Weʼre raising £10,000 to Save, restore and reinstate the 1892 timber footbridge at Alton railway station in Hampshire, UK.
- Alton, Hampshire, UK
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Alton was provided with a footbridge at Alton station, Hampshire (UK), in 1892. It was an open timber structure, held together by bolts and brackets. This was not good enough for the 'Ladies of Alton', so they lobbied the railway company and got it covered in 1894, and windows provided in 1896. Research has revealed that these ladies were in fact part of the women's suffrage movement. Having out-lived all the other timber footbridges of its era, a replacement was provided with lifts in 2013 (further up the platform). It was felt by Altonians that the old footbridge was of historical significance and was an integral part of the station ambience for those visiting the Watercress Line on platform 3.
In 2014 a pressure group was set up: Friends of Alton Station. We tried getting the bridge listed on two occasions, but both applications were rejected. It was clear that we had to negotiate with Network Rail if the bridge was going to be saved for posterity. At first, it was thought that Network Rail could repair the bridge within their budgets, but when work started on site, it was soon clear that a lot more work was required to bring it up to standard. There have been several dates set for the removal of the footbridge, but in the end it was removed on Saturday 7th March 2020 and was moved a mile away to a field at Brant Storage so it can be restored. The campaign continues, as we move forward to restore and reinstate the bridge in a nearby location.
We are now raising funds to cover the costs of restoration and reinstallation of the footbridge. Up until August 2019, our primary goal was to put the footbridge back in its current position, but we worked out that the costs of doing this would be prohibitive. The deciding factor was the offer of a £50k grant from the Railway Heritage Trust to cover the extra costs entailed in carefully removing of the bridge. They would only award the grant to us if we relocate the bridge away from the working railway. The hope is that we can move it a very short distance so that it crosses the nearby Mid-Hants Railway tracks, but this is a matter for future negotiation.
The central section of the footbridge was finally removed on Saturday 7th March 2020 and we arranged for its transport off site. The proprietor of Brant Storage (on the Basingstoke Road) kindly offered us free storage space, so since its removal it has been mothballed awaiting further work when the Covid-19 crisis has subsided. We are currently considering getting a company to dismantle the footbridge into its component parts so it can be safely stored and repaired when funds allow.
What is clear is that the cost of restoration is going to be high. Although some of this is due to timber decay, we will also have to recreate the stairs from scratch. This remains a bone of contention, as Network Rail and their demolition contractors wilfully destroyed the stairs on the day of removal, leaving a day free (with the railway shut) when these sections of the bridge could have easily have been saved. We now have the task of seeking funds to cover this work and ultimately, the cost of reconstruction.
Once we are able to meet again, we will be looking for people to help take the project forward. If you have fund-raising experience or are happy to be our treasurer, we would be pleased to hear from you. Otherwise, if you are able to make a donation to us through this page, that will be gratefully received.
Many thanks to our Donors
We are fortunate to have a good number of people who have donated money to our cause. Many thanks to all those people - without you our project would be a non-starter. If you have yet to make a donation, we would like to point out that you can donate in monthly instalments through Just Giving, if that's any help. If you wonder what we've spent money on so far... In 2017 we used a District Council grant to pay for an engineering survey of the bridge condition. In 2019 we used your donations to pay for engineering company to provide calculations for the removal of the bridge. In 2020 we spent £11k on transporting the bridge to its storage site, as well as a further £2k on timber packing materials to support the bridge.
For up to date news and comment, see our Facebook page: fb.com/friendsofaltonstation
For more detail about Friends of Alton Station, the footbridge project, local railway history, see our website: www.friendsofaltonstation.org.uk
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Stephen Lewis started crowdfunding
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Sep 29, 2020
Good luck hope you get the required total.
Apr 26, 2020
Mar 12, 2020
Mar 12, 2020
Looking forward to seeing the bridge in its new location in the not too distant future.
Mar 10, 2020
Mar 10, 2020
With love to the old bridge! Julia
Mar 9, 2020
Very well done to the team on saving the main part of the bridge, great effort and persistence. Donated when I heard the side stairs couldn't be saved, hope this helps to buy a step or beam somewhere
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