The Swanage Railway has launched a £65,000 appeal to allow the resumption of work on a £240,000 carriage storage shed.
The railway hopes to have the money raised by the end of June, which will mean that the steel structure for the shed can be ordered before it is constructed in November 2021.
The shed will be located to the east of Herston Halt. Work began in January 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic meant that work stopped in March 2020.
Contractors were able to complete the foundations for the steel structure before the lockdown restrictions came into force.
Two tracks will be installed in the shed, with up to ten carriages being able to be stored in the shed, including the heritage coaches.
Swanage Railway fund-raising chairman Randy Coldham said: “This appeal is for a critical project to protect our historically important heritage carriages, the oldest of which date from the 1930s.
“The Swanage Railway doesn’t have any undercover storage facilities for its carriages which have to be stored outside in all weathers. Keeping ten carriages under cover in a dedicated storage shed will protect the vehicles from the weather and also reduce the costs of maintaining the carriages.
“We are hopeful that the public will help us to close the funding gap and allow the carriage shed to be completed by the start of 2022 so it can protect some of our historic carriages from the ravages of winter weather,” added Randy.
The relaunch of this carriage shed appeal follows on from the successful Save Our Service Appeal, which launched £360,000 in less than a year.
Randy explained: “I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to reach – and surpass by £5,000 – the Save Our Service Appeal target of £360,000 in less than a year.
“It’s a marvellous achievement thanks to the generosity of our members, staff, volunteers and the public.
“With our earnings from running trains reduced by lockdowns, Covid-19 restrictions and the need for social distancing on our trains which has reduced seating capacity, the Save Our Service Appeal has allowed the Swanage Railway to survive the winter.
“We are now working to safely resume train services in line with the Government’s roadmap to recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic,” added Randy who is also a volunteer Swanage Railway signalman.
Randy explained: “Fund-raising work for the carriage shed had to be paused in March, 2020, as dedicated and determined Swanage Railway volunteers battled the economic challenge of surviving the Coronavirus pandemic through the Save Our Service Appeal.
“Now, we can return to the Herston carriage shed project which has seen us raise £177,000 towards the building costs thanks to successful fund-raising efforts as well as generous legacies and bequests.
“With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the appeal was paused before reaching its target of £32,000. We had hoped to secure a grant to part-fund the construction but it was no longer available as the grant administrators had changed their requirement to enable them to finance organisations affected by Covid-19.
“Without the grant, because of the early closure of the original appeal and allowing for inflation we have set the appeal target to raise £65,000 by the end of June so that the steel structure of the carriage shed can be manufactured and installed on the site. It is hoped to complete the new shed by early 2022,” he added.
If you would like to donate to the Herston Carriage Shed Appeal, please visit the Swanage Railway Trust website.
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