The Churnet Valley Railway's bid to raise £75,000 in just 3 months in order to complete the purchase of Cheddleton Station, has started off spectacularly with just over half of the funds raised in a little under 3 weeks!
The railway is looking to buy the Victorian building at Cheddleton that has been home to the preservationists since 1974, whilst also being able to complete some urgent repairs to the roof of this historic building. If the funds are successfully raised before the 3-month deadline, work is hoped to commence in the summer with completion possible before the end of the year.
Tony Hancock, longstanding Chairman of the CVR Plc – whose father originally helped save the station from demolition by parking in front of the diggers - is delighted with the initial response to the tax-efficient share offer, organised under the Government's Enterprise Investment Scheme.
"It’s fabulous that supporters of the line are being so generous with this appeal" he said. "The volunteer Board of the railway knew how important this one-time offer was, and to see visitors, volunteers and people with just a general interest in the line supporting the appeal is very heartwarming.”
"I'm truly humbled by the generosity of so many people. Whether it's an investment of £100 or a donation of just a couple of pounds, it underlines the affection that people have for our lovely railway and the heritage of the area itself.”
The railway’s supporting Charity “The North Staffordshire Railway Company (1978) Ltd” is accepting donations of any amount for the appeal, which can be gift aided to make every £1.00 worth an additional 25p. The re-opened Share Issue is allowing both old and new Shareholders to take out new shares in the PLC, in return for a range of benefits including discounts on the railway’s popular “Moorlander” dining train as well as guaranteed seats on the first trains into Stoke.
Meanwhile, the railway is also enjoying a successful start to its 25th Anniversary year, with a range of events planned to continue into 2017. The annual Winter Steam Gala proved to be the most successful in its current carnation, with the undoubted highlight being the first ever pairing of the powerful American S160s nos. 5197 and 6046 that are resident on the line.
The sister locomotives repeated their joint performance earlier this month, with record numbers appearing for this time of year to experience the sight and sound of these workhorses challenge the steep gradients of the Cauldon Branch.
The next major event on the railway is the ever-popular “Alf Tunstall Transport Rally” followed by the popular Father’s Day, which includes a Father’s Day dining train (pre-booking required). This is then followed by the railway’s first ever Cider Festival as part of the annual summer gala, adding to the line’s already popular Rail Ale and Gins & Trains festivals held over the summer. To conclude the 25th Anniversary Year, a special gala is being held in October with the first guest locomotive already being announced as 7820 Dinmore Manor. More details will appear over the coming months on both the line’s website and Facebook page.