In 2015, Sustrans commissioned Art Gene to develop a prototype project to showcase ways of building community relations, for inclusion within a HLF grant application.

Tracks of the Iron Masters

Sustrans approached Art Gene after an initial Heritage Lottery Funding bid for upgrading 18 miles of cycle path and walkway was unsuccessful. Heritage Lottery wanted them to more fully involve the communities along the tracks in their proposal. Art Gene was commissioned to develop consultation project  to develop links to the communities and to prototype projects with communities and improve their engagement with it. Sustrans added this work to their reapplication which we are pleased to say was then successful in attracting major funding. The challenge for Art Gene was to consolidate different users of the tracks, and to find and engage sustainable relationships between Sustrans and the communities to effect substantive change and shared custodianship of the site.

The resulting project for Tracks of the Iron Masters, thoroughly explored the two walking and cycling paths on the West Cumbrian Coast (from Whitehaven to Rowrah, and from Lowca to Uplands), charting the tracks and their impressive industrial heritage and natural environment assets and asking local people how they could best be preserved and/or celebrated and used.

Infrastructural repairs to the many bridges were already being addressed by Sustrans who had also identified several key sites for environmental improvement. Art Gene wanted to encourage local people with different interests, ideas and ways of using the the site to get involved.

Art Gene determined to:

Map the hidden assets along the way

Identify significant sites for ‘Community Stations’

Provide training for ‘Station Volunteers’

Broadcast the project to as diverse an audience as possible

Develop interpretation for features on or nearby the tracks and longterm facilities for communities to share custodianship


You can find the full project diary, with lots more photos of events here.

Become involved. Sign up to the public Tracks of the Ironmasters Facebook page here.

You can find the full report that Art Gene provided to Sustrans here.

Image gallery below:
Public event : Residency on the Tracks:  Mirehouse.  Games and evening soup kitchen
Project launches at Workington and Whitehaven
Public events:   Guided Walks. Siddick Ponds and Cleator –  Whitehaven
Public event : Residency on the Tracks:  Rowan Hall.
Public event : Residency on the Tracks:  Siddick.  Dog fowling was identified as a common  issue by track users.
Public event : Residency on the Tracks:  Moor Row.

Small Blue Butterfly Corridor…

Find out about our proposed markers, way markers, plant labels, route signs, interpretation panels, mile markers and (former) station markers by downloading the pdf here.

Art Gene’s Stuart Bastik also produced a sample map depicting both physical routes and the transitory encounters with people and wildlife (see images below). Downloadable the full pdfs –  the Whitehaven Tracks of the Iron Masters Map here and the Workington Tracks of the Iron Masters Map here.

A pdf of the Tracks of the Iron Masters Tickets To Walk is available here.

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