Volunteers from Swanage Railway are aiming to raise £65,000 by the summer to help fund a new carriage storage shed, and have released a new video offering trackside footage of the railway in action to help boost the fundraiser.
Construction work for the new £240,000 shed – which would help keep Swanage Railway’s historic carriages properly protected from the elements – began in January 2020, but was halted in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
Fundraisers now hope they can raise a total of £65,000 by the end of June 2021 so the critical steel structure can be ordered and delivered in time for construction in November 2021. The appeal has passed the £19,000 mark.
They have now released an eight minute long video on YouTube and social media featuring interviews with key figures at Swanage Railway explaining the importance of this fundraising initiative.
A look behind the scenes
The video offers viewers a special look at the project, showing people what their donations would help achieve for Swanage Railway.
It highlights the urgency of the appeal, as the railway’s historic Devon Belle carriage is going to be leaving the town for a period of time until the shed can offer it covered protection. It’s not required in Swanage this season due to uncertainty around Covid, so in the meantime, it will be heading to Margate in Kent where it can be stored undercover.
The film also features interviews with Swanage Railway engineering director Nathan Au and Swanage Railway chairman Gavin Johns, who offer their expert insights into the project and why it is vital to help protect the train carriages.
Herston Carriage Shed
The new shed is set to be located on the outskirts of Swanage just east of Herston Halt, and will be able to store 10 carriages.
Prior to the work being halted, the foundations for the steel structure had been laid by contractors.
Nathan Au explained:
“The building of our first carriage storage shed is a critical project because it will protect our historically important heritage carriages – the oldest of which date from the 1920s – from the ravages of the weather while also reducing the costs of repairing, maintaining and overhauling the vehicles.”
The new fundraising appeal comes following a prior effort in early 2020, which saw £30,000 raised to help fund the shed project.
Swanage Railway fundraising chairman Randy Coldham said:
“Fundraising work for the carriage shed was paused in March 2020, as the Swanage Railway battled the economic challenge of surviving the coronavirus pandemic through the Save Our Service fundraising appeal, the target of which was reached in February 2021.
“That means that we can now 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.”
Watch the video
Anyone who wants to donate to the fundraiser can do so on the Swanage Railway Trust website.