Date: Thursday 06 July 2017
Heritage railway receives gift of Victorian relics
A heritage railway restoration project in Gloucestershire has received a boost to its efforts, thanks to a unique donation from our Bristol team.
We recently acquired an old builder’s merchant depot in the town, which held some secret treasures in one of the disused storage sheds.
Chris Sturgeon, 61, a volunteer for the Vale of Berkeley Railway Group, says: “The old depot that Taylor Wimpey have bought used to be a steam depot for the Great Western Railway. One of the original locomotive sheds at the depot was never torn down by the builder’s merchant, and turned out to be home to a number of exciting artefacts.”
Chris is currently working with the Vale of Berkeley Railway line, a project set up to restore an old railway line from Sharpness Docs to Berkeley.
“When Taylor Wimpey purchased the site, they donated any artefacts that could be salvaged from the steam depot to our project,” Chris continues.
“We found a number of items dating back to the late 1800s, which are of significant interest to us, including about 200 yards of cast iron fencing and four original Great Western Railway gates – which have the ‘GWR’ crest attached onto them. We also managed to recover three 30ft steel columns, which used to hold the roof of the shed up.”
The Vale of Berkeley Railway will be a short heritage line that will run restored locomotives as a tourist attraction. The railway will include a selection of restored buildings and other features, reminiscent of the original steam railway line.
Chris adds: “One of the main aims of the project is to recreate everything as it once was, so having these original railway items makes a huge difference to us and will enable us to create accurate replicas of the Victorian line.
“It is much appreciated by the railway that Taylor Wimpey have gone to the trouble of getting these artefacts to us. We are trying to recover and restore as many original elements as possible to make the recreation as authentic as we can.”
Danielle Heard, Acting Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey Bristol, says: “ As a considerate, responsible local housebuilder we are committed to supporting the communities in which we build our new homes, so we were more than happy to make this donation to the Vale of Berkeley Railway Group.
“We hope the group enjoys the artefacts and wish them all the best for the future.”