Families flock to East Lancashire Railway for weekend to celebrate the Red Rose county

City of Wells, the steam engine that longs to be part of the East Lancashire Railway family, powered in to Bury Bolton Street at the start of day two of the annual celebration of Lancashire on Sunday. 

Clouds of steam and smoke from the locomotive bellowed in to the air scattering leaves in all directions.

With the sun shining, no clouds in the sky and ample chances to grab a bonus at Casimba, the day was wonderful for all the visitors and volunteers alike. 

The event was launched on both days by the town crier Johnny Crook who read a script about the meaning of being from Lancashire which was followed by various dancers and the riding of the trains.

Events over the weekend included dancers and singers from Lancashire who performed for the visitors both on and off the trains.  The Britannia Coconut Dancers, Oakenhoof, and Sid Calderbank provided light entertainment with songs, Morris dancing and a whole host of other delightful music.

Joe Healey, one of the dance members of the Britannia Coconut Dancers, said that we are a 200-year-old tradition that was formed at the turn of the 19th Century.

He said: “It is a festival of dance for spring time and is unique and we are the last surviving troop of Britannia clog dancers.

“We started performing at the East Lancashire Railway about five years ago and have also performed in Belgium, Spain, France and the Republic of Ireland.”

Two trains were running throughout the day which included a four carriage Diesel Multiple Unit and the City of Wells 34092. 

As the trains were passing back and forth between Heywood and Rawtenstall, the Oakenhoof performers danced their way along each platform at Bury Bolton Street.

Paul Woodhead, the squire of the troop, said: “It is Lancashire Day on the 27th November, but the East Lancashire Railway puts on this event the weekend before.”

The railway invites Morris Dancers and Clog dancing teams to celebrate being proud Lancastrians.

Woodhead added: “Our chosen name, Oakenhoof connects with the oak of wood and the hoof as in foot.  We thought the name had something mystical about it.”

Events like this are an example of what heritage can do for the local economy and also to build a community, as well as creating jobs and experience for people who enjoy railways.

The East Lancashire Railway hosts a wide variety throughout the year including the popular steam and diesel galas, Halloween Ghost Trains, and the Santa Specials which combine history with fun for families, children and adults alike. 

Dogs are also welcome at the railway station and on the trains which gives much freedom to visitors.

All the trains have disabled access points so that everyone can enjoy a day out with the trains.

For more information click here.

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