Steam musuem plans on agenda

Major plans to extend a steam museum at Hadlow Down and make it more visitor-friendly are recommended for approval at a Wealden Council meeting tomorrow.

The plans, submitted by the Claude Jessett Trust Company, include improving storage buildings for vehicles, fairground organs and traction engines, improving a museum and adding a ticket office, new railway platforms and gift shop.

A report to the planning sub-committee, north, describes Tinkers Park as one of the leading centres for steam engines in the area. It is 'an asset to the village where young people can learn new skills and be part of a team which encourages an interest in preserving our heritage for future generations to enjoy'.

A valuable collection, built by Claude Jessett, of mainly local, industrial and agricultural artefacts and machinery is stored on the site and an annual traction engine rally is held in aid of Cancer Research.

The report says volunteers have transformed the site in recent months, improving visual and operational use of the land. 

 'Entrance is affordable for all, as are engine rides and train rides. It is refreshing to attend events that are not run on a wholly commercial basis which sets the Trust apart from commercial concerns,' it adds.

Objectors to the plans say: 'There will not be one weekend in summer when the residents of the eastern end of our very rural, previously tranquil and quiet village can sit in and enjoy their own gardens without the persistent sound of shrill steam whistles, traction engines etc and the smell of hamburgers, hotdogs and coke steam would permeate the air for up to half a mile round the site.'

Objectors go on to say: 'There is no logical reason for massive expansion into a pseudo 'heritage site' other than for the benefit of a small number of enthusiasts who own and restore these massive machines many of whom do not live in or give support to the village.'


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