A (LAST?) Visit to The Electric Railway Museum, Coventry
From a personal point of view, one of the saddest things to see and experience is the last day of a seaside town’s holiday season. The last guests have returned home, and the last ice-cream kiosk has seen its final “double 99” customer. Of course, the good news is that the whole thing will start up again in spring of next year.
For the Electric Railway Museum, Coventry there is no such scenario beckoning. Indeed, come October, its very last “Open Day” will take place..and that’s it. No more. Finito. Full stop. Period.
First, a little history…since 2007, the Museum was formed to bring together in one site a permanent home to showcase the rich legacy of electric railway vehicle engineering. And there are currently , on site, over 40 such vehicles..more later..
Overview of the ERM site and displays
The site, well, all of it, situated next door to the Coventry Air Museum, and close to Coventry Airport, Baginton, has been earmarked by Coventry City Council for a major redevelopment. In hindsight, perhaps the peppercorn rent paid by the Museum to the City should have given the hint that this arrangement could come to an end if and when a better offer came along….which it obviously had.
And so efforts were made to ensure the security of the site and its valuable heritage.
No stone was left unturned by the trustees and volunteers to keep the site “as is”…
Of interest are the guidelines issued in such planning cases (Environmental Statement 1 Chapter 11 Cultural Heritage)..and the ERM is a cultural heritage site..
- “Applicants should describe the significance of the heritage assets affected”
- ‘Significance’ (for heritage policy) is defined as: the value of a heritage asset to this and future generations because of its heritage interest”….and
- “There are also existing standing structures of particular form or complexity whose value can again be severely reduced by neglect or careless treatment, and which are similarly well suited by scheduled monument protection”
Although the guidelines noted above seem to have to do with archaeological items, there would seem to be a case for the Museum on the following grounds..
There are, on the site, some unique exhibits…
- Kearsley Electric Locomotive No. 1 one of four locomotives built to a near identical pattern.
- Heysham Electric Locomotive No. 1.. the last working standard gauge industrial electric loco in the UK.This item is owned by Electric Railway Museum Limited
- BR Class 405 4-SUB Unit ..a unique item – the last one of the 4-SUBs to survive.
- BR Class 501 Unit..the last one of the Class 501s to survive..
- LMS Class 503 ‘Wirral’ Units .. a unique item as it is the last one of the class to survive.
- BR Class 309 ‘Clacton’ Units.. Only two Class 309s remain in existence and both can be found as part of the Electric Railway Museum collection. This class of units were the first EMUs to be built to run at a design maximum of 100mph and were purpose built to serve the route from London Liverpool Street to Clacton.
Added to this impressive list, there is the power car from the APT-P (Advanced Passenger Train) and a working display in the Museum’s Class 308 EMU unit, of the Victoria Line’s Signalling system, dating from the late 1960s, and based on the push button control desk and line diagrams from the original control room at Cobourg Street. And in the “Museum” coach, visitors can see the history of the development of electric traction.
As to the closure of the Museum, Chairman of the ERM Ian Brown CBE,FCILT has said:
“ This is certainly not the end of the line for the Electric Railway Museum. Even if a physical base is not secured by October, the Museum will still remain a residual-yet virtual operation..And we will still own our core assets.”
He also expressed the hope that the heritage rail community helping ERM chart a way forward in trying to secure a site for the collection in its entirety, would ensure the long lasting legacy of electric traction.
So, what can we do? All support, physical, financial (a move of the collection will cost tens of thousands of ££££) will be much appreciated.
Make a date then…
Upcoming Open days at Electric Railway Museum
- Sunday 13th August 2017
- Sat & Sun 9th & 10th September 2017(Heritage Open Day Weekend)
- Sunday 8th October 2017 (LAST OPEN DAY)
10,30 am- 4.30 pm. FREE ADMISSION. FREE PARKING
“Clacton Cafe will be open for light refreshments”