There are plenty of exciting things to report in this issue. The most important development is the purchase and erection of our new storage building.
You will remember our dismay when the GWR Road Motor Depot was demolished. This disaster was two-fold. Not only did we lose an interesting original Great Western building, but all our larger "artefacts" were thrown out at the mercy of the weather. In the last 12 months the damage has been severe. I have rescued 7 GWR office chairs which had been standing in a deep puddle. All the joints have fallen apart and the bottoms of the legs have begun to rot. The Cambrian Dray now has rotten wheels. This will be a major cost to rectify, and the lovely Brintons cart wheels have the rot in them too. They are outside our scope for funding. There is no way we can spend several thousand pounds on them so the end result is that they are ruined, although we have carried out a 'botch' repair.
All this bad news was too hard to bear, so we are gratified that the company has given us permission to erect a storage building at the far end of the coal yard at Kidderminster
The building is of corrugated iron on steelwork construction. It is a modern proprietary building, not an original GWR design. We discussed building an original style building but felt that by the time it was finished we would not have anything worthwhile to put in it!
The most noticeable deviation from old style practice is that the pitched roof is flatter than would have been the case in GWR days. Not to worry. It is a massive 42 ft x 20 ft and is capable of housing all 3 drays, the Mechanical Horse and trailer and the Thornycroft Nippy! The catch is that one of the drays needs to be loaded on the Mech Horse trailer for it all to fit, but no worries.
The building was supplied and erected by GP Buildings of Caersws at a cost of just over £8,000. It will form the basis of a more aesthetically correct structure. As we get time and funds we are to add a lean-to workshop which we are at present planning to be a copy of the workshop and stores on the old GWR bus depot building from Stroud. This will give us the opportunity of storing small artefacts and parts of items which are under restoration - such as Thornycroft components.
We are also bringing in an electricity supply to give us lighting and power for hand tools and the like. At some stage we will be fitting proper cast iron guttering and windows (the existing windows are in fact transparent plastic corrugated panels.
So you see we have taken on plenty of work, and will need to get a fair bit of cash together to fund it all. We have always succeeded with this in the past - let's hope poor old Bob doesn't lose too much sleep balancing the books in the meantime.
As you can imagine we have not taken on all this work without some soul-searching. Would it really be worth all this cost to preserve a handful of GWR road vehicles without the proper original building to show them off in? We had all along hoped to include the RMD into a small group of buildings such as the Weighbridge and Coal Office. I personally had harboured the idea of resurrecting the old Bridgnorth Bus Shed as a workshop and forge, all open to inspection by our visitors on high days and holidays.
Our grand scheme has turned out to be impractical, but we have saved much for future generations. Without the new building we may just as well have lit a bloody great bonfire and slung it all on!
There is other really good news. Long standing members of the Friends will remember our proposals for an overall roof for the concourse. Obviously that would always have been outside the financial reach of the Friends, but we lived in hope. Now that the Company has decided to build a new restaurant they have also noticed the merit of roofing the concourse at the same time. Apparently the new designs (which I have not seen) are for a wing to be added to the station in the area of the existing temporary restaurant building, in the style of the rest of the station. The intention, I am told, is for the roof to fill in the space created in the u shaped buildings to provide desperately needed cover for our visitors on wet days and space for eating and drinking (overflow from the King and Castle and the restaurant) and for all the special events in lieu of the ghastly marquee.
The initial cost will be high. The savings and potential for extra earnings are enormous. We have the potential of a truly top-class venue for all kinds of events.
Again I have not seen drawings for the concourse roof. I pray with all the fervour I can muster that the designs will be in keeping with GWR practice. It has the potential of putting the icing on the cake as far as our beautiful station is concerned. It will only be done once and it must be right. It also has the potential of being a real mess if those in charge do not stop and think what they are creating. Atmosphere is difficult to gain and easy to lose. No doubt those in charge of the design of Kidderminster's notorious Crown House actually thought it was lovely!!!
As usual the members of the Friends have been pressing on with a number of old (and some new) projects since publication of the last Newsletter. I could continue with these but I will not. I will give someone else a chance.
I hope you will enjoy this Newsletter. I have agreed to take on the Editorship with help from my wife Jane, to whom many thanks. Graham is going to copy it through the generosity of Virgin Trains. Sadly their photocopier was "down the nick" on the last issue, we are sorry, on the other hand it means that you get this for the cost of postage alone which leaves more money in the pot for PRESERVATION which is our main business after all. Helen has also been conned - er - I mean agreed to continue enveloping addressing and stamping each issue, a thankless task, so "thanks" Helen.
Mick Yarker. October 2005