• Andrew P.M. Wright

New video launched to boost £65,000 appeal so work can resume on new carriage shed


Dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers have produced a new fund-raising video explaining why they are battling to raise £65,000 so that work can resume on building a much-needed £240,000 carriage storage shed for the heritage line.


Keeping railway carriages, especially the historic ones – the oldest of which dates from the 1920's – under cover, and protected from the ravages of the weather, is important because it reduces the costs of maintaining, repairing and overhauling the vehicles.


It is hoped to have the £65,000 raised by the end of June, 2021, so that the steel structure of the building can be ordered before being delivered to the site and constructed in November, 2021.


The launch of the eight minute video for the Swanage Railway’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media channels comes as the Herston Carriage Shed Appeal passes the £19,000 mark after being launched in early March, 2021.


Work on the new carriage shed – located east of Herston Halt, on the outskirts of Swanage, and capable of storing ten carriages – began in January, 2020, but had to stop at the end of March, 2020, with the first national Covid-19 lockdown.


Before the work had to stop last year, contractors had managed to complete the foundations for the steel structure that will span two tracks and be capable of storing ten carriages – including the Swanage Railway’s historic heritage carriages.


Swanage Railway fund-raising chairman Randy Coldham said: “The new fund-raising video is part of our push to raise £65,000 by the end of June so that we can resume work on the carriage shed – work that has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.”


Swanage Railway engineering director 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.”


Built with the permission of Dorset Council, the new Herston carriage shed will be 131 metres long, have a height of 6.5 metres, a width of 9.2 metres and cover an area of more than 1,000 square metres.


The project manager for the Herston carriage shed is Swanage Railway Trustee Nick Coram – a volunteer operations department locomotive driver and fireman – while the consulting engineer is Jim Peters of Such Salinger Peters in Bournemouth.


Early 2020 saw £30,000 raised in an initial appeal so that preparation and foundation work could be carried out on the site of the new carriage shed which is a first for the heritage line that has been rebuilt from nothing since 1976.


Randy Coldham explained: “Fund-raising 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 fund-raising 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,” he added.


The new Herston Carriage Shed Appeal video can be found below or here


The Swanage Railway always welcomes new volunteers so, for a chat, contact Swanage Railway volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 or email him at iwanttovolunteer@swanagerailway.co.uk.

Story and photograph by Andrew P.M. Wright, Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.

Video by Kevin Babey.