Hot on the heels of its hugely successful Pacific Power and VIP Charity Day events featuring world-famous locomotive Flying Scotsman, which saw more than 45,000 people head to the Railway, the SVR is announcing the launch of the most ambitious, far-reaching development and restoration project since it was formed 51 years ago.
2.5 million shares, valued at a price of £1 each, will go on sale on 1 November for a period of 12 months. The entire proceeds are destined to provide much-improved visitor facilities as well as conserving the existing station building built in 1862.
The Bridgnorth Development Programme sets out three key work phases, the first two of which will be funded through share offer proceeds, starting with the construction of a new refreshment room and toilet building, designed in the style of a typical Great Western Railway building c1900.
In addition, early stage works will see alterations to the existing Grade-II listed buildings to increase space within the popular track-side pub, The Railwayman’s Arms, as well as the relocation of the existing shop to allow for the reinstatement of the original booking hall and waiting room. Extensive tree planting activities will complete the first phase of planned works.
The second phase of the development will see the installation of the former Bristol (Bath Road) turntable in the locomotive yard offering, for the first time, the opportunity to turn locomotives at the northern end of the 16-mile line, in full sight of visitors.
Additional public realm improvements include the removal of incongruous modern sheds, opening up access and views to the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Pan Pudding Hill, the station and the distinctive skyline of historic Bridgnorth town.
Phase Two plans also include improvements to customer car parking and enhanced road access enabling SVR to target more customers living to the north and east of Bridgnorth. This is expected to considerably increase the potential visitor catchment area and so boost the local tourist economy.
Phase Three of the Bridgnorth Development Plan, although not the subject of the imminent share offer, will be a new on-site accommodation building for SVR volunteers.
David Postle, long-time SVR volunteer, curator of the Kidderminster Railway Museum and lead of the Bridgnorth Development Project Team said, ‘All along we’ve been mindful of the very special history and heritage of the site.
‘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 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.’
Nick Ralls, SVR General Manager, said: ‘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 as well as helping to grow the local tourism economy as much-improved facilities will help us attract new audiences to start their journeys in Bridgnorth for the first time.’
Work has already started on the Bridgnorth Project. A new electricity supply is currently being installed, major groundworks will commence in mid-November and building will commence in January 2017.
Full information about the share offer can be found at www.svr.co.uk/shareoffer.
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