Whitehead Railway Museum on awards shortlist

Whitehead Railway Museum.
Whitehead Railway Museum.

The newly-opened Whitehead Railway Museum has been shortlisted in a national heritage competition.

The Museum is one of two entries which have been nominated for the prestigious Manisty Award in the annual Heritage Railway Association Awards.

The decision will be announced at the HRA Awards Dinner in Birmingham on February 10, at which the trophies will be presented by Lord Faulkner of Worcester, the HRA President.

The museum has been developed by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland with key funding support from Heritage Lottery Fund and Tourism NI.

RPSI chairman Canon John McKegney said: “We are delighted that Whitehead Railway Museum has received recognition in this highly-regarded UK-wide competition for heritage railway organisations.

“We are proud of what has been achieved at WRM and feedback from our visitors shows a high satisfaction rating. We have also been achieving a significant level of interest from out of state visitors from Britain and the Republic which is hugely encouraging.

“Creating the museum gives RPSI an opportunity to show off historic locomotives and items of rolling stock which would otherwise have been tucked away in our storage sheds, hidden from public view. Visitors also have a chance to observe restoration work in progress in our workshops on locomotives and carriages.

“Importantly, WRM enables us to tell the story of the contribution the railways made to Whitehead over the years, and the part they played in the social history of the area. Whitehead was developed as a railway town, so this is an ideal location for such a museum.

“The nomination for the Manisty Award is recognition not just of the museum but of the enormous contribution made over many years by our volunteers and full-time staff to keep the steam era alive.”

A second Northern Ireland entry has been shortlisted in a separate section of the HRA Awards - Headhunters Barbers Shop and railway museum in Enniskillen, which has been nominated in the Morgan Award for Outstanding Achievements.

Whitehead Railway Museum was officially opened in October and is open to the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Satudays.

A period-style free-to-enter Tea Room serves morning coffee, afternoon tea and lunches.

The RPSI’s Santa Special trains are sold out but tickets are available for the Belfast Shopper, which offers people from the East Antrim area a day’s shopping in Belfast when they can travel by steam train and avoid the traffic jams.

Tickets are available at £10 adults, £5 children, at the Tea Room in Whitehead Railway Museum.

The train leaves at 9.50am from Whitehead Excursion Station, picking up at Carrickfergus, and returns from Central at 4.50pm.

This train operates on December 9, 15 and 16.

Meanwhile, Mrs Claus will be making a special appearance at Whitehead Railway Museum Tea Room on Saturday, December 16.

Tickets can be booked at the Tea Room and for further details, see the Whitehead Railway Museum website at steamtrainsireland.com

The Tea Room is also offering a Christmas Afternoon Tea on Thursday, December 28; details are available on the website.