Our Exciting Plans
The museum's past is a remarkable story. Now it's time to make tracks to the future.
We have big ambitions and a long journey ahead, but we can only make it happen with your help.
Sierra Leone is one of the world's poorest countries. It's been ravaged by, and overcome, a bloody civil war and an Ebola outbreak. Our museum has narrowly survived scrap metal merchants in the 1970s and been the home to 10,000 refugees in the 1990s. As we head through 2015, we are at the heart of the Sierra Leone government's plans to help rebuild the economy.
This is a chance to use old British-built locomotives and stock as vehicles for aid and investment.
This is a chance to make a railway museum an engine for growth and help rebuild a nation.
Never before has the heritage railway world had a chance to provide a humanitarian role on this scale. But now that time has come.
The Friends of Sierra Leone National Railway Museum team consists of politicians and stakeholders in Freetown itself, plus a growing number of volunteers in the UK. We're raising funds to develop the museum as a focus for investment which will kickstart other activities and programmes in Freetown and beyond:
Preserve the collection
The static collection is in a remarkably good condition despite 40 years of being hidden away and, thanks to the Salone government, now belongs to the people of Sierra Leone. To be most effective, the exhibits will remain in Freetown in perpetuity, with each being used to tell a unique story about the history of the railway and Sierra Leone itself.
There are currently no plans to return any of the exhibits to working order, but we will work to improve their cosmetic state.
Attract investment & aid
The museum is a tangible link between the peoples of Sierra Leone and the UK, with all of the major exhibits having been built in Britain. Using this, our active Commonwealth links and the parallels between the two countries, we are attracting foreign aid to support the museum's development.
We actively pursue grants such as the £15k British Library Endangered Archive Project which is enabling the digitising of much paper material in Freetown.
Provide learning opportunities
For the people of Sierra Leone, in a country with only one other museum, this is a unique place for them to learn about their shared heritage. The civil war ripped the country apart; the railway was a common link that linked people together and this is an opportunity to foster cohesion. Few people alive today in Sierra Leone have ever seen or heard a train.
Professionally, a programme of skills transfer has already begun for staff in Freetown to learn from those working in UK museums to enable self-sufficiency.
We're not doing this by ourselves. Sierra Leone is a peaceful, resourceful country with a can-do attitude and stunning scenery. Remember those Bounty chocolate bar ads? They were filmed here on Sierra Leone's beaches.
Whilst it's an understatement to say that Ebola has knocked back the country's international reputation as a tourist destination, that won't last forever. We're part of the government's comprehensive strategy to bring international tourists back, so we're working with Ministers and partner organisations to achieve development.
Building a museum, restoring exhibits, providing tourist services and opportunities for people to learn needs skilled people.
The museum's development will sustain an increasing number of paid jobs in Freetown and of course will benefit the businesses nearby.
But we need your help!
None of this can happen without your help.
You've read this far - so why not join us, or make a donation?