Plans to restore a historic Leicestershire railway line as a linear working museum have taken a major leap forward with the completion of track laying along the second phase of the project, and a significant donation from grantmaker the Edith Murphy Foundation.
Community volunteers from the village of Mountsorrel and the surrounding area have been working hard over the past four and a half years to carefully restore part of the railway system that used to run to the village. When complete the restored railway will connect Mountsorrel to the Loughborough based Great Central Railway, allowing steam trains to run back to the village once again.
"Four and a half years ago we set out with the vision of preserving and restoring an important part of our local heritage. We wanted to be able to tell the story of our industrial past in a way that would engage the community and encourage a better understanding of what village life was like in times gone by" said volunteer project leader Steve Cramp.
Already the project has brought educational benefits to over 500 local children, through school visits to learn about the history of the route and through ecological work along the railway corridor. "We haven't just set out to restore the railway itself, but also to care for the ecology and wildlife alongside the route. We've tried to encourage flora and fauna that would have been native to the sides of the railway during it's original operating life as well as creating wildlife habitats" continued Steve.
Over the winter, sections of the hedgerows alongside the line have been professionally laid by volunteers, giving children and young people an opportunity to learn the art of hedge laying for themselves. Over 1,100 native trees and bushes have also been planted. The project has recently launched "Wildlife Warriors" which are free sessions for children aged 3-11 and their parents, aimed at allowing them to learn about the wildlife along the route and enriching it through fun ecological activities.
The 1.2 mile long railway is being restored in four phases. With phases 1 and 2 now complete, attention is turning to raising the £23,000 required to buy rail for phase 3. "We are very grateful to the Edith Murphy Foundation for helping to launch our phase 3 appeal with a wonderfully generous donation of £5,000! Together with donations already received from members of the public we have raised £11,000, so we are almost half way to our £23,000 target!" enthused Steve. "The railway is being restored using historically correct materials and all the track laying is being done by hand using the same methods as the original navvies who built the railway in the 19th century. Community spirit and hard work have brought us this far but sadly though work on track laying has had to come to a halt pending fundraising of the remaining £12,000 we need. Phase 3 will extend the railway by a further 500 metres and take us to Wood Lane on the outskirts of Mountsorrel."
To donate and help create what will be a much valued educational and recreational resource, please send your cheque, made payable to "DCRT" (David Clarke Railway Trust) with "Mountsorrel Railway" written on the back, to 112 Balmoral Road, Mountsorrel, Loughborough, LE12 7EW.
For further details please see the project website www.mountsorrelrailway.org.uk To volunteer and get involved yourself email project leader Steve Cramp firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Mountsorrel Railway is part of the Mountsorrel and Rothley Community Heritage Centre. This website is no longer updated. For updates see: http://heritage-centre.co.uk/