Elsecar Heritage Railway in line for £25m re-opening
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The long-awaited plans have been unveiled by the council, and will see a new heritage railway, new rail college, and outdoor events area – and funding is being sought to meet the projected £25m cost.
Restoration began in 1994 as a council project, and the line reopened as a heritage railway in 1996 but closed in 2020.
Plans for the site, now a scheduled ancient monument, have been developed over the last two years with Historic England.
The site will be transformed to include a reconstructed 1849 Fitzwilliam locomotive, powered by sustainable fuels; a rail college training 400 students per year; engineering workshops; a performance area and cycle hire centre.
The council said funding options are being explored for the new development, which has been costed at around £25m to be delivered in full. It may be progressed in stages as funding becomes available.
The site’s indoor events space is undergoing refurbishment thanks to funding already secured from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, through the Cultural Development Fund administered by Arts Council England.
Designs for new buildings for the ironworks site have been inspired by the Victorian furnace sheds which originally stood there. They will replace a replica station newly built in the 1990s when the importance of the ironworks was not understood and the condition of which is deteriorating.
Councillor Sir Stephen Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said: “We’re determined to transform this remarkable historic site, previously the home of Elsecar Heritage Railway, into something which is unique, sustainable, and will thrive long into the future.
“This will include a new heritage railway destination, a rail college, advanced engineering workshops, outdoor performance and events area, public spaces, a café-restaurant and more.
“The redevelopment of the Ironworks site and heritage railway will not happen straight away. We need to secure funding and it will take time to deliver, but this vision is the starting point for something very special for Elsecar.”
A series of consultation events, activities and special tours are planned for the New Year when the public can share their thoughts about the new vision and how it should be taken forward.