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Gloucestershire Business News

Railway share offer steams to success

Volunteers on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway are celebrating after the group's share offer, Broadway: The Last Mile, was a huge success.

It has beaten its £1.25 million target by more than £80,000, raising £1,330,500 by the offer closing date of 30th April.

It means the group can now realise a large part of their vision to restore as much as possible of the former Stratford upon Avon to Cheltenham railway line

Volunteer finance director Chris Bristow said it underlines how much local people, as well as enthusiasts, want to see trains serving Broadway again after a gap of nearly 60 years.

He said: "When our president Pete Waterman (the pop and TV impresario, pictured) blew the whistle to set the share offer on its journey last April, we all hoped that we could meet our frankly ambitious target.

"Now, I'm truly humbled by the generosity of so many people. We passed our target with four weeks to spare. In railway parlance, we have completed our journey well ahead of schedule.

"Without a shadow of doubt it means we can run our first trains into a brand new Broadway station on 30th March 2018 - that's when the Champagne corks really will be popping."

However, much remains to be done, not least of which is significant civil engineering works on the high embankment between Childswickham Road and Station Road at Broadway. This embankment was constructed over a land with a shallow water table so over the years, it has gradually been moving and repaired by both the Great Western and British Railways on a 'make do and mend' basis.

Mr Bristow said: "The legacy of that policy is that we need to stabilise and re-grade the embankment using 21st century geotechnical methods including 'soil nails' to ensure that it remains stable for at least the next 100 years.

"It's essential work which has now started and we have contracted local firm George Law Ltd to carry it out. It comes at a cost of course and although we had budgeted for some stabilisation work, it has turned out to be more extensive than estimated. It's expected to cost around £400,000, but we have no choice but to do the work now.

"So the additional £80,000, coupled with a substantial contribution from the charitable Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust and dipping in to our reserves, means we can meet this challenge."

Meanwhile the station building at Broadway station is nearing completion of its elevations ready to accept a new steel frame for the roof, being manufactured by the railway's steam locomotive department, to a similar all-riveted design as the 1903 original.

The original station was demolished in 1963.

Track laying also continues using new rail bought from British Steel at Scunthorpe, laid on concrete sleepers set in ballast quarried from the Forest of Dean.

Mr Bristow said: "All of us are frankly, astounded by this success. Whether they contributed £1 to a collecting tin, or £10,000: all of us are deeply grateful that we are able to fulfil the dream of our founders, who took occupation of a Toddington station site back in 1981.

"They acquired a forlorn 15-mile strip of land with no track and most of the infrastructure and buildings demolished.

"We are now realising a large part of their vision to restore as much as possible of the former Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham railway line. An ambition that many people, at the time, said was an impossible dream."

Although the special Broadway: The Last Mile share offer has now closed, the railway's ordinary share offer remains open and share purchases of a minimum of £50 are welcome.

Full details of how to become involved can be found on www.gwsr.com

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