A GROUP of railway enthusiasts in Bradford on Avon are working on plans to restore the canopy to the town’s railway station footbridge.

The four-strong group - which comprises Peter Leach, John Potter, Graham Findley and Peter Mann – have formed the Bradford on Avon Footbridge Canopy Partnership.

They have asked the Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust to help support their plans to install a new canopy to the footbridge at the station to restore it to its former historical and original appearance.

The station, built in 1848, is a rare complete example of the small Gothic station style designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Victorian engineer who built the Great Western Railway.

When the station opened in 1857, it had a canopy over the footbridge but it was removed by British Railways in the 1960s to save on maintenance costs.

Partnership spokesman Peter Mann said: “We believe the footbridge without the canopy looks truncated and forlorn, and in fact the overall image of the station is diminished.

“The canopies were made using heavy corrugated iron which was expensive and difficult to care for and re-paint.

“Taking the canopy off exposed passengers and the footbridge itself to the vagaries of wind and snow, rain and ice, and has also spoilt the overall appearance.”

The group have met with Network Rail project and structural engineers, and with Great Western Railway, railway architects and independent engineers to progress the project.

They are also being advised by an independent railway heritage consultant engineer who has worked on big national projects, including the refurbishment of Bath Spa and the Birmingham Moor Street stations.

Reports from professional engineers have confirmed the newly-refurbished footbridge at Bradford on Avon station would be able to take the weight of a new canopy, which would be lighter than its predecessor.

Mr Mann said: “Many of the original mounting points are still on the footbridge and others can be re-made, so the overall opinion is that it is a relatively straightforward task to put the canopy back using modern lightweight materials.”

Network Rail has agreed to take on the long term maintenance cost so long as they approve the final design and the materials used.

Once this has agreed, the partnership will need to consult Network Rail on the installation itself and when it can be done without affecting rail journeys through the station.

Mr Mann added: “This project is a potentially important heritage project for our town, which we hope very much will inspire others to get involved.

“At this stage, we have quotes for the design work, but not for build and installation, which cannot be quoted for before the design is agreed.”

The Railway Heritage Trust has told the group they are “minded” to consider funding nearly half of the build and installation cost. Once the design and installation plan has been agreed, the partnership hopes to launch a public fundraising campaign.

“Getting the funding for the design stage of such a project is much harder, so help with ideas on how we might fund the design stage would also be very welcome,” Mr Mann said.

They group is also appealing for people with technical project management and in civil and railway engineering experience to become involved.

Mr Mann commented: “We look forward to hearing from anyone who would like to help in any way, big or small.

“This will be an important and visible project for the benefit of the town, and everyone involved will be proud in the knowledge that their enduring legacy to their community is a complete Brunel wayside station.”

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Peter Mann on at petermann46@btinternet.com