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Severn Valley Railway launches £2.5 million share offer

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Severn Valley Railway has launched a £2.5 million share offer to transform its station at Bridgnorth in a £5 million development.

Fresh from its hosting of the iconic Flying Scotsman, the railway is this week embarking on one of its most ambitious projects.

Two-and-a-half million shares, valued at a price of £1 each, went on sale yesterday for a year.

The proceeds will provide improved visitor facilities as well as conserving the existing station building, which was built in 1862.

The SVR says the development will considerably increase the visitor catchment area and have a drip down affect to boost the tourist economy for the whole of Shropshire.

The work will be in three stages, the first two of which will be funded by the share offer.

The first stage will see the construction of a new refreshment room and toilet building, designed in the style of a typical Great Western Railway building from 1900.

There will be more space within the track side pub, The Railwayman's Arms, and the existing shop will be relocated to allow for the reinstatement of the original booking hall and waiting room.

The first phase will be finished with extensive tree planting.

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The second stage of the development will see the installation of a turntable in the locomotive yard, offering, for the first time, the opportunity to turn locomotives at the northern end of the 16-mile line in full sight of visitors.

The modern sheds will also be removed, which will open up access and views to the scheduled ancient monument of Pan Pudding Hill, the station and the distinctive skyline of historic Bridgnorth town.

The second stage will also include car park and road improvements.

Phase three of the Bridgnorth development plan, although not the subject of the share offer, will be a new on-site accommodation building for SVR volunteers.

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David Postle, long-time SVR volunteer, curator of Kidderminster Railway Museum and lead of the Bridgnorth Development Project Team, today said it was exciting to get the share offer under way.

He added: "All along we've been mindful of the very special history and heritage of the site.

"In one way it has been our inspiration, yet in another it has restricted what is possible given the station's listed-building status and the fact that the site is flanked by two scheduled ancient monuments.

"That's why we're especially pleased our hard work has paid off and our unwavering commitment to preserving this valuable historical site while making it fit for modern purpose has been recognised by Historic England and the local planning authorities.

"Now, after three years, planning is secured, preparatory works are already under way and we're ready to deliver our vision to give Bridgnorth facilities for the future all the while making sure the station takes its rightful place at the forefront of railway preservation."

Work has already started on the Bridgnorth Project. A new electricity supply is currently being installed, major groundworks will commence in mid November and building will commence in January.

The SVR said this project is its most ambitious since it was formed 51 years ago.

It also cements the attraction as one of the premier heritage railways in the country. About 45,000 descended on the line between Bridgnorth and Kidderminster in September to see the Flying Scotsman and the Tornado engine.

More than 15,000 travel tickets were sold and an estimated 30,000 additional spectators travelled to the line alongside the River Severn over a six-day period.

Organisers say the visit may have been the most successful event in the railway's history and brought in much-needed revenue both to the railway and the local economy as a whole.

To find out more about the share issue, visit svr.co.uk/shareoffer or call 01562 757900.

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