The West Lancashire Light Railway

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The West Lancashire Light Railway Trust wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

The West Lancashire Light Railway Trust is pleased to announce that it has received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project.

The current HLF award is to fund a Foundation Project to pave the way for the larger development project. The funding will support the development of a Business Plan and Management Structure for what would be a larger and more complex operation. It will support key work with other stakeholders,  and enable links to schools and colleges to be strengthened to promote the planned facilities as a valuable resource for learning.

The West Lancashire Light Railway has saved historic narrow gauge railway equipment from local industries and from around the world. Unfortunately the majority of this equipment is currently not on public view. The present focus for the volunteers is the operation of a short steam-worked railway, open to the public on Sundays and Bank Holidays from Easter to October.

In addition to extending this line, the Trust is seeking to develop a Narrow Gauge Railway Heritage Centre for the North West, where the many uses of narrow gauge railways can be displayed and interpreted. This would be done in a way that opens up the world of past industries, mining, quarrying and other fields of human endeavour. The North West of England is rightly known for its pioneering industrial past, where once narrow gauge railways moved raw materials and manufactured products. The West Lancashire Light Railway at Hesketh Bank is the only industrial narrow gauge centre in the North West, operating and displaying this fascinating history.

The Heritage Centre would be combined with a Learning Facility, which schools and colleges could use for a variety of work, potentially as a base for some courses. The Learning Facility would also have a role in keeping alive heritage skills which are as important in conserving our history as the artefacts themselves.

The other key aspect of the development project would be the creation of good Visitor Facilities for the Railway and an adjacent Linear Park. There would be the opportunity to present aspects of the interesting local history of the area, including the former brickworks and maritime activities: port, boatyard, fishing and ferrying.

Combined with the Park, the concept seeks to be attractive to a wide range of people, visitors and volunteers. It seeks to strengthen the existing community and volunteering culture, to draw more people into an active use of their free time in connection with the Railway and other heritage work, where they can have the opportunity to develop new skills.