Call for meeting over Derry rail artefacts

George Sweeney, Secretary and Founder Member, North West of Ireland Railway Society and Jim McBride, Treasurer, pictured at the Foyle Valley Railway Museum before the doors closed last year. DER1215MC077
George Sweeney, Secretary and Founder Member, North West of Ireland Railway Society and Jim McBride, Treasurer, pictured at the Foyle Valley Railway Museum before the doors closed last year. DER1215MC077
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The local railway society has called for a meeting with Derry City & Strabane District Council over the future of key artefacts at the former Foyle Valley Railway Museum.

Jim McBride from the North West of Ireland Railway Society said they wanted clarity around the preservation of “the unique railway heritage and artefacts in this city,” adding that the Society owned around 50 per cent of the artefacts.

Mr McBride said: “Without the Railway Society taking action in the early 1970s to rescue these artefacts from the scrapyard, none of them would be there. It is now nearly a year since the museum closed and nearly two years since we formally met with the council to discuss these issues, and we are major stakeholders in this.”

Mr. McBride is also seeking clarification on recent comments to the effect that the museum and old rail line along the Foyle could be reopened and used as a training facility by members of disability charity Destined, with a sub-committee set up involving interested parties.

It was confirmed last year that the new tenant Destined will be moving there after securing funding.

A council spokeswoman said they retain ownership and are “working through the legal aspects of the tenancy,” while adding that there were no plans to reopen the line for tourism.

“Until the terms of the lease agreement have been finalised there are no plans to engage with sub-groups regarding future plans for the centre.

Although Council welcomes the input of any interested parties on ways to continue to preserve and enhance the city’s railway heritage,” she said, adding: “In terms of the artefacts housed at the Museum, the collection remains in the guardianship of the council and is a valued part of the Council’s archive collection which will form part of the lease agreement.”