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COMPANY CRASH KNOCKS STEAM RAILWAY PROJECT OFF THE TRACKS

The financial failure, last week, of paper giant Robert Horne Group has struck a huge blow to the East Lancashire Railway’s ambitions to restore their Bury Bolton Street Station back to its former glory.

The heritage railway’s £100,000 project to re-establish the Victorian style station canopy at the showcase station’s platform 2 is now in serious jeopardy.

Company bosses were alerted to problems when calls to the supplier of the roof glazing for the canopy went unanswered. The railway had paid nearly £18,000 to Robert Horne Group subsidiary, Paperlinx, only the day prior to the Administrators, Deloitte, being appointed and indications are that the East Lancashire Railway will not see either the glazing delivered or their money returned.

The Railway’s General Manager, Andy Morris said “We’re absolutely devastated by what’s happened and we’re still struggling to come to terms with what this will ultimately mean for the future of the canopy project. The sum of money involved is very substantial for a charity such as ours and it is particularly upsetting bearing in mind the funds were raised through donations and other benefaction. We shall be taking legal advice about what rights we have in circumstances such as this but at the moment it doesn’t look very encouraging. We also need to see what options are open to us in terms of keeping the project on-track and for completion by mid-July, as raising a similar amount of cash to that we’ve already paid out is going to be a tall order. However, one thing is for sure, our volunteer workforce will do everything within their power to ensure the job gets done!”

If you would like to offer support to the East Lancashire Railway in the form of a donation please visit our The Big Give page. Any donations, no matter how big or small, would be very appreciated. Thank you for your continued support.The provision of a Platform 2 canopy at Bury has become increasingly needed in recent years due to the continued growth of the East Lancashire Railway and the popularity of The Trackside real ale pub. Currently the inside seating area of The Trackside is only small so an additional seating area is also provided outside on the platform. However during inclement weather this can be an experience largely for the more hardy. The new canopy will provide a far more pleasant covered seating area that can be both lit and heated.

CANOPY OVERVIEW

Much has happened since the acquisition of the former Oldham Mumps Station Canopy for reuse at various ELR Stations in 2010.
The alterations to the front elevation of the Trackside building that were necessary to accommodate the back face of the canopy roof have now been completed. The surplus architectural stonework, recovered from the former Bury Corporation bus garage will go into store for use in some future project.

The design drawings for the new construction have been prepared by the ELR’s Civil Engineer and are now with local structural engineers William Hare who have generously offered to undertake the design calculations and ‘sign-off’ for the canopy. This piece of work is vital as we have to satisfy both ourselves and the Bury Council Building Inspectors that the structure will stand up to the rigours of the local climate.
The components necessary for the canopy roof have been identified from the huge stock of items recovered from Oldham Mumps which are currently in store at our Buckley Wells site. Whilst it is all in a generally sound condition it bears the many layers of paint that have been applied during its L&Y, LMS and BR days. This has been painstakingly removed and all the components have been shot blasted back to bare metal by our contractor and then painted by our mid-week volunteers. These parts will then be placed in store until the re-erection work starts.

Another formal hoop we have to jump through is obtaining planning consent from Bury Council Planners. A planning application has been submitted a positive response to the development is anticipated by the end of September.
Quotes are currently being obtained for the roof cladding components much of which will be on long lead times so ordering will need to be scheduled for the autumn if we are to have the materials on-hand in time for installation in the spring. There is much work left to do but we have made a good start and there is a great deal of energy within the ELR to see the canopy’s re-erection in the spring and summer of 2015.
All we need to do now is to make sure that we can deliver the project on time and to budget. The early signs are very encouraging.

BACKGROUND TO CANOPY IMPROVEMENTS AT BURY

The Platform 2 canopy project is one of the final pieces needed to create a more customer friendly environment at our Bury Station.

The canopy on platform 3 & 4 was fortunate enough to survive from the days of British Railways and when the line closed was left in situ, albeit in need of some restoration. During the last few years it has been restored and fitted with new glazing creating a very impressive part of Bury Station which has vastly improved the customer experience in terms of providing a dry and sheltered area whilst waiting for a train.
The task on platform 2 has been bigger as there was nothing there to restore. The original three storey East Lancashire Railway Headquarters building had been demolished many years ago, before the ELR took possession of the station from British Rail. When our new platform 2 building was completed in 1996, which now houses The Trackside real ale pub, there was no funding or materials available to construct a canopy.

In 2010 an opportunity arose with the expansion of Metrolink and the planned closure of Oldham Mumps station, to rescue its canopy for reuse on the ELR. Mumps Station had a canopy which surrounded the buildings on the island platform, and the components were ideally suited to our proposed platform 2 canopy at Bury and in the future, one at Rawtenstall. Many of the parts used in the construction of the Oldham Mumps canopy are identical to those already in place on our existing Ramsbottom canopy. With the help of Transport for Greater Manchester and its contractor, a team from the ELR successfully dismantled and relocated the canopy to Bury.

Since its move to Bury the canopy has been stored awaiting its renovation and the funding required to procure its installation. Some of the funding is now in place in order to the progress the preparatory work needed to start the construction process with work planned for completion in the summer of 2015.

However, to make sure the canopy is in place for next summer we need the additional funds to ensure our canopy has a roof! Whilst we estimate the total project to be £100,000, erection of the steelwork alone will cost £40,000. With your help we will see the project finally complete and in place ready to be enjoyed for many years to come.

OUR FUNDING APPEAL

From the first initial appeal to save the canopy from Oldham, various fundraising efforts have contributed around £22,000 towards the cost of its re-erection on platform 2. Plans are now at an advanced stage in readiness to start work on its final restoration and construction. However, we need help to reach our target for the canopy being ready for Summer 2015.

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The East Lancashire Light Railway Company Limited registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Bolton Street Station, Bolton Street, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0EY Registered number: 02023981