South Devon Railway Launches Striking ‘SOS’ Video Appeal to Raise Survival Funding

Just over a week since it was launched on Sunday 5 April, the latest updated figure for the South Devon Railway’s ‘SOS – Save Our Steam’ – £500,000 funding appeal show that over £31,000 has been raised so far, which the SDR says is “a very encouraging result!”

The South Devon Railway has asked fans and supporters of the railway to dig into their pockets because it says: “Without this help, we may not have a railway for people of all ages to enjoy again in the future.”

It reckons the current closure until half way through its main season will lead to a “massive and unsustainable financial hit.”

“This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the charity, with services stopping only a few days after they began following the closed winter maintenance period,” it said.

In addition, two bridges, including one over the River Dart at Buckfastleigh, were damaged in winter storms and need “urgent repair work”.

The SDR’s Virgin Giving Money appeal now stands at £12, 861.25, comprising £10,806.00
in direct donations and £2,055.25 in Gift Aid (the 25% given by the Government on donations made by UK tax payers).

And, with the above appeal figure added to all of the other separate donations made by three of the 15 internal groups on the SDR so far too of £15,500, plus a Facebook appeal which now comprises £3,040.68, including Gift Aid, the current aggregate total is £31,401.93, and more donations are also confidently expected from the other groups based on the SDR.

The SDR is very grateful for the great interest and messages of support from the public and its supporters about the ‘SOS – Save Our Steam’ funding appeal, with donations coming from all over, including members, local people, visitors to the line, supporters and South Devon Railway-based groups, including one man living in Shanghai who visits the line every year and sent £100!

Commenting on the news, a South Devon Railway Trust spokesman said:

“I can’t begin to thank all of those kind people who have donated money already to our ‘SOS – Save Our Steam’ appeal so far who are helping us in our hour of need. You certainly find out who your real friends are when you’re in trouble with your back against the wall!

“We reckon that we’ll need up to £500,000 to survive this crisis and, whilst our appeal is still a long way short of that figure, it’s been a very encouraging and humbling start to have received so much support in just over a week.

“All of the money raised will go towards safeguarding the SDR and helping us get through the Covid-19 crisis, but we will still need more cash because the railway simply has no income at present and our insurances do not cover for this type of loss. So, please keep the donations coming if you can no matter how small, it all helps!”

It’s unlikely that the SDR will be able to open again until at least halfway through its usual operating season, so this means a potential loss of £500,000 of revenue for the scenic and much loved railway. A massive and unsustainable financial hit.

This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the charity, with services stopping only a few days after they began following the closed winter maintenance period.

The SDR urgently needs cash help to allow it to keep steaming into the future, so it has launched a video ‘SOS’ appeal. The SDR is hoping as many people as possible will watch the appeal video and donate as generously as they can – the railway realises these are difficult times for everyone but, without this help, there may not be a railway for people of all
ages to enjoy again.


The SDR is reliant upon the income generated by running trains and special events to build to up cash reserves to allow it to invest in the maintenance of track, structures, and buildings, as well as our locomotives and carriages during the winter.

Over this last winter closed season, the SDR also suffered damage to two key bridges, including the iconic Nursery Pool Bridge which takes the railway over the River Dart near Buckfastleigh. This bridge suffered damage to one of its piers during the storms in February this year and now needs urgent repair work to protect it from deteriorating further. This was an unexpected cost and now, with the almost total loss of income, the SDR urgently needs help to allow this work to take place.


South Devon Railway Limited, Registered Office:
The Station, Dartbridge Road, Buckfastleigh, Devon, TQ11 0DZ
Registered in England No. RS008114
Community Benefit Society No. 8114

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T: 01364 644 370

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