Wensleydale Railway awarded £90,000 grant to secure future

A train on the Wensleydale Railway at Constable Burton. Photo: Rosser1954.

The Wensleydale Railway has been awarded a £90,000 heritage grant to help secure its future.

The railway is one of 433 cultural and heritage attractions across England to receive a share of £67m from a Government fund designed to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The money will be used to help meet the railway’s maintenance bills and improvements being carried out while the 22-mile long route is closed because of the pandemic.

Welcoming the grant, Richmond MP Rishi Sunak said: “I am delighted that the significant contribution the railway makes to the economy in Wensleydale has been recognised by this grant.

“The railway is a major draw for visitors to our area and it is important that it is helped through the current crisis.

“The railway has had no passenger traffic income during the peak summer season and this lifeline will help it survive the winter months.”

Work underway on the railway includes in the track at Swale Bridge at Morton on Swale, at Harmby and at Wensley station. Work completed includes the refurbishment of Leeming Bar Station house and renovations to rolling stock.

The track works are being carried out with the help of the railway’s volunteers and a specialist team from the Royal Engineers who are using it as a training exercise.

The Cultural Recovery Fund for Heritage is funded by the Government and delivered by heritage experts – the Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund – to support organisations in England that are local and national treasures but have fallen on hard times due to the pandemic.

It is the first round of funding from the larger £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund announced in the summer by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

Today has also seen a dozen organisations, including English Heritage, the National Trust and the Canal and River Trust share £34 million from the fund to preserve visitor attractions.

Carl Les, deputy chairman of the Wensleydale railway, said: “Heritage railways always run on the edge of viability, propped up by an army of willing volunteers and financial supporters. Our assets are understandably old, and need extensive and costly maintenance.

“It is encouraging that the Heritage Lottery has funded our restoration works to Leeming Bar Station to show what it was like in its prime.

“Now this extra grant has recognised that we are a small business operating in a visitor market that is heavily constrained by the pandemic, and it will help to keep us going for when the crisis is over, and people can enjoy our railway experiences again.

“We are very grateful for it, and other support like Bounce Back business loans.”