Portugal’s Communist Party (PCP) is calling for answers over the rarity-filled railway museum in Lagos which has been abandoned for over a decade.
As the Resident reported in May 2015, the museum contains some of Portugal’s oldest and rarest trains, including two Manchester-built Beyer Peacock engines, dating back to the 1890s.
However, it has been closed for years under claims that authorities are too ‘cash-strapped’ to reopen it.
“This is no excuse,” according to PCP’s MPs João Dias and Ana Mesquita, who say it is “incomprehensible” how the museum and its locomotives have been left to gather dust for so many years.
The MPs stress that the museum – “an important piece of national heritage and of the memory of the country’s railway” – was only open to the public twice a week in 2007 and has been in a “total state of abandonment and on its way to complete degradation” ever since.
Thus, they have asked Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, whether the government is aware of the museum’s situation and how it justifies its state of abandonment. They also ask if the government has any plans to solve this issue and when and how it plans to move forward with them.
Back in 2015, British train enthusiast Lloyd Piper told us he had no doubts that “an important part of Portugal’s history is being left to abandon”.
“In rarity terms, Beyer Peacock shipped 69 locomotives to Portugal between 1861 and the very early 1900s. Of these, only eight survive today and two are in Lagos,” the ex-chartered accountant told our newspaper.
The National Railway Museum Foundation (FMNF) said back in 2015 that there simply wasn’t enough money to reopen the Lagos museum despite its importance.
A spokesperson for Lagos Council, however, defended that the museum is “extremely important to Lagos, as it boasts a collection of 19th century locomotives unique in Portugal.”
Nonetheless, the museum remains closed and the feeling that an important part of the country’s history is being forgotten remains.
Photos: SARA ALVES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP