ROMEOs visit Whitehead Railway Museum

10 December 2017
ROMEOs visit Whitehead Railway Museum

The Howth ROMEOs recently visited the Steam Railway Preservation Society of Ireland at the Whitehead Railway Museum and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of boarding engines and carriages that were in common use many years ago.

The day began with a Dart to Connolly and then the enterprise to Belfast followed by a ten minute wait for the train to Larne that brought us to Whitehead. Bryan Rea a friend of mine conveyed the four non-walking ROMEOs the half mile distance to the Museum where we were welcomed warmly by Ruth Harper, General Manager, her staff and volunteers. The re-furbished Museum had been officially opened the previous week.

After an excellent lunch the group were divided into “manageable” teams and given a very interesting and educational tour of the workshops and museum.

The Society was formed in 1964 to preserve Irish steam locomotives, carriages and rolling stock and to operate them on the Irish railway network for everyone to see, appreciate, enjoy and travel on. The Society currently has around 1,000 members from all across the world and depends on its volunteers to keep its stock of steam trains operational.

A tragedy in 1889:

On Wednesday 12th June 1889 an overloaded excursion train left Armagh station at 10.15carrying almost 1,000 people on a Sunday School excursion to the seaside at Warrenpoint. When it stalled on a steep incline, it was decided to divide the train in two to lessen the weight. However, uncoupling meant the rear carriages were held on the slope by just two brake shoes on the brake van. When this brake failed to keep the uncoupled carriages stationary, the nine rear carriages ran back down the steep gradient and collided with the next scheduled train which had left Armagh just after 10.35. 88 people including 23 children were killed and about 400 people injured of whom at least 88 were children. See picture in gallery.

Prior to completing the visit tea/coffee with a lovely selection of cakes prepared everybody for the return journey to Dublin. Taking the scenic route back to the station via the beach promenade we were rewarded with very clear views of the Scottish coast and a less clear view of the Isle of Man.

In summary it was a most enjoyable outing and one we can highly recommend to anybody interested in the rolling stock of days gone by.

See gallery here (photos and article by ROMEO scribe Pat Murphy)