In our bid to build the first wooden waggonway in Scotland (or anywhere, for that matter) for around 250 years, The Waggonway Project has begun crowdfunding to make the dream a reality.
First things first; we don't undertake this lightly. This magnum opus is going to take a long time to fund and complete - 5 years to complete the waggonway we think - but with plenty of support, sponsorship and blood, sweat & tears, we will get there.
Phase 1, as we're calling it, involves raising funds for and constructing a waggonway (location TBC but we're working on that). Phase 2, just as exciting, will involve the construction of associated structures which we know were integral to the 1722 Waggonway's operation - a horse gin for raising coal out of the pit, a coalfauld storage depot and waggonway tilting apparatus' for unloading coal. And then Phase 3, perhaps the most challenging but again enough to get anyone who likes industrial and living history fired-up, the construction of a salt pan house, the reason for which coal was being transported by rail in East Lothian 3 centuries ago.
'How much is all this going to cost?' I hear you ask. And it's a very good question.
Well, we're focusing on the first phase just now, which will cost around £100,000. This includes the materials, design, marketing, planning, project costs and much more. We've started a JustGiving crowdfunding page, but we also are working on sponsorship and grant funding as funding streams which will all help get us rolling towards that total.
The first 'mini' milestone is £10,000, and we're already progressing towards that target. Please donate if you can - every penny counts!
It's also worth noting that as certain milestones are hit, elements of the project will be able to begin well within the overall timescales we have set. For example, we don't need to wait for the full total to be reached to start constructing and laying rails, sleepers etc - we can go in stages.
Which brings me to one of the key elements of the project - who's going to to construct it?
And this is really the core of what we are all about - we've always loved getting the general public, schools, students, veterans and more involved with our archaeological work, and this will be no different. Opportunities will be available for locals schools, colleges and universities to get involved in skills-based learning, and basically for everyone who wants to, to get stuck in and play their part. This will be a project for everyone, which will have a legacy beyond the construction phase.
In the longer term, we want this to be a working, living history attraction. What better way to learn about the past than to witness it, recreated in front of your own eyes. And, perhaps even be involved in operating it!
If you'd like to be involved, join the project and help us make history, please visit our website and get in touch!