Update on Progress at Helmsdale Station
Those readers who use, or pass through, Helmsdale station, will have observed no activity yet in the restoration of the station building. This is assurance that the project reported on in the September FoFNL Newsletter is alive and well, but progressing more slowly than we would have liked. The current position is:
- The total cost of station building restoration and refurbishment is estimated at £93,000
- So far half of that amount has been secured, the largest contribution in a grant of up to £35,000 from the Railway Heritage Trust.
- The application to the Stations Community Regeneration Fund (SCRF) for the balance of the funding required was submitted in October, with a follow up meeting in Glasgow with Transport Scotland just before Christmas. A closing date for SCRF applications has now been set for 1 Feb 2010. No awards will be made before this date and it is likely to take two to three months after February before allocations are announced. This slow process is a disappointment and puts at risk the hope of starting work on the building in the summer.
- Originally the plan was to set up a charitable trust, but in discussion with SCRF it has become clear they lay great store by a sound commercial basis for any project they support. For this reason the Helmsdale Station CIC has now been established and registered. A CIC [Community Interest Company] is a fairly new type of corporate structure - a company limited by guarantee from which all profits must pass to charitable or community causes. For Helmsdale Station CIC, the profits will go exclusively to maintaining the station and supporting associated services for passengers - aims published in the last Newsletter. We believe this is the first CIC associated with a railway station in Scotland and only the second in the UK (the first is at Brandon in Suffolk).
- We are now preparing the planning application for the station and embarking on the tricky three way lease with Network Rail and First ScotRail.
So, sadly, it looks as if you won't see any action at the station until well into 2010, but please be assured of continuing work toward achieving our objectives.
As part of our end-of-year report and letter of thanks emailed to many individual supporters we did include - as a token Christmas card - an extract from Thomas Dean & Son's Cousin Chatterbox's Railway Alphabet of 1845 (pre-dating Helmsdale station by 25 years!). We felt the entry under the letter S succinctly summarised our aspiration for the station and this detail is reproduced here.
The illustration attracted a lot of interest so perhaps the poster showing the complete alphabet with great charm should be displayed in the station when the project is complete!