Belturbet Railway plans on track
The dynamic members of the Belturbet Heritage Railway (BHR) Company have big plans for laying a number of tracks at the former station. Considerable work has already been undertaken to transform the Belturbet Railway Station complex since it was purchased in 1994.
The team behind this significant new initiative are Noel Smith, Stephen Shannon, George Morrissey, Billy Gleadell, Sam O’Keeffe and Tony Prior.
Noel Smith, chairman of the BHR Company, informed theCeltthey intend to lay about one kilometre of the Cavan Leitrim Narrow Gauge track, and about a half a kilometre of the Great Northern Railway line.
“Our aim is to restore the site and track infrastructure back to its original state prior to its closure in 1959,” he outlined.
The plans have been submitted to Leader for funding. The company anticipates the works will cost in the region of €200,000.
“Our plan is to put down a track that is similar to Velorial Rail, which is in Kiltimagh and is also in France. Visitors will be able to rent a carriage in family groups and they will be able to operate it themselves – it is a manual system. That will run from the station to the Railway Bridge at Turbet Island. They can disembark and check out the island and then hop back into carriage again and continue their journey,” explained Noel of the vision.
“We have applied for funding to Leader for that element of the project and we have also applied in respect of the provision of a heritage track for a distance of 80 metres. It will include rail and timber sleepers. We intend to run our narrow gauge train and our broad gauge train on that track,” he continued.
“Visitors will be able to come onto the platform, purchase a ticket, get onto a Cavan Leitrim engine and carriage and travel along the new track,” added Noel of the experience planned.
To return they can avail of the Great Northern engine and carriage, which will bring them back to the station.
The Museum at the Station will be open to visitors as soon as Covid restrictions permit.
“The museum will be coupled with our heritage, artefacts and items that belonged to the station. It will all help to tell the story of the two railways that were on site – broad and narrow gauge,” explained Noel.
The splendid platform is to be further enhanced to create a most interesting visitor experience.
“We have black and white photographs of most of the trains that ran in County Cavan and black and white films will also be shown in the film room,” continued Noel.
Tony Prior, treasurer of the BHR Company, told theCeltthat when the railway was in full flight before 1959, people could come down from Amiens Street Station in Dublin on the train to Belturbet.
“Then they would go down to the quay at the River Erne and get onto the steam ship and travel to Enniskillen. They would be wined and dined on the steam ship, return that evening and head on to Dublin. It was a popular one-day package,” described Tony.
Stephen Shannon said some restoration work is currently being carried out on the old facia board and the chimneys are being sealed.
“Some of the barge rafters and brackets are original from 1895 and some of those brackets, which were first put in place all those years ago, are now being replaced. Most of the pine timber survived intact to this day,” said Stephen.
Belturbet Railway Station is a listed building and the chimneys have to be restored with lime pointing. The company is getting a grant from Cavan County Council to that end.
BHR Company is fundraising for the track facility and you can make a donation directly at the link below: