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Issue:- Monday, 29 February 2015

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The West Lancashire Light Railway Trust wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

THE West Lancashire Light Railway Trust (WLLR) are pleased to announce that they have just received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project.

The West Lancashire Light Railway is a narrow gauge railway (2' gauge) located at Hesketh Bank, midway between Southport and Preston. The venture was started as a hobby by 6 Southport and West Lancashire teenagers in 1967. As the Railway approaches its 50th anniversary, it has grown to become a charitable trust with over 150 volunteer members, and is seeking to develop so that it is sustainable into the future. The former brickworks site on which it is located is now proposed for redevelopment for housing, mixed uses and a new linear park The plan is to develop the Railway into a strong, quality heritage attraction as part of the proposed River Douglas Linear Park. The extended railway would carry visitors within the Park, linking the visitor centre and arrival point to riverbank footpaths, Becconsall Old Church and the future England Coastal Path, on the way passing through attractive woodland and alongside a lake.

The current HLF award is to fund a Foundation Project to pave the way for the larger development project. The HLF 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 (WLLR) 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 that is 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 artefacts themselves.

The other key aspect of the development project would be the creation of good Visitor Facilities for the Railway and Park. Here 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.

Commenting on the award, the Railway's Chairman, Mike Spall, said:- "We are extremely pleased to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund for this preliminary work which represents a vote of confidence in our plans to develop the Railway and in our organisation's members. The funding is critical in enabling us to build robust foundations for developing the Railway while ensuring that the heritage will have a sustainable long term future as a quality visitor attraction and place for discovery, learning and skills. Additionally, it will enable us to work with other stakeholders to ensure that the River Douglas Linear Park is also a success, because the Park and the Railway will depend on each other if both are to thrive into the future. Together they will provide a strong community asset. We will be using some of the funding for specialist consultancy support and legal advice to help us work effectively toward these goals.''

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Ablution room opened at Southport Hospital

AN ablution room for use by staff and visitors has opened at... Click on here to find out more.

Beatles Legacy Group established
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SCHOOLCHILDREN from Sefton who designed posters for a Merseyside Police..  Click on here to find out more...

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B.O.A. 70th Anniversary DVD

Click on to buy now...THE video footage we have taken at the 70th BOA events this year in Liverpool has now been fully edited is available to buy, on a DVD, from our Online Shop, on Mersey Reporter very soon.  For each DVD sold, £3.00 will go to the Liverpool's Lord Mayor's Charity Appeal. (Registered Charity No. 229539)  At this stage we can only do UK postage options, but if you are outside the UK, you can still order copies, but only via emailing our newsroom at:- with your FULL address and we will get back to you with a postage cost and a payment link, should you wish to continue.



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