Ashton Memorial goes green for special event

The Ashton Memorial, Lancaster
The Ashton Memorial, Lancaster

One of Lancaster’s iconic landmarks will turn green this weekend to highlight a very special event.

The Ashton Memorial will once again shine brightly, and this time it’s green to recognise the work of local charity St John’s Hospice, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary year.

Green Ayre model train station. Picture by David Chandler.

Green Ayre model train station. Picture by David Chandler.

Going green has also been given the go ahead for the event, ‘Green Ayre Rises’ at Lancaster Library. ‘Green Ayre Rises’ on Sunday May 1 and Monday May 2, will mark 50 years since the closure of Lancaster Green Ayre Railway station. It will be presented by The Friends of Lancaster Library, from 10am-4pm.

The centre-piece will be a 40’ x 20’ model railway of the station; the work of Jamie Guest, a member of the Wakefield Railway Modellers’ Society.

Jamie has been working on the project for 10 years and is hoping that visitors will come along and help him, with their own memories of the station. Exhaustive research has unearthed numerous photographs, drawings and plans, but there are still areas where Jamie needs information. The area on Parliament Street where the coal yards stood is of particular interest, as photographs are scarce. Maybe you have a picture of a relative who worked in one of the yards? It could be just what Jamie is looking for.

Lancaster-based artist Adam York Gregory will also be taking part. He has created an interactive presentation using rare film of the line between Green Ayre and Morecambe. Shot in 1966 by a former Lancaster curate, Rev. Bob Jackson; the footage enables visitors to step back in time and experience the journey in glorious colour.

There will be new material too, courtesy of Morecambe Bay Movie Makers. They have recorded interviews with a number of the railwaymen who worked on the line and visitors will be able to see and hear their recollections and meet many of them in person.

Local railway historian Rob Daniels is curating a special pop-up exhibition of vintage railwayania. There will be many local items on display, including a number which have never been exhibited in public. Rob and other experts will be on hand to identify any treasures which visitors bring along over the two days.

Young visitors will be kept busy, with activities by local artists Sue and Shane Johnstone, including the chance to design their very own locomotive!

“Lines across the Lune” is a guided walk with historian Peter Wade, which will depart from the Library at 2pm on both days. The walk visits the site of Green Ayre station, to examine its place in Lancaster’s railway history and see how much has changed over the last half century.

Virgin Trains are running behind-the-scenes tours at Lancaster station (11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm both days.)

Sainsbury’s on Cable Street (site of the Green Ayre engine shed), will also be joining in the fun. There will be a ‘train trail’, with pictures of steam locomotives hidden around the store and shoppers will be invited to ‘spot’ them for a small prize.

Admission to the event is £2 for adults and £1 for children/concessions.

All proceeds go to St John’s Hospice.

Local historian David Chandler is organising the event on behalf of The Friends of Lancaster Library.

David said: “Green Ayre Rises is an affectionate celebration of Lancaster’s lost railway and the people who worked on it. The model of Green Ayre is a real spectacle and we’ve added lots of other elements to make the history come to life.

“But for me, the involvement of those who worked on the line makes this really special. I’m sure when Barry Cole worked that final shift in 1966 he never dreamt he’d be back to mark the 50th anniversary. I hope lots of visitors will come to share the occasion and we will raise a good sum for St. John’s Hospice.”