NEWS UPDATE 19/05/2023
We're all getting ready for the Vintage Excavator Trust Demonstration weekend.
A number or excavators will be in operation and we'll be running a frequent service on the railway.
Please note that we are only accessible off the A66 due to ongoing roadworks on the B5322 - the St John's in the Vale road.
The Steam Navvy will not be operational but will be on static display
News Update 06/05/22
It has been a great start to the season, especially given that it is the first time we have run in April in two years.
There have been some noteable events since our last update.
We now have a new diesel driver, Brent, who passed his driving exams at the end of April. Chris passed his guarding exams too, So huge congratulations to them both.
There was a track gang session at the end of April with some new track being prepared for laying into one of the workshops. We'll put some photos up as the work progresses.
'Sir Tom' has passed his boiler exam as of yesterday. The winter maintence included retubing the boiler. This took far longer than anticpated due to issues regarding the quality of the tubes. All being well, 'Sir Tom' should be running for the Vintage Excavator Trust Working Weekend over the 21st / 22nd May.
News Update 30/03/22
News Update 21/02/22
You will be pleased to learn we have escaped damage from Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin. Work has been progressing on the Austin K2 Shed. We now have sides and a door - the other door is currently being fabricated in our workshop. It won't be long before it is under cover and work can start on its restoration.
We have sorted out some of the plastic kits and have priced them for sale. Any funds raised from these will go towards Museum projects. If any of the kits appeal, please drop us an email and we can go from there.
News update 31/01/22
We have made use of some of the wet days sorting and pricing our collection of second hand books. They cover a variety of subjects including mining, quarrying, railways and industrial archaeology. A selection have been uploaded onto our online shop page here. More will be added in due course - there are some 600 to sort!
News update 25/01/22
Time seems to have got away on us again, is it really the end of January. So far this month we have done a wash out on 'Sir Tom' s boiler, taken down all the decorations and sorted out some books.
We have sold a number of the white metal model lorry kits - the fund for restoring the Austin K2 tipper now stands at £990, so thank you to those who have helped out. There are still some kits available - do check out our shop page here.
A new card machine has arrived which has duly been set up and trialled. The provider allows the Museum to have a proper online shop which can take card payments. We have put on a number of postable items such as books, cards, pens etc. The link to our shop is here.
We have also introduced vouchers so that a visit to the Museum, including travel on the railway and panning, can be purchased as a present.
News update 18/12/21
It has been a great day of Santa Specials - the weather has been crisp and bright! 5 more days of Santa trains to go and then that is a wrap for 2021.
News update 30/11/21
Another busy week or two!
We have been kept busy over the last couple of weeks getting ready for our Santa Specials. We escaped serious damage from Storm Arwen and fortunately any power cuts took place out of hours.
Our first weekedn of Santa Specials went well despite difficulties with access. This was caused by a road closure on the Saturday and a healthy dollop of snow on Sunday - it was certainly atmospheric!
Today we have been sorting a selection of books by the Northern Mines Research Group. A full list of these will appear on our website for sale.
Finally, with a change of Government guidance, we ask that visitors wear a face covering inside the Museum building.
News update 17/11/21
It has been a very exciting past few days.
Askham Hall (Avonside 1772 of 1917), the standard gauge steam locomotive that has been on the site since 2010 has been moved to Old Hall Farm at Bouth, near Haverthwaite. The loco, owned by Copeland Borough Council, is in line for a comestic restoration.
The loco was craned onto a heavy haulage trailer by two 30 ton cranes provided by Lawsons of Cockermouth. The trailer was moved using three Fowler traction engines over the 12/13/14 of November - a very impressive occasion.
The YouTube clip shows the move a couple of miles from the Quarry up St John's in the Vale
News update 06/11/21
We have reached the end of the main season. Since our last update back in May, we have operated some 750 trains. We have now around a fortnight before we start preparing for our Santa trains. The response to our Santa trains was tremendous - we sold out all train on all days within 12 hours.
Work this week has been focused on the extension to the railway. We lifted and packed some sections on the curve to remove the worst of the dips. There is still plenty to go at and it will be sometime before we are able to run passenger trains on it. The sunlight was stunning and our Hunslet diesel (and driver) looked to be enjoying the new section.
We have also been doing some work on one of our sheds. We now have another area of undercover space. Just the walls to sort out and then we have some dry storage for timber for some of our wood working projects. Thanks to our team of volunteers who helped out despite the best efforts of the weather!
Finally, we have been donated a selection of model kits, both plastic and white-metal. These are in a variety of scales including 4mm, 7mm, 1:48, 1:50, 1:72 and HO. We are preparing a list of kits with prices which we hope to make available shortly. Proceeds from these kits will go towards the restoration of a 1946 built Austing K2 tipper wagon which has some very local connections. More on this soon!
News update 07/05/21
- Fitted and tested a new brake valve on 'Sir Tom'
- Renewed the arrows for the one way system round the Museum
- Cleared some space for a delivery of coal, due tomorrow.
- Reviewed our COVID risk assessments
- Given the shop a spring clean
- Checked the two strimmers - not long before they'll be needed!
Not long now until we re-open!
