Improvements to model railway steaming along

Michael Heathcote, Alan Read and David Shann, of Leyland Society of Model Engineers
Michael Heathcote, Alan Read and David Shann, of Leyland Society of Model Engineers

Even more visitors to Worden Park will be able to enjoy the popular model railway in 2015 thanks to improvements.

Six new carriages are being developed to meet high demand, and a platform has been extended to make it easier for wheelchair-users to access the trains.

Members of the Leyland Society of Model Engineers, who volunteer their time and skills to run the operation, also want to upgrade the club house their 60th year at the park, and have submitted plans to South Ribble Council for permission to do the work.

Club president and treasurer, Michael Heathcote, said: “We want to demolish the clubhouse and replace it with a new one.

“It’s just a bit of an eyesore and people have been asking when we’re upgrading it, so we thought it would be worth seeing if we could get approval to demolish it and start again.

“The application is to obtain outline planning permission for a new clubhouse built like a wayside station of yesteryear, which will be more aesthetically pleasing than the now dilapidated existing concrete block construction.

“The existing one is in need of considerable repair and we wish to enhance the appearance of the area.

“This year we will be celebrating 60 years on Worden Park.

“The extension to the platform will allow wheelchair-users to access the trains without crossing the railway lines, which will be much safer and easier for them.

“The new trucks are nearly complete, there are just a few bits to finish there.

“It’s looking very positive. In the height of summer, we can take on 1,000 passengers in a weekend, so we needed more carriages.”

Work on the platform and the new carriages came from a £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All last year.

The wheelchair-friendly coach was introduced in 2009.

The miniature steam railway track boasts 1,617 feet of raised level track, and a kilometre of ground level track with a station, two roads, sidings and a reversing loop, having being extended in 2005.

Many of the models have been built in garages and garden sheds and in the past have been entirely funded, built, maintained and operated by the society’s volunteers.

There are around 130 members of the Leyland Society of Model Engineers, and about 40 volunteers usually meet at Worden Park twice a week to maintain and operate it, which visitors can enjoy for free, although donations are welcome.