Inside the old coach house of the terminal station of the Tunes/Lagos branch of the Algarve Line, it seems that time has stopped. There's a steam locomotive and other stuff current which, despite its name, hasn't gone anywhere for a long time, it can't even be appreciated. But that will change.
To this end, on Saturday, July 30th, the day on which the 100th anniversary of the first arrival of the train in Lagos was celebrated, the protocol of Shared Management of the Museum Nucleus was signed between the City Council of this city and the Fundação Museu Nacional Ferroviário. site of that museum, which will allow it to be reopened to the public, perhaps within two years.
Until then, there's a lot of work to be done. The main objective, according to the Municipality of Lagos, is «to give back to the community access to history and a long-desired space and heritage».
According to the protocol, the Lagos Chamber accepted the transfer of management of the Lagos Museum Centre, which is part of the Public Railway Domain, under the administration of the Foundation.
The municipality was also responsible for the requalification of the old coach house and surrounding space, for the maintenance of the buildings, for the allocation of human resources for the operation of the Nucleus, its opening to the public, surveillance, cleaning, promotion and dynamisation.
The Fundação Museu Nacional Ferroviário (FNMF), in turn, will continue to manage the Nucleus and its collection, but now in a shared way with the municipality, taking on all the scientific aspects, namely the investigation and museological inventory of the estate, the museology and museography, as well as the maintenance and restoration of the collection.
On the sidelines of the ceremony, Mayor Hugo Pereira told the Sul Informação that, at the moment, there is still no budget for the works that will need to be carried out in the building of the old coach house, in the turntable and adjacent areas, an investment that will be assumed by the municipality. «We are now going to move forward, together with the National Railway Museum, with the execution project, so that we can have an estimate of the cost of the intervention».
The works themselves will then be applied for European funds, with the possibility, which "is being studied", of involving in the financing the company that will build two hotels on land next to the old station and the Lagos Marina, which previously belonged to the Public Railway Domain and was sold by the company Infaestruturas de Portugal.
Manuel de Novaes Cabral, president of the National Railway Museum Foundation, who was in Lagos for the commemorations of the centenary of the arrival of the train and had already been a speaker the day before (at the colloquium on the «past, present and future» of the railway in the Algarve), recalled the investment that that Museum, located in Entroncamento, has been making in the main museum, but also in the seven existing centers throughout the territory.
The one in Lagos is the only one south of the Tagus…and also one of the only two, along with the one in Valença, which is, as you can read on the website, 'temporarily closed'. A case where the extremes (of the country) touch.
«We were forced to make an intense reflection on the Lagos Nucleus because there were several interests, namely private, regarding that space», recalled Manuel Cabral, adding that the negotiation with the Lacobrigense Chamber «was always very easy».
The municipality, for its part, recalls that this negotiation began as part of the preparations for the Commemorations of the Centenary of the Arrival of the Train to Lagos, at which time “the talks gained new impetus”.
For Manuel Cabral, the shared management protocol is a way of «celebrating the future». «Musealization yes, but in a future perspective», taking into account the idea of «railway as a new opportunity, even in terms of environmental sustainability».
The signing of the protocol that will allow a complete requalification of the Railway Museum Nucleus was, as he pointed out, «a desire of Lagos, but also of the Algarve, the railways, the Museum itself», and is part of a change in attitude that is happen not only in our country, but at European level: «after many years of abandoning the railway, we are at a turning point, in Portugal and in Europe».
«I would like the Algarve not to be outside the routes of railway development», being «this is the first step towards catching the future», added the president of FMNF.
Manuel Cabral concluded by expressing the wish that the investment to be made in the National Railway Museum's Nucleus will transform it into a «piece of a new centrality in Lagos».
Hugo Pereira, mayor of Lacobrigensia, recalled that «there had been a long struggle for the Nucleus to stop being a warehouse for rolling stock…which did not circulate».
For this reason, he defended, it is now necessary to «quickly move forward with the execution project for the requalification, and then move forward with museology and museography and with the works».
The commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the train's arrival in Lagos showed the depth of the local council's commitment to enhancing its heritage.
Thus, the municipality launched a magazine commemorating the centenary, called "Ida e Volta", produced by the City Council's own team, with excellent graphic quality and interesting content, which recall not only the troubled history of the construction of the railway to that city barlaventina, as they give voice to the former and current protagonists of this branch of the Algarve Line.
The magazine will soon be available at the main public service desks in the Municipality's cultural services and facilities.
A sculpture was also inaugurated, in the roundabout between the current and the old station, a location that, according to the author, inspired the creative process of this work. The piece of public art, which refers to the past and future of the train and was made with material reused from the railways, is by the artist João Duarte, also author of the original centenary commemorative medal.
On the 30th of July, the exhibition «Lagos, the Last Stop» also opened at the Centro Cultural de Lagos. Contrary to the exhibition's title, Manuel Novaes de Cabral stressed that «we have to look at Lagos as the first season and not the last», in a sense of the future.
The exhibition recalls, in a simple and attractive way, using pieces and images from the time, the construction of the railways and the adventures that involved the inauguration of this stretch of Lacobrigens, which was then, as now, a terminus of the Algarve line.
The expository speech is authored by the Foundation, which also provided the heritage assets included in the exhibition, with the production being in charge of the Municipality of Lagos.
Manuel Cabral underlined that the exhibition «has a lot to do with the time, with identity, with evolution» and announced the project of «making a catalogue» about the show itself, but also about all the «research work that took to this exhibition", which, in some way, is already preparing "the museological work of the future Núcleo".
The exhibition «Lagos, a Última Paragem» is on display at the Cultural Center until December 30, as is the urban art/photo exhibition entitled «Excerpts – 100 years on the arrival of the train in Lagos», produced by Questão Repetida – Cultural Association, which can be seen in the Anel Verde Park and in the Docapesca support buildings.
The municipality, with the support of Infraestruturas de Portugal and CP, promoted on Saturday, the 30th, a symbolic and evocative journey of the arrival of the train in Lagos, recreating the moment experienced, for the first time, a hundred years ago.
Although without the commotion comparable to that felt by the Lacobrigenses on July 30, 1922, the initiative was attended by local, regional and invited visitors, with the participation of the Rancho Folclórico e Etnográfico de Odiáxere and the Sociedade Filarmónica Lacobrigense 1 .º de Maio, which animated the trip and the arrival at the Station.