Railway Vehicle Preservations
Swithland Carriage Shed Project:
RVP's Need for Covered Storage:
RVP Ltd was initially formed in 1968 to preserve interesting items of railway rolling stock for use on a steam railway. The collection and location evolved over time; we moved to the Great Central Railway (Loughborough) in 1981, and gained charitable status in 2002. RVP has always been an entirely volunteer run organisation, and the vast majority of our work is carried out by volunteers.
Since gaining charitable status we have worked to a clear aim of restoration and operation of railway rolling stock of historical interest, especially travelling post office vehicles (and associated items).
Our collection currently consists of a total of 21 vehicles (15 directly owned, and the remainder under written long term loan agreements). All of our vehicles (with one exception) are located on the Great Central Railway (Loughborough to Leicester). RVP operates Rothley carriage works on behalf of the railway. Facilities there are limited and there is no covered storage space for vehicles.
At the time of writing just over half of our collection is in a condition suitable for display and / or use. The remainder of our collection consists of vehicles awaiting major restoration. To date we have been able to maintain our restored vehicles, while also making progress with long term restoration. Despite increasing our pool of volunteers, and significantly increasing our activity rate, we are now reaching the point where vehicle maintenance requires the majority of our volunteer's time. Long term restoration work is therefore slowing down.
This is a problem that has long been foreseen; our restored vehicles are kept on open sidings. As the majority are wooden bodied the British weather dictates that they require attention every 2-3 years. The solution is to provide covered storage accommodation; the bodywork maintenance interval will then be increased to at least 10 years (with a far easier ability to defer non-urgent work, without risk of rapid deterioration). We have constantly strived to solve this problem over the past 10 years.
Unfortunately (from a planning perspective) the Great Central Railway runs through open countryside, with limited opportunity for siting of large carriage sheds. RVP took a lease on an adjacent disused branch line (the Mountsorrel Railway) in 2005, with the intention of providing covered accommodation there. While the restoration of the branch line itself has become a hugely successful community project, we were unable to secure planning permission for buildings on it.
RVP is now better supported than at any time in our history. We are a successful specialist group working in partnership with an established (and rapidly developing) major preserved railway. However, the need to secure the future of our collection by providing covered accommodation is now becoming urgent.
The Swithland Carriage Shed:
After a long period of discussion with the planning authority and other interested parties, RVP and the GCR identified a site for a shed within existing railway land, and with minimal impact on its surroundings. This is to the rear of Swithland sidings; the location of the restored and fully operational four-track section of main line.
Planning permission was granted on 4th February 2013. Building design is now being finalised prior to the Building Regulation submission. The shed will be a modern steel framed building. Built with a low roof and clad in a neutral colour, the shed will be largely hidden from view (from the railway side, behind the existing four sidings of Swithland yard, and behind a tree and hedge screen from the site boundary). The shed will be for vehicle storage only; restoration and maintenance work will continue to be carried out at Rothley.
The proposed shed will accommodate 12 of our vehicles; three on each of the four roads. This is sufficient to house all of our wooden bodied carriages. When completed it will become the normal stabling point for our restored vehicles; the Beavertail, the two completed Gresley teak coaches, the LNER TPO set ( 2 vehicles), Motorail Van, and six wheeled brake (BZ). Our long term stored wooden bodied stock will also occupy space in the shed. These are the teak carriages stored on open sidings at Rothley and Swithland, which do not currently present the best appearance to GCR visitors passing on trains. However they include some of the most historically significant coaches in the UK, and RVP has the skills and parts necessary to restore them all in due course. In the meantime the need to get them out of the weather is urgent and, by placing them out of sight in the shed, the consequent improvement of the railways overall appearance will be an immediate additional benefit. Some space will remain in the shed to be allocated to other vehicles needing short term storage (for example vehicles from the mark 1 TPO set or other GCR based vehicles).
The site layout and shed design are shown in the accompanying drawings.
Current Status of the project:
In summary the project is almost there, we just need a bit more funding to complete it!
We need around £17,000 to be raised in the next few months to allow for rapid completion of the building once it is in place.
We consider this to be a realistic sum to raise, but we really do need the help of all GCR supporters to get this project swiftly completed to the benefit of the entire railway.
Rapid completion of the shed will immediately ease the maintenance workload and allow us to more rapidly restore the remainder of our collection. The reduction in maintenance requirement will also ensure those vehicles we have restored will be available for use more often, thus increasing the opportunities for the public to see and use them.
The project is essential to RVP and will ensure the long term operation of historic stock on the GCR - please support us at this critical time!
Online donation via Paypal
If you donate via Paypal and are a UK tax payer could you also please fill in the gift aid form and send that to us, we can then reclaim the tax (scanned signed copies are fine) to Shed Appeal, (link to form below).
RVP is a registered charity and Gift Aid can be applied to individual donations. The shed appeal leaflet, with gift aid form can be found here.