A HERITAGE group is appealing for the public's support after funding was rejected for a railway station and mining memorial to be built.

Elsecar Heritage Railway - which is to be renamed Coalfields Memorial Railway - is appealing for residents to sign a petition after its funding application to Biffa Awards was rejected - due to a perceived lack of public support.

Railway chairman Del Tilling, 62, said the group hopes to secure £50,000 to complete its steam railway by the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the 1984-85 miners' strike on March 26.

The line currently runs a mile-and-a-half from Elsecar Heritage Centre to Tingle Bridge Lane in Hemingfield but the group wants to extend the line another mile to Cortonwood. Since the installation of a level crossing at Tingle Bridge, the track has been slowly creeping towards its target, though this has been delayed by the bird nesting season.

"We want to say thank you for 300 years of coal mining and the memorial garden would provide people with a history of mining in this area, not just Cortonwood," Del said.

"It would also commemorate the sacrifices made by miners - including the 1866 Barnsley Oaks disaster and the 11 who died during the miners' strike.

"It's important because so much of the area's mining heritage has been erased from the maps, but we think this is of national importance because the whole of Britain was changed as a result of what happened at Cortonwood in 1984. It was a watershed moment for the country."

Residents can sign a petition at Elsecar Heritage Centre and the group will also be starting an online e-petition in due course.