With funding and support from the Community Rail Network, ‘The Rails Which Circled the World’ heritage project has transformed Workington station into an exhibition centre that celebrates a time when the town was a world leader in rail technology.
Community Rail Cumbria developed a focus group, including representatives from Northern Rail, NTS Global (formerly Direct Rail Services), Cumbria County Council, Cumbrian Railways Association, Workington Transport Heritage Trust and the Helena Thompson Museum, to research the town’s rich industrial heritage, and create an engaging and informative displays in and around Workington station.
The exhibition highlights the hard shifts in the local mines where both children and adults worked together in extremely challenging conditions; the locations of where ships docked to be loaded for transporting Cumbrian steel rails all over the world; how local women stepped in at the steelworks during the war; and how the innovative Bessemer Convertor helped to light up the night sky for all to see and to enable production to continue 24 hours a day.
Whilst passengers wait for their train, they can also watch a short film screened in the waiting rooms on both platforms. The film portrays personal stories of what life was like, including some wonderful West Cumbrian characters who worked with and contributed to Henry Bessemer’s unique process. Full footage of the film can be viewed here.
A Bessemer sculpture will be an integral part of the exhibition, due to the significance Henry Bessemer played in the development of the Workington Steelworks, and will be placed on site at Workington station in the near future, planning permission has recently been approved.