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How we use your money

By the careful management of Society operating costs, we can re-invest in the railway any surplus from membership subscriptions.

Our biggest expenditure is the annual production and distribution of the three editions of the ELR Review, insurance and database charges.  No fees are paid to Society Directors.

The Society is committed to supporting the railway by funding projects that meet the criteria of Preservation, Education, Accessibility or Heritage.  Over the past 21 years the Society has provided in excess of £618,000 of infrastructure funding.

By increasing our membership, we can invest more monies in the railway.

Coronavirus Crisis Grant


In March 2020 following government instructions resulting from the outbreak of Covid-19 the East Lancashire Light Railway Company suspended all operations.  This resulted in many thousands of pounds being refunded for advance ticket sales and an instant loss of all income.  The Society was able to make an immediate Crisis Grant of £120,000 to assist the railway during what has been the most difficult period in its history.

Brooksbottom Tunnel during lockdown - © Rory Lushman

We were able to make this donation due to the way in which we have carefully managed your subscription fees and monies donated to the Society.  2020 is going to be a challenging year for the railway, and the Society is committed to providing whatever support it can.  Society members can assist by renewing their membership as early as possible or by making donations to the Society which will be passed onto the East Lancashire Light Railway Company.

Rawtenstall station canopy being prepared for installation - © Rory Lushman
Recent projects include

Rawtenstall station canopy, £30,000

The picture above shows members of the Permanent-Way team preparing the next section of the former Oldham Mumps canopy ready to be erected at Rawtenstall which is now in place. The Society contributed £26,000 towards the cost of this and also the new steps at Rawtenstall West Box.


The canopies at Bury, Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall came about through Society Vice President Keith Whitmore. Keith was working with Manchester City Council at the time the canopy at Oldham Mumps was to be removed and ‘melted down for scrap’. Fortunately, Keith was able to arrange for it to be saved and delivered in sections to Baron Street for storage.

Rawtenstall Canopy in service - © Rory Lushman

Part of the canopy was installed on platform 2 at Bury, thanks to a very generous donation from a member. Whilst platform 2 canopy was being installed and glazed, the canopy on platform 3 was glazed also. The Society contributed an additional £15,000 and today we have the whole of Bury Station looking at its best.


Another part of the canopy was large enough to be erected on the main station side at Ramsbottom, following a very generous bequest from a deceased working member.

Re-roping diesel crane - © Rory Lushman

Re-roping diesel crane £10,000

Close up of the new rope - © Andy Hardman

The ELR acquired its 76-ton diesel crane in 2010, since when it has been used to support engineering projects such as the fitting of canopies to Bolton Street platform 2 and to Rawtenstall. Built in 1961 by Cowan Sheldon of Carlisle, the crane was originally steam powered.

Following a funding request from the ELR, the Society was pleased to provide £10,000 for the re-roping of the crane which was last re-roped in 1976 when it was converted from steam to diesel. Ropes are changed on condition and not on age, therefore with careful management the main hoist rope should last for another 30 years.

Access Coach Conversion, £17,000

Conversion of brake to allow for accessibility - © Rory Lushman

Three coaches have been identified as suitable candidates for conversion to facilitate wheelchair access and accommodation for carers.


The coaches were costed at £8,500 each to convert and the Society agreed to fund the first one. The second coach was funded by Aviva Insurance who were looking for projects to fund in the voluntary sector. This was chosen via an online voting system where several good causes were available for the public vote. The East Lancs Access Coach Conversion project succeeded in getting enough votes for the project to be funded by Aviva.


The first two wheelchair access coaches are now in service. The third coach is in need of conversion when it can be fitted into the Carriage and Wagon Department schedule.

Upgrade of diesel shed to allow for road vehicle access/maintenance - © Rory Lushman

Restoration and upgrade of Castlecroft Diesel Shed, £30,000

The Diesel Shed at Castlecroft was required for joint use by the ELR for the contracted secure storage of two ex-mainline diesels and by the Bury Transport Museum for road vehicle restoration.


The Society and the ELR agreed the project which Andy Hardman costed at a final £30,000. The Society provided for the complete restoration and upgrading of the building, including re-wiring, removal of asbestos and re-concreting of the shed floor and outside apron. Today we have a secure building in good order and under the management of Andy Hardman.

Restoration of dining coach, £42,500

Restoration of dining coach - © John Tate

In order to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for the ‘Dining with Distinction’ service an extra dining coach was required. The vehicle chosen was 3114, a dual-braked FO coach, to be restored by the Carriage & Wagon Department to Pullman 1st Class livery. The total cost of £42,500 was funded by a bequest of £25,000 from the late Paddy Smith and £17,500 from the Society.

The interior of 3114 is different from other coaches in the dining fleet as it is finished with a blue machete. It is planned to install a plaque in the coach acknowledging the funding by Paddy Smith and the Society. Since restoration in 2017 the coach has been in regular operation on the ‘Dining with Distinction’ service.

Past projects

Throughout the history of the Society we have supported the Railway in many projects both large and small.

For instance, in 1997 we supplied £250 for buckeye equipment, £2,050 to machine castings for the Jinty 47324 and £4,000 to remove asbestos from the Kitchen Car. A total of £30,500 towards the Thomas project in 1999/2000 and a further £35,000 towards to the overhaul of Jinty 47324 in 2002/3.


In 2008 we contributed £16,500 to wards the cobbles outside the Bury Transport Museum. In 2009 we put £4,500 towards the weed-killing train and £3,500 for mains power to the sleeper coach at Baron Street. In 2013 we contributed a further £41,700 to the weed-killing train, the platform 2 canopy and the station clock at Bolton Street station.

BBS P2 canopy - (c) Jan Haworth.jpg

© Jan Howorth

Installing the new canopy for platform 2 at Bolton Street station in 2013.

weedkiller train - (c) Jan Howarth.jpg

The weed-killing train.

© Jan Howorth

47324 at Ramsbottom - (c) Roger W Hawort

Jinty 47324 at Rawtenstall.

© Roger W Haworth

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