Steam trains have been travelling through the beautiful Irwell Valley for the past 175 years, used and enjoyed by generations of the local community and bringing visitors into the area from across the country.

One of the most picturesque spots on the East Lancashire Railway heritage line is the spectacular Higher Woodhill Viaduct, on the edge of Bury in Burrs Country Park. This goes past the site of the historic former Higher Woodhill Mill.

Preserving the infrastructure of the East Lancashire heritage line is just as important as the upkeep of the beautiful steam trains that carry passengers – and that is why the railway is undertaking a vital community appeal in 2024.

Maintenance work is required to the viaduct in the next 12 months to ensure it continues to deliver on the experience enjoyed by so many for the future. Incredibly, its last repairs were carried out in 1932.

Regular inspections are carried out on the structure and while there are no question marks around its safety, repairs are required to allow for the continued level of use of steam and diesel trains. The estimate for this work is £1.28million, with grants anticipated to cover the vast majority of these costs.

However, to secure many of these grants from the government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, it is required that the East Lancashire Railway demonstrates that it has the support of the community that use and love it.

That’s the reason the Railway is now calling on the tens of thousands of visitors who enjoy riding on its trains all year round to show how much they care via an online appeal.

Mike Kelly, Chairman of East Lancashire Railway, says: “As well as our trains, the track, the signals, the tunnels and bridges are all part of the immaculately preserved history that our visitors love so much.

“It is right that the trains get most of the attention, but in truth they’re only part of the overall picture. The viaduct is one section of the line that people remember fondly from their visits to the Railway.

“At this vital time, we need as many people as possible to show us their support. We have an online fundraiser where every single pound donated will make a difference. Added to that, every visitor’s comment about the beauty, history and authenticity of the Railway will also support the case for this restoration project.”

People should go to to get involved and donate, or to share comments of support please email


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