Rail experts call for Foyle Valley Museum artefacts to be safeguarded

END OF THE LINE!. . . . .Mark Lusby, Heritage Advisor, George Sweeney, Secretary and Founder Member, North West of Ireland Railway Society and Jim McBride, Treasurer, pictured at the Foyle Valley Railway Museum on Friday before the doors closed. DER1215MC077
END OF THE LINE!. . . . .Mark Lusby, Heritage Advisor, George Sweeney, Secretary and Founder Member, North West of Ireland Railway Society and Jim McBride, Treasurer, pictured at the Foyle Valley Railway Museum on Friday before the doors closed. DER1215MC077

Veteran rail experts have expressed concerns over the future of artefacts contained in a Derry Museum which has now closed for good.

Jim McBride and George Sweeney from the North West of Ireland Railway Society visited the Foyle Valley Railway Museum on Friday with heritage advisor Mark Lusby for the last time before it closed down.

The publicly-run museum on Foyle Road has been shut down as one of the final major acts of Derry City Council before the new Derry City and Strabane District Council becomes the local authority tomorrow.

Mr Sweeney and Mr McBride along with others have spent decades preserving and promoting Derry’s rail heritage and last year expressed dismay at the threat now hanging over the Museum.

Mr McBride said: “Much of these artefacts were rescued from the scrap man in the early 70s. Without people like George Sweeney and George Haire none of this would be in existence today.

“The museum has now closed as of Friday. This has been one of the very last acts of Derry City Council.

“We’re concerned about the future of the unique collection of artefacts in the building. The management of the Museum, and whoever is going to manage it in the future, needs to respect the unique value of what is in this building.

“It needs to be preserved and not become some sort of climbing frame for children. This stuff needs to be protected because it is irreplaceable.

“We have to appreciate what a unique collection with strong links to the city we have in the museum, and whoever its future guardians are need to appreciate that as well.”

Mr McBride said that among the artefacts housed in the museum are two steam locomotives, one named after the patron saint of Derry, Colmcille, an ex-Donegal rail car and a couple of historic old railway carriages, along with other historical items.