The Heritage Centre will be constructed alongside the restored Mountsorrel Railway at Nunckley Hill, close to the Halstead Road junction and will be operated by an independent, not for profit company run by the community for the community. The aim is for the heritage centre and other attractions on the site to be free for the public to visit with a tea room generating income to allow the site to operate.
The plan involves the rescue, relocation and restoration of three old granite stone buildings, all of which have local importance and their own history, but are either in a poor state of repair or at risk of being lost. These will be relocated to Nunckley Hill to form the core of the heritage centre and tea room.
The scheme has been made possible thanks to Lafarge Tarmac who are providing the land required for the project, materials at prime cost, as well as a grant of £540,000 through their Landfill Tax Credits scheme. The remaining match funding has been provided by public donations and grants from the Rothley History Society, Friends of the Great Central Main Line, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Harry Hames Cottage Charity, the Helen Jean Cope Charity and the Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust.
The heritage centre will tell the interesting and varied story of both Mountsorrel and Rothley’s history, which includes connections to the abolition of the slavery movement, the Knights Templar and a castle built by a nephew of William the Conqueror!
As well as the heritage centre and tea room, the scheme also includes car parking, a half mile long “Nunckley Trail” nature path through woodland, created by volunteers over the past 18 months, a railway platform to allow visitors to ride heritage steam and diesel trains, which the Great Central Railway will run along the branch line starting next year. There will also be a quarry museum area providing a static recreation of how granite quarrying took place in Mountsorrel at the end of the 19th century. This involves the creation of replica stone built stone masons huts and railway sidings for shunting demonstrations.
A future addition will be a railway museum building housing historic railway vehicles that once worked at Mountsorrel quarry and an exhibition room to tell the story of the geology of Charnwood Forest as well as the history of quarrying at Mountsorrel. Funding is still required for these two buildings but the planning permission includes their construction.
To comply with funding conditions the work is scheduled to be completed by mid-summer 2015. To keep costs down, however, a substantial portion of the work will be carried out by community volunteers and several local companies have come on board to offer their advice, services and skills free of charge to help the project succeed. These include Lafarge Tarmac, Edward Hands & Lewis Solicitors, Ask Accounting, Languard Vegetation Management, Palmer Smith Tax Services, D & d Building Services Consulting Engineers, Kibworth Tax Services. The Rothley History Society, Mountsorrel Heritage Group and Rothley Heritage Trust are all working closely with the project also.
Project Leader Steve Cramp commented “We have been overwhelmed by the response of local businesses and individuals to our project, which continues to develop as more people hear what we are doing and have achieved. To reconstruct the branch line, from Bond Lane, Mountsorrel to Swithland sidings on the Great Central Railway, took us six years and was a tremendous achievement. The heritage centre is an equally ambitious project. We are very grateful to Lafarge Tarmac’s Landfill Community Fund for providing the majority of the funding for the scheme and also to the public and other charities and organisations that helped us to raise the £56,000 match funding required to release the landfill grant. The next 9 months are certainly going to be an exciting and busy time for our volunteers. We need more help so if you would like to volunteer and get involved, whether it be with physical work or with the many administration and planning tasks, please get in touch”.
For further information, or to volunteer, then email project leader Steve Cramp Vist the project website
If you would like to donate to the Exhibition and Museum Building fund then please send cheques made payable to “DCRT” (David Clarke Railway Trust) to 112 Balmoral Road, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire LE12 7EW (Please write ‘Heritage Centre’ on the reverse of cheques.)