Construction of a new carriage storage shed had to be halted at the start of lockdown but now Swanage Railway volunteers are hoping to raise £65,000 to get the project back on track.
The shed, which is expected to cost £240,000 in total, is designed to store the railway’s historic carriages and will be built over the sidings at the east end of Herston Halt, just on the outskirts of Swanage.
Work on the foundations started in January 2020, but was put on hold due to the Covid pandemic in March of that year.
The aim is to raise the final fundraising instalment of £65,000 by the end of June 2021, so that the building’s steel structure can be ordered and delivered in time for construction in November 2021.
A “critical project” for Swanage heritage
Swanage Railway fundraising 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.”
The appeal for the shed comes following Swanage Railway’s Save Our Service Appeal – which was set up in March 2020 to help the service weather the economic hardship induced by the pandemic.
The appeal raised £360,000 in under a year.
Randy Coldham said:
“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
To find out more about the storage shed and to donate to the fundraising appeal, visit the Swanage Railway website.