ONE of the world’s best known steam trains is to make Bury its official home after being bought by one of the area’s major tourist attractions.
The East Lancashire Railway has snapped up the City of Wells locomotive after an 18-month fundraising campaign.
A regular feature at many of the ELR's event days, the City of Wells is a much-loved attraction, and over the years thousands of Bury train-enthusiasts have taken a trip aboard the engine.
The locomotive was built in 1949 at Brighton Works and is an ex-Southern Region steam engine officially known as the Bulleid Light Pacific No. 34092.
The City of Wells originally arrived at the ELR in July 2015 from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, where it had been rescued from Barry scrapyard in 1971.
An instant hit with ELR visitors and now fondly known as "Wells", the engine hosts a variety of the heritage railway's special events throughout the year — from festive Santa Specials and spooky Halloween services, to steam galas and luxury dinners.
In 2017 the City of Wells was offered for sale by its owners and an agreement was reached with the ELR to purchase it.
The heritage attraction then launched a fundraising campaign to buy the engine which, thanks to the generosity of the public, made the purchase possible.
More than 2,500 donations were made ranging from a few pence to more significant sums.
ELR chairman, Mike Kelly, said: “Thanks to overwhelmingly generous donations from the public, which contributed over £320,000, we have now purchased this fabulous locomotive, which is a big hit with enthusiasts and visitors to the ELR. A million thanks to everyone who put their hands in their pockets."
Mr Kelly also extended special thanks to Alex Choremi, a long standing supporter of the ELR from Switzerland, who donated a massive six-figure sum to the campaign.
A plaque has since been presented to Mr Choremi by Mr Kelly in recognition of his contribution.
Mr Kelly said: "This is another great example of wonderful community spirit that stretches far beyond our Lancashire backyard and we are over the moon to keep ‘Wells’ in our fleet for good.”