8th February 2002
Some of you will already have heard the wonderful news of the impending purchase of part of the Woodpax site upon which we plan to build a new storage shed, the first step in Operation Undercover which will also provide covered storage at Horsted Keynes. The new shed at Sheffield Park will enable us to store our valuable rolling stock (including the Pullman set) under cover, thereby saving many thousands of hours in maintenance and repair; and large sums upon materials. We estimate that storage under cover will save £150 per month per coach. The opportunity to provide an enlarged and modern museum that will enable our hidden treasures to be displayed for the first time will also form part of this project.
The Society is greatly indebted to many people for making the purchase possible. In the three days prior to the Bluebell plc's Board meeting, we raised pledges of support totalling £126,000, so making an already strong case for purchase that much more powerful. Given the many calls upon the Company's limited resources, we are grateful to the Board for its far-sighted decision to support this exciting initiative which, it is clear, will not retard progress with the extension to East Grinstead.
Great though progress has already been, we now need to raise not only the balance of the purchase price (a further £124,000), but also approximately 25% of the total anticipated cost. We anticipate that Operation Undercover will cost £2 million, and we are preparing a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for approximately three-quarters of that sum.
Whilst we shall as part of the bid be able to apportion the costed time expended by colleagues upon the preparation and execution of the project, the Society must still raise approximately £500,000 from the Bluebell's membership. The more money we have to support our bid, the greater our scope is to enhance the project. Taken as a whole, the project will maintain for far longer the wonderful quality of our restored locomotives and carriages in a way that has not been possible hitherto. That outcome will enhance the quality and viability of our railway for generations to come.
This is where you come in. We need your help with gifts or interest-free loans. We hope to be able to accept donations directed through Gift Aid to the Bluebell Railway Trust, thereby permitting (for example) the Trust to reclaim £282 from the Inland Revenue on a gift of £1,000. Moreover, a higher-rate taxpayer may reclaim £231 on her or his tax return. Similarly, shares may be gifted to the Trust, free of Capital Gains Tax: a higher-rate taxpayer giving shares worth £1000 may reclaim £400 from the Revenue on her or his tax return.
Please do not send money now but, instead, pledge by completing and posting the form (click here for pdf or plain text versions). We shall keep you up to date with developments via Bluebell News and the Society's web pages.
Please help. We would like to have as many pledges as possible by the end of March. Your railway now needs your active support more than ever. Thank you.