Poulton and Wyre Railway Society (PWRS), which was formed in 2006, is currently well ‘down the line’ with plans to re-open a section of track stretching from Poulton-le-Fylde to Fleetwood. This branch line was sadly closed in 1970 to passengers and finally to freight in 1999.
As most of the track is still in place the vision of the volunteers from PWRS is to refurbish and restore the track to full working order between the two towns. It is hoped that a heritage train will soon be able to operate over an initial short section and plans to develop the line as a rail testing facility have already been developed.
PWRS are working with local Members of Parliament, Lancashire County Council, Wyre Borough Council, Fleetwood Town Council and Network Rail, who have issued a clearance certificate to allow society volunteers access to the entire line in order to clear overgrown track and repair boundary fencing.
The scheme has captured the imagination of local people, especially in Fleetwood and a Fleetwood Back on Track group was formed by local councillors to work closely with PWRS. High on the wish list of the group is that if the heritage line proves a success, passenger and freight trains might one day return to the town to compliment other schemes currently coming down the track to improve the fortunes of the seaside resort and port. If this comes to fruition a re-opened branch line might well prove a vital link for commuters from the North Fylde area to catch connections to Preston and thence to other parts of the country.
Naturally, all of these things come at a financial cost and PWRS has been frantically fund raising. Thanks to two items of grant aid, the Society has managed to purchase a diesel locomotive which railway cognoscenti will know as a Class 108 DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit). Other sponsorship has also been forthcoming from local firms, both in cash and kind. Organisations such as Blackpool and the Fylde College and the Prince’s Trust are also getting involved to help the volunteers by sending teams to help with the work in the new year.
So, when local Masons from Fleetwood, Cleveleys and Blackpool, some of whom are railway enthusiasts themselves, heard of the efforts which the society was putting in to improve on the attractions to be had on the local scene, three local lodges raised £500 between them. Subsequently, this amount was match funded by a central West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity doubling it to £1,000.
Alan Fairhurst representing the charity and representatives of the lodges concerned presented the cheque to Peter Williams and Eddie Fisher of PWRS at a meeting of the Back on Track Group held at Fleetwood Town FC’s stadium. Thanking their visitors for their generosity on behalf of the society, Peter Williams assured them that the money would be put to very good use on the project.
Further information on this project can be found on www.pwrs.org