Visitors to Whitehead can now enjoy an even more authentic 20th century experience after the opening of a new train station building yesterday.
A plaque was unveiled to mark the opening of the £270,000 building at the Whitehead Excursion Platform in Carrickfergus, home to the last surviving traditional railway workshop in Ireland.
Those making the trip to the well-known landmark can now enjoy the newly-installed booking office, historical display, a souvenir shop, cafe and toilet facilities.
The building is period style, harking back to the 1900s, with a design based on a Belfast and Northern Counties Railway station building of that time.
The project was funded by GROW South Antrim, Carrickfergus Borough Council and Ulster Garden Villages.
Local members of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI) were pleased that the project, by Cleary Contracting from Randalstown, was finished within budget and on time – a year to the day since it began in fact.
RPSI vice chairman Denis Grimshaw said he hoped the new building would prove to be a major asset for tourism in the area as well as being a “major enhancement” to the society’s premises.
He said: “Since the society set up its base at Whitehead in 1966 we have looked forward to the day when we would have a proper station building on our platform.
“Now, thanks to generous support from our three funders that day has dawned, and we are delighted that the building looks so impressive and appropriate.
“We now look forward to fully fitting out the premises and developing the station building to its full potential.”
The plaque was yesterday unveiled by Vera McWilliam of local action group GROW, who said the group was delighted to have been involved in the project.
Visitors to the opening took a trip around the society’s premises and preserved steam engine No. 186, and inspected the progress of the construction of an ash pit and concrete paved area in front of the locomotive shed.
The next RPSI mainline trip will be the Broomstick Belle on Sunday October 27. The train runs between Belfast Central and Whitehead.