News update 23/04/21
News update 16/04/21
It has been a dry an sunny week. This has meant that the engineering team have been out on the tracks! This week we have inspected and greased the 13 sets of points that are used on a regular basis when the railway is operating.
Also, the Museum shop has taken delivery of a number of items to sell over the season. This includes greetings cards as well as the usual favourites such as hard hat keyrings and bottles of real gold.
In terms of re-opening, all our COVID risk assessments and procedures are currently being reviewed. Subject to the Government, we hope to reopen during the second half of May. We hope to announce a definite date next week.
We send our condolonces to Her Majesty the Queen on the loss of her husband His Royal Higness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
News update 02/04/21
A big thank you to
News update 26/03/21
Once again, it has been a week filled with office work.
We are delighted to say that we have submitted a grant application to the Association of Industrial Archaeology with the aim of restoring the Weighbridge building.
When restored it has the ability to serve a number of purposes including:
- The starting point for the guided underground tours
- Storage for the tour equipment (hard hats, lamps, etc.)
- Interpretation of the Weighbridge's history
- Space for temporary displays (for Museum items or from a community group)
The building is located close to the new station area when our railway extension is complete - so there will also be somewhere for passengers to keep dry!
We will be notified of a decision on this grant application in June - so fingers crossed.
Also, we have a new email address - firstname.lastname@example.org which replaces email@example.com
Our old email inbox will be monitored for emails as it can receive but not send.
News update 12/03/21
This week we have been looking at our Weighbridge building. It was originally built in 1948 to weigh vehicles in and out of the Quarry. It replaced the 1880's rail served weighbridge following closure of the narrow gauge railway in 1940.
The Weighbridge is full of charm as it retains a number of original feature - including the scales. It will weigh up to 24 tons but will also weigh people too - as one of our engineers found out!
The building needs some restoration work and we are actively seeking ways of doing so.
News update 05/03/21
March has come in like a lamb!
It has been a week of dry weather. This has meant that some more fishplates have been greased - nearly half way there! We have also had another good tidy up of some branches with a bonfire.
In the office the team have been looking at a number of new products to sell in the shop. These include hard hat pencil sharpeners, pencils, post cards, greetings cards and so on.
There has also been a bit of work carried out on 'Sir Tom' to make sure he is ready for reopening (when ever that may be).
News update 01/03/21
Sorry it's a couple of days late!
The week has gone by in a bit of a blur. With the announcement from Government last Monday we have started reviewing our plans to re-open. Looking at the advice we find ourselves in a tricky situation.
We have a railway that provides site transport and an outdoor part of the Museum. Thus we could re-open on the 12th of April ...
However, we also have the indoor part of the Museum. This means we can't re-open until the 17th of May.
Current thoughts are to re-open soon after the May date as this provides plenty of time to get everything ready. It will also allow us to progress a little further with some of our current projects.
In the meantime, a possible source of funding has been identified to restore the weighbridge building. An application to the Association of Industrial Archeology (their website is here) is being worked on.
The weighbridge, which dates back to 1948, will be restored for use as storage for lamps and helmets for the underground tour and the main room will become space for temporary displays. The functioning weighing gear and scales will remain an integral part of this project.
That's all for now - back to track maintenance whilst the sun is out!
News update 19/02/21
This week has been spent doing some preparations for the crowd funding campaign for our new museum building. We have been working with Rob Grange (here is his website) with the view of creating some videos for the campaign and for some of the displays for the new building too.
With a dry day on Wednesday it was decided to do some track maintenance. The annual fishplate greasing has begun. This is an aspect of running a railway that most visitors don't notice. 6 pairs of fishplates completed - quite a lot more to go!
In amongst all of this the mechanical hacksaw in the Engine Shed has been doing some sterling work. Last year there were a number of enquiies for short pieces of rail for door stops, anvils or just the novelty factor! Thus there is now a pile of short lengths (about 8 inches) ready for sale. If anyone would like to buy one do get in touch - details just on the left.
News update - 12/02/21
It has been another cold week!
We have kept warm by cutting back some vegetation and trees near the base of the incline. It doesn't take long for them to grow and take over. Improvements have been made to the visibility on the access road. We did have a bonfire so things warmed up in the end.
A number of possible funding sources have been identified for the new museum project and there should be more information on this next week (fingers crossed!)
Things have been quiet on the railway but in the background much work is being done on the paperwork.
The Museum has recently become a member of the Museums Association. It is hoped that this will provide some useful opportunities in the near future. For more information on the work of the Museums Association please click here.
There will be some pictures uploaded soon.
News update - 05/02/21
As promised, here is the first of our weekly updates.
The weather this week has been pretty mixed with plenty of wind rain and snow. The Clayton battery electric loco near the Underground Experience and the Priestman Cub crane looked a little chilly!
Activity has mainly taken place in the office, namely updating and improving aspects of the website. We have also been looking at funding options for our new Museum building project.
In the workshop, 'Sir Tom' has received a clean on hearing of the passing of Capt. Sir Tom Moore. We send our thoughts and best wishes to his family at this time.
Not much physical activity this week but the writer has still managed to get grubby!
We are starting a weekly news update to keep you informed of what has been going on. The first news update will be put here on Friday 5th of February