Visitor Centre

Visitor Centre — now open

May 6th 2006

Visitor centre opened

On Saturday 6th May, Jackie Statham, Joint Managing Director of Peak Rail plc officially opened the LMSCA visitor centre at Rowsley. After a short speech by John Leather (LMSCA Chairman), Jackie unveiled the interpretation board outside the shed and proceeded to cut the ribbon across the main entrance thereby declaring the centre open to the public. She then invited our first visitors inside. During the remainder of the afternoon a steady procession of people called and made compliments, recording their appreciation in the new visitors' book. The new displays and short video presentation were especially noted as being easy to understand and appreciate.

April 2006

Construction and fitting out nearly complete April 2006

It is now nearly a year since the LMSCA was awarded its ‘Awards for All’ grant from the National Lottery Fund. We can now report that the facility is ready for use by the public from the coming season.

Before work on the visitor facility in the LMSCA shed began, we needed to install the donated woodworking machinery and associated power supplies as this task would have been more difficult otherwise.

In mid-2005 the area for the new visitor room was cleared and the construction of the framework by an outside contractor began. Before the walls, ceiling and insulation were added, electrical wiring was installed. It took several weeks of part time work to complete this first phase.

Next came decoration of the exterior and interior to a high standard appropriate for a public area. Voluntary effort in early 2006 included painting and decorating, installing electrical equipment, fitting carpets, shelves, seating, leaflet racks, notices and a lectern unit beneath the viewing windows.

Photographs and descriptive text relating to the NRM's 7828 were created and installed in the lectern display. This information can now be updated easily as work on the carriage progresses. Small un-restored and restored artefacts were fixed onto a display board and a video display included intended to inform visitors about carriage construction and the voluntary work undertaken by LMSCA volunteers.

As part of the grant the charity was required to produce information leaflets and interpretation boards. A small in house group designed the leaflets which were printed and delivered earlier this year. They have been placed in local museums, libraries, at the National Railway Museum and other places. We still have plenty left over for other venues so if anyone can help in this respect then the Trustees would be grateful. Please contact the membership secretary for details.

The interpretation boards are designed primarily to inform and educate the public about LMS carriages and the work of the charity to preserve them. A specialist local contractor produced the boards to a high standard and they are being fixed permanently at Rowsley and Darley Dale stations. One additional board of slightly different content and design will be placed outside the LMSCA shed for occasions when the facility is closed. Weatherproof leaflet racks will be placed adjacent to the interpretation boards.

The Trustees are confident that the visitor centre and its associated displays will be an asset to the public and the charity. We are very grateful to the ‘Awards for All’ team for recognising this and helping us to achieve a modest but important milestone in our development.

The Trust wishes to acknowledge the work of Alison Leather, John Leather, Alan Taylor, Mike Edwards and Derek Mason for, amongst the many other things they do for the Trust, delivering this particular project to a successful conclusion.

January 2006

Construction gets underway in December 2004

Construction gets underway in December 2004

After receipt of the Awards for All grant, John and Alison have spent many long hours at home designing and proofing the leaflet and interpretation board designs. This has included finding suitable local contractors where possible and obtaining estimates for the works. The physical construction work began in earnest just before Christmas and is about to restart again after the holidays. Construction has now advanced to a stage where the electrical wiring needs to be installed before insulation and exterior walls are fixed. This work is planned to take place in the next couple of weeks.

The Association is providing video equipment and Alan Taylor is making progress with a short video program which visitors will see when they arrive. The program will explain to visitors by sound and vision what are the Association's aims and illustrate what are the current projects and their status. It is also hoped to include some historical video material related to LMS coaches. The video display will be in addition to other fixed exhibition displays, enabling both media to be updated on a rolling basis as projects progress.

If space permits it is also our intention to display a limited number of artefacts from LMS coaches of the different periods.

May 2005

A computer generated image  of the proposed visitor 
      centre

A computer generated image of the proposed visitor centre

Following on from 2004's success in gaining charitable status for the association, it was decided to investigate the best way forward to obtain external funding to support our aims. An ‘Awards for All’ application was decided upon as initially being the best way forward.

An ‘Awards for All’ grant carries a maximum value of £5000 in any one 12 month period but the advantage is that the application is much less onerous than a full Heritage Lottery application and its outcome is decided much more quickly. That is not to say however that an ‘Awards for All’ application does not take some thought and hard work!

A computer generated image  of the proposed visitor 
      centre

A computer generated image of the proposed visitor centre

After considering how our aims were complementary to the aims of the National Lottery, including the local East Midlands emphasis, we wrote out our first draft application. Consequently after checking, amending some sections, estimating costs and submitting our application for independent scrutiny, we submitted the final version together with supporting documentation on the 15th April 2005. It is one of the ‘Awards for All‘ aims that all applications are decided within an eight-week period from receipt of a valid application.

After further clarification regarding a detailed expenditure breakdown and independent referee status we were notified of our success by letter on 13th May. This has resulted in the LMSCA being awarded a grant of £4779 for a new visitor centre in our carriage shed, display and interpretation boards for stations and footpaths and colour brochures. Our own contribution to the project will consist of decoration, fitting out and provision and installation of audio-visual equipment.

This award represents a beginning to what I hope will evolve into a successful association with other grant aid partners enabling the association to become an integral and successful part of the scene at Rowsley.

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all those people who have been associated with this application they are; Alan, Alison, Ted, Emma, Dave, Mike, John, Roger, Jackie and Paul; your help and assistance is greatly appreciated.

Derek Mason (Treasurer)