The Swindon and Cricklade Railway receives many visits from both groups and individuals and has long wanted to have a wheelchair accessible coach that would meet the needs of all its passengers.
This plan is now well on the way to fruition.
Early in 2008 Carriage and Wagon Manager, Alan Jones, wrote to a number of companies and funding bodies seeking the money necessary for the purchase, transport and alterations to a suitable
Alongside a grant of £5,000 from Zurich Community Trust UK Limited, The Hills Group agreed to a massive Landfill Communities Fund grant of £23,000 to enable the Railway to cover the costs of major structural alterations and renovation of the bodywork of the coach. (The Hills Group distributes its Landfill Communities Fund money through Community First which is the Rural Community Council for Wiltshire).
Purchase was completed in December 2008 and the coach was moved to specialists Cranmore Traincare in East Somerset in March 2009 for structural work to be carried out. In the interim period volunteers from The Railway, under Project Manager Mike Hicks, stripped out unwanted
seating and compartments and prepared the coach for the move.
With major structural alterations and repairs complete, including wider doorways to allow easy access for wheelchair users and new exterior paintwork, the much altered vehicle returned to the Railway in September.
Mike Hicks and his volunteer team will now spend the next few months fitting out the interior with seating, a fully accessible toilet and mini buffet prior to the carriage being available for service later next year.
Once all the work has been completed it is planned to hold an official launch and a naming ceremony in which representatives of The Hills Group will play a major role.