The Ironbridge Railway Trust

The Ironbridge Railway Trust was formed in November 2005 and is a Company limited by Guarantee incorporated in 2007. It was registered as charity no. 1129939 on 2 June 2009 and is governed by a small number of trustees. Its income and expenditure are small, with a maximum raised of £2,151 in the years from May 2013-18.



The Trust's charitable objectives include to develop, construct, preserve, operate the railway between Buildwas and Bridgnorth via Ironbridge, connecting to the existing Severn Valley Railway.[1]


The trust undertook three principal activities in support of its objectives during 2009/10. These being:

  • completion of four technical studies in respect of the feasibility of the prospective Ironbridge railway;
  • presentation of the case for and feasibility of the Ironbridge railway;
  • liaison with the national railway industry.

Studies were financed by Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Authority, and carried out by Atkins.

In subsequent years the Trust consulted with stakeholders such as e-on/Uniper (previous owners of the Ironbridge power station site), local Councillors and MPs, the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils to elicit support in principle for their proposals.

In June 2018 the Harworth Group announced that it had bought the Ironbridge power station site for an undisclosed sum. In the same year the Trust launched a website with a proposal for a park and ride shuttle rail service rail link one mile in length from Buildwas to Ironbridge operated by a mixture of modern trains and historic steam trains on peak days.[2]

Following public consultation in May 2019, Harworth Group submitted an outline planning application for redevelopment of the site on 19th December 2019.[3] The Trust objected to the outline planning application on 21 February 2020, essentially because it appeared to make no provision for any form of rail connection to Ironbridge. A postscript to the objection noted that "...we advised Harworth Group of our comments and concerns in May 2019 following their public presentations. Regrettably, we have not received any acknowledgement of our communication despite their willingness to engage in constructive comment following their respective public consultations, or our various meetings to advise them of our position and philosophy."[4].

The planning application was initially rejected by Shropshire Council's Southern Planning Committee in August 2021 over a number of issues including the level of guaranteed affordable housing,[5] but was approved in September 2021 after revised proposals were submitted[6].

2021 'Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund' application

In October 2020 the Trust proposed the reinstated rail link would include Jackfield and Coalport, and subsequently bid in round 3 of the Department for Transport's 'Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund' which, if successful, would have financed a full feasibility study.[7]. The Trust applied for £43,000 which would have been used to further develop the case for its plan to reopen the 10 miles line between the former Ironbridge Power Station and Bridgnorth. The project would have been completed in three stages and would cost around £46.29m according to the bid.[8] The Trust's application was not included in the list of successful bids announced in October 2021[9].

Relationship with the SVR

The Trust is independent from the SVR.

The SVR's stance on reopening this section is not straightforward. Its website states: "the railway land north of Bridgnorth has been long since sold, and there is now no possibility of Severn Valley trains reaching Ironbridge and Shrewsbury ever again."[10] However its official Souvenir Guide, after listing some of the obstacles needing to be addressed, ends "So, never say never...".[11] In 2002 SVR News reported that at a recent SVR(H) Board meeting Paul Fathers had explained to the Board how "...(third party) enquiries into the possibility of EU funding of projects in the Severn Valley being used to restore rail communication between Bridgnorth and the Ironbridge World Heritage site had transmuted into press reports that the SVR wanted to extend to Ironbridge; the Board agreed that its current position was that it would welcome seeing the results of any feasibility study."[12] The Railway has on other occasions similarly given its position as a 'watching brief', it will not on its own to seek to reopen the line, but possibly is open to providing technical support to any plans to reopen.

Former SVR directors serving the trust

  • David Owen was appointed Secretary on 23 September 2017
  • Paul Fathers was a Director between 2007-2008 and 2009-2020

Relationship with the Telford Steam Railway

The Trust is independent from the Telford Steam Railway ('TSR').

In late 2018 the TSR launched a website "Steaming to Ironbridge" with its own proposals for a connection to Ironbridge. The TSR proposals would use a narrow gauge tramway (rather than a standard gauge railway) between Ironbridge and a planned central station on the former power station site at Buildwas. The reasons given for this choice include the ability to share the trackbed with the existing footpath, the need for minimal station space in Ironbridge leaving the main car park intact, and the reduced cost of renewing/maintaining the 10-arch viaduct on the route.[13].

See also