£3m rail heritage site ‘fantastic addition’ to Whitehead

Sir Peter Luff (2nd left) chairman of Heritage Lottery Fund UK, with the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland's  Paul McCann, secretary; Dermot Mackie, engine driver and Henry Ritchie, Whitehead train manager. INCT 43-002-PSB
Sir Peter Luff (2nd left) chairman of Heritage Lottery Fund UK, with the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland's Paul McCann, secretary; Dermot Mackie, engine driver and Henry Ritchie, Whitehead train manager. INCT 43-002-PSB

A £3 million heritage tourism project in Whitehead has received the seal of approval from a key funding organisation.

Sir Peter Luff, chairman of Heritage Lottery Fund UK, was hosted by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland recently.

The keen railway enthusiast viewed progress on the development of a museum and gallery at the site.

Sir Peter said: “I have long been aware of the activities of the RPSI and was keen to see Whitehead and all that is going on. I am confident that this museum project will be a boost for the local economy and the tourism sector.

“The enhanced engineering facilities will be a fantastic addition to the site, helping the society to increase its operation of mainline steam trains and showing visitors the painstaking work involved in restoring and maintaining locomotives and carriages.”

During a conducted tour of the site, Sir Peter was accompanied by Sue Bowers, HLF’s deputy head of operations UK and Paul Mullan, head of HLF Northern Ireland.

Denis Grimshaw, RPSI chairman, said he was delighted to be able to welcome the party to Whitehead Railway Centre.

“Work started on site at the beginning of September and is proceeding apace,” he said. “We are excited to see things starting to take shape and already the face of RPSI Whitehead has undergone considerable change.

“We are hoping that site work will be completed in early summer and that fitting out will then take place, so we hope to be open for business later in 2016, the year which marks our golden jubilee year at Whitehead.”

Construction work is being carried out by Portadown-based MSM Contracts