THE Duke of Gloucester fittingly recalled the golden age of steam when he reopened the £3 million newly-refurbished Bury Transport Museum.

Given the purpose of his engagement, it was appropriate he arrived at the East Lancashire Railway (ELR) operated Castlecroft building on the footplate of a gleaming pre-Second World War steam locomotive.

The VIP made the journey from Heywood to Bury on a special private train, hauled by the newly-restored Stanier Class 5MT loco. It was the last of its kind to be operated by British Rail around half a century ago.

Last Friday’s visit to the town also saw the Duke fulfil a second engagement when he officially opened the £700,000 Bury Black Pudding Company factory at Heap Bridge.

The reopening of the Bury Transport Museum, a grade two listed former goods warehouse dating from 1848, marked the climax of a major, two-year £3 million restoration programme. Funding was secured from a number of sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund, Northwest Regional Development Agency and Bury Council.

The museum was closed to the public in 2003 after concern about the condition of its roof. The refurbishment has transformed the building into a showpiece attraction, housing more than two dozen vehicles from yesteryear.

During his visit, the Duke toured the building and was accompanied by Mr Malcolm Vickers, project manager and ELR commercial director. He chatted to officials and some of the 130 guests before unveiling a plaque to commemorate the reopening.

Commenting on the museum and its exhibits, the Duke said: “This gives people a personal link with the past which they otherwise would not have had. And at the same time, you have preserved this splendid building. I congratulate you all.”

Mr Peter Duncan, chairman of the East Lancashire Light Railway Company, described the reopening as an “important milestone” in the long and varied fortunes of the Castlecroft goods shed.

Later, the Duke of Gloucester visited the thriving Bury Black Pudding Company at the J2 Business Park at Heap Bridge to officially open the factory.

He undertook a tour of the production area and, after unveiling a plaque, sampled Bury’s most famous produce.

The Duke said: “This is a local delicacy with international significance. You’ve got the national market and it’s the international market next.”

The company, run by award-winning businesswoman Debbie Pierce, employs 55 staff and churns out 35 tonnes of black puddings a week which are supplied to many of the UK’s largest supermarkets. With an eye on exports, the business now supplies a small supermarket chain in Cyprus.

Miss Pierce said: “The Duke was very interested in our processes and in the successful growth we’ve achieved over the last four years. He was pleased a good old traditional product was doing so well.”

l—Bury Transport Museum is now open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday every week and also on Bank Holidays from 10am to 4pm. More information at