Record number of hunters at The Living Ironstone Museum

Rocks by Rail Easter Steam
Photos: Lee Hellwing
Rocks by Rail Easter Steam Photos: Lee Hellwing
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Easter Sunday saw the launch of the new operating season at Rocks By Rail – The Living Ironstone Museum, Rutland’s own heritage railway.

The museum in Cottesmore seeks to portray a rail worked East Midlands ironstone quarry of the 1950s and 60s with its fleet of industrial locomotives and authentic rolling stock, but Easter Sunday could only mean one thing – the return of the ever popular egg hunt.

The bleak weather forecast did not stop visitors turning out in strength, with egg hunters and enthusiasts lining the route of the railway as ‘The Rutlander’ steam train whistled its way up the one in 60 gradient that characterises the railway.

A record number of egg hunters searched all around the museum, through the workshops, around the quarry, and all about the large fleet of locomotives in the exhibition centre, and were rewarded with a chocolate egg for their efforts.

Young and old alike kept the engine crew busy, not just with full trains but with visits to the footplate to see the fire, be talked through the controls and take a selfie photograph.

Steam fireman Steven Parker, a volunteer at Rocks by Rail, said: “This is the best possible start to our new operating season, we have seen so many of our regular supporters attending as well as a great mix of new visitors.

“We have our most ambitious year planned and we hope to continue attracting new visitors to share the history and heritage of this region which we are uniquely placed to depict.”

Easter Monday also saw the railway come to life again for the first Quarry Railway Day of 2017, with not only The Rutlander train in operation but also ‘Cottesmore West Pit’ – a faithful recreation of an ironstone quarry similar to those that were once scattered through the area at places like Burley, Exton Park, Pilton, Market Overton, Uppingham, and many other locations.