of stretchers, with their long sides facing out, and headers, with the end facing out.

Meanwhile focus is moving to the potential second phase, which includes the installation of a turntable, which has been long-awaited and will allow locomotives to turn at Bridgnorth – in full view of visitors – for the first time in the line’s history. Although acquired for the SVR by the Bridgnorth Turntable Fund in 1998 from the now closed Bristol (Bath Road) steam locomotive depot, its installation has been held up pending development of Bridgnorth station site. The turntable, which is 65ft 3in long, has been in store at the SVR for the last 19 years.

During this time additional funds of around £30,000 have already been raised to support its installation, but further investment in the Bridgnorth station infrastructure is needed before the dream can be realised. These works form part of the second phase, a vital part of the current share offer.

Shares cost £1 each, with a minimum purchase of 100 shares, and buyers will receive generous travel benefits ranging from two free tickets each year to a free travel pass for the holder and up to three guests. More information about the full scope of the proposed Bridgnorth works as well as application packs can be found at www.svr.co.uk/shareoffer or by calling 01562 757900.

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