Well it has certainly been a hectic six months since the last newsletter. They do say “The best laid schemes of Mice and Men” but the last few months have definitely tested us. In spite of these setbacks virtually all the projects mentioned back in December have been delivered. So read on to discover where we are now.
Simon’s traction engine (26) has been joined by Matt Baker’s trailers and Scarab. The area continues to be improved to accept further exhibits. It will be dressed with 28mm stone chippings, the corner near the water crane level crossing has been fenced, and the level crossing will be built properly. The rails behind the LMS wagon are being trimmed to provide smoother access over the new crossing. A donated timber gate will replace the heras fencing. The ultimate hope is that this collection will be joined by a steam roller, three 1950’s restored tractors and couple of other vehicles.
May 26th saw our LMS Wagon Museum (17), officially opened by Baroness Morgan of Cotes and her husband Jonathan Morgan. Inside, the working vintage Hornby Dublo train set is complemented by over 100 exhibits all with a local connection.
Our King’s Coronation Garden (24), the latest addition to the more formal gardens in the quarry bottom, was officially opened at the same time. This garden has been designed to be low maintenance, requiring the minimum of watering in the hot summer months. The Coronation, Peace and Botanic gardens are a real treat this time of year.
Don’t forget the wildflower banks and nature trails which are flourishing thanks to the warm weather and plentiful rain.
The Narrow Gauge Railway (19) is now complete! At only £2 for adults and £1 per child (age 2 to 15) for three laps of the gardens, it really is stunningly good value. For safety reasons children aged 12 or under must ride with an adult. We hope to run the railway on July 16th, 17th, 18th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 27th, 28th & 29th, subject to weather and volunteer availability. The centre carriage is specially adapted to accept wheelchair users.
We could run more dates but we are desperately short of volunteers to drive the train and act as guard. If you would like to train as a driver or guard PLEASE get in touch. Our Garden Railway has similar problems, so if you don’t fancy helping out with a full sized engine, you could always scale down to help on the garden railway. Take a look at the calendar on the What’s On page for the latest information on running dates.
August will be a busy month for the Mountsorrel Railway branch line! The Great Central Railway will again be running passenger trains to the Heritage Centre and Mountsorrel Station every Thursday in August and also Saturday 26th (see www.gcrailway.co.uk for details nearer the time, or have a look on the GCR Renaissance Railcard Facebook page). Sadly our steam loco Colin will not be available for shunting demonstrations until early August as it is need of maintenance.
Restoration of Robert Stephenson’s historic 1834 lift bridge (25) continues apace. A big thank you to Hoyes for providing Scaffolding with no hire charge for a year, which has saved £4000 over the other quotes. They’ve only charged for erection and to dismantle. Work will soon start on the high central section that houses all the winding gear along with a survey of the metal work to determine what repairs are needed, if bearings need replacement and the testing of the large chains.
The current lift bridge work is being funded by an AIA (The Association for Industrial Archaeology) grant.
… and finally. Work on the Granite’s patio refurbishment is just about complete. All the work on the pergola had to be done during the evenings to avoid nuisance to our visitors and to keep them safe. Many thanks to a generous company based in Melton, who kindly donated over half of the cost of new tables for the patio! We hope to salvage enough bits from the old tables to make six good ones for the trail picnic area, and another one has gone to the den building area. What timber is left will go for firing steam loco Colin! We have also taken the opportunity to relocate and extend the plant sales area along the side of the patio.
Sadly, one project that has fallen behind is the Crazy Golf. The “Greens” had become too uneven, even for crazy golf, so we have decided to rebuild the course. It will be moved away from its current location under the trees to use more of the area next to the shack. The additional space should allow us to increase the number of holes to eleven.
We are sometimes asked if all these additions to the site are what the entrance fee pays for. Well, not really. The entrance fee bridges the gap between profits made from Granite’s and the site overheads such as gas, electricity, insurance, security, repairs and maintenance. We are fortunate to have some very generous supporters that help fund the improvements and the new attractions such as the narrow gauge railway carriages. Thanks to their support we all benefit from a vibrant site with attractions to suit all tastes.
Don’t forget, if you fancy being a train driver be it large or small, then drop us an e-mail or reply to this newsletter and I’ll pass your information on.