August 2004

Avon Riverside - with the station now operational, we have to complete the various items of outstanding work. These include fitting and connecting the lights, fitting seats, establishing the garden - plus landscaping. A planning application is being prepared to lay the remainder of track in the headshunt and we will be taking advice on design - and the permission required - to construct appropriate covered waiting accommodation.

Bitton Site Development - Draft drawings have been prepared and discussions have begun over the covered accommodation for the restoration and preservation of vehicles and education, as well as catering and toilet buildings. Plans and planning permission already exist for extensions to the platforms.

The planning and preparation for these works will affect the whole site and impact on everyone, so PLEASE make sure that you are involved in the discussion and planning process, because the end result will improve facilities for all of us.

AGM 2004

will be held on Friday 22nd October at North Common Village Hall, Millers Drive, Oldland Common.

Formal details will be announced in due course.

February 2004

Something which has been stressed for many, many months is the fact that opening Avon Riverside will bring enormous opportunities for the development of the railway. Based on results following similar expansions at other railways, a 50% to 60% passenger increase could be the likely result of these changes. The resulting increase in revenue will be invested in the Railway’s plan for the future, which includes improving facilities at Bitton with a new Buffet and Toilets, together with covered accommodation for restoration and preservation. It is important for everyone to realise that we are working closely to identify and highlight any potential problem areas resulting from the proposed increase in business, with the aim of ensuring that staff are not placed under undue pressure. Meetings are underway for this purpose and, where problems are identified, corrective action will be taken.

February 2004

Because a number of decisions had to be taken and plans formulated which affected both the Trustees and the Board of Directors, two joint meetings were held recently. The condition of various individual projects underway at Bitton and their implication for the future of the site were also discussed.

Work continues apace at Avon Riverside. The platform is now being backfilled and the lamp posts fitted, the run-round loop is being laid and the head shunt sleepers have also been laid out. The next main job is to fit the platform edge slabs. followed by a line of sleepers along the platform back edge – all in preparation for the surfacing to take place.  Subject to reasonable weather remaining on our side and the administration requirements of the Railway Inspector and the Rail Regulator, an opening at Easter is still the aim. To capitalise on the promotion potential, there is every possibility that more than one official “opening” may take place

The new lease with South Gloucestershire Council has now reached the “Heads of Agreement” stage for the Trust to consider. Details of a 99-year lease period and the amount of rent required are amongst the more important issues to be discussed.

With Christmas and New Year now behind us, there has been time to press ahead with future plans for the site. With professional help, a Bitton Site Development Plan is being prepared for the much needed new Buffet and Toilets, plus covered accommodation for restoration work. A meeting with senior Council Officers is planned for February in order to progress this work.

As part of its obligations to its volunteer work force, the Trust has agreed to adopt a Youth Policy based on the model put forward by the Heritage Railway Association. Geoff Clark has therefore been appointed as the Trust’s Youth Officer. Ken Goodway will shortly publish the details of this policy, which applies to members between 12 and 16 years of age and aims to ensure their correct supervision whilst they are at the Railway.

Finally it was agreed that the category of Life Membership should be re-introduced. Costing and other details will be supplied by the Membership Department.

January 2004

While the trading company has been very busy running ‘Santa & Mince Pie’ specials, the trust has continued to organise the work at Avon Riverside with the help of both members and contractors.

Hugh Simmonds has been on site for 10 days with the JCB and Dave Edwards has delivered 200 tons of stone for ballasting. This was ‘dropped’ on the 22nd December and is now ready for tamping. The first 6 of the l3 Lamp posts have been fitted, with John Miles, Alan Matthews, and Gordon Ashton joining the regular gang of Dave, Robin, and Ron. It is hoped that the infilling of the platform should be complete by the 7th January, with the run round and headshunt area cleared ready for track laying.

During January the edge slabs will be fitted to the platform and the crossings will be built. There will also be many other small jobs to finish off.

Because of the Christmas/New year holiday period and the fact that our main attention has been directed at Avon Riverside there have not been any major developments with the Council on the subject of the 99-year lease, nor the plans for the covered accommodation. We’ll be pursuing these matters again in the coming weeks.

December 2003

The point was made in the last report that the Railway is now developing at a faster rate than before. Consequently plans for future expansion are being considered by the Trustees - not simply for 2004 but for succeeding years. Under consideration are the use of Avon Riverside, the offer of a 99 year lease, improvements to the site at Bitton station and an extension towards Bath.

Current work on Avon Riverside has continued every Monday and Friday - and sometimes at weekends too. The basic structure of the platform is nearing completion with the ramps now built and all the L-shaped sections in place.  The regular team of Dave Burton, Robin Kean and Ron Tucker - along with support from other departments where required - have all ensured that steady progress has continued to be made. An opening at Easter 2004 is still in everyone’s sights.

Anyone with a car will have noticed that, in order to cope with the onslaught. of visitors to Santa, a further 30 tonnes of tarmac has been laid in the car park – and at the southern end of the station building to complete the area by the old Porter’s Room. The work was carried out on a very wet day by Dave Edwards and Hugh Simmonds, with help from the aforementioned Dave, Robin and Ron. The cost of the work was partly funded by a capital grant from South Gloucestershire Council.

For the first time, parking bays have also been marked out on the tarmac to help us to make the most economical use of the space available. The decision to put the bays at right angles to the perimeter was taken after a good deal of head-scratching, measuring and cone positioning, as well as moving, parking and re-parking several cars in order to understand the various permutations open to us. For most of the year this layout should not be a problem providing that visitors and members all park sensibly within the lines and up close. However, it is important to appreciate the fact that manoeuvring into the bays may take visitors slightly longer during the December rush. This in turn may cause a slight build-up of traffic on the approach slope.

A new addition to the Board of Directors of the trading company. At their last meeting the Trustees agreed the appointment of Gary Lockyer as a Director of the Avon Valley Railway Company Ltd. Amongst other attributes, Gary will bring an obvious interest and expertise in catering to the Board – plus a desire to make the Avon Valley Railway’s Bread Pudding famous through the land!

November 2003

First, good news for everyone - and particularly David Cole!  Reflecting the increased business of the organisation, the Trustees and Directors have made a joint decision to appoint Peter Bell to be responsible for the office administration and all management matters on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This will give full 7-day-a-week management coverage and allow more time for David to concentrate on his work as Business Development Manager - and time off to join the rest of the world. The arrangement will continue until 4th January 2004.

As you may know, following the resignation of John Mann, Paul Baulch has been appointed as a Trustee, with responsibilities to the collection of artefacts and development of a museum.  Enquiries from yourselves or members of the public should be directed to Paul - initially through the Office.

Another very successful AVR Residents Forum meeting took place on 21st October.  Trustees and local Residents met to discuss various aspects of the Railway's work and, thanks to good communication on both sides, there is a good understanding of each other's position. It is very important for us that everyone co-operates in keeping this state of affairs on an even and friendly basis. The local residents are, and can be, an enormous benefit to the Railway in their co-operation in what we do.  If there are any problems, please contact Bob Hitchings.

Avon Riverside continues to progress (Bath next stop!!) around 100 of the 128 L-shaped sections have already been fitted and all the edging slabs (and a few more besides, apparently) were delivered around ten days ago.  Lamp posts and other relevant materials are all on order.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 14/8/2004.