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Demolition deadline issued by Network Rail

By Stephen Lewis Friends of Alton Station

Saturday, 1 April 2017


Friends of Alton Station Contributor


A letter has been received by Friends of Alton Station from Network Rail telling us that they are going to remove the footbridge at Alton station in April 2018. Whilst this could be viewed as the end of the line, if you'll excuse the pun, we are taking it to be a call to action. We have replied saying as much and we are pushing ahead with our plans to take on the project.

It is pleasing to report that our management group has two structural engineers to call upon - Paul Ebbutt, a retired Transport for London (TfL) railway and structural engineer, and Alan Hayward, who is a very experienced and highly-regarded bridge engineer. Together with timber expert Gary Appleton and draftsman Stephen Lewis, they are starting the process of planning how the footbridge can be restored.

The management committee has also decided to take the step of registering as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation). This will create an independent legal entity that can take ownership of the footbridge, whilst the charitable status will allow us to claim back gift aid when we receive donations. There will shortly be a notice of a Special General Meeting where we will be asking members to support this change.

Once this new charity is established, we will launch a national campaign to raise funds. We already have a substantial donation pledge in hand and this has helped the committee to feel that it will be possible to raise the required funds. We talked about crowd funding earlier in the year, so we will pursue this along with other sources of funding. With our engineers working away on a range of options, we hope to keep the costs down to a minimum, although it is still likely to cost several hundred thousand pounds to repair.

With all this planning in early stages, we are now turning to Network Rail to help us achieve our goal. They have concerns over the ongoing costs and public safety, so a deal will need to be struck that will be beneficial for all. The footbridge is after all part of the Watercress Line experience for those visiting, and part of Alton's overall historic atmosphere. On top of this, the fact that it is wooden makes it a rare survivor, there being only three other such wooden bridges in the UK, and of those, ours is the only free-standing example over a working railway. We still await the result of the listing review, but we have decided to push on with plans to save the footbridge to secure it for future generations to enjoy.

Contact Information

Stephen Lewis

Find Friends of Alton Station

c/o Alton Community Centre, Amery Street, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 1HN