FRP puts future of heritage railway back on track
Thursday April 30, 2020
173-year-old Weardale Railway sold, protecting jobs
Our Restructuring Advisory team has secured the sale of the North East’s Weardale Railway Community Interest Company (CIC), protecting jobs and helping to preserve the 173-year-old Weardale Railway line for the future.
Weardale Railway CIC owns and operates 19 miles of historic railway track between Stanhope and Bishop Auckland that once comprised part of the Stockton and Darlington railway.
The business runs a number of leisure train ride experiences, including its annual festive-themed ‘Train to Christmas Town.’
FRP Partners David Willis and Martyn Pullin, based in our Teesside office, were appointed Joint Administrators of the company after US-based Iowa Pacific Holdings – the majority shareholder of British American Rail Services (BARS), which held a controlling stake in Weardale CIC – entered insolvency in the US, leading to funding difficulties.
With legal support from Endeavour Partnership, FRP managed an accelerated sale of Weardale CIC, resulting in the successful sale of the business and its assets to a subsidiary company of The Auckland Project, a regeneration charity working to create positive change for those living, working and visiting Bishop Auckland and the surrounding area.
The deal has saved a number of jobs at Weardale CIC, and will ensure the heritage railway’s continued operation.
David Willis, Partner in our Restructuring Advisory team, said: “Weardale Railway is an incredibly valuable piece of local history, supported by a dedicated team of employees and a passionate group of volunteers through the Weardale Trust.
“This deal with The Auckland Project has helped to deliver the best result for all involved. It not only secures a piece of the region’s heritage and a valuable contributor to the local economy, but has also safeguarded most of the jobs of those who work with the railway. We’re incredibly proud of the role we were able to play, and wish its team the very best for the future.”
David Maddan, Chief Executive of The Auckland Project, said: “The Weardale Railway is part of the rich industrial heritage of Bishop Auckland, Shildon and Weardale, so The Auckland Project is delighted to be able to play a part in reinvigorating the line and all that it represents.
“We are only able to do so with the support of the expertise and enthusiasm of the Weardale Railway Trust and look forward to working closely with them, Locomotion in Shildon and other local groups, many of whom have been involved in the railway for decades. Our thanks to our partners at the team at FRP for all of their hard work and support.”