On Saturday 24th June 2017, Ravenglass Railway Museum will be officially opened by Paul Atterbury, a regular expert on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow and author of numerous railway history books.
After undergoing a 9 month re-development the new museum will double the previous footprint and create a brand-new interactive museum experience. Guests will be able to view the new museum for the first time and take the iconic return journey along the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, or ‘La’al Ratty’, from Ravenglass to Boot in the Eskdale Valley.
The museum will open to general visitors from 3pm on Saturday 24th June, with the first whole day of general opening will be Sunday 25th June.
The museum owns more than 6,000 objects ranging from 15 inch gauge locomotives and rolling stock through to uniforms, photographs and historic engineering items. The new development will see these artefacts come to life with interactive exhibitions allowing visitors to not only see the heritage steam locomotives, but to learn how they work too – literally climbing into the driving seat.
Peter Hensman, Chairman of the Museum Trustees said: “This is an exciting moment in the Museum’s history. Over the last two years we have worked hard with professionals, volunteers and supporters to extend the Museum, restore our heritage stock and create the dynamic museum we are now delighted to reveal. None of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement we have received from Heritage Lottery Fund and our other funders. We hope that our visitors will gain much pleasure and interest from our new displays.”
A star attraction will be the steam locomotive ‘Katie’ which ran at Ravenglass in 1916 and has just been restored to working condition for the first time since the 1920s.
Other exhibits will include a collection of locomotives and rolling stock spanning the line’s opening in 1875 to the present day, including an interactive steam engine exhibit that visitors can operate themselves. There will also be objects telling the story of ‘La’al Ratty’s’ industrial past as well as the daily life of workers on the railway including their uniforms and ‘bait’ boxes. Visitors will be able to play games to determine which job would suit them.
David Rounce, the Museum’s Project & Activities Manager, explained: “As well as attracting tourists from ‘La’al Ratty’ to the museum, we hope it will become something of a community focal point through a programme of changing, community-led exhibitions. A range of curriculum-linked resources for schools is also being developed to educate local children about the technology and history of the railway and of other local industry and the way of life in the valley.”
There will also be a private archive on the upper level of the new building allowing researchers, academics and enthusiasts to book in advance to see more of the intricate artefacts and memorabilia from the railway’s history.
The museum will be open whenever the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is running, which is every day in the summer season.