- Almost 450 heritage organisations in England, including WyvernRail plc have been awarded cash from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage
- Grants of up to £1 million will deliver a lifeline for the heritage sector in England with further support to follow and larger grants for capital projects awarded through the Heritage Stimulus Fund
- First major tranche of funding from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund
WyvernRail plc one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.
445 organisations will share £103 million, including WyvernRail plc to help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.
The award of £85,000 to WyvernRail plc will help the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway continue to bounce back from the Coronavirus closure through the tough winter months. The closure period left the railway without vital income during the busy early summer period which has depleted cash reserves going into winter. The railway has been successfully operating diesel trains once again at weekends and some weekdays since 25th July using a format where families of up to 6 passengers can book a private compartment on board the train and naturally Socially Distance themselves from other visitors. Each comfortable compartment features walls and a sliding door to keep visitors safe. However, as the colder months come, the railway has hired in a steam locomotive to provide steam heating to coaches so that the operating season can continue. These beautiful old locomotives come at a premium cost over the heritage diesels. In addition, the restored carriages that are in use require upgrades to their battery and lighting systems to cater for the additional running in winter months.
Operating a railway that is 9 miles in length takes a considerable amount of maintenance. The railway operates a continual programme of track repairs to enable it to operate safely. However, the Coronavirus lockdown has meant that this maintenance programme was suspended for 4 months where the infrastructure lay dormant. The award will greatly assist with kickstarting the maintenance programme once again which looks at lineside vegetation, track repairs and drainage issues.
This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund - funded by Government and administered at arms length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.
433 organisations will receive a share of £67 million from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage to help with costs for operating, reopening and recovery. This includes famous heritage sites across the country, from Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Blyth Tall Ship to the Severn Valley Railway, the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincolnshire to the Piecehall in Halifax. The funds will save sites that are a source of pride for communities across the country.
12 organisations, including English Heritage, Landmark Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and the Canal and River Trust, will receive £34 million from the Heritage Stimulus Fund to restart construction and maintenance on cherished heritage sites to preserve visitor attractions and protect livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage specialists and contractors in the sector.
The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) has also been awarded a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund through Historic England. The AHF will use the funding to support charities and social enterprises occupying historic buildings to develop new business plans and strategies for organisations affected by the pandemic.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
“As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post covid.”
Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator, Historic Royal Palaces, said:
“There’s no truer way to experience the past than to walk in the footsteps of those who have lived it – that’s why preserving our built heritage is so important.
“At Historic Royal Palaces, we care for six nationally significant buildings, opening them to the public and preserving them for future generations. Sadly, the pandemic meant that we had to stop some of our critical conservation work. The grant we have received from the Culture Recovery Fund will enable to this work to resume – so we can give some of Britain’s most historic buildings the care and attention they deserve, while supporting the specialist craftspeople who are vital for the future of our national heritage. We are enormously grateful to the Government for this support.”
Michael Evans, Managing Director WyvernRail plc said:
“We are delighted to receive this funding which will significantly help the railway continue throughout the winter. It has been a very difficult year and there has been continual concern of how we could manage so that we are strong for the start of next season. I am personally very grateful to our dedicated team of volunteers who have continued to operate the railway at this challenging time.”
Gradually rebuilt by volunteers, the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway opened the full route through the beautiful Derbyshire countryside in April 2011 making the grant award timely as the railway heads towards the ten year anniversary of opening the line.
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said:
“It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19. These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:
“It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial. Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live. All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time.
“Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet. But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”
Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said:
“This support for our nation’s heritage is fantastic news. Over the last few months, our teams have been working hard to welcome visitors back safely to the great castles, stone circles, abbeys and historic houses in our care. This funding will help us invest to safeguard the historic fabric of these much-loved places, which everyone can learn from and enjoy.”