Volunteer-led Swanage Railway is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a slice of the fund to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.
Between them, the 445 organisations will share £103 million to help restart vital work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.
The Swanage Railway will receive £223,200 which will allow the award-winning heritage line to improve its systems and support COVID-19 requirements in the following ways:
- Upgrade its passenger reservations system which has experienced challenges in coping with the additional passenger information needed for COVID-19 track and trace.
- Keep its stations and carriage stock sanitised to COVID-19 requirements.
- Improve its information screens at Swanage and Corfe Castle stations.
- Install information screens at Harman’s Cross and Norden stations.
- Continue the provision of personal protection equipment (PPE) for staff and volunteers.
- Provide further seating dividers in carriages where required.
- Enable Equalities Act training for staff and volunteers.
This vital government funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund, which is administered, at arm’s 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.
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.”
A total of 433 organisations will receive a share of £67 million from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and 12 organisations including English Heritage will receive £34 million from the Heritage Stimulus Fund.
The Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) has also been awarded a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund 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.”
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive said it was heartening to see grants helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19, and Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, added, “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.”
Randy Coldham, the Swanage Railway’s fund-raising chairman, said, “This grant is integral to the future success of the Swanage Railway by providing financial assistance to improve our systems, and support our training and COVID-19 responsibilities. It does not negate the importance of our SOS Appeal which supports the day to day running of our railway through this coming winter.”
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