East Lancashire Railway (ELR) has launched an appeal to secure the future of its historic engineering workshop, which has been described as a "jewel in the crown".

The ELR is asking residents to back a fundraiser to renovate the roof of the 168-year-old workshop, which has links to the iconic steam locomotive, the Flying Scotsman.

ELR’s Baron Street engineering workshop in Bury, 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.

Lancashire Telegraph: The Baron Street engineering workshop was built in 1856 and is still in use todayThe Baron Street engineering workshop was built in 1856 and is still in use today (Image: Newsquest)

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The Raise Our Roof campaign has been set up as with a target of £75,000 as a part of an overall project cost of £2m 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.

ELR bosses revealed it would bid for the funding following a visit from Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden MP in December last year.

Lancashire Telegraph: The Higher Woodhill Viaduct is also in need of repairThe Higher Woodhill Viaduct is also in need of repair (Image: ELR)

Announcing the launch of the fundraiser, ELR chairman Mike Kelly 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.

Lancashire Telegraph: Conservative Party Chairman Richard Holden MP and Bury North MP James Daly on a visit to the ELR in December 2023Conservative Party Chairman Richard Holden MP and Bury North MP James Daly on a visit to the ELR in December 2023 (Image: Newsquest)

“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, while 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.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Steam locomotives outside the Baron Street workshopSteam locomotives outside the Baron Street workshop (Image: Newsquest)

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To back the campaign visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/raiseourroof 

Steam trains have been travelling through the beautiful 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 workshop remains a critical part of the ELR’s engineering facility to restore and repair the ELR’s traction and rolling stock.