|Posted by lancashiretec on March 28, 2018 at 2:45 PM|
It has been a timely coincidence that two ailing Lancashire Heritage clubs have both had somewhat of a renaissance in the last few years.
The Lancashire Traction Engine Club has run many successful rallies in its 53 year history. The Burtonwood Rally may be remembered by some readers and, more recently, May Day Steam which it ran for 29 years alongside the Urmston & District Model Engineering Society. Unfortunately 2010 saw the last May Day Steam and, since then, the membership of the club has dwindled to point where it was struggling to continue.
The Red Rose Steam Society are the people behind the Lancashire Mining Museum and are responsible for restoring the Astley Green winding engine and pithead gear after it was saved from demolition in 1970. The wrecking ball was on site and the destruction was about to start when Lancashire County Council intervened, recognising the uniqueness of the 3,300 hp twin tandem compound steam winding engine and halted the process. As the result the museum houses Lancashire’s only surviving headgear and engine house, both of which now have scheduled monument and listed building status. Since taking on the lease of the site in 1983, a dedicated band of volunteers have restored the winding house and engine to the point where it ran again for the first time in 2013 and attention now turns to the pithead gear. An English Heritage report puts the headgear in the "At Risk" category and, unless repairs and maintenance can be carried out urgently, it is likely that it will be lost forever. The structure has been deemed too unsafe for access and unless sufficient funds can be obtained to repair and paint the wrought iron, the trustees feel the only alternative would be demolition. The society have set a timescale of completing the preservation by 2020, the 50th anniversary of the pit closing.
And so, on 19th & 20th May this year, the first Lancashire Steam Heritage Festival will take place; a joint venture between the two clubs.
At the time of writing planning is very much ongoing but it is hoped that there will be 20 full sized steam engines, miniature steam (both road and rail), 20 or more vintage tractors, vintage motorbikes and working exhibits. On the museum site there is already the magnificent winding engine to see (which will be run on compressed air regularly over the weekend), the collection of 28 colliery locomotives (the largest collection of its type in the United Kingdom), a 2' gauge colliery railway which it is hoped will be hosting a steam loco for the first time in its history (courtesy of the West Lancs Railway), a blacksmiths forge and many other working engines and museum artefacts. There is also a reconstruction of a miners cottage and a newly opened tea room.
Tickets will be available to pre-order through Eventbrite and there will be plentiful parking for the show.
There has been a commitment to run this event for three years at least and, as more of the museum site is cleared and tidied, so it is hoped the event will grow to become a highlight of the rally calendar.