It’s some time since our last newsletter so we have a LOT of catching up to do.
The extended national lock-down made us think carefully about when and how we should open. We have delayed our opening slightly as it would have been uneconomic to open in April with no indoor tables available to coffee shop customers. As a result our entire site will now open on Monday 17th May. As previously, and like all visitor attractions, we have thought carefully about how we can open safely. If you have any concerns then take a look at our Covid-19 precautions.
Despite Covid limiting how many volunteers can be on-site at any time, and also restricting the type of work we can do (plus the Great British weather), we have achieved a terrific amount. Some of our projects have reached completion and others have just started.
So what have we been doing behind closed doors?
We are now the proud owners of a working steam locomotive ‘Colin McAndrew’ which we are impatient to show off after such a long closure. The engine reached us in fine condition and after a touch-up paint job on site it now looks superb! Colin will be running regular weekend shunting demonstrations.
We have also completed our restoration of a derelict London Midland and Scottish Railway wagon from 1934. This is now on display in the quarry heritage area and will soon house a mini-museum. New display boards have been added in the railway museum to give further information about the exhibits including Mountsorrel’s royal train.
Robert Stephenson’s historic 1834 lift bridge
We now have a major new restoration project of national importance. Components of Robert Stephenson’s historic 1834 Leicester lift bridge have arrived as an incomplete kit of parts. Over the next two years you will be able to see it being restored and rebuilt. We are still assessing what may be achievable, so we are not sure if the final restoration will be fully working or what the final cost might be.
Nestling in the bottom of the old quarry our Peace Garden provides a tranquil, beautiful area for visitors to relax and remember loved ones. Granite plaques can be purchased and fixed to the sleeper sculptures in the garden. For further information and contact details please visit our Peace Garden page.
We have been considering several ideas regarding the bottom of the old quarry, with the favourite being the creation of a more formal garden. The presence of the rock faces and the wonderful Peace Garden have created a delightful undeveloped area of the site that could be really beautiful. New paths have been added and several trees and other plants have already been donated and planted. The entrance also features a new summer house, an excellent location to sit, relax and watch our locos in action. Over the coming months we will continue our planting of ornamental trees, flowering shrubs and other plants to provide a wealth of colour and greenery throughout the year. It should encourage insects and other wildlife for visitors to see and enjoy over the coming years.
Nunckley Nursery and the Trails
Our Eco Team have been busy lovingly growing plants for you to buy for your garden throughout the summer. They have also planted many new flowers, trees and shrubs around the site to help make it even more beautiful than ever. The annual cull of invasive vegetation along the entire 1.2 miles of standard gauge track has been completed before the start of the bird-nesting season.
Granite’s and the Shack
Our coffee shop is ready and waiting for your return! The floor in Granite’s Coffee Shop has been re-coated and the outside tables have also had a spruce up. Across the way, Granite’s Shack has had a makeover and other improvements in order to serve you better.
The Learning Hub now includes video interviews with Joan Nicholls, a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, who describes what it was like working at Beaumanor Hall during World War 2. Did you know that Beaumanor was a top secret ‘Y Station’, an outpost for the code-breakers of Bletchley Park?
The upstairs heritage room has a new bell display from Swithland church.
Crazy Golf and Garden Railway
The Crazy Golf course has been fully refurbished with some of the hazards and obstacles being completely rebuilt.
Additional track has been added to the Garden Railway to create a more interesting layout, and a new train has been donated which produces smoke from its chimney. A small township also appears to have grown around the ever expanding railway.
You may remember that we had a distressing break-in last year. In response all buildings are now protected by Fog Bandit systems, CCTV cameras have been added covering all areas of the site and we have also erected street light poles. We give special thanks to Rossells Security for the free help they have provided.
We’re ready to welcome you all back so let’s hope the summer is long and fine and helps us to cast aside the misery of the last few months.