SEVERN Valley Railway has relocated its offices from an old station in Bewdley to the heart of Kidderminster, the first stop for many of the passengers who travel on the railway.
The opening of the new offices came 44 years to the day of the first steam train out of Bridgnorth.
Railway staff members were joined by the Mayor of Kidderminster, Councillor John Campion, as well as members of Wyre Forest District Council, who worked in partnership with the railway in the office’s redevelopment, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday.
Mr Campion said: “We always wanted the railway offices to be in Kidderminster as it’s the heart of its operation - I’m very pleased we’ve been able to pull it off.
“When I first came across the organisation in 2007 it had just suffered millions of pounds worth of damage due to floods but it shows the strength of the organisation to bounce back from that.
“We believe in the organisation, not just because it’s a good business but it also brings lots of people to the area to spend money in our shops, restaurants and hotels.”
Nick Ralls, general manager of Severn Valley Railway, said he was grateful for the help of the council in making the transition into the new offices a smooth process.
“The council were willing to work with the railway and discuss how they could accommodate our wishes,” he said. “It took about two years of negotiations but it all came to a fantastic conclusion.
“I am very appreciative of the support of Wyre Forest District Council. They have been fantastic to work with and this is a great example about how two organisations can work together successfully.
“It’s great to be in the heart of Kidderminster because the Severn Valley Railway is itself a local organisation and part of the local community and we provide both volunteering opportunities and local employment.”
The move to Kidderminster means all of the organisation’s operations can be carried out from under one roof which, Mr Ralls said, would make the organisation run more efficiently.
“We previously were housed in the station house in Bewdley, a bungalow, which was a wooden attachment to the station house and an end room on the buffet, which is a little past its sell-by date,” he said.
“The new office wasn’t the most glamorous of buildings but we saw the potential and thought we could make it a little better through redevelopment.”
Nick Paul, chairman of Severn Valley Railway Holdings PLC, said: “The organisation has a lot of staff but is hugely dependent on volunteers.
“It was time they were provided with a working environment which matches their needs.”
Now the organisation has now moved out of its old offices, plans are being drawn up to regenerate the Bewdley station.
Clare Gibbard, marketing and communications manager of Severn Valley Railway, said: “It’s great to finally be in our new offices. We now have a more fit-for-purpose workspace.
“Moving out of Bewdley allows plans for the regeneration of the station, as many parts of it, especially the buffet, are in need of significant renovations but all this is still currently at the planning stage.”