Severn Valley Railway to restore Kidderminster's Falling Sands Viaduct after funding boost
Urgent repairs to restore an iconic 142-year-old viaduct being eroded by water will begin next year after a generous funding boost.
The team at Severn Valley Railway (SVR) was left in high spirits after winning the £853,800 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Cash will now be used to restore Kidderminster's Falling Sands Viaduct, with essential repairs due to start in January.
Shelagh Paterson, of the SVR Charitable Trust, said: “Our iconic structure has suffered badly over the years, with water seeping deep inside, causing cracks and erosion to the brickwork.
"Now, thanks to the support of National Lottery players, and our many generous donors, we can get it back into shape.
"When the work is completed, we’ll be able to lift the current speed restriction on our heritage trains, and look forward to at least another century of service from the viaduct. Restoring Falling Sands Viaduct will help safeguard the SVR’s future.”
Falling Sands Viaduct stands half a mile from the SVR’s Kidderminster station and is near recently-built Hoobrook Link Road, as well as the Silverwoods residential and business development.
Its seven arches allow heritage trains to cross 64 feet above the river Stour and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal conservation area.
But costly repairs were needed after water began seeping down and put the viaduct at risk of closure.
The funding comes after a successful public appeal to save the viaduct raised £397,000 from thousands of individuals, community organisations, charitable trusts, foundations and businesses.
Cash will also be used to launch a new programme of community-related events and exhibitions exploring the railway's early history.
SVR volunteer Chris Haynes said: "I’ve been involved in a small team researching the history of the line for the Falling Sands project, and we’ve uncovered all sorts of interesting information.
"We discovered that some of the foremost railway engineers of the day were involved in the design of the loop line from Bewdley to Kidderminster, including Falling Sands Viaduct.
“The loop line’s construction took so long to complete that many of the key people had died before it opened.
"We’ll be bringing all these stories to life so that our visitors get a real sense of what life was like for the Victorians who built the line, and for those who used it in the following decades.”
The funding will now not only ensure the long-term viability of the viaduct but will develop the community's understanding of local heritage.
More than two thirds of the SVR’s annual 250,000 annual visitors begin their journey in Kidderminster and the viaduct is an essential link between the town and the rest of the 16-mile line, terminating at Bridgnorth.
Work is expected to be completed by next autumn.
Vanessa Harbar, head of The National Lottery Heritage Fund West Midlands, said: “We’re delighted to support Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust to preserve Falling Sands Viaduct and to celebrate its heritage.
"Thanks to National Lottery players, people in the West Midlands will explore an important part of their local history.”
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