Metal wall installed at Severn Valley Railway bearing names of donors to bridge repair fund
A glimmering 21-metre long metal wall has been installed at Severn Valley Railway lined with thousands of names of those who have contributed towards a vital bridge repair fund.
The aluminium wall has been installed at The Engine House in Highley, near Bridgnorth, and displays the names of nearly 3,000 individuals, companies, community and grant-making organisations that contributed towards the railway's Helping hands for Falling Sands Appeal.
The appeal has raised £397,000 towards restoring the 142-year-old Falling Sands Viaduct and has been boosted by a further £853,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Contributors towards the fund have chosen to add the names of friends and family members, or in memory of loved ones.
The wall, which has seven arches like the viaduct itself, has been installed to be visible from passing heritage trains.
Sandra Higginson from Kingswinford is a volunteer at the railway and added her daughter's name to the wall.
She said: "Last year would have been my daughter Olivia's 21st birthday, but tragically we lost her to meningitis when she was 12.
"I volunteer at the SVR as a buffet steward and every time I pass the wall at Highley, it means so much just knowing that her name is up there – it's a wonderful tribute."
Kidderminster couple Hilary and Geoff Boyle are long-term supporters and regular visitors to the SVR.
“We’re involved with the Kidderminster Husum Twinning Association and always bring our German guests to the railway, as well as our grandchildren," said Hilary.
"Until the viaduct appeal was launched we’d never heard of Falling Sands, although we must have travelled across it hundreds of times. We realise how important it is to the railway’s future, and added Geoff’s name in support.”
SVR Charitable Trust chairman John Leftwich has paid tribute to everyone who has donated.
“Our donation wall is a fitting testament to all those who are determined to save an essential part of the SVR’s infrastructure," he said.
"Falling Sands Viaduct is a vital link between Kidderminster and the rest of the line, and at 142 years old, it now needs extensive repairs."
All the funding has been secured for work on the restoration to start early next year.
He added: "Without urgent action, we could be forced to reduce the length of trains, or even face temporary or permanent closure of the line.
“In the short time that the wall’s been in place people have flocked to The Engine House to see it, and the feedback has been extremely positive. This is a wonderful way for the SVR to say thank you to everyone who got behind our campaign to recognise their contributions.”
Linda Cocksedge from Bewdley, signed up with her husband Neil and said they value the SVR as an important local asset.
Linda said: "We visit regularly and always take friends when they come to stay.
"The Charitable Trust is doing sterling work by raising funds to preserve rolling stock and infrastructure, and to train apprentices.
"In 2005 we raised funds for the railway by taking part in a sponsored steam marathon, travelling non-stop on trains for three days. It's lovely to be able to do our bit once again for Falling Sands Viaduct."