END OF THE TETBURY BRANCH LINE

Like many other branch lines, the Tetbury to Kemble line had been closed in 1964 as part of the infamous Beeching Cuts. By the mid-1990s, Tetbury’s rail lands which were still owned by British Railways had fallen into an utterly-neglected state.  The site of the station, the old rail yard and the railway track bed were all mostly overgrown by vegetation.

The adjacent cattle and sheep pens were lying derelict after the stock market finally closed following the BSE outbreak in 1987. The last remaining railway building, the old goods shed, having lost its last business tenant years before, was in a parlous state with its windows boarded up, the roof leaking, and ivy and rainwater penetrating the walls.

Tetbury Station and the Rail Lands

Tetbury Station and the Rail Lands

A HOUSING ESTATE?

Many people hoped that the town would be able to acquire the station site to turn the land and buildings into a community asset. When British Railways decided to dispose of the property in 1995, a Tetbury resident, Will Cook, learned at the last minute that it was about to come up at an auction.

There were plans showing a roundabout on the site of the demolished Goods Shed and Mr Cook feared that the land would be bought by a housing developer before the town had a chance to save it, Luckily he managed to get the auction stopped and the station lands were reprieved – but only temporarily.

SAVING THE RAIL LANDS

With uncertainty still surrounding the rail lands, HRH Prince Charles took an interest in their future. He invited British Railways (BR), Tetbury Town Council (TTC), Cotswold District Council (CDC) and the Feoffees to meet to try to find a mutually agreeable solution.

The parties met the Prince at the old station yard, then gathered at the nearby Royal Oak pub, where BR agreed to sell the rail lands to the Feoffees – a charitable Tetbury organisation dating back to the 17th century. Tetbury Town Council would rent the land from the Feoffees for a peppercorn rent. CDC would develop the North end of the goods yard as a car park.

The old Cattle Market

The old Cattle Market

PLANNING FOR REAL

In the end Tetbury Town Council acquired 3.5 acres of Tetbury’s former railway land in 1997 with a grant from the Countryside Commission and an interest free loan from the Cotswold District Council. The original Rail Lands Board was set up at that time.

A ‘Planning for Real’ exercise was then held in the town to decide on the uses for the site. This included the old stock market area owned by the Feoffees and the involvement of the Cotswold District Council.

The original plans for the former railway land were to provide:

  • a public car park
  • a millennium green
  • new housing
  • a landscaped park
  • refurbishment of the Goods Shed
  • a children’s play area
  • a cyclepath to Kemble

In 1998 four working groups were set up: Landscape Group, Car Parking Group, Cattle Market Group and Goods Shed Group.

Overgrown track bed at Newnton Hill bridge

Overgrown track bed at Newnton Hill bridge

FORMATION OF THE RAIL LANDS REGENERATION TRUST

The Rail Lands Board became the Tetbury Rail Lands Regeneration Trust (TRLRT) which was set up to raise funding and to support the development of the plans for the Rail Lands. The TRLRT became incorporated in 2000 and a registered charity in 2002.

Tetbury Rail Lands Regeneration Trust is a charity which is turning the site of Tetbury’s former GWR railway land into a series of community assets for the people of the town and the surrounding area. TRLRT was set up with primary responsibility for its development for the people of Tetbury, the local area and the town’s many visitors

THE TRUST’S OBJECTS

The TRLRT’s objects were originally:

to develop, maintain and regenerate for the benefit of the general public, the land and buildings situate in Tetbury known as the former rail yards and lands or other land in the town of Tetbury for recreational, educational, cultural and community development purposes.”

The Trustees have a duty to:

  • Ensure the Trust is carrying out its objects for the public good.
  • Comply with the Trust’s governing document and the law.
  • Act in the Trust’s best interests.
  • Manage the Trust’s resources responsibly.
  • Act with reasonable care and skill.
  • Ensure the Trust is accountable.

The Trust works in partnership with the Town Council to manage and develop the regeneration of the site. The council is permanently represented on TRLRT’s board of trustees, while the Trust reports on its progress at each full Council meeting.

The overgrown Railway Yard

The overgrown Railway Yard

THE TRUST TODAY

When work on the Goods Shed got underway the Trustees decided they would actually operate the Art Centre themselves once it was completed as it was thought to be too difficult to set up a separate organisation at the time.

The Trust’s objects were thus amended in 2018 to add the running of the Arts Centre as an objective and became:

A charity and rural social enterprise established to develop, maintain and regenerate for the benefit of the general public the land and buildings comprising the former Tetbury Branch Line and, through the activities and performances in the Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre, to promote the Arts and to advance education in the Arts through inclusion, social engagement and wellbeing.”

FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT THE TRUST

An overview of the facilities developed in the Rail Lands can be seen here.

The Charities Commission website contains the details of the current Trustees, the Trust’s charitable objects and accounts.

https://beta.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-details/?subid=0&regid=1092160

The Companies House website contains details of all the current Directors and Officers.
https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/04102029
Here you can also find details of the accounts and the Company’s articles of association.

If you wish to contact the Trustees by email, send your email to the Arts Centre Administrator office@shed-arts.co.uk, who will forward your message to the appropriate person.

The dilapidated Goods Shed

The dilapidated Goods Shed