East Lancs Railway's 168-year-old Flying Scotsman workshop needs your help to survive

Heritage steam and diesel engines in the locomotive works
-Credit: (Image: Nigel Valentine)

East Lancashire Railway (ELR) has launched a fundraiser to help secure the future of a 168-year-old engineering workshop that has links to the famous Flying Scotsman.

The heritage railway is rallying supporters to back the campaign to renovate the workshop roof at the Buckley Wells rail depot in Bury.

ELR’s Baron Street engineering workshop, which restores and maintains prized locomotives, including the Flying Scotsman, is believed to be the one of the world’s oldest buildings still in use for its original purpose.

The Raise Our Roof fundraiser has been set up as with a target of £75,000 as a part of an overall project cost of £2 million should the ELR be successful in securing a grant from the government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to help pay for workshop repairs and also preserve the Higher Woodhill Viaduct.

Steam trains have been travelling through the Irwell Valley for the past 175 years and ELR, which hosts around 200,000 visitors every year, must prove they have enough community support to secure government funding.


Built in 1856, the Baron Street engineering workshop served as ELR’s main workshop and 16 locomotives were built there after being taken over by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. It was used as a carriage repair shed from 1889 to 1916 then became a maintenance facility for trains which operated between Bury and Manchester Victoria for more than 70 years.

The workshop survived a narrow escape in 1967 when Buckley Wells started to be demolished after passenger services stopped. Demolitions were halted thanks to a determined group of volunteers who saved the railway and the Baron Street workshop played a pivotal role in the restoration of traction and rolling stock to support the launch of the first passenger service in 1987.

The Flying Scotsman -Credit:Steve Shrubb
The Flying Scotsman -Credit:Steve Shrubb

The workshop remains a critical part of the ELR’s engineering facility to restore and repair the ELR’s traction and rolling stock. Mike Kelly, ELR chairman, said: “Like all heritage assets there is always maintenance and repair work to be undertaken.

“The ELR has, for over 50 years, successfully managed the railway’s maintenance and have made considerable improvements to improve Health and Safety, IT, welfare and customer services.

“The Baron Street workshop is one of the heritage railway’s ‘jewels in the crown’, which is steeped in history and on a walk through the building you can imagine the noise and flurry of locomotives moving in and out of the workshop and being there at the dawn of the railways.

“The roof, whilst being maintained, now needs a serious investment to restore the roof not just to its original condition but take the opportunity to install solar panels to reduce electricity usage and therefore reduce carbon levels.”

You can back the campaign by visiting: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/raiseourroof