With four weeks remaining before the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s (GWSR) ‘Broadway: Last Mile’ Share Offer must close, the £1.25m target has been exceeded – with money still flowing in.
Chris Bristow, the railway’s voluntary finance director, says: “What a wonderful achievement. Our volunteers have worked flat-out to make this a success and the public has responded magnificently!
“The number of share applications from people of all walks of life has accelerated as the 30th April Share Offer deadline looms. It was only a year ago that the Offer was launched by our President, Pete Waterman and it means that completion of the project, on time, is assured.”
Neil and Vicky Davidson from Stratton, near Swindon, made the share purchase that took the Offer past its target.
Neil, a European contract manager, says he was absolutely delighted to learn that he and his veterinary nurse wife Vicky, had taken the offer past the magic £1.25 million.
“I’m so pleased to see the project to get the railway to Broadway progressing so well – it’s astonishing to see the rapid progress being made.
“It had been in the back of my mind for a while to make an investment and I could see that time was running out. Then a bonus from work provided the opportunity!”
Neil has been interested in railways since he was a youngster and is an accomplished amateur photographer, occasionally providing images for the benefit of the railway. He is also a member of the ‘Growler Group’ at Toddington which looks after the two English Electric Type 3 diesel locomotives, 37215 (D6915) and 37248 (D6948) based on the line.
“We first came to the railway for a gala event in 2014 and have been hooked ever since. It’s a beautiful railway and the extension to Broadway will really establish the line as one of the best in the country,” he says.
“This is a very exciting time for the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and it it’s hard to think of another heritage line that has the same kind of opportunities for future growth and development.”
Chris Bristow points out however, that despite this success the railway can’t rest on its laurels.
“There is one major hurdle remaining before the track reaches Broadway station – and that’s the high embankment between Childswickham Road and Station Road.
“It’s only a couple of hundred yards long but this embankment is unstable. Work is just starting on a £400,000-plus project to remove some inappropriate materials used for historic ‘make and mend’ repairs and stabilise the structure using a modern geo-technical solution.
“It’s rather more than we expected to have to spend, but the work must be done so that’s why we welcome continued share applications.”
Meanwhile, the Broadway station building has reached eaves level and is progressing well. The railway’s locomotive department is manufacturing the heritage steel roof structure for Broadway station, at its Toddington works.
On the extension, ballast has been laid ready to take the sidings to the north of the station while the track as far as Peasebrook Farm, about half a mile short of Broadway station, is almost ready for trains to run while sleepers and rail continue to be laid towards Childswickham Road.
However Chris Bristow is confident that the works will be finished in time.
“We still have significant expenditure ahead of us and we still need every penny we can raise, but the project to bring trains into Broadway station in March 2018, for the first time since 1960, is very much within our sight.”
Anyone who has yet to buy shares in the offer has until 30th April to do so. A share brochure and application form can be downloaded on www.gwsr.com. Shares attract significant travel benefits as well as an opportunity to have a say in the way the railway is run – as well as a unique and attractive Broadway share certificate.
It’s also possible to donate to the Broadway extension through the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust by Gift Aid at www.gwrt.org.uk/Make_a_Donation