THE AMBITIOUS project to breathe new life into Henley Railway Station is right on track.
Renovation work is due to start by Easter, the Friends of Henley Railway Station were delighted to report this week.
The original GWR station building in Henley has been shut for many years despite passengers using the station.
It has been a long-held hope on the part of the Henley community to renovate and restore the old station building to its former glory.
And the project starting gaining real momentum last year when the Friends of Henley Railway Station, assisted by Beadesert and Henley Joint Parish Council, signed a 25-year-lease with Network Rail after lengthy negotiations.
It was agreed that the Friends will pay a peppercorn rent for the building so that more cash can go into work restoring the station to its original state, while retaining as many original features as possible.
Plans for the building include a community cafe and even a microbrewery, while other projects will include a Shakespeare Garden. The project hopes to tick the boxes when it comes to green credentials, with solar panels and bicycle stands planned for the site.
Train operator West Midlands Railways, the Community Station Partnership and the Friends of the Shakespeare Line have stumped up initial funding to help get the project started.
The rest of the restoration will be paid for through grants and a crowdfunding scheme.
The Friends of Henley Railway Station reported this week that while they were conscious there was currently no signs of activity on site, there was plenty going on behind the scenes.
Angela Okey, Chair of Friends of Henley Railway Station, said renovation work should start on site by Easter.
She said scaffolding was soon to be erected on the station building and planning permission for change of use and the works proposed, submitted to Stratford District Council, was now in the final stages.
Angela continued: “We want to take this opportunity to thank Beaudesert and Henley in Arden Joint Parish Council, Friends of the Shakespeare Line and Railway Heritage Trust for the support they have expressed for the application.
“We are incredibly grateful to E H Smith Building Supplies, who have agreed to support the project, and we are working with them to source all the materials used in the renovation works.
“We have secured great support from all three utilities – Severn Trent, National Grid and BT Openreach, who have established and confirmed their services for usage at the station building when the renovation is completed.
“The trustees of Friends of Henley in Arden station are busy moving things forward and we look forward to keeping you informed as we progress.”