All Aboard for St Bees brand new museum

St Bees Railway copyright D K Powell

All aboard, says Peter Rooke (photo: D K Powell)

by Ken Powell

Locals and tourists visiting St Bees are enjoying a special treat at the moment. Just up from the railway lines on Main Street, a museum dedicated to the railways of yesteryear has now opened.

The museum is a two-year labour of love for owner Peter Rooke, who retired recently from working at Sellafield, and is the new home for his personal railway memorabilia collection spanning twenty years. He considers the museum to be a ‘work in progress’ and has plans to develop the project but he has been pleased with the interest shown already by both locals and tourists.

The idea for a museum for the community was inspired by Peter’s involvement with the recent Olympics.

I volunteered at the Olympics and was amazed by the gratitude shown by others for everything we did. I came away inspired to do this for locals to enjoy – it’s not to make money.”

Mr Rooke, a civil engineer by trade, admitted that he is most interested in the control and construction of stations:

And I love signs!” he said with a grin. Looking around the museum you can can certainly see the blending of the two interests with signs and posters aplenty along with locks, clocks, lamps and more. What’s intriguing for a railway museum is that there are no model trains among the memorabilia on display.

Like every boy I enjoyed train sets and had my own,” Mr Rooke explained, “but my Uncle Len encouraged me to get into full size trains. He won me over. Eventually the train sets stayed in the box but the love of the real thing continued.”

The museum will be open one week per month but is also available for group bookings by appointment. To book, email Peter Rooke at petergrooke@btinternet.com or come take a look for yourself. The next open days are Monday 4 to Saturday 9 July from 10am to 4:30pm.

Photo: D K Powell

Photo: D K Powell