June date set for new Ravenglass & Eskdale museum opening

THE Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway’s new museum will open in June following a two-year, Heritage Lottery Fund-backed redevelopment.

Built at Ravenglass station, the new trainshed extension will double the previous museum’s footprint.

Built by miniature railway pioneer Sir Arthur Heywood in 1896 for the Duke of Westminster’s Eaton Hall Railway, 0-4-0T Katie ran on the RER in 1916-19 and has just been restored to working order ready for use and display in the expanded museum. The remains of the locomotive returned to the railway in 1982 after spells at Llewellyn’s Miniature Railway in Southport and the Fairbourne Railway. In 1992, the RER Heritage Group formed with the aim of restoring the locomotive to its original condition. RER

The museum owns more than 6000 objects ranging from 15in gauge locomotives and rolling stock through to uniforms, photographs and historic engineering. The new development will see these artefacts come to life with interactive exhibitions.

Exhibits will include a collection of locomotives and rolling stock spanning the line’s opening in 1875 to the present day, including an interactive steam engine exhibit that visitors can operate themselves. The museum’s project and activities manager David Rounce said: “We’re excited for the public to see everything that we’ve been working on. The museum relies entirely on volunteers and over the last year they have worked extensively to restore the stock, much of which is over 100 years old, to make sure it is in working order and in exhibition condition.’

“As well as attracting tourists from ‘La’al Ratty’ (as the line is known locally) to the museum, we hope it will become something of a community focal point through a programme of changing, community-led, exhibitions, and a range of curriculum-linked resources for schools are being developed to educate local children.”

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