• GWSR appoints Walsh Construction Ltd to waterproof viaduct deck • GWRT awards grant to fund the works following appeal success • Railway’s Permanent Way Dept volunteers to support works
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has today (12 October 2023) awarded the first contract phase to Walsh Construction Ltd, for repair of the 120-year-old Stanway Viaduct, which carries the railway over a valley north of Toddington station.
Contracts for the work were signed by the GWSR’s Dr. Graham Plant, Civil Engineering Director and Richard Winstanley, Finance Director; and from Walsh Construction, James Evitts, Construction Director and Jon Bird, Managing Director, during a brief ceremony at Winchcombe station, on Thursday 12th October.
The work, which will start in early November, involves removal of the track and ballast, then replacement of the failed waterproof deck. This phase of the repair is expected to take four months to complete.
This first phase has been made possible by a grant from the charitable Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust (GWRT), following the success so far of its Viaduct Appeal, which was launched in March. At the time of writing, the appeal had raised over £275,000, sufficient for the work to begin.
The GWSR’s Dr Graham Plant said: “This is the first part of extensive works to repair this iconic 15-arch structure and it’s clear that members of the Trust, shareholders, supporters and our visitors hold this delightful railway close to their hearts.
“The reason why the appeal is so important is that over the years, rainwater has percolated through the failed deck, leading to deterioration of the viaduct’s brickwork. Our own Permanent Way volunteers will remove the track and ballast, while Walsh will install a new concrete slab over the full length of the 200m (656ft) structure, which will be topped by a bituminous elastomer barrier to provide long-term waterproofing protection.”
The fill, ballast and track will then be replaced and the viaduct reopened to trains by the end of February 2024, before the start of the railway’s operations in March 2024. Meanwhile, the railway’s Santa trains will operate as normal from Cheltenham to Winchcombe whilst the works are undertaken. The line north of Toddington and Broadway station will be closed while the work is carried out.
This part of the work will allow the viaduct’s structure to dry out over following months and reduce the risk of further damage to the brickwork. In the longer term, Phase 2 of the work will involve repair to the piers which carry the railway up to 15m (almost 50ft) above the valley.
Walsh Construction has carried out a number of works on the railway over recent years, including some essential brickwork repairs to the viaduct. James Evitts, Construction Director of Walsh Construction added: “We are thrilled to be returning to Stanway viaduct and are proud to be working on such an important heritage structure on behalf of the GWSR and its volunteers. We look forward to starting work on site amidst this historic setting and in such beautiful scenery.”
GWRT Chairman, Philip Young, said: “I’m humbled by the generosity of so many people who have so far contributed to the Appeal, making it possible for this essential first contract to be let. Whether a pound coin in a collection bucket or £1,000 every contribution has added up. I know this year hasn’t been easy for many people yet they have been able to ensure the success of the appeal so far.
“There is still a long way to go. The total cost of repairs, involving attention to brickwork at anything up to 50ft above the ground, is estimated to cost around £1.5m, so we will be re-doubling our effort to ensure that we can support this work in the future.”
The Trust’s appeal will continue so that funds can be raised to carry out the future brickwork repairs. This, together with the new waterproofing works, will secure Stanway viaduct for decades to come and enable the railway to continue to operate over the full line from Cheltenham to Broadway. To donate to the appeal, visit www.gwrt.org.uk