THE Swindon & Cricklade Railway has launched a £2.5 million fundraising drive so it can extend northwards into the second town in its name.
Nearly six decades after track was lifted from the Midland & South Western Junction Railway route, the heritage line wants to extend to a new station site in Cricklade, which will become its northern terminus.
It is 40 years since revivalists gained local council permission to take over abandoned Blunsdon station at their headquarters. When they arrived, they found that much of the site had become a swamp, and a donkey was living under the adjacent road bridge.
However, the station was slowly restored and a line was laid northwards to Hayes Knoll. There, a unique station-cum-workshop and engine shed was built on a greenfield site. The facade of the all-new station as seen from the platform hides the facilities immediately behind. Beyond Hayes Knoll, the track extends as far north as South Meadow Lane.
The Swindon & Cricklade Railway then turned its eyes to the south, in 1995 installing a replacement bridge over a stream so the track could run towards Swindon and a new stop, Taw Valley Halt, has been constructed a short distance from Moulden Hill Country Park. The halt opened to the public in 2012, and bus routes link it to the town centre.
After several years of consolidation, the railway has drawn up two phases for its push northwards.
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