Wednesday 13 April 2016

Barrow Hill Roundhouse

National Lottery grant boost for last surviving engine roundhouse

Britain’s only surviving operational railway roundhouse is set for a major revamp after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) confirmed funding of £1,170,600. The money will be used to repair and refurbish Barrow Hill Roundhouse in Derbyshire, transforming it into a nationally important museum.A new entrance, shop and cafĂ© will be created alongside high quality new visitor facilities, adedicated learning and meeting space and a conservation workshop. A wide range of learning, training and skills activities will accompany this, ensuring that the Roundhouse can attract a much wider and more diverse audience. It is hoped that work will start in June this year and be complete by mid-2019. Mike Kennedy, chair of Barrow Hill Engine Shed Society, said: “We are delighted by thenews of our success. The project will enable us to safeguard the Roundhouse for futuregenerations, and provide the improved facilities that we need to attract a new audience, whilst retaining our existing audience of rail enthusiasts.“ It will also provide us with the expertise and equipment to tell the story of the Roundhouseand its workforce to a wide range of people, particularly local people including families and schoolchildren.” 


Barrow Hill Roundhouse was built in 1870 for the Midland Railway and houses an operational Turntable serving 24 radiating roads or tracks. It was used to repair and maintain engines and rolling stock for the Staveley Iron and Coal Company. As one of the few roundhouses to survive the transition from steam to diesel engines, it operated until the industry went into decline during the 1970’s and 80’s. In 1991 it was saved from demolition by local campaigners with just 48 hours to spare and has since become a popular place to visit, primarily for railway enthusiasts. Now the Engine Shed Society wants to bring in local people as well, many of whom are unaware of what is on their doorstep and its history. 


Visitors can currently see a host of rare locomotives and over 4,500 items including tools, lamps, uniforms and photographs. Many years of service have taken their toll on the main building, and it now requires urgent attention to make it water-tight and save the collections from getting damaged. There is also a pressing need to record the memories of the people who worked at the site, many of whom are now elderly. Jonathan Platt, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, said: “As the last surviving operational Roundhouse, Barrow Hill has a unique role in telling the story of the UK’s evocative transport heritage.“ There’s no better way to learn about this history than getting up close to the buildings that survive from that time, so we’re delighted that thanks to National Lottery players we can support this much needed project to repair the building and enhance visitors’ understanding and enjoyment of the site.” HLF previously provided a £96,400 development grant in 2014 to work-up plans for the project. Now, following a further application, the full grant has been awarded allowing the major works to commence.