Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway

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The LCLR was a runner-up in the Heritage Railway Association’s Annual Awards on 8th February 2020, held in the Burlington Hotel, Birmingham. The nomination and short-listing for our railway was for “Lincolnshire’s ‘Lazarus ‘ Line Celebrates 10 Years”.

The Runners-up place was in the Small Groups Award, which was won by the West Lancashire Light Railway Trust “for securing the future of the West Lancashire Light Railway”. (LCLR volunteer Mike Gott ,who also volunteers  on the WLLR, was pictured driving his Ruston diesel in the presentation screened to guests). The other runners up in our category were the Deeside Railway Company Ltd for the restoration and operation of their locomotive Bon Accord and the Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust for the restoration of the 1906 turntable at Ferryhill, Aberdeen.

This is the second consecutive year in which the LCLR has been a runner up in the Awards and in 2009 it won the Small Groups Award jointly with the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway – a truly remarkable record for such a small organisation.

CEO of the Association, Steve Oates, pointed our there are 156 heritage railways in the UK, which attract 13 million people, with the aid of 25,000 volunteers. By comparison, the top five British theme parks attract nine million visitors. I felt it showed the high regard in which the LCLR and its volunteers are held, that we could achieve this recognition among museums and railways also honoured, which included the National Railway Museum, the London Transport Museum, the NYMR, the Great Central, the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, the Severn Valley, Bluebell and the National Tramway Museum – among many nominees from groups large and small.

A video of the LCLR taking the story from Humberston, with a selection of Dave Enefer’s pictures, was shown to guests before “the envelope” was opened. The presentation emphasised that the LCLR was the first heritage railway in the world to be built by enthusiasts on a greenfield site back in 1960 and showed the progress since closure in 1985, with the move to the Water Leisure Park and today’s successful operation.

The audience and the judging panel included the editors of Heritage Railway, Railway Magazine, and Steam Railway and a panel of “senior industry figures”: invaluable in maintaining our profile – there are many well resourced, better known and vastly bigger players in heritage railways out there. It is hard for the voice of a  small organisation like the LCLR, with limited resources,  to be heard – the event showed the affection and regard there  is for the LCLR. Everyone to whom I spoke asked “How’s Jurassic?” rather as one would enquire about a much loved but very elderly aunt!

I sat next to Anthony Coulis, Senior Curator at the National Railway Museum and Laura Bootland, Interpretation Developer at the museum. Mr Coulis told me he much admired the work done on Jurassic – he had been born six miles from where Jurassic worked  in Warwickshire and said he would like to come and see the loco in operation – naturally I told him he would be very welcome, especially at our 60th anniversary celebration. (He already knows Richard Shepherd).

Among the people I spoke to were the Editor of Heritage Railway, Robin Jones, which gave me the opportunity to thank him for the coverage he has given the LCLR ever since interviewing Bill Woolhouse before the line reopened. He told me he would continue to raise the profile of the LCLR  (and the other Lincolnshire heritage railways) as he felt all offered something different to other preserved lines and deserved to be better known. He advised that the next issue of Heritage Railway (to be published on Friday 14th February) will include a feature on the LCLR’s collection of Simplex diesel locos.

There were other glimpses of the LCLR’s part in the history of Britain’s railways during the evening: guest speaker, the railway broadcaster and journalist, Christian Wolmar ,showed a slide of War Department Light Railways Class D’s being loaded with shells in the WW1 battlefields, in his presentation on what railways have given us (in this case, mechanisation of war); Jurassic’s sibling Triassic was shown in the new museum on the Bala Lake Railway, which won the award for Outstanding Visitor Attraction.

A media release approved by John Chappell has been distributed to regional and specialist media and resulted in a broadcast on BBC Radio Lincolnshire at 4.10 pm on Monday 10th February (it can be heard for 30 days via the station’s website).

The framed Award certificate is being handed to John Chappell in the hope that it can be displayed alongside the 2019 certificate.

This Award recognised the hard work, dedication, enthusiasm, generosity and friendship of everyone associated with the LCLR – volunteers, supporters, management and staff of the Skegness Water Leisure Park, our passengers and the people and holiday trade of Skegness and District who have made this possible in our 60th anniversary year.

Now for the next 60 years….