Working with local schools, Sustrans volunteers have combined to help turn an abandoned old railway turntable in Godley into a wildlife haven and community event space.
The 70-foot diameter turntable is located on a one-mile, traffic-free path between Godley and Apethorn, now owned by Sustrans, a charity making it easier for people to walk and cycle. It is part of the long distance Trans Pennine Trail and the National Cycle Network.
The turntable forms the perfect shape for an outdoor arena and has become a tranquil resting spot along the path surrounded by trees, grasses and wetland, home to a wide variety of plants and animals.
Last year, The Friends of the Trans Pennine Trail received £45,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the turntable, create a community space for performances and events, and a peaceful nature haven.
Volunteers have worked with the Sustrans team to clear vegetation and trees from the centre of the turntable and uncover parts of the original track and ash pits for the steam railway.
Now, they plan to work with local schools and the community to improve the habitat for wildlife and create information boards about the history of the old railway line.
Volunteer group coordinator, Peter Brocklehurst, said they would like to work closely with the local community to help create a space for everyone.
He said: “This year we’ll be helping to improve the habitat and attract local nature by building things like bat boxes, hedgehog refuges and bug hotels. It will be a fantastic practical educational opportunity and we’d really like to hear from local schools who would like to get involved with the project.”
The turntable was built in the early 1930s as part of the Woodhead railway electrification process, and was mainly used to carry coal and other types of freight.
During the war it was an important storage site and a bomb narrowly missed the turntable. A nearby pond is a reminder of the crater it left behind.
“After the railway closed in the 1960s the site was abandoned for 40 years and became overgrown, but the old brickwork of the turntable remains intact and there are several reminders of its railway past, such as tracks and channels where the waste ash was deposited.”
Volunteers plan to repair the wall, cover the base and install drains in the turntable, to allow the community to hold performances and events. They will also install benches and information boards about the history and nature of the area.