Birmingham Railway Museum Trust has acquired the site of former Stratford steam engine shed.
The Birmingham Railway Museum Trust (BRMT), was pleased to announce the acquisition of a site adjacent to Stratford-on-Avon Station. The intention is to create a servicing centre and possible museum.
A modest ceremony was held on Saturday 30th October 2004 to mark the announcement, which was lead by Councillor Michael Crutchley (Mayor of Stratford upon Avon), Councillor Clive Thomas (past Mayor of Stratford), Mrs Judy Thomas, and Vic Michel (Chairman TLW and Deputy Chairman Birmingham Railway Museum Trust). The photograph above depicts the event and shows a sign for the site, which has been erected at the fence to the station car park. A second sign is to be erected as a 'running-in board' clearly visible to rail passengers.
Acquisition of the land was the culmination of six years of complex negotiations with Stratford District Council and Rail Property Ltd by Richard Thorne & Richard Abbey. But that was only the beginning....a priority is to develop a detailed plan for the site, defining the buildings required (museum, restaurant, shop, etc.), track layout and turntable position. The planning application for the site has always envisaged the erection of a building, together with sidings, a water tank, pits, turntable and public viewing areas. However a variation will be needed to describe the site as a museum, which can be incorporated in the final design approval submission.
Plans for a new steam railway visitor centre in Stratford received a very positive response from key Stratford dignitaries on Sunday, 24th July 2005.
The dignitaries, who included the Mayor of Stratford and his wife, and representatives from the local council, boarded the "Shakespeare Express" in Stratford for a return trip to Birmingham Moor Street, where they were shown the first visuals of the proposed visitor centre.
Vintage Trains has been running the "Shakespeare Express" between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford each Sunday through the summer and early autumn every year since 1999 using former Great Western Railway steam locos. The success of the service continues to grow such that the Trust has recently added Pullman coaches to the trains to cope with the demand for dining facilities.
The schedule of two return trips each Sunday, currently involves tender-first running in the Birmingham to Stratford direction. Acquisition of this land, formerly the location of Stratford locomotive shed, will enable facilities to be provided to allow chimney-first running in both directions.
These facilities will also be available to other operators of special trains choosing Stratford as their destination and will encourage an increased numbers of visitors to the town.
Above is an artists sketch of the proposed Stratford Railway Tourist Centre & Steam Locomotive Centre
The plans aim to transform a currently derelict site adjacent to Stratford train station into an exciting new tourist attraction for the town, celebrating the area’s rich steam heritage.
Within easy walking distance of the town centre, the new facility would include a fully equipped working steam complex, giving visitors the chance to see classic engines being maintained, serviced and turned.
A mixture of modern architecture and history, the design of the new structure includes the sympathetic incorporation of a real piece of railway history - a 1909 listed Great Western Railway building façade salvaged from the construction of Bullring, Birmingham.
The visitor centre will explain the history of the steam trains and their role in the West Midlands today in a clear and interesting way for all the family, with the additional educational facility for students and schoolchildren providing more in-depth information.
As Vic Michel of BRMT explains: "This project will bring an additional tourist attraction right into the centre of Stratford. Steam Trains continue to fascinate people of all ages, and seeing – or travelling on - a restored train at mainline speeds of up to 75mph, is so exciting, a superb way to recapture England’s great heritage.
Project Launch Train