Historic excavator cab to be restored

The London-based Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) recently awarded Rocks By Rail: The Living Ironstone Museum £8,100 ($AUD14,856) to restore the cab of a massive dragline excavator known as the Sundew.

According to HLF, the Sundew was built in the late 1950s and played an important role in the ironstone quarrying industry in England’s East Midlands region.

“At the time it was the largest machine of its kind in the world and was seen as a symbol of an industry which once defined the region but has now all but disappeared,” HLF explained in a press release.

It was said that the 1400-tonne Sundew rose to fame when it undertook a 21km trip from Exton Park in Rutland to a new quarry near Corby, Northamptonshire in 1974. The whole trip reportedly took three months at an approximate speed of 0.16km per hour and came to be known as the “Great Walk”.

“The sight of this imposing machine crawling along towards Corby is a local story that has lived long in the memory,” HLF East Midlands head Vanessa Harbar explained.

The Sundew was reportedly scrapped in 1987 following the closure of the region’s last ironstone quarries but the museum retained the left driving cab from the machine.

Mining heritage
After decades of being on display, HLF stated that the exhibit had “fallen into a state of decay” which it hoped to rectify through the grant. HLF added that the cab would subsequently be transformed into a self-contained museum installed with audio visual equipment.

“When restored, the cabin will become a great resource for people looking to find out more about the region’s mining heritage – both those who remember the Sundew in its heyday and younger people born after its time,” Harbar said.

“This grant will guarantee that the story of Sundew will remain in the public consciousness,” Rocks By Rail volunteer Steven Parker added. “Through the Great Walk, Sundew captured the imagination of people in a way that most machines do not, and it is still often remembered fondly by people who went to see it. This grant will ensure we at Rocks By Rail can keep this alive.”

A Rocks By Rail press release stated that the restoration project was already underway with the first priority being to make the cab weather-tight.

Rocks By Rail is a wholly volunteer-run museum based in Cottesmore, Rutland that aims to recreate the experience of a 1950s and 1960s ironstone quarry and railway through the preservation of original machinery from the period.

HLF uses money raised by the UK’s National Lottery to assist heritage organisations through a range of grant programs.

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