Lease agreement secures future for miniature railway attraction
PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 March 2019
A family tourist attraction which has been running at Asthon Court for nearly 50 years will no longer have to move venue.
The Ashton Court Miniature Railway has been based in Long Ashton since 1972, but its future was in question after Bristol City Council (BCC) considered not renewing its lease last summer.
The Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers (BSMEE), which runs the event, started a campaign to save the attraction, with the contract due to be up at the end of 2018.
The club’s petition gained around 10,000 signatures from supporters.
After a ‘long, difficult and worrying time’ a five-year lease has been agreed which has secured the event’s future at Ashton Court.
Chairman of BSMEE Norman Rogers said: “We believe we have reached a good basis with the council to reach an agreement.
“We are waiting for the agreement to come through in black and white, but it will be nice to wrap things up.
“It has been a long, difficult and worrying time, but our perseverance and patience has paid off and, personally, I’m very relieved we have arrived at a workable place.
“At one point there was a strong possibility we would have to find a new venue, but we stuck by our beliefs and thankfully the event will now stay at the site.”
The attraction is run entirely by volunteers and up to 40 people from the club help out.
He continued: “Our lease has gone up significantly, quadrupled even.
“We will have to see how it goes, we are expecting to be offered a five-year lease, but we won’t know what it will be like until we start running the railway.
“It’s our hobby and we love doing it and we want to share this with people who are interested in the hobby too.
“We are grateful for the support and the many people who spoke on our behalf through the petition.
“We now see three generations of families go to the railway and it’s marvellous.”
The event at the venue, in Abbots Leigh Road, will open on selected days from this Sunday until December.
Tickets, priced £1.50 each or five for £6.50, are available on the door.
For more information, visit www.bristolmodelengineers.co.uk/ashton-court-railway