£853,000 to boost Kidderminster steam railway

Falling Sands Viaduct
Credit: Matthew Wilson

The Severn Valley Railway has announced it has won a £853,800 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The railway will use the grant to restore Falling Sands Viaduct in Kidderminster along with other funds raised. it will also launch an exciting programme of community engagement and exhibitions that will show off the history of the line.

News of The National Lottery Heritage Fund grant comes soon after the SVR announced the success of its appeal to raise £397,000 in donations from thousands of individuals, community organisations, charitable trusts and foundations, and businesses.

It means the railway can now go ahead with essential repairs to the 142-year-old viaduct.

As well as ensuring the long-term viability of the viaduct, the project will engage in a wider audience and will encourage an appreciation for local heritage.

Falling Sands Viaduct is around half a mile outside the Severn Valley Railway’s Kidderminster terminus and is located close to the recently built Hoobrook Link Road and the Silverwoods residential and business development.

Its seven arches allow heritage trains to cross 64 feet above the river Stour and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal conservation area.

It has been reported that more than two-thirds of the SVR’s annual 250,000 annual visitors begin their journey in Kidderminster

Repair work will begin early next January and will be fully completed by the autumn.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded a development grant of £71,800 in 2017 for the Falling Sands project. The latest award takes the total amount of its funding to £925,600.

What did the officials say?

Shelagh Paterson of the SVR Charitable Trust explains:

“Our iconic structure has suffered badly over the years, with water seeping deep inside, causing cracks and erosion to the brickwork. Now, thanks to the support of National Lottery players, and our many generous donors, we can get it back into shape. When the work is completed, we’ll be able to lift the current speed restriction on our heritage trains, and look forward to at least another century of service from the viaduct. Restoring Falling Sands Viaduct will help safeguard the SVR’s future.”

SVR volunteer Chris Haynes explains:

“I’ve been involved in a small team researching the history of the line for the Falling Sands project, and we’ve uncovered all sorts of interesting information. We discovered that some of the foremost railway engineers of the day were involved in the design of the loop line from Bewdley to Kidderminster, including Falling Sands Viaduct.

“the loop line’s construction took so long to complete that many of the key people had died before it opened. We’ll be bringing all these stories to life so that our visitors get a real sense of what life was like for the Victorians who built the line, and for those who used it in the following decades.”

Vanessa Harbar, head of The National Lottery Heritage Fund West Midlands said:

“We’re delighted to support Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust to preserve Falling Sands Viaduct and to celebrate its heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players, people in the West Midlands will explore an important part of their local history.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. A heartening report in the wake of previously-depressing reports on the sadly decaying condition of this fine railway edifice, that sturdily though our Victorian forefathers built them, could not be expected to last indefinitely without care and attention, the likes of which in the present age, come only at massively increasing cost. As a truly national asset as well as a vital part of a much-visited tourist and educational attraction, it’s support from the NLHF is almost mandatory.

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