It will be “full steam ahead” for Marcon’s heritage team, which will be responsible for the manufacture and installation of all specialist joinery, display cases, integration of audio visual hardware, interactives and installation of graphics within the new museum space.
Working closely with leading interpretive designers GBDM and Multimedia Team CMC Associates, Marcon will transform the carriage workshop and locomotive sheds into a fully functioning museum.
Martin McErlean, Heritage Contracts Manager at Marcon said The RPSI undertakes some extremely worthwhile work, showcasing and restoring historically important locomotives and protecting Ireland’s railway heritage for the next generation. “We are really excited to be working on this living museum that will tell the story of the development of the railways and the RPSI in an engaging way. Visitors of all ages will be able to watch from a viewing gallery as work is carried out on locomotives within the engineering workshops. Securing this major museum contract further enhances our reputation as a leading fit-out provider within the UK and Irish museum and heritage sector.”
RPSI intends to open Whitehead Railway Museum on March 1, 2017 and the site will be closed to visitors while work progresses. Denis Grimshaw, RPSI chairman, said the Society looked forward to seeing the commencement of the fit-out of the museum with multimedia displays, educational facilities and audio links, all of which would be key to creating this significant new tourist attraction.
“We aim to attract at least 15,000 visitors during the museum’s first full year of operation,2 he said. “An exciting element of the museum will be the opportunity for visitors to walk through historic carriages, examine mainline steam engines at close quarters and see the engineering works in action. We hope to complement other tourist attractions in the area and together we will make the railway town of Whitehead a “must-see” stop on the Causeway Coastal Route.”
RPSI’s new Whitehead Railway Museum will be a unique insight into the age of steam train travel and its heavy engineering traditions said Griff Boyle, Director, GBDM. “Across this expansive, transformed engineering site, visitors will be offered a mix of traditional museum, engineering workshops, immersive train experiences and interactivity,2 he said. “Add to that the ‘Museum on the Move’ steam train journeys run by RPSI on the main line to Portrush, Dublin and further afield and you have a truly unique visitor facility. Marcon are the perfect specialist museum shopfitters to work alongside RPSI and GBDM to complete this complex project to the very high quality that is required.”
Funding for the project has been provided by Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland and administered by Tourism Northern Ireland with additional support from Mid and East Antrim Council and Ulster Garden Villages.
Ruth Harper, the RPSI’s General Manager added: “I firmly believe we can develop Whitehead Railway Museum into the new must-see visitor attraction in Northern Ireland in 2017. This museum will have a significant impact on the Whitehead and East Antrim tourism offering. It will drive visitor numbers and generate job opportunities as well as bringing money and spend into the area.”
Paul Mullan, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund NI said it was wonderful to see the money raised by National Lottery players making a real difference to local projects and communities. “The beginning of works here at Whitehead is another milestone in a journey to create a unique visitor experience which will complement and add to the wealth of heritage attractions already on offer throughout Mid and East Antrim.”
Rosemarie McHugh, Tourism NI, Capital Funds Manager, said: “Tourism NI is delighted to support this innovative project which offers a fantastic new visitor dimension to Whitehead and will complement the many tourist attractions along the Causeway Coastal Route. The restoration works and creation of a living museum will not only provide an educational and interactive experience for all to enjoy, but this new quality facility will also encourage more people to visit Whitehead, spend more and stay longer.”
Over the years Marcon has completed a number of high profile museum and exhibition projects across the UK and Ireland. Projects such as the new Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy, the American Air Museum at IWM Duxford, Cromford Mills in Derbyshire and “Europe’s leading visitor attraction” – Titanic Belfast ®.
For more information on the Railway Preservation Society please visit http://www.steamtrainsireland.com/