Heritage railway has run out of steam after being locked down

A POPULAR Staffordshire Moorlands heritage railway, which shot to fame following a visit from famous actress Dame Judi Dench, has run out of steam after being hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Foxfield Railway, near Blythe Bridge, attracted nationwide attention as a location for the much-loved BBC TV drama series, Larkrise to Candleford, in which Ms Dench had a starring role.

The railway normally attracts around 15,000 visitors but lockdown has stopped it in its tracks and starved it from a regular source of important income.

As a result the Foxfield management are appealing for donations in order to secure the future of the family volunteer-run attraction .

The railway featured in the BBC Christmas special of the period drama Return to Cranford in 2009.

A Foxfield spokesman said: "As an organisation which is run entirely by volunteers, we're really lucky that we haven't had to make any difficult decisions around furloughing staff.

"However, much like most other charities in the country, we've still got fixed costs that need paying.

"Our volunteer army work incredibly hard throughout the year to preserve our local industrial history and offer family days out.

"But following the recent government advice, we were forced to postpone the beginning of our 2020 season and therefore essentially postponed all of our income until further notice.

"The future is very uncertain for us.

"We can't wait to reopen to the public and continue preserving our local past, but for the time being it's important we try to survive with no income while staying at home and keeping safe.

"We're incredibly grateful for any support that the public can offer."

Fixed costs faced by the railway while it is standing idle include between £6,000 and £7,000 on power and waters, £7,000 for insurance, basic maintenance of the infrastructure and around £5,000 for auditors.

Volunteers are also be rebuilding one of the railway's passenger coaches for next season at cost around £20,000.

The Foxfield operates on a former mineral line built in 1892 and 1893 to provide a link to the old North Staffordshire Railway for Foxfield Colliery in Dilhorne.

When the colliery closed in August 1965, volunteers formed the Foxfield Light Railway Society to preserve the line.

At first passengers boarded converted trucks before disused coaches were bought and restored.

A station was built at Caverswall Road, Cash Heath, between the neighbouring villages of Blythe Bridge and Caverswall.

People can donate to the fund by visiting www.foxfieldrailway.co.uk/emergency-appeal or by heading to the railway's Facebook page.

Picture: Dame Judy Dench in Larkrise to Candleford.


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