The former Sandford and Banwell station site, now in the ownership of St. Monica Trust is developed as a Residential Village. Under a 106 Planning Agreement with North Somerset Council the main station building with ticket office and waiting rooms was designated for community use. It was subsequently offered at a peppercorn rent for use as a Heritage Centre to a formally constituted local voluntary group.
Sandford Station Railway Heritage Centre Group saw this as a golden opportunity not to be missed and formed a Company Limited by Guarantee in order to set up and manage a visitor centre of excellence in keeping with the historic building under a lease agreement. The group is also a Registered Charity.
The rare, Grade II listed, early Bristol and Exeter Railway building, one of the best of its type, is a ‘gem’. Many other railway buildings along the line have been demolished or converted to dwellings with features lost. We believe this may be one of the only remaining of its type to be open to the public and therefore likely to be of considerable interest both in the area and nationally.
St Monica Trust has fully renovated both the building and platform area to a high standard, conserving original features and replicating others. Our aim is to enhance the premises by creating an authentic experience of a by-gone era and also to provide a social history and documentation of the times in a fresh, ‘up to the minute’ way which will appeal to all ages. We also plan to build up an archive of artefacts, photographs and documents.
The Group comprises a number of competent local volunteers with form, expertise and experience of railway related and other successful projects. Interests cover:
Weston Railway Society : Winscombe & Sandford History & Archaeology Society : West Somerset Railway : Axe District Scout Council : Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society : Banwell History & Archaeology Society : Winscombe & Sandford Millennium Green Trust : Winscombe & Sandford Parish Council : Congresbury Millennium Green Trust. Others have expertise in education or business. All have led or been involved with management of successful public amenity projects in the volunteer sector`.
Aims & Objectives
We aim to promote, preserve, maintain and open to the public Sandford Station Railway Heritage Centre, housed in the former main ticket office building, as an exceptional example of local industrial history and national heritage, for education, leisure and recreation. The objective being for the benefit of the elderly, children and people of all ages and abilities to enhance their condition of life.
Our approach is NOT for a dusty museum, rather a living history with a modern approach and changing exhibitions. We also wish to promote it’s importance as part of the operational branch-line from Yatton to Whitham – the Strawberry Line – and its current relevance on what is now a ‘Green Transport’ route.
In the Start Up phase, our idea was to provide an attractive basis to create the right atmosphere. We will now progress in stages with research and presentation of more detailed information. The project will be ongoing.
Primary public access to the Heritage Centre is direct from the Strawberry Line cycle-path via a graduated ramp to facilitate easy wheelchair and pushchair access.
An external public toilet on the side of the building is available.
Uses & Benefits
The project will appeal to and benefit all ages:
The local community, schoolchildren, railway enthusiasts and members of the general public now have a rare opportunity to experience the atmosphere of an authentic railway station building in operation for almost 100 years from 1869 to 1965 and to learn more about the railway era.
The Centre provides a venue for visual displays relating to the station and branch-line, both historic and current, with a growing collection of information, artefacts, archive photographs and documents for education and study.
It is an attractive destination or stop-over on the established ‘Strawberry Line Cyclepath’ Yatton to Cheddar route which will add to that amenity
It is a pleasant place to go for the elderly where they may sit, relax, recall old memories, take in the beautiful view over the countryside or proceed along the Strawberry Line path.
Visitors arriving via the Strawberry Line ‘Green’ transport Route are encouraged to take healthy outdoor activity either walking or cycling thereby reducing traffic.
Future Self Sufficiency
The group will raise funds for ongoing management, running costs, up-keep, new acquisition, equipment etc. by, subscriptions, sponsorship, donations, fundraising, appeals.