UNIQUE LOCOMOTIVE LOCKED AWAY IN SNIBSTON REDEVELOPMENT PLAN?
A unique Great Western Railway locomotive could be locked away from public view under plans to redevelop the former Snibston Discovery Centre. The museum in Coalville, Leicestershire, closed in 2015 despite strong opposition, and the majority of its railway items, including unique ex‑GWR Brush 0‑4‑0ST No. 921, have been inaccessible to the public since. The current redevelopment scheme, now under review, includes the building of 140 homes on the site. All of the railway exhibits on site would be fenced off or even locked away, and there would be no public access. The proposals by Conservative‑ run Leicestershire County Council also included plans to turn the preserved section of Snibston Colliery’s railway into a footpath. The railway and the colliery had strong links to George and Robert Stephenson. It was rebuilt less than 20 years ago and operated regular passenger rides with diesel motive power, as well as hosting occasional steam‑worked photographic events. The track has already been ripped up and the carriage, used for passenger rides, is to be removed, according to the application. Within Snibston Colliery, itself a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the submitted plans include very limited public access to any of the surviving mining or railway‑related buildings or items. At the time of Snibston Discovery Museum’s closure in summer 2015, a smaller mining museum that would have focused on the colliery buildings was due to be developed, but this plan was abandoned in early 2016. Under the submitted plans, surviving track and rolling stock within the colliery yard would be fenced off with no access. The locomotives would be locked inside the engine shed and only be visible through reinstated windows. The shed, built in 1831, was one of a number of Snibston buildings given Grade II listing by Historic England in February. Leicestershire County Council told Steam Railway that an updated planning application is due to be submitted in March for further consideration, ahead of a decision in spring or summer. It is not yet clear if the revised plan will mean improved public access for the railway items.