Newsletter: Christmas 2023

Wishing you a merry Christmas Santa

May we start by wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

If you are thinking of visiting please remember that we will be closed from Saturday 23rd December to the 1st January, reopening on the 2nd.

Thanks to our amazing volunteers and supporters we continue to add attractions to the site. With so much on offer about 90% of their effort is spent cherishing, maintaining and repairing the site whilst the remainder is spent enhancing existing and creating new attractions. It’s a never ending job keeping the site clean and tidy.

So what have we been up to?

The branch line was back in use after a three year pause. It was wonderful to see trains running again and they remained full, or nearly full, every time they ran throughout this year.

Granites PergolaOur pergola was completed in May, covering the majority of Granite’s patio whilst also providing an area for plant sales. This has recently been put to good use for our Carol concert and wreath making events.

In June we opened our King Charles III Coronation Garden. Situated in the quarry bottom close to the other gardens it is a “waterless” garden, containing plants that require little watering during the summer months, opposed to a traditional British garden that needs a visit from the hose pipe most days during a dry summer. The garden looks stunning and has been a big attraction.

Our Quarry Bottom Railway opened in July and has proved to be a major draw for visitors, partly because of its affordable price of only £2, £1 for children. It’s been great to see full trains on the QBR. This was a challenging project to undertake, with lots of problems along the way, which sadly impacted the rebuild of the Crazy Golf course.

Throughout this year we’ve been building up our display of historic road vehicles, with Simon’s traction engine, Mat Stanton and James’s tractors and Matt Bakers scarab and trailers all becoming resident at the site.

List Bridge Dec 2023Work on Robert Stephenson’s Lift Bridge is progressing well. Just  this week the steel tower, that will house the new winding handle system, was erected.

… and into 2024

The design of the lower part of the winding sprocket and handle system is still to be determined. The top part and the shaft connecting to the bridge is on order, due for delivery in January. Also on order are the liners for the 6 bearing housings. Tarmac have very kindly agreed to lift the main winding system onto the top centre section of the bridge once the bearing liners arrive. So, with luck, the bridge should have its main winding system installed by the end of January!

The original bridge had a tin winding house. We aim to build a new winding house that will enclose the steel tower and have windows facing the path. It will include displays revealing the bridge’s history and original components, in too poor condition to reuse, will also be on display.

Quarry Bottom Railway

Quarry Bottom CoachesVolunteer numbers often limit how often we can run many of the attractions. Four new recruits have recently joined the Quarry Bottom Railway team so hopefully we will be able to run the narrow gauge railway more often next year, especially through school holiday periods.

In November Statfold Barn Railway donated two of their coaches, which they no longer needed. We couldn’t believe our good fortune! These will require some adaptation to run on our track but will provide us with a spare coach and a covered coach for those all too frequent showers.

Butterfly Walk

Opening in the spring will be the newly extended Butterfly Walk. The Butterfly Walk is situated on top of the bank next to the patio and is popular with visitors. We will be doubling the walk’s size and there will be a bench on the path giving views out over the top of the stone mason’s huts towards the lift bridge, gardens and branch line.

Crazy Golf

The revamped Crazy Golf is planned to open ready for the start of the Easter school holidays on Saturday March 23rd.

Crazy Golf in progressThere’s still a lot of work to do though and the recent poor weather is causing delays with the laying of the block work edging. Once the block work is complete the artificial grass will go on and the obstacles will be fitted in place. Planting will add colour and contrast ready for its first players!

The Heritage Centre site continues to grow and improve! Thanks to your support, and the dedication of our hard working and committed volunteers, the Heritage Centre will continue to be a much loved and valued resource for the people of Leicestershire and beyond to enjoy and learn from. We very much hope that you’ll continue to visit and support the Heritage Centre to allow it to flourish into the future!

We wish you all a very happy Christmas and 2024!

Just a thought… If you are looking for an enjoyable way of working off the effects of the Turkey and all those mince pies, have you considered volunteering. We are always on the lookout for extra helpers. Maybe you could help maintain the nature trails, develop the gardens, operate the garden railway, reconstruct historic feats of engineering, or even drive a train. Our volunteer sessions are most Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, although we do have a break over Christmas and New Year. Why not pop along to see what we do when we re-open in the New Year.