The decision to enter into detailed discussions with Ribble Steam Railway with a view to building a workshop and small museum at the RSR's headquarters in Preston was overwhelmingly endorsed by the FRT's AGM on March 7th 2009, and by the consultants working for the Trust on the Museum and Workshop project.
In summer 2008, the Furness Railway Trust had accepted further grant aid from the North West Development Agency and Ulverston and Low Furness Market Town Initiative, along with a contribution from its own resources, towards its plans to create a museum and workshop. The Trust duly hired Witherslack-based Kate Willard Ltd, working with a team including local engineers and transport experts Bleasdale Wand of Ulverston and Brian Campbell Associates of Spark Bridge and architects Sheppard Robson of Manchester to undertake this work.
There remained an urgent need to bring the Trust's valuable collection under cover, and to allow further restoration projects to take place.
Initially the Trust looked at a site close to its original home, the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. However, the Trust dropped any plans for development on the site near St. Anne's Church in Haverthwaite after it failed to win the necessary backing of local people, and was then asked to relocate its assets away from the L&HR.
One of the key features of the proposed scheme is that it should be as 'green' as possible. The current project in Preston sees a brownfield site reused, with a modern, energy efficient building erected to enhance the visitor experience at the Ribble Steam Railway whilst providing the Trust with its much needed workshop.
The Trust appointed consultants in 1992 who confirmed the need for the FRT to identify suitable accommodation to display and maintain items of its collection of rolling stock and other historical railway artefacts.
Space at the Trust's then home, the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway was very limited, and the consultants, Porter-Brown Solutions and MJN Associates, were asked to prepare an Options Analysis Report to weigh up the best way forward for the Trust.
The consultants' brief was to consider the best way the Trust can use its resources and fulfil its ambitions. The FRT had a growing collection of rolling stock and other historic assets, which is spread around a number of sites in England. The collection includes Britain's oldest working standard gauge steam locomotive, Furness Railway Number 20, the Great Western Railway steam locomotives 5643 and 4979 "Wootton Hall", Austerity steam locomotive "Cumbria" and former Barrow steelworks diesel shunter "Fluff". The Trust's first Victorian railway carriage is once more resplendent and in working order, thanks to a lottery-funded restoration, and the Trust has in its possession four further vehicles for what will eventually be a complete vintage train to run behind FR Number 20. The Trust also owns a sizeable collection of railwayana connected with the Furness and other North Western railways. It is the Trust's hope that this collection can be brought together in a sustainable way.
The consulting partners were appointed after the FRT had successfully applied for two grants of £2,500 each. The Trust would like to thank Cumbria County Council's First Aid for Cumbria fund (which aimed to help communities suffering from the after-effects of the Foot and Mouth epidemic) and the Rural Development Programme for their support.
The consultants concluded that there is a real need to provide covered accommodation that can bring the Trust's collection under one roof.
At the time they completed their report they felt that the planning constraints of the Lake District National Park meant that this building would have to be located away from Haverthwaite. However, since then, there has been a shift in policy at the National Park, and after advice from funding bodies, the Trust decided to investigate further whether it was possible to do something within the National Park, which would allow us to be closer to Haverthwaite station. After lengthy discussions, the Trust authorised expenditure from its own funds to enable an independent consulting engineer, Bleasdale Wand Ltd of Ulverston, to undertake some initial assessments and to work up costings for our requirements. Discussions were also held with the Forestry Commission to explore potential synergies with the Commission’s development proposals for Grizedale Forest.
During 2003, the FRT did investigate the possibility of purchasing a former Cumbria County Council Highways Depot close to Haverthwaite Station, which had been offered for sale by open tender. However, the Trust did not submit a tender after learning that the Lake District National Park would oppose the use of the site as a storage and maintenance depot for railway vehicles. The site has since become a coach depot.
İFurness Railway Trust