The East Lancashire Railway has celebrated the official opening of its brand new station, located at Burrs Country Park.
The new station, which will become the popular heritage railway’s seventh calling point, was officially opened by Councillor Mike Connolly, the Mayor of Bury, alongside Annabelle Griffin from Annabelle’s Challenge and the world’s most famous steam locomotive, Flying Scotsman.
The launch of Burrs Country Park Station took place on the first day of the railway’s four day “Scotsman in Steam” event and saw dozens of well-wishers flock to the new station to witness the celebrations, which included the Bolton Caledonian Pipe Band piping in the Flying Scotsman as it steamed through a red ribbon.
Attendees arrived in style behind Flying Scotsman and included, Rishi Shori (Leader of Bury Council), Mike Owen (Chief Executive of Bury Council), Ian Spendlove, Grenville Chamberlain, John Lefley, Nick Lomas, Neil Windeatt, Brian Savage (The Caravan Club), Howard Chamberlain, Dan Peattie, Paul Sumner (Cheetham Hill Construction), Friends of Burrs Country Park and Woodbank Primary School, amongst others.
East Lancashire Railway chairman Mike Kelly said: “This was a momentous day for the East Lancashire Railway, as not only have we welcomed Flying Scotsman back to our line for the second time this year but we have officially opened a brand new station at Burrs Country Park. The community is really at the heart of the new station, thus it is fitting that Flying Scotsman – “The People’s Engine” - was the first locomotive to call at the stop.
"The railway has worked with local residents, businesses and societies on the station’s development strategy over the past few years and hopes that the community will find the new station an exciting and beneficial addition. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in both the development of the new station and the Scotsman in Steam event for their dedication and support.”
Councillor Rishi Shori, Leader of Bury Council, said: “The opening of a station at Burrs Country Park has been a long-term project for the council and so for this day to arrive only 14 months after the adoption of the park's 15-year strategy is a testament to the effort put in by all partners involved in making it happen.
"It is hoped that the new station will act as a catalyst for further projects in the strategy, helping to take Burrs to the next level as a visitor attraction.
"The provision of a new station not only adds to the East Lancashire Railway’s evolving customer offer but also meets the needs of the local community and adds value to the area’s visitor economy.”
The park currently attracts more than 350,000 visitors each year and this figure is expected to increase with the development of the new station, which is the centre piece of Bury Council’s ‘Burrs Country Park Development Strategy 2015-2029’. The strategy aims to establish Burrs as a ‘destination park’, a key element of Bury’s growing tourism portfolio and a regional attraction, and the new East Lancashire Railway station will support this vision by encouraging a new set of visitors to explore the park and its array of attractions, including the Irwell Sculpture Trail, Activity Centre and Caravan Club site.
The station will open to the public from January 2017 and will enable visitors to the country park to board steam and diesel train services to Heywood, Bury, Summerseat, Ramsbottom, Irwell Vale and Rawtenstall.
For more information on the East Lancashire Railway visit www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk.
Picture: At the new station opening are (from left) Ian Hargreaves, the Mayor of Bury’s Consort; Annabelle Griffin, from Annabelle’s Challenge; Cllr Mike Connolly, the Mayor of Bury;, Cllr Rishi Shori, leader of Bury Council; and Mike Kelly (Chairman of the East Lancashire Railway)
The East Lancashire Railway operates a 12-mile route between Heywood and Rawtenstall, using a range of preserved steam and diesel locomotives to haul vintage train services through the scenic Irwell Valley. The railway is the third most popular paid visitor attraction in Greater Manchester and welcomes over 160,000 visitors each year.
Burrs Country Park is a popular park that attracts over 350,000 visitors each year. Located next to the River Irwell, just 1 mile north of Bury Town Centre, the park provides a diverse range of outdoor activities and supports a number of local societies and schools.
Burrs Country Park Caravan Club Site is the most popular Caravan Club site nationally. The site currently has 80 pitches, however once the new station facility has been constructed the number of pitches will increase by 25%.