14th December, 2018 by East Somerset Railway in The Railway
Our Heritage Lottery project has progressed steadily towards the planned opening of our new Discovery Centre on Friday 21st December 2018. All of our volunteers are welcome at 11am to see what we have achieved. We are delighted that the Chairman of the South West Committee, Heritage Lottery Fund, Mr Stephen Boyce, will be with us on this day.
Our Electrical Contractors, Moulderz, installed a power supply, electrical systems, heating, lighting etc in November. They have been working alongside our builders, who have made a temporary path from the Signal Box to the second platform and laid in ducting for cables. Volunteers, Derek and Lynne Sharp, also took on the job of upgrading the pedestrian crossing at the end of the platform, which will improve public access to the new platform and Discovery Centre and this is nearing completion.
In the meantime, Education Officer, Lisa Pool, has been busy leading the creation of the heritage interpretation panels and other displays within the Discovery Centre. Large panels depicting the history of our railway have been jointly designed by Lisa and Julia Nest and are in the process of being manufactured by St Andrews Press in Wells. The design of the centre is aimed at both adults and children. We hope they will be valuable for school parties in 2019 and also the wider general public. An example of one of these displays is pictured.
We are pleased to say that the project will be completed on time and within the agreed costs with the National Lottery. In fact, due to the high level of volunteer involvement we made some cost savings on the project.
We were able to purchase (with National Lottery agreement) a set of reproduction Victorian platform lamps, which will become operational in 2019, when we create a permanent surface on the platform.
In addition, to recognise the pivotal role played by the late David Shepherd in establishing our heritage railway, we are naming the reinstated waiting room building "The David Shepherd Discovery Centre". A stone plaque has been commissioned as part of the project to commemorate David's legacy.
We hope to have a further inauguration of the building in early 2019 when the new operational season begins, to unveil this plaque and fully open the Discovery Centre to the general public.
Our next steps are to submit a final report on the project to the National Lottery, before moving on to the Phase 2 application in early 2019. We will seek funding for finishing the platform, as well as refurbishing the existing museum to complement the Discovery Centre. Once again, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the project during 2019! Some limited work on the museum is already taking place in order to assess what the scope of work should be. Our original station building, which houses the museum, is 160 years old and dates from 1858, so we need to preserve it in good shape for future generations of visitors.
As Project Manager I would like to thank the team of volunteers and operational staff who have facilitated the project, our contractors and also the staff at the National Lottery Regional Office in Exeter for their help and guidance in getting us to this point.
Do get in touch if you would like to be involved in the next stage of the project.