Sunderland’s historic Ryhope Engines Museum will be open to disabled visitors for the first time, thanks to Northumbrian Water.
The firm has given the Ryhope Engines Trust a £30,000 grant from its Green Scheme fund to install a lift, which will allow disabled visitors to enter the engine house.
The trust will be putting on a special steaming day for invited guests on Friday, ahead of Disabled Access Day next Saturday.
Chairman Keith Bell said: “Friday will be a milestone moment in our preservation aims for the site, as, after many years of planning and preparation at the museum we are now able to accommodate both wheelchair and non-ambulant visitors for the very first time.
“This has been achieved in no small part due to the tremendous support of Northumbrian Water, who have been instrumental in assisting the trust in the preservation of an important part of the region’s industrial heritage.”
As part of the money donated by Northumbrian Water, the museum will also train volunteers in traditional masonry skills to help sustain the restoration of the building’s stonework.
Eighteen-year-old Ellie-Jane O’Ware, from South Hylton, uses a wheelchair after contracting meningococcal septicaemia at just nine months old.
A member of 2nd South Hylton Guides, she was unable to join her friends when they visited the museum to complete their Blacksmith Badge, and is now looking forward to going back.
“I was a bit disappointed because I had to wait downstairs while everyone else was upstairs, so I’m really excited to finally see inside Ryhope Pumping Station,” she said.