THE Downpatrick and County Down Railway marked the completion of construction work of the new £550,000 “Carriage Gallery”, as the keys were officially presented to the society by the contractors, Glasgiven Contracts.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Northern Ireland Tourist Board, as well as out the railway society’s own funds, the new public display area has been delivered on time and under budget.
John Wilson, project manager for the DCDR, said, “It has been a lot of work for a lot of people over the last nine months, however, we have made it, and under budget.”
Mr Wilson added, “Our focus now shifts to the implementation of the Interpretation plan which is really the whole point behind the exercise. This is to ensure that we have a variety of attractive exhibits to catch the imagination of our visitors, and even more important is the intention to increase the number of our visitors.
“Initial feedback already suggests that the Gallery will be well received. It is a bright airy and welcoming place to display our exhibits, something which was so desperately needed over the previous years of our existence.
“We also have a lot of track-work to connect the Gallery to our lines, but we have received great assistance from both Northern Ireland Railways and Irish Rail in acquiring the specialised track materials”
Mr. Wilson also expressed his thanks to those involved in the project over the last nine months, “No names are necessary, however, it starts with those involved in the initial idea, through the permissions process, to the acquisition of funding, and finally to the construction phase. Too many to mention, but to all my thanks.”
Visitors will be able to get to see a sneak preview of the Carriage Gallery this coming weekend, as part of the European Heritage Open Days.
Entrance to the new Gallery is free, and the steam train will be running from 2pm till 5pm at a charge, with tickets cost £5.50 adults, £4.50 children or senior citizens, and children aged three years old or below go free. There’s no need to book and a ticket lasts all day.