Titled “Wales to the World” it will see the current terminus at Park Avenue, Aberystwyth transformed into a Great Western Railway style station suitable for the modern tourist together with the creation of a multifunction display and entertainment facility within our former steam locomotive shed.
Alongside these visitor focused developments, a new carriage storage shed will be built allowing the priceless collection of historic railway carriages to be stored in a protected environment and aid their long term conservation.
For many years we have been working with Visit Wales to achieve our goal to improve the terminus of our station as well as plans to build our multifunction display facility. This funding has allowed us to start of the project and we are thankful to the whole team at Visit Wales who have been fabulous, and helped us through the mine field of paperwork to achieve this project.
Our heritage, keeping the 1930’s alive
Building the new station to authenticate the Great Western Railway era is a key goal of our project. Hours of research has been undertaken to find the correct pattern gas style lamps and posts, and the right shade to enhance our visitor experience.
Who is paying for the project?
Our project is a funding collaboration between the Vale of Rheidol Railway and Visit Wales using WFO funding as part of the TAD Destination Program and the TMF Regeneration Fund. The railway is providing 35% of the revenue to support the project whilst the remaining amount will come directly from grant funding.
How long will it take?
The project started in late 2018 and will finish at the end of 2020. Over this period we will have totally transformed our Aberystwyth station. Due to the station still in operation we have broken the project in five phases starting with the new platform and toilet and finishing with the development of the old Great Western shed.
What comes next?
This project will act as the stepping stone to building the main museum in the future. These infrastructure improvements will release the space and provide the vital area’s to enable the larger museum to be built.
What are we building?
A New Ticket Office : As anyone who has visited our railway knows the current ticket office leaves a lot to be desired. The project will recreate a Great Western style booking office offering a dry and spacious entry to the railway. Expanding this space will offer visitors a more efficient area to buy tickets, while offering retail opportunities.
New Carriage Storage and Conservation Store : Within our Aberystwyth site we are developing a three road storage shed to house our Heritage fleet of carriages but also to enable us to move items from the future multifunction display facility that will require protection from the elements. Alongside this, the shed will provide the railway with a store for future exhibits as the new Museum develops. The complete current train set of carriages will for the first time be housed separately from the steam locomotives ensuring a clean environment in which our dedicated staff can maintain them.
New platform and toilets: As part of the new project we are moving our station platform over 180 metres (200 yards) from the existing terminus. This will give our visitors less distance to walk from the car park and an accessible access to our new multifunction display facility. Customer toilets used to be provided by British Rail and that arrangement came to an end a few years back which led to a temporary toilet block being installed at the station. On the new platform we will be building a Great Western style lavatory block with a Pagoda appearance and will offer our travellers a decent facility for the first time.
New Display Space: The journey begins! Getting some of the 30 engines the railway owns on display has always been our goal but with the huge backlog of maintenance left by British Rail this has proved to be an uphill battle. Thankfully, we are now at the edge of achieving this with the original Great Western shed being converted into a multifunction facility. This will offer the railway 5000 sq ft of space to display some of its priceless collection and also host events and entertainment.
What will be inside? The aim is to display any of the operational engines when they are not running so a Rheidol tank and the newly arrived Beyer Garrat NG13 could be on show together with examples of the rolling stock such as our Hafan tramway wagons and Great Western coaches. These will tell the story of the railway together with our collection of original artefacts. Alongside these exhibits, for the first time, we will display some of our international collection of engines and they will tell the story of how Wales led the way in narrow gauge railways and helped export the idea all over the world, thus the project title.
New Café: Matching the style of our heritage station we will be building a new fully functional café to service our visitors as well as enabling us to cater for events in the new multifunction display facility as well.
All New Railway Servicing Facilities: Keeping our precious engines running has always been top priority but now we are able to construct a dedicated servicing and coaling area, together, with new water cranes and water storage tanks, all helping to maintain the smooth operation of our trains.
With all the works listed above we are also building a whole new track layout in Aberystwyth and moving and rebuilding all the signalling within the station site.
This will be complimented with improvements to our current car parking arrangements as well.
Going Green looking at a sustainable future
At the heart of the Vale of Rheidol’s business is sustainability. Looking long term is something we have prided ourselves on whether its apprentice training or re-planting woodland. As part of this project we are installing a solar roof to complement our current system sited on our new storage shed. This will provide power for both the storage shed and the new ticket office. A new water system will allow captured rain water to be fed into the new water system feeding our engines.