A chance to buy a stake in a national treasure opens to the public next month when one of the Midlands’ biggest heritage attractions issues shares.
Severn Valley Railway is giving enthusiasts and serious investors a once in a lifetime opportunity by offering up to three million shares at £1 each.
The popular steam and diesel railway, which follows the River Severn for 16 picturesque miles from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year.
Money raised from the share offer, which opens on October 1, will be spent on restoring Bridgnorth station, a Grade II-listed building, to its Victorian glory, alongside on-going essential restoration and infrastructure work.
Future projects also include SteamWorks – a visitor centre and spectator gallery looking into an improved Motive Power Department building to see locomotive restoration in progress.
Feedback from shareholders, supporters and its army of 1,200 volunteers suggests that the time is right for the board to embark on a major investment programme to prepare the railway for the next 50 years.
Nick Ralls, SVR’s general manager, said: “The demands of operating a 150-year-old railway are considerable.
“We are committed to ensuring the infrastructure is properly maintained, that rolling stock is of a high standard and that visitors have the kind of facilities they expect.”
Disastrous summer floods in 2007 put the railway’s future in doubt but it has bounced back and unveiled bold plans to improve facilities and inspire Britain’s heritage railway engineers of the future.
Share offer income, alongside support from funding agencies, will also finance the restoration of the Great Western Railway locomotive Hagley Hall, which has not worked for more than 23 years, and a set of historic carriages.