Campaign to save last remnant of Bishop's Castle railway line
A drive to save one of the only remnants of an ill-fated Shropshire railway line is to be launched.
The former weighbridge building in Bishop's Castle is one of the only signs that there was ever a railway line linking the town with nearby Craven Arms, which was closed and mostly torn up in 1935.
Today that building is crumbling, but now a historical society want to get a campaign underway to save it for posterity, with a meeting to whip up interest scheduled for next week.
Plaques remembering the line were put in place for the 80th anniversary of its closure in Bishop's Castle and Craven Arms in 2015, which was also the 150th anniversary of its building.
The line, which opened in 1865 and went through through Lydham Heath, Eaton, Plowden, Horderley and Stretford Bridge, has now been gone longer than it existed, and all that remains is the odd street name, converted building or ghostly imprint of tracks across fields.
Of the buildings, station houses at Plowden, Eaton and Horderley are still occupied, but the old weighbridge office at Bishop’s Castle was last used in the 1960s by a local coal merchant.
It has remained untouched in a corner of busy timber business, Ransford's, in Bishop's Castle ever since.
John Rimmer, chairman of Bishop's Castle Railway Society, a group formed in the 1980s to preserve the memory of the line, said: “The building is in a remarkably good state considering it has been unused for 50 years. It will, of course, need substantial work to restore it to its original 1865 condition.
“The owner of the timber business is very supportive of what we would like to do; we now need to gauge the level of support in Bishop's Castle."
He said the railway Society is considering an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund if it can get the support of the community.
A drop-in session for members of the public is being held at Bishop's Castle Town Hall on Tuesday, August 15, from 4pm to 8pm.
Mr Rimmer said the project team will be there to talk about the renovation plans, possible uses for the building and how the town might be involved.
"The team would like to hear views and explore ways people could help us achieve the aim of restoring this important building," he said.
The line was built to get coal into Bishop's Castle and agricultural good and timber out, but never made money and after years of ploughing cash into the enterprise, railway bosses called it a day. Just two years after it closed the line was largely gone – though Mr Rimmer said the route can be made out from the A489 road between the town for those who know where to look.
For more information see www.bcrailway.co.uk or call 01588 638998.